Saturday, 4 July 2020

How I Make Hexagon Flowers for Grandma's Love Quilt

I have been asked multiple times how I put together my hexagon flowers for the "Grandma's Love" quilt that I am working on at the moment. I thought I would take you behind the scenes and show you the process from choosing the prints for each hexagon flower to finishing the hand embroidery in the centre of each flower.

My "Grandma's Love" quilt is going to be made of 1" hexagon flowers in different colours with each centre featuring a unique hand embroidered floral motif. I am planning to appliqué the hexagon flowers onto a low volume background. There is no pattern for this quilt or the embroideries, just an idea that is growing together with the number of hexie flowers I make week after week. You can see all the finished hexagon flowers I have made so far here.

This quilt is all about the slow hand sewing and about being present in the moment. I truly enjoy every step and try not to rush it because for me the process of working on this quilt is as important as the finished quilt itself. I keep repeating that I am not a true quilter, but I see the benefits of slow hand sewing and working on a large scale projects over a long periods of time. When I sit down and sew those hexies together, I feel grounded, I feel calm and I feel that the world around me slows down, I am able to slow my racing thoughts, calm my breathing and simply feel my heart warm up knowing that I am creating something that is being held together by tiny stitches and is filled with lots of love.

So let's go straight to the process of picking the fabrics for the next two hexagons. This is a small bundle of ten Liberty prints that I received from the The Strawberry Thief Love Liberty Club monthly subscription. It has bright and bold prints.

I started with a couple of prints that "spoke to me" that I wanted to build my hexagons on. The hexagon A was going to be a mix of brownish-reds and blues. The hexagon B was going to be mostly purple. Well, that was the plan, but sometimes things happen differently. I was taking photos and notes as I went along.

I looked through the bundle and picked all the prints that I thought might go well with my first two choices. For B I only picked one extra print, for A I picked three more prints from this bundle.

I went through my Liberty stash and the scrap bundles to choose more prints to match the A and B hexagons. The focus was to find small prints in a brownish-red palette and purple palette. I was lucky to find quite a few Liberty prints that matched the hexagon A.

For the hexagon B I was able to find a few prints as well, but as you can see in the photo below, most of them don't have this bright purple, but rather a mix of magentas and blues. The interesting thing about this part of the process is that even when prints look good together as large pieces of fabric, they might not match nicely when you put them into a hexagon flower. I will show you this a bit later.

I quickly glue basted all the hexagons. As you can see they look really lovely and should go together nicely.

After I arranged them into a flower, I can see that the hexagon on the left does not blend in well as it has a larger scale print and softer pink colour. I decided to replace this hexagon and change the order of all hexies as well.

The combination below looks better, but the two hexagons on the bottom on the right match perfectly and create an illusion of one continuous piece. Can you see it? I am know I am being too picky, but that's how my mind works.

I moved one of the hexagons and the flower looks much more balanced to me right away. What do you think? Three brownish-red hexagons are all separated by whitish-blue hexagons and they create a pattern.

Tip: sometimes taking a photo of your hexagons (or even fabric combinations for any other project) might give you a better "vision" of how the prints look together.

Here are the seven purple/magenta hexagons that also look nice together, but I can already see that the hexagon with the blue in it on the right looks out of place so as the purple one at the top. Let's arrange them into a hexagon flower and see how it all looks.
The purple hexagon really stands out to me, so as the blue one. Hmm...

Even after removing the purple hexagon, I am still not happy with this combination.

I really wanted to use this purple Liberty print, but I did not really like the way how this flower looked. So I tried going through my stash once again and see if I could find more magenta, mauve or purple prints to complete this combination.

I managed to find two more prints that matched my selection, but I had to omit the purple print. Well, I am going to leave it for later and hopefully I would be able to collect more purple Liberty prints before I finish this quilt so I can have at least one purple block.

I am very happy with how this flower turned out, and I like the way the mauve centre brings it all together.

Let's look at one more hexagon flower block that is white. I started with the top print that is absolutely divine. Thanks to the Love Liberty Club Subscription from The Strawberry Thief, I was able to collect enough delicate "white" Liberty prints to put them into a flower as well. As you can see, two of the prints have slightly yellowish background compared to the rest of the hexagons. I decided to place them separately to balance the colours better. If you look closely, you might notice that the direction of the print of each hexagon comes from the centre. I have done this on purpose to represent the real flowers and to be able to position the finished hexagon flowers in any way I like once I start appliquéing them onto a background.

Once I am happy with the hexagons arrangement, I start picking the solid fabrics for the central hexagons. Usually I pick one colour that is present in each hexagon of the flower and try to match it with a solid fabric in my stash. For the A hexagon flower I picked three colours: blue, raspberry and dark pink. Do you notice how all blues in the flower bellow pop out when the central hexagon is blue and all colours seem cold?
When I change the central hexagon to raspberry colour, the appearance of the flower changes as well. The flower becomes brighter and a bit warmer, as all the pinks are more noticeable now.

There is not much difference between the raspberry and dark pink below, but the dark pink combination seems cold and bluish to me. So I am settling on the combination above.

Once I am happy with choice of the solids, I turn them into hexies. But before I do that, I like to stabilise the fabric so it is suitable for the embroidery. I trace one hexagon onto a piece of cotton iron-on interfacing, then cut it out with sharp scissors on the traced line, and fuse it onto the back side of the solid cotton. Then I trim the fabric around the interfacing, leaving a 1/4" border.

 Using glue or thread basting technique, I baste my hexagons making sure that the interfacing sits nicely in the middle under the paper shape.
Now all the hexagons are ready and I am happy with the arrangement, I start sewing them into flowers. You can watch a video on my YouTube Channel "Stitching Notes" here to see how it's done if you need more guidance. In the next post I am going to share with you how I add the embroidery motif to my hexagon flowers. Hope this helps.

Continue to the next step here.

Happy slow stitching! Larisa xo

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