Gift Post #8: Pillowcases

Shark Pillowcases
Shark Pillowcases

I started out making these for the YM. Then I decided that I would give them to my cousin (he is a few years older than the YM and more like a nephew) instead. I don’t usually get an acknowledgement of gifts I send, so I have no idea whether or not he liked them. *I* like them and that is what is important to me.

I put the cuff on the wrong way on one of the pillowcases. I had no idea there was a right way and a wrong way on that shark fabric, so he probably won’t notice.

The Friday Creativity posts will return soon.

Gift Post #7, Apron n.5

Dee's Apron - Christmas 2018
Dee’s Apron – Christmas 2018

This is the last apron I made from the marathon of cutting I did at Sew Day way back in August.

It took me time to make them all, but repetition is good for projects like this.

SIL #1 is also a Cal fan and a Cal graduate who attends football games regularly. She got the last of my Cal fabric.

Dee's Apron, front - Christmas 2018
Dee’s Apron, front – Christmas 2018

I learned that the pattern prevents the maker from laying out directional fabric in a certain orientation, but I am ok with the logo being on the diagonal when it is worn.

The front looks good and I hope it won’t show the dirt.

Gift Post #6: Apron n.4

May's Apron - Christmas 2018
May’s Apron – Christmas 2018

I was pleased to finish the last apron well in advance of Christmas. I didn’t work on any of them in a particular order. I picked one up and went to work finishing it and they were all done in time for Christmas.

May's Apron, reverse - Christmas 2018
May’s Apron, reverse – Christmas 2018

The flowers on this one are really vibrant and I hope SIL #3 likes it. The reverse side is more her style.

Pet Bed Testing

Pet Bed Testing
Pet Bed Testing

I have never seen a pet bed in actual use. I was thrilled to see BAM mascot (in my mind anyway), Cricket, trying one out the other day.

As you can see, they fit a smallish, but not tiny, dog very well. I think Cricket is on the small side, but could be considered a small-medium dog.

Check out the pattern and make some pet beds for your local shelter.

Book Review: All Points Patchwork

All Points Patchwork: A Complete Guide to English Paper Piecing Quilting Techniques for Making Perfect Hexagons, Diamonds, Octagons, and Other ShapesAll Points Patchwork: A Complete Guide to English Paper Piecing Quilting Techniques for Making Perfect Hexagons, Diamonds, Octagons, and Other Shapes by Diane Gilleland

Buy this book if you have any interest in English Paper Piecing (EPP). It is a very comprehensive work. From drafting blocks to sewing, everything is included. You will go from zero to expert after reading this book and testing out the techniques. The projects are doable as tests or giant projects depending on how you feel. The images are gorgeous from from to back covers. If you want to know all aspects of how English Paper Piecing works, then this is your book.

This is more of a resource book than a project book, though, as mentioned, there are some projects. The book starts out with an introduction called Hello EPP! (pg.9). Isn’t that cheerful sounding? She explains the concept of this as an idea book vs. a project book. I love this type of format, because they encourage my imagination. “Sometimes I find that being presented with specific project instructions can be somewhat limiting” (pg.10). Also, if I never buy another book, I won’t have enough time to make all of the quilts I want to make from the books I have. This type of inspiration book will give me enough information to incorporate EPP into projects from other books. The author covers pillows, tote bags and how to incorporate EPP into other types of projects -not just quilts. The reader will get plenty of inspiration for projects of his/her own from this book just not the step-by-step instructions. Ms. Gilleland reminds us that we probably have plenty of books with patterns that would “welcome some EPP touches” (pg.10) and, of course, there is the Internet. You need this book if you have any interest in EPP.

There is a short section the history of EPP (pg.11-13) with few dates. It is a very surface overview. The overview does mention Godey’s Lady’s Book, which makes me want to go and look that magazine. I have wanted to find a copy for awhile, but have never gotten around to it. This section also discusses the benefit of the EPP technique (pg. 13) and includes a comparison of EPP vs. foundation piecing (pg. 12). The bottomline is that makers can create more complex and impressive looking designs that would be extremely difficult by normal/regular machine piecing. This a great technique to know because you can use it to create your vision when no other technique works.

