English Paper Piecing

Fussy-Cut Hexie Challenge Blog Hop: Tiny-Scale Fussy Cutting!

Fussy-cut Hexie Challenge Blog Hop

Today I am absurdly excited to be the first stop on The Fussy-Cut Hexie Challenge Blog Hop! This blog hop is to celebrate the fantabulous new book by my awesome friend Diane Gilleland (of Craftypod fame): All Points Patchwork.

All Points Patchwork by Diane Gilleland

I cannot tell you how much I love this book, but I’ll try: I FREAKING LOVE THIS BOOK. Seriously, dudes, it rules. I love English Paper Piecing, and hand-piecing in general, and you know I don’t often go for quick or easy projects. Quick and easy is for suckers. I absolutely love that Diane wrote a technique-oriented book, with a focus on learning a very specific technique very, very well – with full attention paid to every tiny aspect of EPP, from cutting fabric to the possibilities of each shape. There’s projects included, and they’re lovely, but the real prize here is all the other content – let me tell you, friends, if you have an even slight interest in English Paper Piecing or hand-stitching, you NEED this book. Go get it now now now.

So, for this blog hop, our challenge was simple: fussy-cut some hexagons. In case you’re not familiar with the term, fussy-cutting means that you choose the exact part of a print you use, rather than using all of a piece of fabric. I’ve never done any fussy-cutting before, so this seemed like the perfect challenge for me!

Tiny-scale fussy cutting!

Erm. Except that when I got down to it, I didn’t have anything terribly fussy-cut-friendly in my stash. Fussy-cutting is typically done with large-scale prints – florals or cute illustrations – and my stash is currently mostly small-scale geometrics and blenders. So how to combine my hostile stash with this technique??

Tiny-scale fussy cutting!

Why, cut up the teensy geometric elements, of course! I used 1/2″ hexies and went for fabrics that allowed the geometrics to be easily separated from the whole.

Tiny-scale fussy cutting!

Little stand-alone elements, such as the X’s in Cotton + Steel’s XOXO print work beautifully (Cotton + Steel in general has a lot of prints that work well for tiny fussy-cutting!), as well as stripes, zigzags, etc. There was a lot of trial-and-error, making hexies I didn’t use in the end, but even then, using tiny elements that repeat often on a print created much less wastage than fussy-cutting often does.

Tiny-scale fussy cutting!

My little wee quilt turned out to be 5″ x 19″ – just a sliver of a normal mini-quilt! And as I was sewing it together, the line ‘summer autumn winter spring’ (from one of my very favorite poems – “anyone lived in a pretty how town”, by ee cummings), popped into my head. It always charmed me the way that cummings lists the seasons in different orders in that poem, the years just going ’round and ’round, and that one gets stuck in my head sometimes. Looking at my tiny quilt, I realized these four hexie-flowers are a bit like the four seasons – and so my little quilt has a name.

Tiny-scale fussy cutting!

I’ve absolutely loved taking part in this challenge and finding a fun, new way to try this technique! Be sure to stop by the other fussy-cutting blog-hoppers throughout this week and see what amazingness they’ve created for this challenge!


But wait, don’t go yet! To celebrate the release of All Points Patchwork and this blog hop and everything good in the world, there’s a giveaway to enter: a set of Clover’s Black Gold hand-sewing needles and a Quilt Needle Threader!

Clover Giveaway!

NICE. International entries welcome, and entries will close at midnight on Sunday, June 7th, so hurry up and enter via Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hand-Pieced Mini Swap

I haven't any hand-stitching to do since I finished my peels appliqué. This are fun. #handpiecedminiswap #teamemiroos

As if I don’t have enough to do, I recently joined the Hand-Pieced Mini-Quilt Swap on IG, organized by Jo from A Life in Lists. I haven’t taken part in a lot of swaps in my crafty time, and I think this has to be my last for a while so I can catch up on other stuff, but with a hand-stitching void in my life since my peels were finished, I just couldn’t resist!

This is a little bit out of my comfort zone – everything else I’m working on behind the scenes is heading in a much more minimalist, quiet sort of direction, but I didn’t think that was my partner’s style. After a TON of doodling, I finally landed on this EPP design, with a fabric arrangement that I hope combines my urge to pare down with her love of brighter designs.

Whatchu think about these fabrics, partner? #teamemiroos #handpiecedminiswap

Of course I can’t quite show you more yet, but you’ll see soon enough! And if you’re on IG, follow my sneaky progress peeks over there.

Project Flashback / Revisit: 1930s Hexies

1930s GFG Revisted

I can’t even remember the last time I posted about this forever-long, slow crafting project, but I’ve had my 1930s Grandmother’s Flower Garden on the brain lately. I even pulled them off the dusty shelf to stitch a few together over the last week, which I haven’t done in at least a year, I imagine.

