Vintage View: Pretty Patchwork


I’m not sure when the Trip Around the World quilt pattern first came into being, but back in the day, the squares were pieced individually, often times hand-pieced.

I remember, when I was small, my mom had one laid out on our basement floor (the pieces were all clothing scraps, of 1960s-1970s double-knits–it lives with my sister today).  She had it laid out and carefully pinned, and as she tells the story, on more than one occasion, my little brother and I went down to the basement to play and would shuffle our feet across/through her quilt top, so she had to start again laying it all out.  Hearsay?  Could be, I only remember the pieces and the pins, I don’t recall the mischief making I allegedly partook in.

This one (from the quilt show we went to the first weekend in October) is amazing, the prints make a flawless watercolor blend of color and pattern…

Today, we would make this using a rotary cutter and a strip piecing technique, not individually cut squares (cut with a template and  a scissors!) and aside from making sure you were piecing rows together without flipping them the wrong direction, it would go together rather quickly.  Not these vintage beauties… just imagine the time and attention to detail these quilt makers employed!  Here is another one, very similar coloration; check out the edge and the binding:


And one that incorporates a rectangular piece rather than a square:

And I’ve always admired this variation, very much like Katy’s QAL in 2010:

The fabrics in this quilt are to die for, I could have gawked at it for an hour or two:


Have you ever made a Trip Around the World (or a variation)?

Is this a quilt pattern that is on your Bucket List?






Candied Hexagon WIP

Long time readers of my blog know I’ve been working on this quilt for quite some time, hand-piecing the entire quilt, on road trips and vacations for the most part. I celebrated finishing the cutting of it at a retreat last month (not including the border), and to date I have completed all of Block Two (17 total):All of Block 3A (9 total):All of Block 3B (9 total):and all of Block 3c (6 total):Block 5 are all done (17 total):and there are 24 Block One (solid 5″ hexagons) that I have fussy cut and ready to go.

So, to finish the blocks for this quilt, I have to hand-piece 22 Diamond Star Hexagons (Block 4), and 12 Half Hexagons (for the edges). 82 blocks COMPLETE, 22 full and 12 half blocks to go. I like the sound of that! Stay tuned, you may even see a finish yet in 2012…

Easy {hand} Piecing: A Tutorial

Long time readers of my blog know of my obsession for Janet’s quilt, and the Candied Hexagon quilt pattern in general…  I started my Candied Hexagon quilt in early 2010.  I’ve posted updates occasionally, but never quite got around to posting a tutorial on my method of hand-piecing this quilt.  So, when Shruti asked for contributors to her ABC’s of quilting series, I jumped at the chance to tell her readers AND mine how I do hand-piecing.  Today I’m going to show you how I made this hexagon star block:

Basic tools you will need for hand-piecing:

  • a lightweight, durable thread (I use Aurifil 50 wt in Ecru for all my hand-piecing)
  • a few pins
  • a good thimble (my favorite)
  • and size 11 straw needles (my recommendation!) 
  • templates

There are MANY options available for templates for paper piecing; including hand-drawn/traced or PDF paper templates, hand made freezer paper or plastic templates, add-a-quarter and add-an-eighth rulers for adding your seam allowance to a template, pre-cut paper shapes for English paper piecing, like those tiny hexagons pictured above by Paper Pieces, or plexi-glas templates such as the Marti Michell set I am using to cut out and hand-piece my Candied Hexagon quilt:

The great feature of these templates are the holes for marking your seam stop/start points on the reverse side of your fabric.  I use a 28mm rotary cutter (the “tiny” blade) to cut my fabric around the edge of the plexi template, having marked my pencil dots through the holes first.  Then I set the template aside, and trace my seam line from dot-to-dot. 

Cut and prepare each piece for your block and lay them out as they will be sewn together:

I start with the center hexagon and one of the pink triangles; DO NOT knot your thread, instead make a few stitches going towards the start point on your pink triangle, bringing the needle up exactly at the start point.

Then insert the needle back in to the start point, stitch back over the few stitches you just made and continue to sew your seam along the line.  This small backstitch will secure the end of each seam.

Continue stitching along the pencil seam line, bringing your needle up and out at the stop point. 

Just as you did at the start point, insert the needle back down at the stop point and backstitch 2-3 stitches to secure the end of your seam; trim thread.

Repeat this process to attach three of the pink triangles to the hexagon as shown:

Then attach a blue diamond to each side of the remaining three pink triangles; so you have four segments sewn like this:

To attach an outer Triangle/Diamond segment to the center Hexagon/Triangle segment, place them right sides together with trimmed corners and edges lined up:

Pin through ALL fabric layers AT the start/stop points on the pink triangle, with back and front  segments lined up where star points are to meet up. (See above).  On the reverse, your pins should be in nice and straight, and lined up with the start/stop points on the hexagon piece as well. 