Chapter 1 (pg.15-27) covers tools and materials. Diane discusses different types of templates, choosing fabric and tools (pg. 15). In this section she covers “EPP in a Nutshell,” (pg.16), which is a great because it tells the reader where the author is going. It satisfies a bit of curiosity and makes the reader settle down to read and wait. At least, this is what happened to me.

Templates are important and the author goes into the various types in great detail (pg.17-20). She talks about the pros and cons of different types, how to make them and whether they can be reused. This section’s tone reminded me of a friend introducing to me to a new technique. I learned EPP on my own and have been doing it for awhile, but I learned a lot in this section.

When talking about fabric, Ms. Gilleland makes a lot of good points about aspects I never thought about: weave of the fabric, how the fabric creases and pre-washing (pg.20). Pattern and scale also make an important appearance with very illustrative and helpful examples (pg. 21-22).

“Your EPP Toolkit” (pg.21-22) is a section that talks about all the tools you’ll need to be successful. She goes into thread in great detail and has a paragraph on each item. You’ll have most of the tools suggested in your workroom already. Unusual items were a standard hole punch (you may have to go hunting in your disused office supplies drawer), a crochet hook (pg.26), binder clips (pg. 27) in addition to WonderClips (pg.27). I don’t use removal ink fabric pens for any purpose in my quiltmaking. Other writing implements and chalk will work for the same purpose. I like Sewline pencils and Sewline Chalk pencils.

Chapter 2 covers basic techniques, walking the reader through the entire EPP process (pg.29). Diane talks about the fabric grain (pg. 30) in a straightforward way that can also help in regular quiltmaking. Orienting fabric prints (pg.32), cutting fabric (pg.33-36) is covered comprehensively. The section includes tracing (pg.35), fussy cutting (pg.36) and using acrylic templates (pg.35), which is my preferred method.

Throughout the book the author anticipates the excitement of a new technique and refer the reader to other pages in the book. The basting section includes threading a needle and basic basting stitches (pg.38), how to make a wrapped knot (pg.39), how to make a quilter’s knot (pg.40) and how to make a tack stitch (pg.41). The author also includes a page on basting vs. tacking (pg.43). Reading this section will familiarize the reader  with all kinds of basting so s/he will feel confident moving forward with any shape. Diane also shows a variety of methods for performing each step.

Joining is also covered very thoroughly, including how to end a seam securely. She prefers the whipstitch while I prefer the ladder stitch. All methods are explained, have illustrative images and pros and cons.

Keeping the project organized is a challenge as the project gets larger. Making a star or basting a few hexies is one thing, but once you start putting your shapes together that soon-to-be bed sized top can become unwieldy. Ms. Gilleland has the reader covered (pg.54-55) by talking about strategies for managing the top as it grows and parsing your work. She also discusses finishing EPP, which is different than in regular quilts (pg. 57-58).

Using EPP in a project is covered thoroughly and includes appliqueing EPP shapes to another piece for added interest and using an EPP panel as fabric.

The instructions for those techniques cover machine applique’ (pg.60-61) as well as fusible applique’ (pg.62) and hand applique’ (pg.63-64). I found the directions to be complete as well as practical.

I plan to put a plain fabric border on to my half hexie star piece. I paid careful attention to the “Establishing a Straight Edge” section (pg.66-67). Since my edge is already pretty straight, I am not sure these directions will help me completely. Still, something is better than nothing. Obviously preparing the edge (pg.66 n.1) will help as will straightening up the edge (pg.66 n.3). I’ll have to try it out. I’m a little nervous about ruining the edge.

EPP can also be used as fabric. Makers can sew a small piece of EPP and then cut shapes using templates out of it (pg.67) just as with fabric.

One gem of this book is chapter 3, “Building Your Own EPP Patterns” (pg.73- ). I like this type of section because it gives the readers skills rather than just patterns. If I can incorporate a technique into my repertoire, I can use if for more than just one pattern or when I run into a tricky idea.

Chapter 3 is arranged sensibly. It starts with inspiration (pg.74), moves on to one patch EPP designs (shapes) and playing with graph paper to create designs (pg.75). The power is combining shapes to make more interesting and unique designs (pg.76). There is a section on using computer tools, including fee tools and functions included on your computer.  Pay-per-view software (pg.78-80) is also discussed. This section will go out of date quickly, but readers will be able to extrapolate out.

