Half Hexie EPP non-fatal Problem

The other day I showed you the latest results in my EPP piece. As I was taking the picture, I noticed a piece that looks a little odd.

EPP non-fatal problem
EPP non-fatal problem

Dots. Dots are the problem. That violet with white dots fabric n the middle is weird looking. Something about the dots intersecting with the white is unconventional.

The papers are out so I can’t rip it out. I’ll leave it and see if anyone notices.

Half Hexie EPP

Half Hexie EPP - May 2019
Half Hexie EPP – May 2019

The other day I showed a piece of the Half Hexie EPP I was working on. I have spent some time since then attaching it to the larger piece.

I often think I am in a good place with this piece, then I look at the whole thing and realize I haven’t made the progress I wanted. That was the case when I looked at this whole piece as I was photographing it. It is still too skinny. I need to make it wider.

I have been thinking I would square up the top and bottom then make it wider. Somehow it just keeps getting longer and appears to be skinnier.

New Half Hexie EPP section
New Half Hexie EPP section

Fortunately, I still need some length so the work will not go to waste and I won’t have to rip it out.

As an aside, I saw an exact match to this quilt (except for the fabrics) on a Kansas City Star page. They call it Whirligig. Do I like that name? Maybe.

I am kind of thrilled that the Kansas City Star has a pattern for this quilt. I’ll have to look it up and see what my copy says about the pattern.

Half Hexie Section

I am never going to get this project finished if I don’t work on it, so I work on it whenever I can. Lately, I have just been making stars. I have a whole Scone container full of the little stars and some pieces in my Sew Together Bag cut to make more. I decided I had better put some stars together to make a section that will increase the size of the main piece before I made more stars. As a result, I have been beavering away at that task.

Half Hexie EPP Section - April 2019
Half Hexie EPP Section – April 2019

It doesn’t look very impressive, I know. That takes a bit of the wind out of my sails, because all of that piecing is handwork and it took quite a while, though not years, to get that much done.

I am still trying to think of this as my slow quilt project, but it is hard. I am kind of ready to be done with this project and move on to something else. At least I finished one hand project this year.

A Few More Half Hexie Stars

White half hexie stars - January 2019
White half hexie stars – January 2019

In between everything else I have going on, I have been working on the half hexie stars. I need about a million more stars, so I just work on them whenever I don’t have any other handwork pressing.

I especially need white background stars so I have been concentrating on those fabrics lately.

One problem I had with this batch was matching the centers. WonderClips, which has worked perfectly well before, were not working. They didn’t seem to be clipping strongly enough. My pieces kept slipping, making the centers off. Some were just a smidge. Others had to be ripped out.

Half Hexie Star - matching centers
Half Hexie Star – matching centers

Alison saw my double point pins at the last Sew Day. Someone in Rosalie Dace‘s class said I had to have them, so I bought some. Alison mentioned to me that they were for matching up points. I don’t usually have a problem in regular piecing, but since I was having a problem with the half hexies, I thought I would try them. They are not ideal, but they help a lot. You can see from the photo that I use clips and the double point pins. I am now using two pins and a clip. This strategy seems to be working.

Gift Post #9: Juggling Balls

Three juggling balls
Three juggling balls
Juggling Balls in the drawstring bag
Juggling Balls in the drawstring bag

You have seen a few posts about these juggling balls in the past few weeks. Well, I finally finished them. I didn’t get them done in time to give them to my niece for Christmas, but oh well. I am still pretty pleased with the way they came out and I am thinking about making another set.

As previously mentioned, I got the idea for the balls from All Points Patchwork, a comprehensive guide on English paper piecing. I wrote a review about it recently.

Juggling Balls drawstring bag
Juggling Balls drawstring bag

I didn’t want to just hand over 3 balls, so I looked for a bag to make in which they could be stored. Quickly, I remembered the drawstring bag by Jeni Baker of In Color Order. I found the tutorial, but after working through it a little I found some missing information. After some investigation I was forwarded to another version of the tutorial. In fairness, Baker sells a pattern for this drawstring bag with several size variations. I believe I bought it at one point, but wasn’t able to put my hands on the pattern quickly. The size (approx 10.5″ x 8.5″) in the tutorial was fine for my purposes. Perhaps a little big, but fine.

