An adventure in quilting hexagons: part 3 – cutting & arranging

So, this project had to take a little hiatus as it turns out it’s practically impossible to get a 10″ half hexagon ruler here in Australia! In the end, my solution was to get my father to make me one out of perspex.  It doesn’t have any grid lines on it or anything, but it’s durable and does the job:

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Having a ruler, and having chosen the fabric for this project already, it took no time to get around to cutting.  The cutting process is actually very fast if you make 4.5″ strips first and then cut hexagons from them, and it turns out this quilt is actually a great fat quarter project: if you cut your fabric wisely you can actually get four full hexagons (eight halves) out of one fat quarter!  I used some fat quarters, along with some other scraps, and ended up making around 100 or so full hexagons I think, so this quilt will finish up double bed size.  However, if you wanted to make a smaller quilt or table runner or whatever takes your fancy, it’d be a really quick project!

Next up was layout. I didn’t make many hexagons of each fabric – the yellow accent one has the most, the others are mostly around 4 hexagons per fabric, so I knew I wanted a random arrangement.  I find the best way to do this is to just lay the pieces out without thinking about it at all at first, then to stand back and look, rearrange to fix balance of colours and patterns, then look again and repeat!  You want to make sure you don’t have too many similar fabrics adjacent to each other, and that your lights, mediums, darks and accents are fairly evenly yet randomly spaced.  However, at the end of the day it’s meant to be random – when you get to the point where you’re just changing minor things, it’s best to stop!

Here’s what I came up with:

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Notice how it looks kind of complex, but because they’re half hexagons, it actually makes neat rows?  This is what will make it heaps easier to sew than the horrible Y-seams you get when joining full hexagons, which basically rule  out anything but hand-sewing.  Which is no fun, and takes forever!

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Speaking of sewing, I’m out of time at the moment so that’ll have to wait for a bit… so I’ve packed it all up neatly, ready to quickly lay out again for sewing to begin! I find labelling my rows is really helpful when I have to stop at this point, like this:

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Happy sewing!

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An adventure in quilting hexagons: Part 2 – Choosing fabric for a quilt

(If you haven’t read part one of this post and you’d like to know about the inspiration for this project, you can find it here).

So, the best thing happened.

I quote Mum: ‘Use whatever you like out of my stash’.

Yes.  Just yes!

I want to make this quilt double bed sized, and so the naturally frugal student side of me was worried about how much the fabric will cost, whereas the spontaneous side was thinking ‘oh just buy the fabric already, you’d rather have a quilt than food, right?!’  I don’t really know which side of me was winning that war, but now it no longer needs to be fought, because I have all this:

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Yeah, ok, I haven’t ironed them yet… ignore that please!

These are all standard quilting weight 100% cotton fabrics… apart from the yellow accent one, I have no idea what it is made of but it used to be a pillowcase, I think.  Why not upcycle if you can, right? (You may also be wondering why the accent is yellow… the border is to be yellow, so I thought it might tie in nicely).

Speaking of the border, I haven’t chosen fabric for it or for the quilt back yet, I want to do that after I finish the top. Eventually.

In the end, when I went through the scraps it turned out I only needed to buy a little bit of fabric (in all truthfulness, by my quick calculations I would have had enough, but I always like to have some spare in case of mistakes!).  I bought two half-metres of these Alexander’s Flower Blenders by M’Liss because they work really well with the other fabrics I chose.

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Speaking of which fabrics go well with others, I thought I’d share some of my tips for choosing fabrics for a stash-busting quilt, using this one as an example:

  1. Think about the sort of colour scheme you want – one colour? A few coordinating colours? A crazy mix of random scraps? – and go through your stash. Unless you’re making a quilt from a kit, have a look at what you already have before you buy anything!  Grab out anything that looks ok and lay it out on the floor.
  2. Rule out any scraps that are too small – have a look at the pattern: what size pieces do you need to cut, and how many?  For this particular quilt, I need to start with 10″ squares, so anything smaller than that was straight out.  I intend to make it random, so my fabrics vary in size a lot – some I will get one hexagon out of, others maybe 6 or 7.  For this sort of scrappy quilt, that is fine – if you have enough variety in fabrics, proportions become unimportant.
  3. If you’ve noticed you have any really big pieces, maybe set them aside at this stage for the border or the back, if you like.
  4. Think about whether your pattern at all restricts the types of fabric you can use.  For example, here you have to cut the hexagons in half and rejoin them, so anything with really bold and obviously repetitive patterns is no good, as matching up the patterns would take forever (by all means, go for it if you like – I’m too lazy for that!).  Basically, the fabric below, although pretty, represents everything I didn’t want:IMG_3179
  5. Think about colour – put all your fabrics together, stand back, and have a good look. If there’s a fabric or two that stands out too much or looks otherwise out of place, take it out.  Also check that you have a good balance of lights and darks, and of each colour if you’re using multiple colour ranges.
  6. Finally (sorry, this is the mathsy part!), calculate whether you have enough fabric, and what/how much you need to buy.  It’s always a good idea to take some swatches of the fabric you already have when you shop for the remainder to make sure they match well, too!

So now the next step is cutting… once my half hexagon ruler arrives, which should make cutting hexagons a breeze!