Hand drawing EPP patterns also covers an entire section. The chapter starts out explaining tools (pg.81-82) and moves on to drafting (pg.83). Many readers who are not confident mathematicians maybe tempted to skip over this section. Don’t! The author is gentle and explains the steps clearly so the exercises come across as play.

I never thought of using EPP as a background, but Diane covers that (pg.86-87) topic as well.

Hand drafting comes up, too (pg.88). Again, don’t run away screaming. “Knowing how shapes are constructed gives you a deeper understanding of the many possibilities for fitting them together into patterns” (pg.88). Just like making templates for patchwork, makers get depper insight into the process.

Ms. Gilleland provides a list, with explanation of things to watch out for as well as tips and tricks to make the piecing go faster (pg.89).

Subsequent chapters (4-8) discuss all relevant things about working with one shape. The first is hexagons and all of the ‘shape’ chapters follow the same basic structure:

  • how to draft the shape
  • how to baste the shape
  • how templates are sized for the shape
  • projects using the shape

There are also a variety of shapes covered:

  • hexagons
  • hexagon variations such as the half hexie
  • diamonds and jewels
  • triangles and tumblers
  • octagons and pentagons
  • curved shapes (pg.6-7)

Hexies are probably the most basic EPP shape. I think it is one that most people start with in some way or another. I include a tutorial on machine sewing hexagons in my basic quilting class.

The drafting chapters for the various shapes are right up my alley. I don’t memorize the steps for each shape, but I do note where to find the instructions for when I need them. Many quiltmakers today only use patterns and don’t even think of putting blocks together in their own way. Drafting gives me options in creating designs. I like options.

The page (pg.92) on drafting hexagons has good images that show the steps and the tools required. The tools required for drafting are not included in the tools and materials chapter, which starts on page 15. Take a look at the section on Hand Drawing EPP Patterns (pg.81), which shows drafting tools. Subsequent pages (pg.82-89) show how to use the tools.

As mentioned, this is not a project book, though there are some small projects in the book, which don’t have the huge time commitment my half hexie project requires. I like the layout of the hexie journal cover (pg.95).

The chapter includes a couple of pages 9pg.96-97) on laying out hexagons. We all know the Grandmother’s Flower Garden, but playing around will net you many others and the layouts shown will help to inspire you.

Hexagons can be cut in half to make a completely new shape. The new shape gets the same, if slightly abbreviated, treatment as the hexagons. I really like the idea of surrounding a hexagon with half hexies as a border (pg.102).

The hexagon chapter also includes ‘stretched hexies,’ which end up as lozenges and coffin shapes (pg.104-105). These shapes have great designs. I used one layout in my BAM pillow swap without knowing it was included in this book. Of course, I machine pieced rather than using EPP. You have to decide the best technique within your skills and time constraints.

I have made a number of 8-pointed stars and LeMoyne Star blocks. My
In many cases, both sides of the patch are shown after basting (example pg.121). It gives the maker a good idea of what the goal is.

Many of the inspirational layouts included multiple shapes (pg.123). combining different shapes expands what designs are possible and provides additional inspiration. Sassafraslane has a great example of one way of putting triangles and hexagons together.

By the time the reader tries drafting all of the different shapes s/he will feel like a math genius. I am not a math genius and I feel powerful with this knowledge.

There are 3 different types of triangles discussed in the triangle and tumbler chapter (pg.132). The triangle pincushion project is awesome (pg.140). I like the look. This project could be made using a Split Rects ruler and partial piecing, but if you are on bedrest or ill, then having an EPP option is wonderful.

It didn’t occur to me until I read this book that tumblers are just triangles with the top cut off. Big DUH moment for me, but also a reminder of why I like to read. This makes drafting easy. If you have mastered drafting the isosceles triangle (pg.147), you are most of the way towards drafting a tumbler.

I am not much of a fan of the resulting flower shapes that pentagons and octagons turn into if the maker is including than in applique’. The author thinks “of pentagons and octagons as good mixers, eager to join forces with triangles, squares and diamonds” (pg.155). They do make great floor tile patterns mixed with other shapes. Octagons and pentagons are also good for fussy cutting (pg.158).

This section also includes methods of transforming octagons and pentagons (pg.166). I am a huge fan of using these shapes to make balls (pg.167, 169). These might make great officer gifts. The author suggests small ones could be used as pattern weights (pg.167). I’d like to make some for my niece who is learning to juggle.

