Thursday, December 27, 2012
Central Park Flower Garden
For a good long time, I didn't really get the whole english paper piecing hexagon craze. I saw lots of hexagon flowers popping up in my flickr and blog feeds but didn't really pay them too much attention. Then I started going to quilt bee meetings, and I found myself scrambling to get my most current project in a state where it was portable. I was either rushing to quilt something so I could bind by hand at the meeting, or I would start a new project just so I could bring some fabric to cut on my little portable cutting mat, etc. One night at bee, I ran out of stuff to do - I finished all the portable work I brought for that meeting. One of the women was kind enough to show me her hexagon/flower garden project and show me how to baste the fabric around the templates. I won't lie. The basting I did that night was pretty darn rough, but I caught the bug. I went home that night, browsed the internet for some hexy inspiration, and started planning my first hexagon project.
I decided to start with the traditional flower shape. I had been hoarding a charm pack - Kate Spain's Central Park, and I was ready to put it to use. I cut it up into a bunch of 2.5" squares - they're the perfect size for basting 1" hexagons. In retrospect, I maybe should have picked out a charm pack without so many large-scale prints. When I cut them into the tiny pieces, some of the prints lost a bit of their charm (get it? 'cuz they're charm squares?), but oh well. Live and learn.
I picked out a couple of complimentary solids for the center hexagon and the outer rings on the flowers and started basting away. Complimentary solids = Kona Buttercup (yellow) and Kona Grass (green).
By the way, Kona Grass is one of my new favorite solids now - it's the perfect green for so many different stacks of fabric that will one day be quilts in my stash. It took between 1/2-2/3 yard of each solid to make enough hexagons for the flower's outer border and the centers.
For my templates, I just use scratch copy paper, and I print off my templates from here, using the 1" template. I'm able to use the templates 3-4 times before they start getting ratty and too pliable. Then they're off to the shredder and then to the compost. Admittedly, it does take time to cut out all those hexagons, but I'm too cheap to spring for the plastic templates. Also, my hexagon projects are my mindless projects, so I don't want to have to think so hard about the best way to construct the hexy shapes in order to re-use a limited number of plastic templates. For me, taking the time to cut out the shapes on copy paper is totally worth it.
It took about 8 months and a heckalotta football games for me to finish the flowers. I took them everywhere - to bee, on road trips, on visits to see family where I knew we'd be sitting and talking for a long time, and then I worked on them in front of the TV while we cleared out the DVR on the weekends. I very, very briefly toyed with the idea of joining them all together to make an all-hexy quilt top, then quickly decided I didn't want to live with this project for that long.
So I just pressed them and machine appliqued them onto some bright blue background fabric (Kona Bahama Blue, 2 different die lots of it apparently) with a blanket stitch.
For the quilting, I used a "chicken scratch" stitch that I first saw from Elizabeth Hartman. See her guest post on the Modern Quilt Guild blog for some great pictures of this stitch (and for tips on wrastling a big quilt into your domestic machine). The quilting on this went incredibly quickly - it's a great pattern if you're in a hurry to finish holiday projects but are weary of regular stippling.
The backing is a great purple print from JoAnn's, and I used an orange Tanya Whelan print from the stash to bind it. There are a lot of crazy colors going on in this quilt, but the charm pack had lots of colors going on, so it all ties back together.
This quilt is on its way to Durham Foster Care via TMQG. I know there's some kid out there in town with a strong affinity for bright colors and a need for a cuddly quilt of their very own.
Started: August 2011
Finished: November 2012
Hand and machine-pieced, Machine quilted