Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tips for Successfully Hand Piecing Hexies

In my last blog post, I mentioned a hexagon project I have been working on for quite some time. I have found some things that make the piecing a bit easier and MUCH neater.

The first big change I have made is that I'm now working in rows rather than "rounds." I WAS piecing the hexagons together into the traditional "flowers"--a center with six hexagons around it.

Now I'm putting the hexies together in rows. Then, I'm piecing the rows together.

It is MUCH easier to keep track of where I am on my pattern, and I'm finding it easier to put the hexies together this way.

Now, for the "secrets" to hiding those stitches. You can see the stitches between the hexies in the picture of the hexie "flower" above. I did that BEFORE I knew the "secrets." If you take a close look at the stitching between the hexies in the row above, you will notice that the stitches are not visible there. I learned the "secrets" from Mickey Depre on The Quilt Show in Episode 1302.

Because of that show, I'm now using a neutral-colored silk thread to sew the hexagons together--("Secret" 1). Previously, I was using a neutral-colored quilting thread. I LOVE using the silk. It doesn't show and it rarely tangles. Another change I made is that I'm no longer holding the hexagons right sides together to whip stitch them together. This picture shows how I used to do it.

In the show, Mickey suggests that you sew the pieces together side by side (see pic below) rather than right sides together (like the pic above)--("Secret" 2). I have to say, it took me a little while to get used to this method. I didn't like doing it at first; but once I got the "hang of it," I like it a lot. Of course, I LOVE the way it looks from the front. This method keeps ALL the stitching on the back of the project.

Hand piecing little hexies is slow work. It is also a REALLY good project to take along. If you are like me, on the road a lot or waiting a lot (waiting to pick up kids, waiting for appointments, waiting on kids from athletic practices, etc.), a hexie project is a good one. You don't have to go all crazy like I have, but a small hexie project might just "fit the bill."
The picture above shows what I have pieced together so far (once I switched over to piecing it together in rows). I know the picture is a little dark, but I think you can get the idea. There are about a thousand tiny hexies in this section. Will I EVER get it finished? I don't know, but I am enjoying the work right now. One of my friends told me how bored she would be with this project. I really don't get bored. I like the slow pace of handwork; I find peace in doing it. There is also something about that connection to the past--I hardly ever saw my Grandma Helen without some hand piecing project. It makes me smile.



kathy said...

Beth this is wonderful! I love it. I'm with you...handwork is not done to get "finished" is done for the pure enjoyment of it! Lovely work and thanks for sharing the tutorial.

Karol Kusmaul said...

Piece on, Beth. I love watching a project grow, even if it is slow going. Thanks for sharing this tip.

Angela S said...

Interesting ideas. I did a king sized grandmother's flower garden with paper pieces, it had something like 3000 pieces. At the same time I'm a beginner - this was actually my first quilt. I did the right sides together for attaching but thankfully couldn't often see the threads. Maybe I got lucky. I also found that hand quilting thread worked better than all purpose thread. The all purpose broke more often and was more frustrating to thread onto tiny needles. I did deal with tangles now and then and constantly had to untwist the thread so silk would be fun to try. I'm "working" on a yoyo quilt now but I've ignored it for a few months because while I have 1/2 the yoyos made, I dislike the task of connecting them. This brings me to my question about attaching the hexes in rows instead of flowers. I liked doing them in flowers because I was able to stitch continuously as well as because it was more portable that way. My issue now with the yoyos is needing to tie off constantly. I'd love some guidance there on how to not have that be so frustrating! Beautiful quilt!

Anyway here is the quilt I made: This is my mother in law's blog, she quilts all my quilt tops for me because she's amazing like that! :)