making

Flower Power Mini Quilt

Sometime after finishing my first Miniature Quilt ‘Garden of Patience’ I started what would turn out to be a long term quarter inch hexie project. I decided that I wanted to make a giant hexagon flower. Each petal would be a different colour of the rainbow and would be pieced from quarter inch hexies. Now I didn’t record the date I started this insane idea, but I’m taking a guess that it was approximately seven or so years ago.

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Piecing the petals.

 

This year I decided that I was going to finish all of my English Paper Piecing WIP’s because I have quite a few of them! I had a rummage through my WIP basket and came across a couple of finished and half-finished petals for my hexagon flower quilt. Straight away I knew this was one that I had to get finished. Over the next few months I pieced together the individual petals, finishing the ones I had already started and starting the colours I hadn’t yet begun. At last I had all seven petals pieced.

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Piecing the petals to the center

 

The project gained steam now as I could start to see it coming together. The petals pieced I began to sew them together, first attaching each petal to the centre white pieced hexagon, and then piecing the sides between each petal. That done I needed to decide how I was going to finish off the flower. Did I want to leave it as just the centre and petals? Did I want to square it off and add in a multi-coloured arrangement of quarter inch hexie flowers with borders? I spent a bit of time weighing up my options before settling on adding diamond shaped blocks pieced from more quarter inch hexies in white and cream fabrics. This allowed me to create one giant pieced hexagon shape with six straight edges.

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Petals are all pieced to the center, time to piece the petal sides together
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Piecing on the diamond corner blocks

The piecing complete, it was time to attach it to backing fabric. I did some stash diving and settled on a neutral pale cream cotton fabric. I used a large square of visafix to adhere the piecing to the backing. I then also did some thread basting along the sides to help keep the work in place and to try and avoid distorting the backing fabric while I hand appliqued around the six sides of the piecing on to the backing.

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Appliquing on to the backing fabric

The applique complete I then had to decide how to quilt it. I knew I didn’t want to do any kind of visible quilting over the top of the pieced quarter inch hexies as I thought it would detract from the overall look and design. I didn’t want all of my painstakingly pieced hexies to be hidden under quilting stitches! In the end I decided to hand quilt very tiny stitches along the sides of each petal. I’m going to try and explain this as best I can. I would do a very small stitch in the corner of an individual quarter inch hexie piece, then bring my needle up in the next corner of the hexie piece. I would continue in this manner along the edges of each petal joint. What it created was virtually invisible stitches on the front and larger stitches on the back. It has had the desired affect though. The piece is not interrupted by quilt stitches, but it has done the job in connecting the front of the quilt through the wadding to the back of the quilt.

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Sewing tiny quilting stitches
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Quilting along the edge

I then decided to hand quilt small visible quilt stitches following the outline of the whole pieced hexagon. That done the whole project sat for two months waiting for me to come back and finish it off properly. I had left a border of the backing fabric so I needed to decide how I was going to quilt that. I decided to machine quilt it and drew three lines of quilting following the hexagon sides and radiating out. The first quilt line measure a quarter inch out from the piecing, the next line measure half an inch from the first quilting line, and the third measures three quarter inch from the second quilting line. This has then left me with about a half inch of border fabric before the binding which measures quarter inch. I was pretty pleased with how that symmetry worked out.

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The binding is hand sewn on to the back. I stash dived for both the backing and binding fabrics. I trialled a couple of different binding fabrics before settling on the neutral taupe colour.

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The back
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Hanging sleeve for rod and ribbon loops to hang on wall hooks

And just like that my ‘Flower Power Mini Quilt’ is finished. I love it! It brings such a happy burst of loveliness to my studio wall. It feels great to finally get this piece finished. It’s really quite satisfying to see all the time and effort that goes into something for it to then bloom in front of your very eyes.

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Without further ado, here are the quilt Stats:

Finished Quilt Size: Each hexagon side = 11.5”  Width = 23”  x  Height = 20”

Finished Pieced Size: Each hexagon side = 8.5”  Width = 17.5”  x  Height = 15.25”

Binding Size: ¼”

Hexagon piece size = 1/$”

Hexagon Centre and Petal individual hexie count = 127

Total Count (7 Petal Blocks) = 889

Diamond individual hexie count = 42

Total Count (6 diamond blocks) = 252

Grand Total Quarter Inch Hexie Count = 1,141

Time

Hexie Prep = 7.5hrs (cutting out and basting the hexie pieces) (that’s pretty conservative really, probably a lot more time than that!)

Hexie Flower Piecing: Individual Petal = 15hrs    Total for 7 petals = 105hrs

Piecing Petals together = 8.5hrs

Piecing the diamond borders on = 24.5hrs

Applique = 4.5hrs

Quilting = 4hrs

Finishing and Binding = 4hrs

Grand Total time to make = 158hrs

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What the back of all that piecing looks like!

