100 Days of Hexagons: Blocks 41-50 and Fussy Cutting

In what seems like a blink of an eye, we have now reached the midpoint of this 100 Day Project.  Occasionally I like to add a little something different to my process, and for a few blocks in this set I included some fussy cutting.

Fussy cutting is when you select a specific section of a printed fabric to highlight in the block.  Novelty prints are particularly conducive to this style, but any fabric that has an area you want to feature can be used. For this project, I am tending to use one section of each fabric, but you can also combine multiple fussy cut sections of the same print for an amazing effect.

Since yellow is my featured color for these blocks, either the background or featured portion of the print needed to include a yellow as a significant part of the design.

In this fabric, the yellow sloths are the only yellow in the print, so I tried to minimize the use of the background in the piecing. I also included a print in the surround that incorporated a grey triangle. The grey sloth background becomes less jarring if grey appears elsewhere.  This grey also appears in small amounts in prints throughout the design.

In my initial fabric pull, I went right to my stack of yellow fabrics, but for fussy cutting the search went deeper into my stash. I don’t have a huge collection of novelty prints, and this Cotton and Steel jacks print was one of the first that I pulled out for the fussy cut portion of this project. I like that fussy cutting allows you to distill a multi-color print to a couple of key colors.

I allowed a little more of the cream background to appear in this block since cream and white appear frequently in the overall quilt design.

This flying geese fabric wasn’t in my initial pull of novelty prints, but at some point in my search, the edge of this fabric ended up sticking out a bit from the surrounding fabrics. When I looked up at my stash from my sewing machine, a section of the print with two yellow triangles caught my eye.  I couldn’t wait to include them in my next hexagon.

The flying geese are fairly small in this print, but I was excited to improv piece a couple more flying geese to go with the initial pair.

This floral print is one of the only prints in my collection that has a distinctive print and a yellow background.

The coordinating background color allowed me to cut a larger section of the print to include in the fussy cut section.

I’ll probably be including more fussy cutting a I work through the second half of the hexagon blocks. It is sometimes helpful to break out of my natural piecing tendencies by having a distinct starting point.

Here is the view of the halfway point in the whole project.

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

100 Days of Hexagons: Blocks 31-40 and Sliver Inserts

Another ten days have passed, and ten more blocks of my 100 Hexagons are finished!  With this batch, I attempted to make a few blocks that are lower contrast and/or incorporate fewer pieces. This will hopefully provide some areas in the finished composition where the eye can rest.

A major design component of these hexagons is the narrow pieced slivers of fabrics. Most of the hexagons in this project have incorporated at least one of these slivers, and many have more than one.  The sliver inserts finish at 1/8″ wide, and I thought that today I would show you how I add these design features.

To start, I select the fabrics that I will use for this section of blocks. The fabric used for the sliver can start at any width since it gets trimmed away as part of the sewing process, but I like to have it at least 1″ wide.

For the first side of the insert, you stitch a standard 1/4″ seam allowance and press the seam allowance away from the sliver fabric. It is very important to always press the seam allowances away from the sliver fabric so the final piece will lay nicely.

Next it is time to trim away the excess fabric. Measuring from the stitched seam line, you measure and trim at the 3/8″ mark.  This gives you 1/4″ seam allowance plus the 1/8″ that be exposed in the finished product.

You may wonder why I recommend the sliver insert be cut no less than one inch when two seam allowances plus 1/8″ adds up to 5/8 inch.  Well, my experience has been that, no matter how careful you are, there tends to be some distortion in the sewing process. By leaving some excess fabric to trim in this step, you are more likely to end up with a straight line insert with less distortion.

For the second side of the sliver insert, I look at my presser foot to determine where to stitch. On my patchwork foot, there is a spot on the foot that is 1/8″ from the needle. I align this part of the foot with the first stitching line as I sew.  Ideally, this also means that the edge of my presser foot is at the edge of the fabric. However, if there is a discrepancy, I always align with the first stitching line. Ultimately, the 1/8″ sliver will show, and the seam allowance will be hidden, so that exposed section is the most important.

