100 Days of Hexagons: Blocks 1-10 and Fabric Choices

Every year in early April many people in the creative community launch a 100 day project simultaneously.  Prior to this year, I had never participated in the event because it typically overlaps before my personal 100 day project ends.  This year that overlap was only two days, and with current social distancing efforts, I thought that it may be helpful to me to have a project that rewards continuity.  It is also fun to be working on a project that has the same timeline as other peoples projects.

Awhile back, a friend mentioned that one of the “quilting rules” she had once heard was to only use yellow fabric sparingly. I’m not one to believe in these mythical rules, so of course I got it into my head that I needed to make a yellow quilt. I initially thought that I would do an improv project, but I wanted to give it a bit more structure than my 100 Day Improv Log Cabin Quilt.  I contemplated a lot of different shapes, and as soon as I considered the hexagon, I knew it was perfect- A yellow honeycomb! There is still a lot of improv within each 4″ hexagon, but I always know the size and shape that I am going for.

My stash is reasonably well balanced among all colors (except brown- I rarely use brown!), but yellow is a smaller stack than the rest.  There tend to be fewer yellow prints that I like, so I actively seek out fun yellows at every quilt show I attend. To start this project, I went through my yellow fabrics and cut a strip approximately 3″ wide to use for hexagon production. I also picked out the yellows from charm packs and mini charm packs to add more interest to the quilt.  One of the best parts about using charm packs is the fact that they contain prints that I wouldn’t necessarily choose to buy yardage of, but have more personality than my go-to tone on tone prints.  They really help to break things up and keep your eye moving around the design.

I hope you’ll follow along with me as I construct these 100 blocks in 100 days! Here’s some of what’s coming up:

  • Initial design process
  • Improv piecing
  • Adding 1/8″ wide slivers to the design
  • Foundation paper piecing hexagons
  • Using the elements of design in a monochrome palette
  • Maintaining Consistency

If you would like to see the block I make each day, check out my Instagram at cassandra.beaver

To see more 100 day projects from a variety of artists and makers, take a look at #the100dayproject

Least Favorite Color and How I Use It

Yesterday for the 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge we talked about our favorite color, so today we are discussing our least favorite color. I think all colors have their place in design, but in the world of fabric, brown is hands down my least favorite color.  It only has a minor representation in my fabric stash, but I do use it from time to time.

No color is truly ugly if it is used in conjunction with appropriate colors and in the right proportions. The first way I incorporate my least favorite color is to use it in very small amounts to provide a moment of contrast to the overall design. In Synthesized Slivers there are quite a few pieces of brown, but they are only exposed in 1/8″ wide strips.

Brown also played the role as a minor accent color in this Marsala Mini Quilt.  In this instance, the print on the tan fabric helped to tie it into the overall design.

Marsala Mini Quilt

On very rare occasions, a project needs to use brown to tell the story of an image.  This was the case in my π, pi, PIE! mini Quilt.  (I do think that, in most instances, you can use colors other than brown to depict things such as tree trunks. But I like to do some out of the box color schemes!)

π, pi, PIE!

Sometimes you just have to jump in and embrace the color you don’t care for.  Upward Perspective was created for a Curated Quilts mini quilt challenge, and the color palette was part of the challenge.  In this instance, I just went with it.  This isn’t a go-to color scheme for me, but the colors balanced well enough to make a successful quilt.

I just realized I only use brown fabric in mini quilts! Maybe I’ll have to try incorporating it into a larger scale project. What is your least favorite fabric color? Have you ever made yourself give it a try?

I am excited to be participating in this year’s 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge hosted by Cheryl Sleboda of Muppin.com, and I hope you will have the chance to check out some of the other awesome blogs that are participating this month.

Spoonflower Panels

For a couple years I had received requests to teach my plaid matchstick technique, but I was hesitant because I was afraid the class would end up being more about piecing the quilt top than the quilting technique. Earlier this year it occurred to me that there was an easy solution to this issue- Spoonflower.  Spoonflower is a company that prints fabric, among other items, on demand.  I designed a mini quilt panel that fits on a fat quarter of fabric, and printed it in two different color ways for my classes.

