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July 21, 2013

It feels like making patchwork with hexagons is a kind of right of passage for a patchworker these days.  I can’t tell you how many blog articles I’ve read about the subject, whether it is someone embarking on a very, very long labour of love to English Paper Piece (EPP) their first full size quilt of 1 inch hexies, or someone looking around for a machine sewn hexie solution because they are desperate for a hexie end product, but refuse to spend a chunk of their life making it.

My first hexie make was going to be a quilt, but at the time I was in my early twenties and all I knew about patchwork and quilt making had come from a Laura Ashley book on home decorating.  Nobody amongst my family and friends at that time was into sewing and I’ve never discovered any family history of it.  My Mum could knit although by the time I was ready to learn that, she’d forgotten most of it and was too busy working full time and running the home to teach me.  That does sound a bit whiny – it isn’t meant to be as I love learning new stuff under my own steam.  Although these days the internet teaches me most things, I’ve always been an avid digester of books and there’s not much you can’t learn through those two mediums, if you’re determined!

Anyway, back to my first hexie project.  It was supposed to be a quilt.  It turned out to be a cushion.  At least it was a large floor cushion!  It wasn’t well made and I had to stuff it with old tights as I didn’t have the money for anything else, but it was a first step and one I never forgot – I always wanted to try it again and do it better.  I did some other patchwork between then and my next hexie make, but not a lot.  Then, this year, I decided that I wanted to try another hexie quilt and having aged in wisdom as well as years, I set out to make a small cot quilt.  It took what felt like a very long time.  So much hand sewing made the skin on my hands SO dry.  But I finished it.  I was even pretty pleased with it.  Where it let me down a bit was in the hand quilting, which I’d never attempted before and found out I wasn’t very good at!

After making that small quilt, I felt that I’d ticked it off my list and would probably not use EPP and hexies for another quilt – the time it took was impractical.  And what have I been doing this week, only 4 months later?  Yes!  Piecing hexies!  Amazingly, although my hands are suffering in the same way, I am much, much quicker and my stitches are smaller and neater.  Because I’ve been doing some learning and practising, even my hand quilting is much improved – very satisfying.

There are some great tutorials on working with hexies by hand or machine on the internet (this blog has some great resources and is a good read too) and there are so many videos about patchwork and quilting on YouTube.  You don’t even have to make a quilt or even a cushion – many people use hexies as part of another project or as applique decoration – just Google “hexie” and you will be amazed how many project ideas you find.

If you’re tempted to use hexies to make someting, please do try it.  Don’t expect immediate results that you’re delighted with, but think of it more as the beginning of a long relationship with a very engrossing, enjoyable and slow pastime that once tried you will frequently want to rinse and repeat!


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