After the second seam is stitched, press the seam allowance away from the sliver insert.  Using a wool pressing mat will also help prevent distortions in the final line.

Here is the back view of the block.  You can see three slivers have been incorporated in the design.

And here is the front view of the same pieced segment. High contrast slivers keep your eye moving around the design, while low contrast slivers add detail for close up viewing.

Here is the final hexagon made from this pieced segment. You can check out my post on blocks 21-30 to find out more about the process I use for improv piecing the overall design.

If you want to try adding slivers to a project, here are a few tips:

  • Start with some short lines. Longer lines are more prone to distortion, so it is best to learn on shorter lines.
  • Leave ample fabric in all components, especially the sliver section
  • Use a good quality thin thread for piecing. 50 weight Aurifil is my go-to piecing thread.
  • Slivers work great in places you want to make a seam into a design feature!

It is exciting to see all of the blocks interacting with one another, so here are hexagons 1-40!

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

 

100 Days of Hexagons: Blocks 21-30 and Improv

Another ten hexagons are finished and joining their friends on the design wall!

So far, the hexagons for this project have all embraced improv piecing, so today I’m giving you a brief behind the scenes look at the construction process.  For this project, my interpretation of improv is going into the day without a specific plan and sewing pieces of fabric together until I have a composition that I like for that day’s hexagon. I do use a ruler, but with the exception of the 1/8″ wide slivers, it is mostly a straight edge instead of a measuring tool.

For these blocks, I sew a pieced section of fabric first, before placing and trimming the hexagon shape. My process for creating the pieced fabric is:

  1. Select a palette of fabrics from my preselected cuts.
  2. Choose two of those fabrics and sew them together.
  3. Press the seam allowance to one side.
  4. Decide which side of the composition you are going to add to and trim that side so you have a straight edge. (This line can be straight or angled. It could also be curved, but I haven’t done that so far on this project.)
  5. Sew the next piece of fabric into place.
  6. Press the seam allowance to one side.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6, adding 1/8″ sliver inserts as desired, until the composition is large enough to contain the hexagon template.

Once the composition of sewn fabric is an appropriate size, I place the card stock hexagon template on top of the fabric.  To make sure the placement is pleasing, I hold it up to a light and rotate the template until I like the positioning.  I then trace the template with an erasable fabric pen.

After tracing, I make sure that I still like the position of the hexagon shape before trimming it with a ruler and rotary cutter. The larger pieces that are cut off go into a bowl of scraps to be included in future blocks.  The pieces that are too small for that are discarded.

And here are blocks 1-30 shown all together.  I’m amazed at how quickly this is growing!

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

100 Days of Hexagons: Blocks 11-20 and the Initial Design Process

My quilt of yellow hexagons has continued to grow over the past ten days, and I’m excited to share the newest blocks with you today. (You can check out the first ten blocks here.) These blocks are constructed using fabrics mostly from my stash, and my mom contributed some of her scraps and yellow fabrics from her stash to the project this week.

This quilt is mostly improv, but there is some structure within the overall design.  Before beginning block construction, I used AutoCad to determine a very rough direction of the overall quilt design.  I wanted the hexagons to remain fairly small, but have enough space to include some interesting piecing.  There is also a chance that I will enter this quilt into a few shows, so it was important to make sure that the overall quilt size would work with a few potential categories.  Given these parameters, the ideal hexagon size was 4″ across from side to side.

The quilt layout will have 95 full hexagons and ten half hexagons.  Each day of the project will consist of one full hexagon or two half hexagons.

Most of the hexagons in this quilt are improv pieced into a larger piece of fabric and then cut into their final shape using a template.  The templates are drafted with the 1/4″ seam allowances and printed onto card stock. The inner line on the templates indicates the stitching line, and I punched a very small hole at each corner to make them easy to mark the points for the final assembly.

Here are blocks 1-20! The layout will evolve throughout the 100 days, and it is exciting to see how the quilt is coming together.

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

 

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:

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