Juggling Balls drawstring bag-3/4 view
Juggling Balls drawstring bag-3/4 view

I had a bunch of the mini-charm packs of Prairie by Moda, which is what I used to make the juggling balls. I used more of them to make the bag with a Barbara Jones peach dot print for the accent and the lining. I am not sure I would make patchwork again for the bag, though if I had some orphan blocks I might use them. It would be quicker and more elegant to use two or three fabrics. Still, what I made is kind of cheerful.

More Juggling Balls

Juggling Ball n.1 - in 3D
Juggling Ball n.1 – in 3D

I finally got one whole juggling ball to the point where I can stuff it close it.

I didn’t use the same method of basting I use with the half hexies. I only basted through the fabric, not through the paper. This was recommended by the All Points Patchwork author, Diane Gilleland. It doesn’t feel as secure to me, but so far so good.

The next step is to remove the papers, turn it inside out and stuff it.

As mentioned, I had to take all of the papers out before I left Portland, because the ball, as shown right, would have certainly been squished. I’d like to use those papers again.

Pentagon Juggling Balls

Juggling Balls in progress
Juggling Balls in progress

I am absurdly pleased with how these halves came out. Some parts of sewing them into a 3D shape were not easy, but not too difficult either.

As mentioned, I used a mini-charm pack so the backs don’t look as tidy as my half hexies do. I don’t care. I am using pretty supplies I have. I also had no time to pick out fabric and cut small pieces, so the mini-charm pack worked well.

Pentagon Balls

Pentagon Flowers
Pentagon Flowers

After writing the recent EPP book review, I saw my DH trying to teach my niece to juggle. Since then DH has started to practice juggling again. He used to be able to juggle pins with a friend. He doesn’t have many hobbies, so I am glad he is doing this.

Mini-Charm Pack
Mini-Charm Pack

All Points Patchwork has a pattern/guidelines for EPP balls using pentagon shaped papers. I bought some pentagon papers, grabbed a mini-charm pack and decided to start on some juggling balls for my niece. I plan to put some Beanie Baby pellets inside when I stuff them in order to give them a little weight.

I plan to make a bag for storage. I’d love to have them done by Christmas, but that is a little ambitious. We’ll see.

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

EPP Stars

Hexie Stars -Big Piece
Hexie Stars -Big Piece

I haven’t talked about this project in a long time. I have been working on bunches of EPP stars. It wasn’t until last week that I actually put some of them together in groups and then attached them to my big piece.

I also laid the whole piece out on the bed and found that I have to double the size to make it even begin to fit our bed. I am feeling a little daunted by that effort with all of the other hand projects I have. Still, my friend Faye said that I have to think about this project as a long term, slow project.

Hexie Stars -Big Piece detail
Hexie Stars -Big Piece detail

There is a certain amount of satisfaction in getting even a few bits of this top done. When I add 4 stars to the larger piece, it feels good. It feels like I am making progress.

This is another project where I find that there are not enough colors in the rainbow. I guess I’ll have to think of it as a design challenge.

Interesting Half Hexie Progress

I’d love to say this piece was in the finishing process, but it is so far from the finishing process that lying wouldn’t even cover what I was doing. I am, however, working on this piece. It is slow going, which is fine when I don’t have other handwork that I must do.

Half Hexie First Borders
Half Hexie First Borders

Recently, I bought papers to fill in the border of the half hexie piece. I needed some triangles and some diamonds. I want to create a full stop at least on one side, so I picked out a dark grey (charcoal) with small white dots and basted some pieces. The fabric is not a pin dot.

It is a little bit of a shift to insert these extra shapes, but I got into it. It is kind of funny to see the edge done. I wonder if the grey is too dark considering the overall cheerful look of the piece.