I never thought about using EPP for curves, but chapter 8 (pg.171-203) goes into amazing detail about the subject. The chapter covers five ‘common’ curved shapes: apple core, Dresden petals, clamshell, clamshell point and clamshell petal. The clamshell point is similar to the center of the block in my MetroScape quilt. EPP was not used in the MetroScape blocks, but thinking about the two designs and their techniques provides some crossover inspiration.

The curved section starts with some special tips including “stick with premade templates” and covers the bias inherent in curves. Curves require special techniques and this chapter does not skimp or disappoint. This is a long and detailed chapter. Tips for achieving smooth outward (convex) facing curves (pg.176-177), basting an inward facing (concave) curve (pg.179), basting Dresden petals (pg.180-181), basting apple cores (pg.182-183), basting clamshells (pg.185-188) as well as clamshell points (pg.189-190) and petals (pg.191-192) are all covered. I really like the motif included in the Circle Blanket Border project (pg.178). It is made up of a clamshell point and four petals. I can see using this on the EPP Sewing Kit instead of a hexie flower. The circle motif would make a nice change.

Throughout the chapter are tips and tricks specific to each shape. One thing I didn’t realize was that some shapes, such as convex curves, require gathering (pg.182). Good to know if I made the circle motif.

As with the other chapters, the chapter on curves has a few pages entitled “Making Patterns with Curved Shapes” (pg.194-195). It is fun to see and be inspired by the possibilities.

I use a ladder stitch to sew my half hexie stars together. This book calls a similar stitch (or technique??) a skimming whipstitch (pg.200), which is part of the section on joining curved shapes (pg.196-203). The last instruction is about drawing center lines on patches (pg.203), which I was wondering about as I read through, and though about the section on joining curved patches.

There is a lot to like about this book. One of the qualities is that the author anticipates what the reader will want to know and answers the question rather than leaving the technique to chance and the reader unsatisfied.

You might think this is an expensive book. I found it to be cheap when the amount of information included is considered. Even if you have only a slight interest in EPP, I recommend buying this book. No matter what EPP project you attempt, the support this book provides will make your project a success.

Go buy All Points Patchwork: A Complete Guide to English Paper Piecing Quilting Techniques for Making Perfect Hexagons, Diamonds, Octagons, and Other Shapes right now.

View all my reviews

Now What?

The worst part of the process is deciding what to do next. I have a Christmas gift to finish, but I don’t have a quilt on my design wall since I took MetroScape to the quilter. I am glad it is off, but I don’t know which project I should work on next. Or if I should start a new project.

I have my WIP list, of course. I also have my dream projects list. It isn’t like there is a shortage of projects waiting to be worked on.

My two big contenders are the Good Fortune Mystery Quilt from Bonnie Hunter and the Crafty Gemini All Rolled Up bag. I have pulled a few fabrics for the mystery quilt, but not enough. I have cut out the All Rolled Up bag, but haven’t watched the videos or done any sewing.

Any opinions?

MetroScape Back

MetroScape Back
MetroScape Back

Sewing the back is my least favorite part of the quiltmaking process. Quilting doesn’t count since I usually don’t do it. This particular back took longer than expected, because I prepared all the fabric twice.

I decided to use the stripes for the back because I hadn’t used much of them on the front.  I proceeded to cut up the dot fabrics for the back.

Huh?

Nope, not a typo. I did the exact opposite of what I intended. I don’t know what I was thinking.

It didn’t really matter, so I took down all the dots and started again. I had made the binding in advance so I could use all of the stripes I wanted as long as I could deal with the diagonal cut out of the yardage for the binding.

As you can see from the photo, I was able to make a back. It seems a little darker than I intended, but it could just be the contrast of the white from the front.

Spiky 16 Patch n.4

Spiky 16 Patch n.4 (quilt n.3)
Spiky 16 Patch n.4 (quilt n.3)

I didn’t have any time to sew at the end of the week and was kind of busy as well. I did manage to finish another Spiky 16 patch donation block.

I might be getting a little tired of these blocks in this color scheme. I know! Crazy, right? I’d kind of like to see a version with more colors. That means making a stash of HRTs in different colors as well.

