In the following 15 months, approximately 910 hours of work later, I have nearly completed the top!!!!
Here I am holding up the top, peeking through the last few feet of the last seam still to be sewn. Holding it as I whip stitch along each 3/4" seam, joining hexie to hexie, takes a tremendous amount of finger strength because of the weight of the rest of the quilt pulling it out of my grasp. The weight is more than you'd imagine because the paper pieces are still in each of the hexies.
When I finish this seam, the next step is to iron the top, and possibly spray starch it. Then I'll remove the basting stitches and the paper pieces. Does anybody have any thoughts about the spray starch? Is it a good idea? Is there a brand or type you've used successfully?
Then I have to find a place where I can lay out the back, the batting, and the top on a large floor space or tables. I plan to baste the layers together rather than pin because I
Just in case you're interested... here are the steps and the approximate time to complete each of them.
There are 4,428 hexagon-shaped pieces (hexies) in this quilt top. The size of each hexagon is 3/4" measured along one edge.
I used approximately 330 different prints and solids, all of them reproductions of 1930s fabrics. To wash and iron these fabrics, plus cut and baste 4,428 hexies took approximately 270 hours. That's almost 7 solid work weeks just to get the hexies ready to stitch together!
The most fun part was making the flowers, choosing a solid color for the center, and stitching the hexie petals around the center. There are 238 flowers in the quilt. Each flower is a different fabric, although I only used about 20 different colors for the centers. I estimate it took me about 100 hours to stitch the flowers. I'd do this step again in a heart beat, because they are small enough to be easy to handle, relatively quick to sew, and ever so pleasing, each different, each precious in its own way.
The next step was
I didn't count the hours it took me to layout all the flowers in a pleasing arrangement and decide which green hexies I would match to which flowers (to suggest leaves) in alternate rows. I'm going to guess about 10 hours, maybe more, because I did it in several stages. The picture above shows the last stage of the layout process, after I'd already stitched many of the flowers together in sections of about 12 flowers.
Making the flowers and stitching the white borders around them is easy lap work. Sewing them together starts to get difficult. I wrote the row number and column letter on the back of each flower after laying them out, so I could keep them in the right order as I sewed them together. I first made large sections, like the one pictured above, about 4 rows deep and 4 to 6 flowers across.
At this point, I decided to add a double border around the whole quilt. Working with the outside sections, I added the border hexies. Then I sewed the sections into larger sections that went all the way across the quilt, still 4 rows deep.There were 7 units spanning the width of the quilt top. The last step was to sew these 7 units together. The picture at the top of this post shows me holding up the quilt with just under half of the last seam yet to sew. This process got more and more difficult as the pieces got larger... It's difficult to hold (very tired fingers, can't sew more than 1 or 2 hours at a time), heavy, takes up a lot of space (no longer a simple lap job... plan on the whole sofa). Time for joining the flowers together to complete the quilt top? It took about 400 hours.
The finished size (before quilting) is 71" x 93", which is a nice blanket size for a single bed, or big enough to use as a topper for a full or queen bed. Total time to hand-sew this quilt top was approximately 910 hours, which is equivalent to 22.75 work weeks, or nearly 6 months on the job.
Why do we do this? Why spend so many hours hand sewing one quilt? I don't know if I would have accepted the job if I had realized how many hours it would take. However, it has been engaging most of the time. Plus, I am able to watch movies or programs on TV while I'm sewing, and many of the hours were spent in the enjoyable company of my quilting buddies. (Some of them are also working on hexie quilts.) All in all, I'd give it close to 5 out of 5 stars as jobs go.
I'm a tad worried about hand quilting it. I hope it's manageable, that my hands will hold up to the effort of it, and that I don't get too bored. I'll keep a time sheet on it and report back after a while.
Oh, and by the way, now you understand why I haven't been blogging much during the past year and a half. It also explains why I haven't finished my Bead Journal Projects for 2012 or 2013. That's the real drawback to making a quilt like this, the one regret I have about it.