Tag Archives: English paper piecing

Mid Atlantic Mod – sewing retreat

I am just back from a 4 day sewing retreat held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Mid-Atlantic Mod was arranged as a gathering of three area modern quilt guilds – DC, Philadelphia and Central New Jersey (although there were a few members of other MQGs there as well).

DC Modern Quilt Guild members

DC Modern Quilt Guild members

What a weekend! It is such an absolute pleasure to get away and be with this group of quilters. For a “first time” event, it was extremely well planned by Katie, Jessica, and Andrew. The retreat started on Thursday and didn’t end until Sunday at 6 PM. Participants brought their own projects to sew but throughout the weekend, there were various optional activities that you could chose to do – or not.

There was a tote bag swap. We were given a yard of Robert Kaufman Essex Linen a few months ago to incorporate into a tote bag. On the night of the swap everyone who brought a finished tote bag, got one that someone else had made.

Tote bag swap!

Tote bag swap!

Tote bag that I made.

Tote bag that I made.

Tote bag that I received.

Tote bag that I received  – I love it!

There were 60 minute long workshops on Saturday and Sunday. I taught a workshop on English Paper Piecing. I love that modern quilters are interested in this age old technique. I believe that the reason for this is that it is such a portable project and doesn’t require any special or expensive equipment. Very intricate designs can be sewn together with just a simple hand stitch. Thank you to Paper Pieces.com and the Colonial Needle Company for donating supplies for my EPP workshop.

EPP hexagon "kit" donated by www.paperpieces.com

EPP hexagon “kits” donated by http://www.paperpieces.com

Needles and thread donated by the Colonial Needle Company

Needles and thread donated by the Colonial Needle Company

EPP - Old and new.

EPP – Old and new.

Click on Mid Atlantic Mod – English Paper Piecing to download a copy of the EPP handout that I made up for my workshop. I encourage anyone and everyone to give it a try!

There were 3 progressive quilt tops that were sewn during the retreat. Those participants that wished to work on one or more of these came prepared with a quilt block that met certain specifications and then those blocks were used to create a top as one person after another worked with them. Here are the final quilts:

Low volume with pops of color

Low volume with pops of color



Stripes and solids

Stripes and solids

These progressive quilts were not something that I wanted to work on, but it was VERY interesting to watch them change and grow over the course of 4 days. One lucky participant got to keep each one at the end of the retreat – I think that there was a random drawing of those who worked on one to decide who “won” it.

On Friday night there was a “mixer” and we were served hors d’oeuvres and cocktails made just for our group (with names like “seam ripper”) and persuaded to mix with each other by constant give aways being given to those who changed seats.

On Saturday night we had a pajama party and sewed in our PJs. The group made pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer.

Pillowcases made for ConKer Cancer.

Pillowcases made for ConKerr Cancer.

I traveled to the retreat with my friend Anne. While we were there one of the participants was selling a Featherweight sewing machine and Anne tried it out and ended up buying it.

Anne and her "new" sewing machine.

Anne and her “new” sewing machine.

We did so much sewing and had so much fun. Thank you so much to the organizers and sponsors. Let’s do it again next year!




Filed under DC Modern Quilt Guild, Purses and Bags

Hexagon Resources

From the book “hexa go-go”

I’ve been a little hexagon crazed lately and I don’t think that I am alone. The saying “what was once old, is new again” comes to mind. There are a lot of good places online to find information and see projects made from English paper pieced hexagons.

Do you belong to Flickr? It is a photo sharing website and a place where many quilters share pictures and descriptions of their quilts. There are different Flickr groups where you can see hundreds of photos of things made of pieced hexagons. A few with the most pictures are (Handsome) Hexies and Grandma’s Garden. There is also an English paper piecing group on Flickr where I found this wonderful link to a picture tutorial by Sunshine Creations’s Vintage Threads.

English paper piecing tutorial by Sunshine’s Creations Vintage Threads

This tutorial includes “Ways of cutting fabric”, “Basting” and “Assembly”. Very concise but it covers so much information!

Do you know about Craftsy.com? Craftsy offers online video classes involving quilting, knitting, and garment sewing to name a few.  Most of the classes have a fee which is usually quite reasonable and are often on sale.  You can download the video instructions and watch it whenever and for as many times as you wish. It is also set up so that you can communicate with the instructor and others in the class through a forum.  I have bought and watched several of these classes and I really enjoy them. Craftsy offers a FREE block of the month class by Amy Gibson. It started in January 2012 and the April blocks are English paper pieced hexagons.

Craftsy April Block of the Month

This Craftsy class gives great video instructions for making this and another hexagon themed block. If you enroll in this free class, you will be able to see the instructions for all of the blocks from the other months as well. Each month focuses on a completely different technique.

There is a wonderful quilt book published recently called “hexa go – go” by Tacha Bruecher.

This book includes 16 english paper pieced quilt projects as well as basic instructions for the technique in general. Two of the projects seem especially suited for working on in front of the 2012 Olympics.

Union Jack

Stars and Stripes

Would you like to watch some short video tutorials on piecing hexagons?  YouTube is the place for that. Here are a couple that I thought were helpful.

As you can see, it’s easy to spend LOTS of time looking at and learning about hexagons instead of actually sewing them! Got to go sew now. Hope that you do too!


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Traveling hexagons

If you have followed my last couple of blog posts, you know that I’ve been traveling. I brought the ultimate traveling sewing project with me – English paper pieced hexagons!

A group of hexagons sewn together.

Before I left home, I grabbed this great set of fat quarters that my dear niece had given me.

Fun group of fat quarters

I had already purchased a package of 100 one-inch hexagon precut paper shapes.

Package of precut paper hexagons

I found these at a quilt shop in Illinois but you can also buy them online here. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. A 1″  hexagon means that each side of the hexagon measures one inch. These are made out of light card stock which is perfect. I also cut a couple hexagons out of some card stock I had that were 1/4 inch larger all the way around.  I used these as a rough template to cut my fabric with. I simply cut the fabrics into strips, stacked about 4 strips, and then used a rotary cutter to cut around the hexagon template.  Some of the fabrics had patterns on them that I felt would look better if they were not randomly cut.  In order to “fussy cut” these fabrics, I cut the 1 ” shape out of the middle of my template, placed it where I wanted on the fabric and cut each one out individually.

Using template to see what final hexagon will look like.

Using template to “fussy cut” hexagon

This gave me a wonderful collection of fabric hexagons which are the right size to use with my 1″ papers.

Fabric hexagons and paper pieces.

There are a lot of different instructions for english paper piecing. Some have you actually baste the fabric to the paper which I do not like to do. I hold the paper against the wrong side of the fabric, fold over one side, then another and baste the fold where they intersect. Keep doing this around the shape until all sides are basted down.

Back of basted hexagon.

After basting many of these, they can be whip-stitched together by putting right sides together and sewing one side at a time. It is an extremely accurate way of piecing geometric shapes together and is all done by hand.  This is what makes English paper piecing so great to travel with!  Small pieces, needle and thread.  So little to carry with you!

Front side

Reverse side.

Here is the little case I carry this project in which I bought at the Container Store.

Hexagon tool box

Everything I need!

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my hexagons.  I’m thinking of making a tote bag or pillow. I guess it will depend on how many I get put together.


Filed under Tutorials, Uncategorized