I plan to put another straight border on the sides, once I get all the diamonds and triangles attached.

A Few More Hexie Stars

Half Hexies - May 2018
Half Hexies – May 2018

I have been working on the half hexie stars a tiny amount. They take a long time, as I have said.

I finally was able to cut some more backgrounds, so I have been focusing on making background stars. I’ll have to see when I can add more stars to the larger piece. Making the individual stars is fairly easy, though not completely mindless. I do have to really pay attention when I am adding stars to the larger piece.

Half Hexie Progress

Half Hexie EPP project - March 2018
Half Hexie EPP project – March 2018

My half hexie EPP project has been languishing while I knit and sew on bindings, and do other handwork. It seems that I last posted about this project in July of 2017. I can’t believe I haven’t worked on it since then. I have been looking for the diamond papers I know I have that I will use to finish off the edges and create a border. I haven’t found them, though I did find the fabric, and that is discouraging. I want to get this done, so I start the La Passacaglia. I think it is silly to start another EPP project with this one in progress.

I found some inspiration on Instagram the other day for my languishing project, which encouraged me to get back in theswing. Pat Bravo posted about a piece made from half hexies that were arranged into triangles. I am not changing horses in the middle of the stream, but it was interesting to see.

I spent the night before last sewing some stars together and then adding them to my larger piece. The top and bottom are pretty straight. Right now my idea is to put diamonds on one of those edges to create the start of a border. The other edge (top or bottom) I will also border with diamonds, but not until it is wide enough for the bed or to be a large cuddle quilt. I am not yet sure what I will do with the right and left edges. I don’t think I can make them straight like the top and bottom, but I will try to get them as straight as possible.

EPP Travel Pouch

Gerre's EPP Travel Pouch
Gerre’s EPP Travel Pouch

I finished the EPP Travel Pouch I am giving to Gerre for her birthday. I like the way it came out. I probably should have used more orange and pink to really suit her tastes, but I just loved that ice cream print and had to use it. I really hope she likes it.

The two times I have made this bag, I have thought it would be a quick project. There is so much handwork that it turns out to take longer than I expect the handwork to be relaxing, but it takes a big needle to push the thread through the many layers.

EPP Travel Pouch Open
EPP Travel Pouch Open

The other thing is that the directions are somewhat confusing. I made notes on them this time so, if I make this again, I won’t make some of the same mistakes again. The only thing that bugs me is that the piece does not have a handle. I really think it should have a handle. I am not sure where or how I would add a handle, but I’ll have to think about that.

EPP Pouch: Open with sewing  items
EPP Pouch: Open with sewing items

Still, this project comes out well and has some clever elements.

I finished the inside of the Altoids tins to make them into little sewing kits and storage kits. I’ll have to figure out a decoration for the top next time. I wasn’t up for that challenge this time.

EPP Travel Pouch Open & Filled
EPP Travel Pouch Open & Filled

Hexies on the Mind

EPP Stars - January 2014
EPP Stars – January 2014

Gerre talked a bit about putting the Merit Hexies together in a project at the last meeting. This discussion was swirling around in my mind when I went looking through my media library (where all the photos I have posted to the blog live). Yes, I posted this photo back in February 2014, but with Gerre’s comments on my mind, it struck me anew today.

While I am not super bothered about sewing the merit hexies into something, I also don’t want them laying around for the rest of my life and then getting thrown out when I die. It would be interesting/fun to make pillows out of them, or cushion covers, and see how many I will make before the project peters out.

I thought a couple of things:

  1. I could arrange my hexies in this shape on a pillow or bag.
  2. I could make some extra Half Hexie Stars and make a pillow.
  3. I really like the color combination here (is anyone surprised?).
  4. Putting a straight edge on a cushion or small project would give me practice for the Half Hexie Star Quilt.
  5. I kind of like the idea of a hexagon shaped pillow. I suppose I would have to stuff it and that would be a hassle.