Ugly Fabrics

Women's Work Valentine's Day Napkin
Women’s Work Valentine’s Day Napkin

After putting the used napkins from last week in the wash I pulled out new ones. I had rearranged the napkin drawer in order to circulate in some that hadn’t been used in awhile. One was folded back to front and I immediately had an ugly fabric reaction. It really isn’t hideous fabric, but not my colors. The print is interesting. It is a classic design. I don’t think this particular shade of pink has really ever been my color, but I bought it at some point in the past so I must have liked it or had a use for it.

This napkin brought out a whole slew of ugly fabric feelings and thoughts. I was especially reminded of things I had heard I must do.

-Buy a little ugly fabric.

-Put a piece of ugly fabric in your quilts so your nice fabrics will look better.

-Sew ugly fabrics as backs.

You know how well musts work with most people.

I went through about 5 seconds of buying ugly fabric. Then I decided that, for me, that is a seriously dumb idea. I am not spending my hard earned money on ugly fabric when there is so much great fabric out there. I don’t have enough money to buy the fabric I love (bolts of Philip Jacobs prints, please). I also don’t want to devote precious space to ugly fabrics.

The other thing is that ‘ugly’ is relative. My ugly fabric might be your favorite color. I am not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t like. Ugly for me will be different than your ugly. Buy your favorites.

Also, what I think is ugly today might not have been ugly to me 10 years ago. Tastes evolve. Also, as a new quiltmaker, you might be trying out different styles to find what suits you. You might also mix what you like. I don’t buy many repro prints, even the cheerful 1930s prints. They just aren’t for me. However, there is a blue in the Civil War arena that I love and periodically I will buy an FQ of one print. I am careful, though to make sure it is more blue than beige.

I worked on a quilt called Thoughts on Dots when I was having a big, fat creative block. This quilt was so painful to make, because I was forcing myself to sew. I was forcing myself to work through the creative block.I had a small child who was going through some stuff. DH was going through some stuff. It was a tough time. I moved around 6.5″ squares for weeks. I finished the quilt top and decided to use some ugly fabric for the back. To be thrifty, I decided to use fabric I wasn’t going to use for a front. The ‘ugly’ fabric isn’t hideously ugly, though it is beige. I interspersed the beige with leftover squares, so the back isn’t completely beige and hideous.

We act like we will never see the back so backs can be a dumping ground for ugly fabrics. Thoughts on Dots is on our bed, so I do see the back pretty often and I sincerely dislike it every time I see it. This is why I have used small pieces of beige for donation blocks. I don’t want beige in my fabric closet. This quilt is nearly the sole reason I use a lot of Philip Jacobs prints for my backs. I have decided I want to enjoy backs as much as my fronts. It doesn’t mean that I buy special fabric for the backs. It means I use fabrics I like from my fabric closet. Those Philip Jacobs prints are so well displayed on a back that I can’t possibly NOT use them now.

I also should have realized that being thrifty didn’t mean I had to use that beige fabric. It isn’t as though there has been a shortage of fabric at my house in a while.

My final thought is that everyone should just use the good stuff immediately. Don’t buy it and save it for some other day. That day is today and you will love whatever you make even more if you can see your new favorite fabric immediately.

Book Review: Double Vision Quilts

Double Vision Quilts: Simply Layer Shapes & Color for Richly Complex Curved DesignsDouble Vision Quilts: Simply Layer Shapes & Color for Richly Complex Curved Designs by Louisa L. Smith

This is not the first book by Louisa Smith that has intrigued me. She has an interesting style. This one wasn’t on my list, but it intrigued me and I bought it on impulse at Stitch in Ferndale. The first thing that attracted me were the bright colors on the cover. In looking at the cover again, I can imagine using Dale Fleming’s circle technique to make it.

This is a ‘normal sized’ C&T book which includes 94 pages, 11 projects, a gallery and lots of technique information so readers can make the projects their own. After the detailed table of contents (pg.3) and a short introduction (pg.4), the book begins with a section called “how it started” (pg.5-6). Smith discusses her idea, her inspiration, all the while implying the importance of doodling. She goes on to discuss how changes in her design led to other versions and the second section, “Working in a Series” (pg.6).

Working in a Series is all about the ‘what if’ of the creative process – those spin off ideas that pop into your mind as you work on one piece. As you know, I often work in a series because of this reason. See more about my series quilts.

The colors throughout the book continue to be a huge draw for me. As I page through the book, I am kept interested.