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making

Garden of Patience

Many years ago, I discovered English Paper Piecing. Very quickly I fell down a rabbit hole that would lead me to spending hours upon hours, cutting out fabric, carefully basting it to cardboard shapes & then painstakingly sewing them together again…by hand. I started with the quite respectable size of one inch hexagons and began to make myself a scrappy hexagon quilt (a project that is still ‘in the making’). Then I discovered something even more amazing. Mum and I made our usual yearly pilgrimage to the Sydney Quilt and Craft show. Here amongst the rows of quilts on display I came across a small wall hanging quilt that was created with quarter inch hexagons. I was immediately struck by it, so much so that it’s hard to describe just how in awe I was. I was amazed someone could sew such tiny hexies together, or that they even had a desire to work in such a small scale. Something about that quilt stuck in my mind and not long after I came across a packet of quarter inch hexagons in a local quilt shop. Quickly, I found myself purchasing them and thus began my foray in to the wonderful world of Miniature English Paper Piecing.

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Garden of Patience Issue One

I set about making hexie flowers. The first couple of times basting the shapes was tricky, but I quickly discovered a method that worked for me. I have tweaked my paper piecing methods over the many years I’ve been doing this style of patchwork. When I first started I used to tack through the paper and fabric, whereas now I baste through the fabric only. My method of folding and adding basting stitches has changed, and I’m always adjusting what seam allowance to cut based on which type of shape I’m using and the size.

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Garden of Patience Issue One

Once I had amassed a collection of hexie flowers I began piecing them together. I didn’t have a clear idea in my mind what size quilt I was making, I just kept making flowers and adding them in. Eventually I started to square the quilt up and decided I wanted to make it roughly A3 size to fit in an Ikea Ribba Frame. Once finished my first quarter inch hexie Miniature Quilt was made up from a total of 1,004 hexagons, with 129 flowers. I didn’t record the hours I spent making it, but it was many! I decided to name it Garden of Patience, very apt don’t you think?

I felt a great sense of accomplishment at the completion of my first Miniature EPP Quilt. It was a true labour of love. I discovered my passion in craft and making lied in hand sewing. The slow stitching nature of it soothes my soul and clears my mind.

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Garden of Patience Issue One

Not long after finishing it, a friend invited me to show my quilt at her stall at the annual Springwood Quilt Show. I happily accepted and helped man her stall over a couple of days, marvelling in the incredulous looks of people when they came to look at my quilt. I got a lot of comments like “How’s your eyesight” or “You’ll go blind doing that” and “you’ve got too much time on your hands”. I was ‘crazy’ and ‘insane’ apparently for hand stitching something so tiny. One thing that was true of the comments from viewers was that yes, I did have a lot of patience. Comments like these don’t offend me. I’m always proud of my work and what I can create on such a small scale. I always tell people that sewing quarter inch hexies is no different to sewing one-inch hexies, I use the same small whip stitches, just less of them and the pieces are just smaller to hold between your fingers.

After unveiling my Garden of Patience Miniature quilt, I received a call from a lovely local lady who commissioned me to make her a version, and so I completed my second Garden of Patience, Issue Two. This time I did record the time it took me to create, 186.5 hours! I added more hexagons and hexie flowers to this one so that when framed the pieced quilt extends a little under the mounting board so that no backing fabric can be seen.

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Garden of Patience Issue Two

I don’t really remember when I started Garden of Patience Issue Three and Four. I know I completed my Four Seasonal Garden Miniature Quilts first. Again, I started out by making flowers. I knew I wanted two different colour palettes, one in fresh pastel spring tones, and one in more muted tones. I dropped in and out of working on these two issues. By the time I had started them I had begun experimenting with other shapes in miniature size, diamonds, triangles and squares. I had also started making my Miniature EPP Hoop Wall Hangings, my core design of these being my Hexie Hearts.

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Garden of Patience Issue Three
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Garden of Patience Issue Three

Garden of Patience Issue Three was finished sometime last year…or possibly even the year before. I didn’t record my time for this version, but estimate it to be around 180-190 hours. The hexagon count is a bit less than Issue Two, 1035 total hexagons and 130 hexagon flowers. This time allocation doesn’t include appliqueing the finished piece on to backing cloth for framing as I haven’t done that yet. Garden of Patience Issue Four was finished this year in April. It has the same hexagon count as Issue Three, and I would guess time to create it would be around the same also.

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Garden of Patience Issue Four
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Garden of Patience Issue Four

Will there be an Issue Five? Well maybe, if someone wanted to commission me to make one, I might consider it. I feel I am done with this particular Miniature Quilt though. Hexagons are such a versatile shape when it comes to creating patterns and designs. I have so many ideas bouncing around my head and I think I’d like to realise them in Miniature Quilts.

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Until next time, don’t fear the humble quarter inch hexagon, it is worth the effort, and needle pricks!

Happy Stitching,

Miss Leela x

Garden of Patience Issue Three and Four are for sale. I can sell them framed or unframed, so if your interested in one of these Miniature Quilt Artworks (as I feel they should be referred to), please feel free to contact me.