Friday, May 31, 2013

Hexie Fever!

4 years ago I started my 1st English Paper Piecing Quilt project. I chose to work with 1" hexagons. Even though I chose the common grandmothers flower garden layout design...I decided to do a large quilt, a king sized bed quilt. When I started it I had no idea what I was doing or how long it was going to take me. At the time I wanted a hand quilt project to do while I recuperated in bed after my surgery. Along my journey I have learned so much and since I started it over 4 years ago. There also seems to be "Hexie Fever" everywhere in the quilt blogging world this year.
When I first started there wasn't a lot of info out on the web. I came across a tutorial video over at she sells Mylar template hexagon shapes as well as other EPP shapes. She also sold the acrylic window template with a 1/4" seam allowance in order to cut out the Hexie shapes on fabric. When I started I followed her directions. But it seams like my 1/4" seam allowance was getting eaten away by wrapping it around the Mylar template. So I found a website (which the link is in my side bar of this blog) that would generate any size Hexie I needed. Then I printed it off on card stock and painstakingly cut around each little Hexie with my scissors (I made my card stock templates a scant smaller than 1" so I would have more seam allowance using the acrylic window fabric template. This worked ok until you have to start cutting out THOUSANDS of hexies. Also I found that because of hand cutting them out my template shapes were off a little here a little there. So my search continued to find what worked best for me.....

I came across vendors on Etsy, Ebay and the web that sold precut hexagon papers (which I did not want to use-not enough stability for my liking). Some even sold the precut hexies in cardstock! Then I found an  acrylic hexie template that includes a 3/8" seam allowance from  Life was getting easier in the EPP world :0)   
However if you have worked with paper templates or even the cardstock templates they tend to fall apart after using them a few times. I wanted something that would last longer (like the Mylar templates without the hefty price tag for what I had in mind for my quilt studio.

Then this past month I was watching one of Bonnie Hunter's Quilt Cam episodes on her blog and a follower posted her about her hexie quilt she was making. She said she recently found a Hexagon Squeeze Paper Punch made by Fiskars! Boy did my ears perked up...I wanted to know more about this punch, what sizes did it come in, where could I buy one, did it cut template/Mylar plastic or just paper and cardstock? I did a search and found some on Ebay. One vender showed the size of the punched hexie on a 1/4" grid so I knew before buying that the XL hexagon squeeze punch by Fiskars was in deed for the 1" hexies that I use!!!! they also have 2 smaller sizes the Large which produces 3/4" hexies and the Medium which produces 1/2" hexies. Ok so cutting templates that will last in the my size just got easier!!   

A couple of years ago Accuquilt Go came out with a hexagon die in 3 sizes on it (2", 3", 5") these where the size across the widest part of the hexie (and not the side as most hexies are measured by). So with a little playing around I was able to figure out what size hexie template would work best for me (remember I like a generous seam allowance of 3/8"). So the smallest hexie shape that I have labeled 2 in the above pic works best for me using a 5/8" hexie template (1/2" hexie too small while the 3/4" hexie was too big for it). The middle one labeled 3 works perfect for my 1" hexie templates. And finally the last one labeled 5 works best with 2" hexie templates. Yup, I am a happier girl now that cutting templates are easier, cheaper, and faster but also cutting the hexie fabric shapes are easier as well!!!!   
Ok, so if you ever started a EPP and in my case a hexie project to be specific; you would know that it is very addictive. Here I am at the end of my hexie project (from 4 years ago) and what I learned is the following....
1) I love to hand piece
2) I love working with the 1" hexie shape
3) I also love using Bonnie Hunter's scrap user system (do you know where this is heading?, lol)
I started taking my batik scraps/crumbs/squares and turning them into 1" basted hexies....but where to store them? In the above pic I had 3 window tins that I saved from a few Christmas' back which had some bath & body works stuff in them. I figured I could store 4 rows of 1" hexies in each. Allowing me to have 1 row for each color I keep in my stash storage. I started out as a good idea....but hey did I tell you that "I REALLY LIKE THE 1" HEXIES?"  
So it wasn't long before I realized that if this was going to be a permanent part of my scrape user system I needed to come up with a better way of storing them. Yup! Hexie storage drawers! One for each of the 12 colors that I separate my stash in. They fit perfectly under the drawers I store my 1 1/2" strips in.    
Here's a top view peeking into my pink hexie drawer. Many shades of pink and all from batik scraps. So far they are only batiks in these drawers but I may add other pink fabrics in as well as time goes by depending on my scrap sizes.

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