In “The Layered Approach” (pg.8-10) she talks about how layers improve/make these quilts. Layering fabric is something I have played with on and off, so I can appreciate the value of such an approach.

This book has basic construction techniques. I don’t mind it because the instructions are related to this specific technique, for the mist part. There is a very brief section on quilting (pg.85) – just commentary. It is not a how-to. She also talks about her method of piecing a back (pg.35). The instructions are brief, but useful. She covers blocking (pg.36), binding and facing (pg.36-38), displaying using stretcher frames and making a sleeve (pg.39).

If you are a beginner expecting full instructions for every step, you will be disappointed and will need another book with basic instructions or check out my quilt class tutorials. The security tips given are specifically dedicated to help you make these quilts.

The 3 methods of construction described are “Using a Grid of Blocks with 1/4 KISSes and No Fusing” (pg.11-12), “Using a Grid and Fusing” (pg.13), “Using an Invisible Grid with Multiple Layers of HUGs and KISSes” (pg.16). Method 2 is split into two parts, thus you see four methods listed.

“Color” (pg.17-25) is a long and valuable section. The author discusses value (pg.17-18), finding a color scheme (pg.19-24) as well as balancing color (pg.24-25) and using a proportional color wheel (pg.25). The section on choosing a color scheme is well developed and includes examples. The examples really help to improve the reader’s color knowledge.

The section on “Machine Applique’ ” (pg.26-29) includes examples of stitches (pg.27), basic applique’ techniques (pg.26) and has a lot of pictures. She suggests experimenting with your machine before starting on your Double Vision quilt. I agree I always do a test of the satin stitch (or whatever applique’ stitch I am using) to figure out the density, whether I like the thread and sheen, etc.

Smith defines Embellishing, another section (pg.30-32), as “…adding something to the quilt top to make it better” (pg.30). I think of embroidering or beading as embellishment.  While she talks a bit about machine embroidery (pg.32), most of the section refers to layering on shapes.

“The Gallery” (pg.40-46) is fantastic. The section shows a lot of quilts, tells what method was used to make than as well as the artist. It is a feast for the eyes!

Finally, comes the “Projects” section (pg.47-88). Each pattern has a picture of the quilt on the section’s main page as well as a larger picture on the main project page. As you would expect, the pattern shows fabric requirements. These are a little different because the fabric requirements are divided up into layers. Fabric is followed by cutting and assembling directions. Applique’ and embellishing are included, if applicable to the pattern. The colors throughout the project section are phenomenal. Finally, the book has full sized templates coded to the relevant pattern (pg.89-94).

This book is interesting. It is definitely not the same-old, same-old. It will really stretch the reader, both in skills and in fabrics. This book is  definitely worth a look.

View all my reviews

Ends Donation Top

I have a box of quilt ‘dreg’ ends. Dreg is an ugly word as it conjures an image of grounds in an empty coffee cup or discarded tea leaves. These are simply pieces and parts that don’t have an immediate need or use. For some reason, I decided to go through the box in which they are stored. I think it’s part of the recent tidying frenzy in which I have been engaging.

Ends Donation Top
Ends Donation Top

Initially, I thought I would put some batting scraps together to make a baby quilt sized batting. However, I found a bunch of fabric edges. They were cut from past quilts when they were squared up. I started laying out these fabric strips to get them out of the way. At one point, I looked over and saw a kind of improv strip top developing.

The next day I had some free time so I pressed and straightened up the strips. Then, I pinned sets together in preparation for sewing. I still have to sew the strips and see what happens.

Since I didn’t have time to sew, I built up a batting from scraps in preparation for the donation quilt. I don’t know if I will have enough pieces to make a batting for this top. It will be close. I have some long thin strips left. I don’t really want to use the tape up to attach them as it will use so much of the Heat Press. I might just sew them on to make the batting large enough and get the strips out of my house.

It is interesting to see this top develop.

Book Review : The New Hexagon

The New Hexagon: 52 Blocks to English Paper PieceThe New Hexagon: 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece by Katja Marek

I bought this book because it was a block dictionary and the cover was very appealing. I think I also liked the cover’s color and was in a weak mood. Still, I do love block dictionaries and this is a great one for new a way of looking at hexagon blocks. I have never seen a grouping of hexagon ‘blocks’ before and these are really unique. I am really excited about English Paper Piecing right now and can see myself starting several projects using that technique. I am trying to restrain myself, especially since I plan on making the La Passacaglia quilt.