The blue and green panel is intended to be quilted with Aurifil 2525 (Dusty Blue Violet), Aurifil 6737 (Shamrock Green), and white. I recommend using either 12wt or 28wt on top and 50wt in the same color in the bobbin. The blue and green matchstick panel can be purchased here.

The pink and orange panel in intended to be quilted with Aurifil 2530 (Blossom Pink), Aurifil 2145 (Yellow Orange), and white. I recommend using either 12wt or 28wt on top and 50wt in the same color in the bobbin. The pink and orange matchstick panel can be purchased here.

I also developed a panel to use for the intermediate free motion quilting class I occasionally teach at one of my local quilt shops.

I recommend quilting this panel with 50wt Aurifil 2810 (Turquoise). Any of these panels are great for mini quilts, table toppers, or pillows.  You can purchase the free motion panel here.

These panels worked out so well, I just had to try a repeating design.  Here is my first printed repeat design:

There are endless possibilities with this type of printing, and I can’t wait to explore them more in the coming year!

I am excited to be participating in this year’s 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge hosted by Cheryl Sleboda of Muppin.com, and I hope you will have the chance to check out some of the other awesome blogs that are participating this month.

Whole Circle Whole Cloth

I love a challenge, and this month Aurifil challenged it’s artisans to create a whole cloth mini quilt using a Paintbrush Studios Painter’s Palette Solid and a coordinating thread in our choice of weight.  I was sent Midnight blue fabric and a matching thread.  This first photo has the most accurate color so imagine that color when you see all of the indoor photos! 🤣

Whole cloth quilting isn’t something I do very often, so I decided to start the process with a little research.  Quilting tends to rely on pattern and repetition, so the books I pulled out had lots of art that embraces those principles.  I was also leaning toward 20th century art for inspiration, but I include some inspiration from earlier eras, just in case something caught my eye.

Ultimately I landed on these two Art Nouveau tile images to use for design inspiration.  I liked the circular quality of both designs, and thought that they would combine well.

I drafted the design on AutoCad, then printed it across two sheets of tabloid size paper and glued them together to form the entire image.  Then it was time to pull out my perk wheel to use an old scenic painting technique to create a stencil.  I placed the image on top of my wool pressing mat and ran the wheel along the lines.  For the tightest curves, I used a large safety pin to poke through the paper.

Once the holes were poked through, I flipped the paper over and used a fine tooth sandpaper to remove the bumps on the back of the template and make sure the holes were completely open.

Then came the moment of truth — would it work?  I taped the fabric to the table and the stencil over it, then pulled out my chalk pounce pad.  I ran it over the stencil in small circles to keep the dust down, then carefully removed the stencil.

It worked like a charm!  The lines were clear and easy to follow.

This project was the perfect time to give trapunto a try, so I started the quilting process by using batting and the top fabric with no backing.  Since I was using such a dark fabric, I selected a black batting by Hobbs.  Since the black batting doesn’t have a huge amount of loft, I used two layers for the trapunto.

Using a walking foot on my domestic machine, I quilted all of marked lines through the top fabric and two layers of batting.  At this point I was using a 50wt Aurifil so it would be easy to quilt over using the final 12wt thread, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here is what it looked like from the front:

And most of the back (thanks Monty— I think he knows how hard it is to lint roll batting!):

The next step was to trim away the batting around the areas of trapunto.  I used scissors with a rounded tip for most of the trimming, and only pulled out scissors with a pointed tip for the tightest corners.

Trapunto has the best effect when the areas around it are densely quilted, so most of the quilt has dense free motion quilting.  For this part of the quilting I used 50wt thread on the longarm.  At this point in the process, there is backing fabric, one full layer of black batting, two layers of batting in the trapunto areas only (three layers total in those areas), and the quilt top.  The final quilting step was to use 12wt thread to outline each area and help that trapunto really pop!

