This week I’ve been hand piecing hexagons over papers and have just finished making a pair of cushions for the sofa….in fact I’ve found sewing the hexagons together so addictive that I’m now well on the way to making a third cushion (I’m planing on making a big square cushion for the nanny chair as Bernard is already showing an interest in these ones…)
It’s a bit of a colour clash against the crochet blanket but I quite like that, the more colour on there the better in my book.
These came about from me having one of my many tidy ups (I start way more of them than I ever seem to finish) and in one basket I found a whole load of small hexagons (over 400 of them) and thought I should get on and do something with them…I’d pretty much said to myself that I wouldn’t start something new until I’d finished a few of the items in the pile of half made things in the bottom of the wardrobe and squeezed in amongst the shelves of fabric…but a little voice said these would definitely count towards finishing off a half started project……so after making two cushions and using up over half of the hexagons I feel I deserve a couple of gold stars for sure…..
The hexagons are all 2 inches wide (1 inch wide sides) and pretty much just use fabric from stash box hoards….some of the fabric is newish (I count anything from the last 15 years or so as new) and then there are fabrics which are older, most of these come from when two friends who had sewn for years gave me huge bags full of scraps accumulated over a lifetime of sewing…..there’s some car-boots pieces in there too, and I guess if you read my blog you’ll recognize several fabrics that turn up time and time again in my patchwork makes……
I don’t sew the fabric directly through the paper, instead I prefer to secure it at the corners and run the basting or tacking thread along the back, it sounds a bit fiddly but this works for me and I find it’s good because then I don’t have to take out any tacking stitches at the end. The papers are held in place fine and don’t drop out like you’d think they would. and when I’m all finished then the papers can be popped out no trouble.
By themselves some of the fabrics are a bit….frumpy or fogey-fied (old fashioned in a bad way), but when they all get mixed together they look much better…also I think the prints look good because you only see a small part of them.
I’m cheap so I make my own papers, you can now buy hexagon paper punches which if you do a lot of English paper piecing would save you money in the long run, however I know Sew and Quilt now stock an amazing range of hexagon papers (and other shapes too if your maths isn’t up to drafting all those triangles and diamonds)….the paper piecing goes a lot easier if you use really fine and sharp “sharps” or applique needles….Clover Gold Eye are a favourite of mine, and I also keep a look out for vintage “sharps” as I find they’re lovely and strong and super super skinny.
I also like using Clover Wonder Clips, I’ve got the small size and they hold the hexagons together so well, a lot less prickly than trying to jiggle patchwork held together with pins*.
Start by clipping two hexagons together, and secure your thread with a few stitches along the back in one of the corners where the fabric is folded over on itself, then whip stitch tiny stitches along one edge of the hexagons to join them together…when you get to the corner, work back down for a couple of stitches to secure the thread.
When you attach the third hexagon into place you start off like before, secure the thread into the back where the fabric is folded over on itself and use a wonder-clip at the end of the first edge of the hexagon to hold it into place and sew along the two touching sides, when you reach the end of that join, tuck the needle out of the way…..
Then fix the wonder-clip into place so it keeps the second edge of the third hexagon secure, and now begin sewing tiny whipped stitches along this new edge. The paper hexagons will fold really easily so you can bend them over in your hands as you are sewing along the edges.
Keep joining the hexagons around the first shape until you have your first cluster of hexagons……at this point you can join two clusters together to make a very traditional pin cushion. This is also how I made my hexagon bunting.
I really like to spread the hexagons all around where I’m working, I try to use as many different prints and patterns as possible and by spreading out and making a bit of a pickle, I get to see more of the available choices that are waiting to be picked up and sewn into place…..
Keep working outwards, I prefer to piece until I’ve got a few rounds made before I fill in the sides, although sometimes I join up lots of smaller clusters together rather than making one big piece. (If I’m on the train then making small 7 piece clusters is easier than manoeuvering about one big piece)…….
This was how I worked the hexagon wrap that I made my eldest sister the other year for her birthday….however because I want these hexagons for a big square cushion then I’m finding it easier to keeping working outwards until it’s the height I want….a couple more rounds and I think I’ll be there.
*when I’m sewing patchwork together like for “dear ethel” and aren’t sewing over papers, then I use pins, but when I’m sewing over papers then I find the Wonder Clips hold the papers together neater and I’m not having to force a pin through two pieces of paper.