The last time I tried my hand at English paper piecing I was 9 years old. I didn’t know that was what it was called then. My Gran had a set of metal templates and we drew around them onto the backs of old Christmas cards and scraps of fabric.
My Gran was a very talented seamstress and she always had a big bag of scraps, left over from the lovely clothes she made for us. I remember cutting some of the hexagons from yellow floral fabric, which had been used to make bridesmaids dresses for my cousins. Well it was the seventies. My Gran showed me how to baste the material onto the paper hexagons and my cousin sewed them together. Eventually it grew big enough to make a cushion. My cousin was staying with us, for a week I think, that Summer and took the patchwork with her when she went home. I wonder if she still has it. I must ask her, when I next speak to her.
For this project I only need to make a 6” square block, which is a good thing as my hand sewing skills are a bit rusty. I emailed Hadley from Flying Blind On A Rocket Cycle and she had lots of helpful advice. There is a site called Incompetech where you can print out sheets of graph/grid paper, in any design you like, including hexagons of whatever size you need. My block will be made up of 1” hexagons. This measurement refers to the side and gives a shape that is 2” across. I drew a quick sketch in my daughter’s old maths book and I will need 7 whole hexagons for the flower shape and 10 halves to make the block.
Sizzix have recently launched a range of quilting dies and I decided to get one of those, so that I can cut my hexagons from index cards instead of paper. You could of course print your templates onto lightweight card, but I do not have the best relationship with my printer and thought this was the way to go. Once the paper templates are cut out, the next thing is to cut the fabric and baste that onto the paper hexagons. There are a number of ways to do this. A couple of them are shown here, in this great set of tutorials for a Flower Garden quilt.
There is an alternative, which does not require cutting out the fabric into hexagons at all. You start with a square a little bigger than the paper piece, folding and stitching each edge as you go. It doesn’t look as neat on the back, but I’m feeling quite drawn to this method. There is a detailed tutorial with lovely clear pictures at Kandi Pandi’s Pad or a video tutorial, if you prefer, at Katie’s Quilting Corner.
The fabrics you can see in the photos came from a lovely blog friend. I mentioned that I was hunting for some fabric with tiny strawberries on and she thought she had just the thing in her stash. I love it and I’m really hoping it’s going to work with the teal fabric that Jo has chosen for the quilt. Thank you Jan.
The die arrived this morning, just in time to make an appearance in this post. Great service from Country View Crafts as I only ordered it late on Sunday night. I’ll be cutting my hexagons later and if anyone would like to piece a block along with me, then I’d be more than happy to cut and send you a set. Just let me know.