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:

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

Turkey Quilt: A 2019 100 Day Project

Last year was my first time attempting a 100 Day project, and I love the resulting quilt, Resonance.  This year I am doing another 100 Day Project, but I am going with something with a more specific design.  I have been wanting to make a turkey quilt for quite awhile now (keep reading to find out why), so the 100 day time frame seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a go.  This is the project design that I have been working on:

I like to start my 100 Day projects on January 1st because (except for leap years) my birthday falls on the 100th day of the year, and it feels perfect to sandwich this type of project between two key dates.  I have spent the first twelve days on the design process.  I will spare you every process photo, but here is an overview of the design process.

I wanted to give the turkey a certain amount of formality, so I spent a lot of time looking at art books, and ultimately decided to place the turkey in an archway with a checkerboard floor.  The inspiration for this design ranges from Renaissance paintings to 20th century Rock and Roll posters.  Most of the design process has taken place on AutoCad Lt.

After looking at a lot of turkey images, I sketched out a large wild turkey.

I took a photo of the hand drawn sketch and loaded it into AutoCad to trace over the main lines and insert the turkey into the archway.

For the semi circles surrounding the arch, I designed a bunch of somewhat formal designs to surround the turkey- I like to think that they all feel a bit feathery to coordinate with the turkey tail.

Once these designs were complete, I inserted them into the semi-circles around the arch.  Each these motifs are unique- there are no semicircle repeats in the quilt!  I then finished off the line drawing of the design.

By now, I’m sure you are all saying, “That’s nice, but why the turkey?”  There is actually a good answer to that.  When I was in the primary grades of elementary school, we colored what I am sure was at least 1,000 turkey coloring sheets throughout the month of November.  At one point there was a coloring sheet that had no specific directions, so I decided to take some artistic license.  I colored a gorgeous blue turkey with every shade of blue in my 64 color box of crayons.  As you may have guessed, this did not go over well.  I was informed in no uncertain terms that turkeys are brown, and apparently have tail feathers that alternate red, yellow, and orange.  From that point on, I never colored anything a color different than what it was “supposed” to be until I entered adulthood.  (Come to think about it, maybe my dislike of brown fabric stems from this incident!)  Since that time I have always had a nagging feeling that I am doing something wrong when I make recognizable objects an unrealistic color, even though I know logically that it’s really an ok thing to do.  My big hope is that the process of making this quilt will help to squelch those inner demons!

So here is the finished design again.  It will be constructed with a combination of traditional and foundation paper piecing along with a generous amount of appliqué.  The actual turkey will have a lot more detail once it goes into fabric.  I plan on using the turkey drawing as the general outline, and then getting creative from there.

 

100 Day Circle Quilt

Have you ever done a 100 day creative project?  I have heard about these so many times, and even participated in one of the sew-a-longs for the Tula Pink blocks, but I have never set out to do this type of project on my own.  As a confessed binge-quilter, it seems inspiring to work a little bit on a project everyday to end up with a major project.  Once I decided to do the project, there were two big questions: What to do? and When to do it?

Block 1

There were two quilts that I have been contemplating that would have worked well for a 100 day project.  The first is a form of structured improv quilting, and the second was a circle appliqué quilt.  The appliqué quilt ended up winning out since I am currently lacking a hand sewing project, and it is much easier to work on if I’m out of my sewing space.  Currently, I’m not scheduled to go out of town for the first 100 days of the year, but I do like a certain degree of flexibility.

Block 2

As I was deciding when to start the project, I was actually going to avoid starting on the first of the year so I won’t hear all of the statistics and news stories of how quickly people abandon their resolutions.  So why did I start this on January 1st?  I was looking at major days on the calendar, and realized that my birthday falls on the 100th day of the year.  I really don’t know how I had never realized this before, but that timing was too perfect to pass up.

Block 3

I am currently planning a quilt top that will have 100 blocks that each finish at 8″ square.  The first three blocks are shown in this post, and they have all been concentric circles centered on the background square.  I am not sure if I will continue this trend all the way through the project- there are so many other compositional options to consider, and I want to let the project evolve.  I am planning to use mostly solid fabrics, but there are going to be a few prints mixed in in the coming weeks.

I will be doing an occasional progress post here on the blog.  If you want to watch my progress daily, check out my Instagram feed or #100daycirclequilt