Random is not easy

Quite some time ago we ran a series of Scrappy Sunday posts which stirred a lot of interest, and one of the recurring themes we discussed at HQ was how challenging it was for so many of us to work in a truly scrappy or random style. Barbara was reminded of these conversations when she decided to use up some hexagons left over from another project. The aim of using up the hexagons was to make a piece of fabric that could then be used to make a bag or some such useful object. This was as random an arrangement as could be managed! –

Hexagons still have a somewhat retro feel for us – they remind us very much of our start in patchwork back in the dim and distant past. How much has changed since we began!!

Electric Quilt, possibilities, Scrappy Sunday, scraps

Scrappy Sundays – Braid

Strips and hexagons again this week – but not at the same time. Braid is an excellent way to use up left over strips, particularly those of different widths. Chris was demonstrating this at the weekend’s quilt show in Eccleshall. Starting with a triangle (these ones cut from 5 inch squares as they were available) it involves sewing strips to alternate sides of that triangle and trimming as you go. Chris had a bag of assorted green strips and a bag of assorted red strips beside her and just picked from each bag in turn and at random. To get the chevron effect half the triangles were started with the green on the left hand side and half with it on the right.

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These sections were cut to the width and length of the ruler available on the day, which was a small one, but you can make your strips any length or width you like – the width is determined largely by the size of triangle you start with. If you make your strip really long (bed length) you may find it starts to bend like a banana by the time it gets beyond 4 foot – take care with the pressing to try to correct this; also, with luck, when you join all your bendy long strips together you can fudge/block (in extremis – dampen it slightly, pin it to the carpet so it is square and straight, leave it to dry) the whole thing straight!

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You can be a little more ordered with your braid and cut all the strips the same width to start with.

block c

quilt 1

You can piece the strips with contrast fabrics.

block d

quilt 11

quilt 6

You can add squares to the ends of one set of strips so they travel along the centre of the braid.

block b

quilt 2

You could make the strips on one side of the braid an equal width and the strips on the other side alternate wide and narrow and light and dark.

quilt 7

quilt 8

When you put the strips together you could separate sections with plain ‘sashing’.

You could make very ordered (in terms of colour and width) braid strips which can give a totally different look.

quilt 9quilt 10

But didn’t someone say ‘hexagons?

Yes, you can make braid strips with these! They do need to be the same size, and actually they are half-hexagons . . . . but  . . . !

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These ones were cut from jelly roll strips, so there’s another way to use them up.

And if you fancy (or have to) use completely random strips in a variety of colours? Try to use darks on one side and lights on the other if you can.

And those pieces Chris was making last weekend – they may end up as a runner a bit like this


Inspiration, Piecing, possibilities, Scrappy Sunday

Scrappy Sundays – machine hexagons

Chris has been loving the pictures of Barbara’s  hexagon ideas and vintage quilts, but . . . . they are all hand-pieced – which Barbara loves doing and Chris cannot get her head (or more importantly: hands) around.

But it is possible with a bit of thought to make hexagon-style quilts by machine without having to do those dreaded Y-seams. How? By splitting the hexagon into half or into triangles. Ann Jermey started Chris off with her quilt – Hidden Hexagons

hidden hexagons

There was also a craze for cutting up cushion panels and rearranging them – a sort of ‘stack and wack’ precursor – which led Chris to make this little wallhanging


There were probably six cushion panels to start with which were then cut into 60degree triangles which were arranged to make hexagon kaleidoscope-style designs with the remaining triangles filling in the gaps. You can see a little better from the close-up photos

half hexagonsAnn’s hexagons were made from strips split on a 60degree angle but you could just just make half hexagons and join them in strips to make a honeycomb-style quilt on the machine.

Making your hexagons from triangles however opens up all sorts of new design opportunities. Instead of joining the triangles into hexagons as you would if hand-piecing though you need to think and plan ahead – a design wall or pet-free floor helps here so you can lay all the pieces out – as you will be stitching  row by row.

You can now make Tumbling Blocks

or even Tumbling Boxes by machine


You can see in the first picture that the gaps were filled with plain triangles, by the second and third ones these had been replaced with plain strips – much easier! The triangles for these last three quilts were also cut from pre-stripped fabrics too.

We’ve probably strayed a bit from ‘scrappy’ at this point because the Tumbling quilts do need quite large pieces of fabric rather than scraps, although the last one with only three boxes didn’t use much.

We’ll be back next Sunday with yet more scrappy ideas.

Inspiration, Piecing, possibilities

Distracted again

Chris is still recovering – and sends thanks for all your good wishes – and Barbara is supposed to be making sure everything is ready for Wednesday’s class and also the Flying Geese class on Saturday.   However, there is always an opportunity for distraction and displacement activity.  Which explains why we now have pictures of Maggi’s lovely wrapfolios (we still haven’t fought over who has which one!) to share with you as well as some closeups of a little piece of patchwork that was given to Barbara last year. 

Wrapfolios first – we loved these when Maggi first showed them on her blog (http://todreamtostitch.blogspot.com) and left her a comment saying we’d like to be included on her list of potential recipients (actually we grovelled rather more than that – Chris).  What a lovely surprise when she arrived at the Reversible Runners class with these in her bag for us –

We’re hoping that we will have some other pieces of Maggi’s work to show (and possibly sell) at our Open Day on 5th June so put the date in your diaries now!

Second, the little piece of patchwork – at first sight it’s pretty nondescript in the usual vintage hexagon sort of way.  But, like so many other pieces, there’s lots to enjoy close up.  Fabrics are 1860s onwards and many of the small patches have been pieced from two or three scraps of fabric

At some point the whole piece has been chopped up and rejoined, not terribly sympathetically –

 – the size suggests that it may have served most recently as a crib cover.  So far removed from those fussycut hexagons we’ve been looking at, but charming all the same.

Inspiration, Piecing

Vintage fabrics and hexagons

Some of you already know that, over the years,  Barbara has gathered an assortment of vintage quilts and patchworks.  Just because we can, we thought we’d show you some close-ups from a small unfinished hexagon piece – look at the closeness and size of the stitching, not to mention the piecing of fragments to make a full patch.  The fabrics are delightful, ranging from classic small patterned chintzes to detailed roller prints, and probably encompass 1850 – 1880 in date.   Hope you enjoy the views! –

The blurry line across the bottom of this pic is a 12inch ruler, just to give an idea of scale.