This book was paired with the Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork Templates set G. I thought they would be great for cutting the fabric. The sizes of the rotary templates don’t match the sizes in the book so that is a problem. However, as creative people I know that most of us can adjust the blocks to the size of the templates since they make cutting fabric much easier.

Predictably, the book starts out with a table of contents. After the table of contents, the author presents us with her view of paper piecing. The method I use (thread basting) is considered “truly laborious” (pg.4), though in fairness to the author, I do buy paper templates rather than cutting them out myself. Marek advocates glue basting fabric to cardboard over thread basting.

The author discusses the advantages of EPP, including its portability. I do agree that English Paper Piecing is portable, as you have seen with my half hexie project.

The Tools and Equipment section (pg.6-7) is compact but information filled. I was thrilled to see that Ms. Marek goes to the level of telling her readers what weight of paper (pg.6) she uses to print her EPP papers. This is very useful information if I decide to print templates rather than buying my papers. In addition to the tools, Marek also describes her “on-the-go box” and what it contains. I am a huge fan of Go Bags as having a bag ready to take on trip means I don’t have to rummage for supplies and possibly forget something. It also means I might actually get something done on a travel weekend where I might otherwise get no time with a needle.

The fabric in this book looks like Kate Spain’s Terrain, another appealing aspect to the color scheme of this book. It is well suited to the examples as there is opportunity for fussy cutting from some of the motifs.

English Paper Piecing Techniques (pg.8-11) follows the chapter on tools. This section has everything you need to know about paper piecing. Keep in mind that this is the author’s method and variations you use are not wrong. While I haven’t tried the glue basting method, the complete directions given do encourage me to give it a try. I normally only wash my quilts as needed so I worry about the lasting effects of the glue on the fabric. She talks about removing the papers but not about reusing them or washing the glue out of the fabric.

There is the ubiquitous section on “Quiltmaking Basics” (pg.12-15), over a page of which is concerned with binding the quilt. There is no talk of quilting the quilt beyond following the manufacturer’s instructions. Of course whole books have been written on the subject so I am not surprised.

One of the most interesting chapters is called “Working with Patterns” (pg. 16-18). One thing this section shows is why the reader should prepare the templates in the way the author recommends. “The following is the so-called ‘fine print’ — the little details that are often glossed over. You may never choose to changed the size of the blocks in this book, and you may never need to calculate the height of a hexagon. But when you become inspired to start designing your own quilts using the blocks I have provided, these little tidbits are here to help you. The size of the blocks in this book is determined by measuring the length of one side (in this case 3 inches) (pg.16). Even I, who glosses over directions with wild abandon and to my shame, can see the wisdom in Marek’s words. This section also gives tips on fussy cutting and provides ideas on layouts. Study these pages carefully and you will benefit greatly. I did and found a variation of Jack’s Chain which has my head spinning with thoughts on that layout.

Over 71 pages 52 hexagon blocks are presented (pg.19-52). The author has named all of them with women’s names. Carol is the most basic divided hexagon, being made up of 6 triangles. Most of the other blocks have smaller hexagons and diamonds, some half hexies (Lorraine is similar to my EPP project), triangles, parallelograms, and kite shapes all rearranged into hexagon shapes in very clever ways.

Finally, the book has a few projects. Because of the nature of EPP, I think this is a book that will inspire quiltmakers to design their own quilts. All of the projects, especially those made in Terrain are very appealing. My favorite might be the Rain Chain Nursery Quilt. It reminds me of the modern donation quilt our color group made a few years ago. There is a lot of background, but the layout is very appealing. Sadly, the Jack’s Chain variation is made from unappealing beiges.

There is also a list of resources and a gallery. This book has a lot of scope for inspiration

View all my reviews

The Beginning of the End of the Top

Yes, this is an Alice in Wonderland-esque post.

Yesterday, after returning from a somewhat intense #politicalwifery weekend, I spent some time with The Peacock.

The short version is that I finished the left part of the top. There a couple of long seams I need to sew to other long seams, but I am saving them until the end.
Now I can work on the right side in peace. The first small hexies I added need a lot of attention. I was able to put the 3 rows together after that. I am waiting to see how long the rows with small hexies will be before I trim or add to other rows. At the moment

Progress. Definite progress.