After a lot of knotting and burying of thread tails, I trimmed the mini quilt so the edge of the quilt extended 1/4″ past the outer ring of trapunto.  The edges are finished with bias binding to hug the circular edge of the quilt.  If it was more practical, I would curve all my quilt edges.  I love binding a curve!

The image above shows the front of the quilt with the 12wt thread defining the areas around the trapunto.  Since I used 50wt thread in the bobbin, you can see the difference in the image below.  I think the heavier thread makes a huge difference in trapunto effect.  What do you think?

Quilt Stats

Title:  Whole Circle Whole Cloth

Size: 16″ diameter

Techniques:  Whole Cloth

Quilting:  Free Motion quilting on an A-1 longarm and walking foot quilting on a Bernina 1008

Fabric:  Painter’s Palette Solid by Paintbrush Studios in Midnight

Batting:  Black Hobbs Heirloom batting

Thread: Quilted with coordinating 12wt and 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Bias binding, machine stitched to the front, hand finished on the back

Anna Maria Horner & Aurifil Showcase Project

If you have followed me long, you may have noticed that I love a good challenge, so when Aurifil offered their Artisans an opportunity to make a project using Anna Maria Horner’s fabric and Aurifil thread, I was excited to sign up!  It is hard to commit to a particular project without knowing what exact materials you will be given, but based on Anna Maria Horner’s  overall design aesthetic, I thought that a pillow would be a fun project.

Three fat quarters and a spool of Aurifil were provided for the challenge.  I had requested 12wt thread because I intended to incorporate some large stitch hand quilting into the cushion.  I didn’t even think about the design of the pillow until the fabrics arrived because I knew I wanted the fabric to be the key inspiration for this project.  As soon as I saw the large floral inspired print, I was sure that it needed to be the focus of the design.

I had just enough large floral motifs to use one for the center of the pillow and a half motif for each corner.  To start, I marked where the center circle would eventually be cut out and placed the  corner motifs based on that mark.  I then used 80wt Aurifil to hand appliqué the motifs.  Once this was complete, I cut out the center circle and machine pieced the center circle into place using 50wt Aurifil.  To finish the construction of the top, I placed the central motif and used needle turn appliqué to secure it.

With the piecing and appliqué complete, it was time to begin the quilting process.  I selected a wool batting so the pillow top would have a bit of poof to it and really show off the hand stitching.  The quilting on this project really embraced decorative stitching, and I used it as an opportunity to try out several different techniques since the back of the quilting would be enclosed in the pillow.

I started by machine quilting around the circle and each floral motif.  I had 12wt thread on top and 50wt thread in the bobbin, and I loosened the tension slightly so I could have enough give to the stitching to wrap each stitch by hand with a strand of 50wt thread.  This resulted in a stitch that looks like a whipped backstitch, but it took a lot less time!

The rest of the pillow top is quilted using a total of seven colors of 12wt Aurifil that I selected to accent the colors in the fabric.  The bronze color was sent for this project, the light green came in this year’s Aurifil Artisan box, and the remaining colors had been used in previous projects.

I used a standard running stitch and several embroidery stitches to quilt the pillow including the closed fly stitch, French Knots, seed stitches, and variations of cross stitches.

The back of the quilted panel shows off how much stitching went into this project.

A yo-yo in the center of the floral motif completed the pillow top.  I thought that it would be fun to finish the center of the motif with the background print the motif was cut from!

To make the pillow cover easy to remove for cleaning, I inserted a lapped zipper into the backing fabric.

The final touch that I wanted to add was a piped edging covered with the remaining striped challenge fabric.  I love how the bias cut fabric looked with all of the angle changes within the fabric design.  This would make amazing quilt binding!

I selected a feather filled pillow form, and combined with the wool batting it creates a delightful feel for a throw pillow.