Stitch from Start point at one end (including backstitch to secure the end of your seam) to the first stop point, at seam allowance.  Carefully insert your needle at stop point, through bothe seam allowances (really diagonally between the two seam allowances) coming out the other side at the start point marked on the hexagon piece:

Repeat to attach all three Triangle/Diamond segments to complete your hexagon star block; seams should be pressed flat towards outer edge on reverse side:

This is MY method of hand-piecing, which is just one way of doing it.  This same block could be made using an English Paper Piecing method, using the technique shown in this great tutorial on Clare’s blog, Self Sewn.  She has made several beautifully hand pieced quilts, and is currently hosting a Block Party for her hand-pieced Rose Star block:
Another very well written English Paper Piecing tutorial for hexagons (a la Grandmother’s Flower Garden) can be found here at Sunshine Creations.  And, of course, there is a wealth of information on my style of hand-piecing on Hand Piecing With Crispy. 

Have you ever tried hand-piecing?  Do you plan to give it a try? 

Relax and Recharge

Typically my relaxation getaways, and recharging my spirit, involve quilting buddies and retreats… but this time it was our annual northern Minnesota lake trip, with two wonderful families, one of whom generously shares her family cabin with us one long weekend a year. 

We didn’t do much the three days we spent there, really… slept A LOT, swam a little, took a long walk with my sweetie every morning, ate home cooked meals that are way too good to be considered camping fare, took the paddle boat out for a long ride, road the ski boat and motor boat at least once a day; but mostly, relaxed and breathed deep.  On the last day we drove slightly north to Duluth to retrieve sweetie’s youngest, who spent her summer as an interpreter in Manitoba, and we paid a visit to my favorite quilt shop, Hannah Johnson Fabrics:

This was only my second visit, I first went there LAST August, but knew I needed to return… the shop is so colorful, full of inspiration, and potential projects:

I walked out with just a few yards of fabric and a new bag pattern, and thinking it’s probably a good thing (for my pocketbook, at least) that I live over six hours from the shop! 

The day before we left on our trip, I ran to Ames to pick my Janome Horizon up (finally had her cleaned!) and stopped in the antique mall across the street.  I bought a few vintage sewing patterns for practically nothing, a vintage embroidered luncheon set, and this gem:

It’s a plastic sewing box, c. 1950, (in my favorite color, no less!), that worked just perfect to hold my hand-piecing tools as I sewed on the drive North:

The pegs in front are meant to hold small spools of thread, but this time kept my thimble and scissors from sliding off my lap.   There is an intergrated pin cushion on the left, and a magnetic shelf on the right to hold my needles…ideal!  What a find for $4.00!  I made eleven more Candied Hexagon blocks on the trip, for a total of 67 completed hexagons (37 to go!)

A closer look…


Coming home is always hard, it’s not that I don’t “like” home, it’s the idea of returning to work and everyday life not-next-to-a-lake-in-the-woods.  However, finding a mailbox full of Bee blocks as lovely as these helped to soften the blow:

(notice Kato in the corner trying to decide which area of the new quilt to “settle in on”–he went for the yellow block)  Still waiting for my red, orange and green blocks… and looking forward to sewing this top together!

I Like Candy!

I first posted about wanting to start a Candied Hexagon quilt in June 2009 (seriously?!? has it really been that long?!?) Then, my friend Lorraine in Oz sent me the pattern… and Linda lent me the set of templates to make my cutting easier. I posted a little on my progress in July 2010twice. And I’ve continued to work on it during road trips. To date: 44 blocks complete.Of course, about half of those are the fussy cut, one-piece hexagons:But that’s okay, 44 blocks done. That is most definitely a good thing. Things I’ve learned while working on this quilt… a) the importance of precise cutting and marking of seam allowances; b) that I really like to hand-piece! And c) that I LOVE the colors in these fabrics!!!My goal for this quilt is to have progress to update on the blog a little more often than every 6-8 months. ahem.

Pilgrim’s Progress

Over the July Fourth weekend, sweetie and I traveled to his family home in the Twin Cities for a visit with his Dad, in hospice care, and a family BBQ at his brother’s home.  I made good use of the car time of our little pilgrimage by working on my hexagons.

This is my first hand-pieced sewing project, if you don’t count English Paper Piecing or any of those doll clothes I tried to create with my chubby seven-year-old fingers and a clumsily wielded needle and thread many years ago…  (I might be hooked, now!)

I’m making a Candied Hexagon Quilt, the original version was published in Australian Quilters Companion Vol.5.2 No 18, (2005) designed by Kerry Dear.  Kerry’s version was based on a 1830s quilt made by Frederica Josephson, featured in The Fabric of Society.  The original can be seen here, fourth photo in the post

There have been several Candied Hexagons made and shared in blogland, some of my favorites are:

  • Janet of Quilstalott made her version using Kerry Dear’s APQ pattern
  • Liz of broderie who does gorgeous handwork!
  •  Linda of Flourishing Palms (who lives just a few miles from me and shared her templates!)
  • Heather’s shown here (scroll to end of the post) uses fabrics and colors similar to mine 
  •  and there is one more that I have a lovely print-out of, in mostly blues, Asian fabrics, but sadly I lost the information on its maker, but you should see it!!!  Fabulous use of color, fussy-cut prints, and a unique style of fabric.  (Bonus points to anyone who can tell me where to find this link again!)

    I’d be happy to share the pattern with you, since it is from an out of print magazine issue, which I happen to have thanks to a grand friend…but I should warn you… you might get hooked on hexagons and hand-piecing, too!