Friday, July 4, 2008


One of the things I did while I was in Alabama visiting my daughter was to help her with her first real quilt. You'll remember me posting about the sock monkey quilt she wanted to make for her friend who is expecting her baby in October.

While Eryn worked on piecing blocks, I basted fabric hexagons to card stock forms which she will add using the hand-piecing English Paper Piecing technique to her hexagon quilt. She has been working on her hexagon quilt for about a year now but that story is for another post. Stay tuned!
Bottom line ... when I got home I realized how much I like revisiting this hand piecing technique. It's a nice change from sewing like a mad-woman at the longarm or piecing samples for classes and patterns as fast as I can make them on my home machine. So off I went to Paper Pieces to see what kinds of projects they had that might interest me.

To begin with, anything on sale will always catch my eye and they are currently running a special on all star patterns. Two patterns and four charm pack pre-cut shapes later I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the mail. Tuesday was a happy day at our house.

But as I opened the package and looked inside my pattern I groaned. What on earth was I thinking! Yes, read the fine print on the pattern. I think ... no, I know ... when I was ordering I had a hard time visualizing just how small the pieces must be to make a quilt that finishes at ... look again, you read it right the first time ... 14" x 16". Those little pieces are smaller the my thumbnail!

The sides of the hexagons (that's how you measure hexagons) is 1/2" and the little six-pointed star finishes from point to point a total of 3 1/2". The good news is I now have a use for those tiny scraps in baggies at the back of the drawer.

I gathered up my red, white, and blue scraps and decided today was the day to tackle this project. After all, I only need to make 23 stars. I haven't even thought about the diamond shapes yet that are used to connect the stars. We'll just take this one tiny baby step at a time.

First step was to create a cutting template. I found with the hexagon quilt using a template with the 1/4" seam allowance added on makes a big difference when pre-cutting the shapes. I like to use the extra-thick template plastic from EZ Quilting. I trace the small finished-size card stock on the template plastic and then use a ruler to add the quarter inch. After I have one shape cut out from the template plastic, I put a piece of double stick tape on the back, stick it to the template plastic and cut out another layer. I usually end up with about 4 layers stuck together. Then I don't have to worry about trimming away the edges of my template as I cut my fabric shapes with the rotary cutter.

Then next step was to gather my fabrics. I don't need big yardage for this project - I just need a strip about 2" x 10" for the jewel shapes ... 11 different blues and 12 different reds. I can also cut the hexagon star centers from this yardage. Not making much of a dent in the stash but every LITTLE bit helps. I have plenty of patriotic fabrics in my stash. I absolutely love red, white, and blue, and, two years ago our small quilting bee traded fabric strips in country reds and blues at our annual retreat.

After the fabric shapes are cut I'm finally to the basting step and it was just as I remembered. Relaxing! Put in a movie to listen to and look up occasionally in the really good parts, sit back in the rocking recliner, snacks and beverages close at hand and enjoy the afternoon. (Opps, I think I forgot to tell you, I dropped my DH Mike at the airport early this morning to fly to San Diego. He is playing in a three day trombone fest with our son ... 76+ trombones in concert with the San Diego Symphony and Marvin Hamlisch in a big star spangled Fourth of July celebration firewroks and all. What a great sound! If you live in the San Diego area you'll not want to miss this concert. So, it's just me and the dogs for this Fourth of July holiday.)

Of course, after all those little pieces were floating around on the cutting table I had to think of some way to keep things organized. Hooray for me! So far I have two stars completely sewn together and all the pieced basted for two more stars. What better way to celebrate the Fourth!

Have a happy and safe holiday celebration.
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