I definitely lost interest in this project over time. The thing is, when I started these hexies, I had a completely different outlook on sewing, hand-sewing in particular, and quilting. For one thing, it was my only hand-work project at the time – my little bit on the side, if you will. There was no hurry about it because it didn’t compete with anything else.

But now? Now I have a million hand-stitching projects I want to get into. And basically a million other projects too. The hexies always got put aside from time to time, as other projects took priority, but I would always gravitate back to them as a quiet evening project.

My orange peels took over as my relaxing hand-stitching for many months, but now that they’re finished (more on the quilting of them, finally!, later this week), I have a hand-sewing vacuum. I’ve been considering other projects, and I’ve signed up for the Instagram Hand-Pieced Mini Swap, so I’ll have to get that started soon, but generally? My mind keeps drifting back to the 1930s hexies, feeling a little guilty that they’ve been so abandoned, and then I think … meh.

1930s GFG Revisted

I wondered for a few days why I’ve gone off them so spectacularly, when I loved them so much before, and I think I’ve realized that my quilting style and taste has changed somewhat since then. I wanted that to be a really traditional quilt, as if it came right out of the 1930s. I really thought it should be by-the-book traditional.

But now. I’ve noticed a lot of people using the term “Modern Traditional” lately (I mean, I’ve noticed lately – I doubt that’s a new term), and I feel that does really apply to my sense of patchwork style. Traditional and historical patchwork fascinates me, but I like to think about how those same patterns can be updated with modern fabrics and color combinations. So how is a straight-from-the-feedsack Grandmother’s Flower Garden going to fit into that?

As I was thinking this, I saw this quilt on Pinterest – pinned by my good friend, Christa. I’d always assumed that I’d set the hexagon flowers in paths of plain white, and I considered possibly adding diamond paths in green – but again, a very traditional, soft, 1930s green. But that blue! WOW. That’s clearly an antique / vintage quilt (tracing it down the Pinterest path reveals no specific information about it) but it’s so modern with that intense blue! Just looking at it immediately breathed new life into my hexies.

I have no idea what color I’ll use in the end – I’m sort of considering a deep gray right now, something quite dark like Kona Coal or Charcoal, or maybe even the nearly-black Pepper! The soft 30s colors would look so lovely against a dark color like those. More thoughts on this to come, I’m sure, but for now I’m just glad to have my hexies back on the brain.

EPP Diamond Pillows FO; or, How it Took 18 Months to Sew Two Pillows

EPP Diamond Pillows

Huzzah! The EPP diamond pillow covers are finished!

I can’t believe this project took me a year and a half. I do think I was a bit overzealous taking these on when my only EPP experience was with a bunch of hexagons: for one thing, hexagons are magic to sew together. I can’t really say why exactly but they are just easier than other shapes. Or at least I think so. And the other thing: I hadn’t hand-sewn anything more than a few coasters on a deadline when I thought this project up. I somehow didn’t realize at all how long this would take, with each round of diamonds larger than the one before, and so very much basting to do. There was a point where I was so frustrated with how slow it was going, I had to put it away for a while (ahem, months) before I was able to face it again.

EPP Diamond Pillows

So perhaps it was a little foolish to take on such an involved project with a deadline – as a gift. But luckily, Mom is understanding of these insane things and didn’t make me feel bad about it. When I did pull them back out again, I’d done some more involved EPP in the meantime and that little bit of extra experience made a big difference. (I can tell I’d learned some stuff in between, because the stitching on the second pillow is far better than the first.)

EPP Diamond Pillows

So finally, finally, they are done and ready to be given to their new owner. The tops are completely hand-sewn, then machine quilted and assembled. The fabrics are all Kona Cottons with one print from Tula Pink’s Plume line (oh, how I love Plume and desperately wish I could have some more – those feathers!!!). And, well, that’s that!

EPP Diamond Pillows

Now I’m thinking about some new pillows for my own bedroom – but not sewn by hand. Probably.

There’s more photos of these pillows in my Flickr photostream if you’d like to see!

Star-Hexies on Sew Mama Sew!

I’m so crazy, ridiculous, bonkers excited to tell you that my first tutorial for the always-awesome Sew, Mama, Sew is today’s post! EEEEP! How crazy is that?!

Star-Hexies with Sew, Mama, Sew!

I’ve contributed a little English Paper Piecing tutorial for these lovely Star-Hexies (a star-in-a-hexagon) – I’m absolutely smitten with them and could make a million, just for the hell of it. I hope you’ll go over there and check it out!

If you’ve popped over from Sew, Mama, Sew – hey! how you doin’? And if you love English Paper Piecing like I do, I hope you’ll stick around – there’s some exciting EPP news in the works as we speak! It’s all happening!

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