Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Miniature Hexagon Patchwork, The Joy of using Hexagons each side measuring 5mm.

Miniature Hexagon Patchwork, The Joy of using Hexagons each side measuring 5mm.  

During the Christmas holidays I came across a tin of unfinished hexagon projects.  The common feature being miniature or small.  Tidying and sorting made my fingers itchy to finish or restart at least one of the started pieces.

Unfinished miniature patchwork projects by Jackie Wills

For those who have been reading my previous blogs, my last big project was using 10cm hexagons, each side measuring 5cm.  I almost became complacent and sleepy sewing large hexagons.  Jumping to the extreme I picked up the unfinished work using hexagons with each side measure 5mm.  Quite a difference,  but exactly the same technique magnified.  Yes, using 1cm hexagons with sides of 5m is fiddly.   Enjoyably fiddly.

If you plan to do this yourself I would recommend long natural thumbnails, they become a great tool folding fabric with precision over the miniature 90gsm hexagon papers.  Sewing darker colours together using matching thread makes sewing less easy, do not succumb and use light thread to sew dark hexagons together.  It will wreck the look. 

Last night I accidently put on an older pair of reading glasses and could not understand why I struggled to view my stitches. Made a massive difference using proper glasses and a good overhead lamp.  

My personal preference is to allow plenty of fold over fabric, creates a bit of bulk on the back but adds texture.  The deep purple fabric hexagons have been created using quite heavy chintz, so the purple hexagons have been hard to keep accurate.  See hexagon centred on fabric image below top right.

Do not use irregular badly covered hexagons, as they will spoil the overall look.  I noticed a real difference using lighter weight turquoise fabric, perhaps more dense and harder on the needle but much easier to fold over the paper hexagons.   

I find using a long fine crewel needle size 10 far easier than a shorter length big eye quilting needle.  Size 9 is OK, size 8 not recommended.  Compare the needles in your sewing box and experiment with the size that works for you.  

Paper hexagons can be purchased from www.patchworktemplates.co.uk

See miniature hexagon patchwork demonstrations: https://www.youtube.com/user/thejaxcollection

My renewed enthusiasm for this project of old has been most rewarding.   Like a good book its hard to put down, making one more hexagon often leads to a string of six and 20 minutes lost time......

Miniature hexagon patchwork by Jackie Wills using 1cm hexagons, each side 5mm

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Using a sewing machine with a stop/start button for the first time

Using a sewing machine with stop/start button for first time.

Years of using a sewing machine foot peddle plus other injury has taken its toll on my leg.  Constant repetitive pressing and releasing of the foot peddle made sewing unbearable.  It will never get better, only worse the more I do the action, so I resigned my sewing machine days were over.  A great sadness.

A few weeks ago I had to use my machine for a chore after a break of several months.  The repetitive action almost made me cry, not so much in pain but in realisation that I really missed making things and being creative with my trusty Husqvarna.   At this point I looked online to check out the latest sewing machines, perhaps a machine with a knee control.   I must have been living in the dark ages because all these machines popped up with stop/start buttons, a mechanism new to me.

I phoned The Exeter Sewing Machine Company to ask if they had a machine with this option to try. Always helpful they advised I should visit for a demonstration.  A few days later with an extra spring in my step I bounced into the shop.   A young lady showed how the stop/start button and speed control on a Brother sewing machine worked.  Yes, it worked, a light press on the button and the machine zoomed, the speed adjusted with a sliding control near to the stop/start button.  In truth I was not convinced I could do the intricate embroidery and precise stitching without the familiar foot peddle control action.   Also I was not familiar with Brother sewing machines, after so many happy years using vintage Bernina 730 and later Husqvarna Lily.

I came back to my studio unconvinced.   After a few days I realised if I wanted to use a sewing machine again I had to go for it.   I purchased a Brother Innovis 350 from Exeter Sewing Machine Company.  So easy by phone and debit card.   It arrived the next day.   I briefly read instructions and within an hour the machine was threaded and fabric underfoot.  I pressed the stop/start button and the machine came to life with perfect tension straight stitches.  

I will not pretend I found it easy.  The stop/start button is instant, and the slide speed control is slow or too fast.  Using a hand instead of a foot to control action stop/star and speed takes getting used to. I need my hands to control the fabric.  Definitely need to multi task and think ahead.   Would I ever get used to it?   I walked away several times in frustration.  Each time I returned was easier.   Also I took the manual to bed and read every word.  

There came a delicious high point when I discovered the capabilities of this machine exceeded all my expectations.  The emphasis is practice, practice, read the manual and practice.  I feel a whole new sewing adventure starting.   See my video clip of this machine at work 

stop start button on Brother sewing machine.

freehand embroidery and applique created using stop start button

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Create a patchwork quilt using large hexagons. Finished. Final Part 14

Create a patchwork quilt using large hexagons. Finished. 

On 12 February 2014 I wrote the part 1 of 14 parts on this series.   Ten months later the hexagon quilt or coverlet as I now like to call it is finished.   Like most things in life work did not map exactly as planned, creativity allows flexibility.   Initially The Coverlet was going to drape the bed completely, some months ago the plan changed because I felt the the bedroom would be swamped by colour and would remove the relaxing mode vital to the place you sleep.

I have some hexagon rosettes remaining and with those I plan to remake by sewing machine the bolster pillows already on the bed and I may even restyle the bedhead.   

From one spare curtain, plus additional complimentary fabrics from my collection,
each hexagon has been a joy to create, each stage a pleasure to view and the final result pleases me enormously.  Midway making my partner of 20 years unexpectedly proposed to me and we married within five weeks in May.  Its been a wonderful year.

I have created a little video clip to show the end result https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSWJBAWXpqg

Patchwork paper templates can be purchased from www.patchworktemplates.co.uk and links will take to further gallery images.

For those who have been following progress I hope its been enjoyable too.