I live on the southern shore of Lake Erie where winter is "mostly cloudy". As long as the lake remains open (not frozen), we seem to have a surplus of cloudy weather, so I was "all in" when Project Quilting 9 announced the perfect "cheer me up" challenge last Sunday.
and have I got yellow fabric -- this is just 1/3 of it!!
The color yellow is hard to print on fabric -- can't remember any of the long explanation one of my fabric reps shared with me years ago of why that is so, but it motivated me to always buy 1/4 to 1/2 yard of every "good" yellow print I've seen, so when I need some yellow, I have an amazing assortment from which to chose!!
I started right into work on Monday pulling fabric and there in the yellow stacks was this cheerful print!!
And with that, one of my "creative mergers" began to happen!
Bees, bees need honeycomb, yellow fabrics, hexagons, Set-In Piecing Simplified, Marti Michell's templates!!
30 minutes of play in Electric Quilt produced this layout and the cutting began in earnest.
One of the first steps in working with my own design is to figure out how to break it down into small units that are repeated over and over in the design. (Thank you Mary Ellen Hopkins for forcing me to do this back in the 1980's!!!) This cluster of 4 hexagons was the repeating unit I focused on through out this design -- many of them were identical in fabric, so I began by piecing 24 of them. This unit of 4 made it easy to maintain the chain-piecing momentum of Set-In Piecing Simplified (a learning guide is available in my Etsy shop HERE).
Once those 24 units were pieced, I worked with my diagram to lay the quilt up on the design wall, adding the flower hexagons and the partial hexagons along the edges to create a straight edge.
After all the pieces were in place and I was satisfied with the layout, I started to join units together -- I find this less cumbersome to manage than stitching the hexagons into rows of single hexagons.
The next few pictures follow the progress of the upper left corner of the quilt.
I started with three units.
At one point, I timed myself -- okay I was trying to impose some discipline -- only 30 minutes of stitching and then I needed to address other "must-do's". I can piece between 35 and 40 seams (1 1/2" long) in 30 minutes.
And here is the corner ready to go back on the design wall!
There are always two units growing and so the chain-piecing strategy can be maintained as I work back and forth between the two of them.
Can you pick out the cluster of four hexagons in each of these sections and see the logic of my strategy? When I took this picture, I was working on the lower left corner.
I do goof up occasionally and that means it's time to quit for the day!
"That's not right, Mary!!"
I've stumbled into the habit of lining up all the seams to the left that are already stitched and giving the piece a shake to make it easier to line up the two hexagons I'm preparing to stitch (where I'm pointing). It's hard to photograph so you can visualize it, but it works like a charm!
My goal was to create larger and larger sections while still being able to switch back and forth between two sets and keep the chain-piecing going. Those hunks of fabric around the piece are backing auditions -- the blue check was the winner!
Finally, I had two halves -- just 29 seams to go! To keep the chain-piecing strategy going, I used pieces from a UFO to be sew-offs (leaders and enders) between each of the seams in the quilt. By the time I finished this last seam of the quilt, I had also pieced 58 more pieces of that UFO together. I prefer to continue to chain-piece even at this stage because
one of the benefits of the technique is that the ends of y-seams more secure than any other method of piecing y-seams.
I also don't press any of the seams when y-seaming until the entire piece is assembled.
That makes it easier to push seams already stitched out of the way for each y-seam and nothing gets caught where I don't want it!!
It does make the pressing a bit tedious in the end, but once I find the rhythm and flow, I put on some fun music and forge on! It also enables me to press the entire piece uniformly making it easier to quilt.
Here's a close-up of my quilting -- a simple grid that moves along the lines of the patchwork. Since I pressed it uniformly, the location of the "ditch" along any diagonal row of hexagons is always the same.
And here's the finished piece!
Honey Bee Hop
You know? It's that dance the bees do when they find the flowers and want to let everyone else know!! I chose to let the bees "tumble" around because that's how they "waggle".
It's a lot of yellow, isn't it?
And cheerful, too!!
Some statistics for you -- I used 1 1/2" hexagons and the quilt is 31" by 41".
Every bit of fabric is from my stash -- yeaaaaa!!!
You can look at all the other YELLOW responses to Project Quilting's challenge HERE and vote for your favorite ten!! There are 119 projects to look at so better get a cuppa'.
If you are interested in having a simple handout of this hexagon quilt to adapt to your own work, leave me a comment and if the interest is there, I put one together.