Monday, January 22, 2018

Retreat Stitching

Greetings from balmy Northeast Ohio!
We are having a bit of thaw, snow has melted, birds are singing, people are out walking -- but the snow and cold will be back in a day or two.
I'm unpacking from my retreat this past weekend in Ohio's Amish country.
It's a lovely scenic rural area though you do have to get off the main roads to enjoy scenery like this!
I don't know what your house is like, but in my house all flat surfaces are "pile magnets" so the prospect of a table with nothing on it all to myself for 3 days determined my work schedule for the retreat.  My main goal would be to begin creating the four large central motifs for my version of Marge Sampson-George's Dodecagon quilt.

I have been studying my layout "sketch" (draw in Electric Quilt) for the past month and auditioning for the best focal print. Part of the trick of making any quilt is deciding on the best assembly strategy!
I've accumulated dozens of 1" basted hexagons in yellows, greens, and rosy pinks. 
The time to start assembling has arrived!
I cut four of the large motifs and gave them a pressing with Best Press.
Each motif will be appliqued in place centered inside a diamond shaped wreath of 1" hexagons.
In order to do the applique easily, I need to remove the papers from the back side of the black hexagons, but I also need the edges of the hexagons to be stable.
Therefore I decided to border the black hexagons with the next row on all four sides.
That meant making four strips of hexagons that matched the layout sketch -- this creates sashing elements between the dodecagon motifs.
My friend, Karen, over at Faeries & Fibres taught me to make these bands of hexagons and then set them together rather than adding single hexagons to a unit one at a time.
So here are the eight bands I need to assemble the outer edges of these units.
Now I can continue from one joining seam to the next with a single thread and it's less awkward to hold.
I'm hope those of you who do English paper piecing have adopted the habit of using the little clips to hold pieces in place -- it minimizes the stress on my hands!

Here are the eight bands sewn into four pairs with the black filler hexagons in position.  I added these before setting the four pairs of bands into the final "wreath". 
Now I've added the filler hexagons and joined together the the pairs of bands at the ends.
Once the final seams of the bands are joined, I removed the papers from the back side of all the black hexagons.  Since my basting doesn't go through the papers, the seams all stay in place without pressing.
Next step is to center the diamond shaped wreath of hexagons over the large floral motif.  I baste it in place while keeping it flat on the table.  Then it's ready to be appliqued. 
Here it is sitting next to the second hexagon wreath in process.
Once all four of the floral motifs are in place, I'll be ready to set them together with the dodecagons which are surrounded by black hexagons.  I'm anxious to get to this point but must be patient and wait until all four motifs are in place!
(Those white blobs at the top of the pieces are my position notes.)
I was pleasantly surprised at how relaxed I was about just hand stitching for the three days of the retreat!!  I also cut out two shirts and two apron panels -- once they are cut out, the sewing is much more likely to happen -- and finished a small applique motifs on an ancient UFO.

How about this farewell sunset from Saturday evening.  I was watching out across these fields for a short-eared owl (who never showed).  I live in an old neighborhood and we don't get views of the horizon like this!!
So it's back to the "urgent" deadlines for this week.
I'm looking forward to my next retreat at the beginning of March and thinking seriously about designating it as another "hand stitching" event for myself!



  1. Thanks for the tutorial on the hexie border, even though it's not really a 'border'. I'm not making this pattern but I do need to something similar. Having 2 rows of hexies gives a lot more stability than a single row. Happy stitching. Enjoy the thaw.

  2. So loving your dodecagon project. May have to add it to my bucket list.Your retreat was so productive. Thanks for the process.

  3. That is going to be one beautiful quilt. It's amazing to me how relaxing it is to just piece those little hexies together. Much to my amazement, I've completed two EPP quilts (both at least twin size). Won't be giving those away! Looking forward to seeing the finished quilt!

  4. LOL--flat surface=pile magnet! This looks like an amazing heirloom project.

  5. What beauties! A) I love the scenery shots in the sunset and snow. There is nothing as wonderful as the beauty of nature! But B) I love your paper piecing. It is so unusual to see the applique over a section of a floral print. And it is stunning to have it set off by your wonderful handwork. That is a long term objective! Good luck!

  6. Love your dodecagons! What size dodecagons are you making?