Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hexie Quilt Top Almost Finished!

I began making three-quarter-inch hexies for a traditional Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt on March 6, 2012.

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 think know it will take me a L-O-N-G time to quilt and the pins might leave permanent holes in the fabrics. Yes, I'm going to hand quilt it. I've made a faithful reproduction quilt so far and want to keep it that way if possible. Yes, it will be hugely challenging and character building. Oh well...

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 a little more boring... sewing the plain white pathway hexies around 130 of the flowers, which added another 130 hours of hand stitching.


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.


32 comments:

  1. It's absolutely beautiful! The white gives it a real delicacy and lightness and helps the colour elements stand out. What a labour of love you've created!

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    1. Thanks! I agree about the white. They were so boring to baste and sew around the flowers, but I'm pleased as punch with how they look!

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  2. Kelly Wilbur7:49 AM

    Thia is stunning! I can't wait to see it in person, although you might need a Sherpa to carry the heavy thing, LOL!

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    1. Got a laugh out of the Sherpa idea. Ha! I should be so fortunate as to have Sherpa fingers... young and strong!

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  3. Your quilt is gorgeous! This will be such a wonderful heirloom for future generations in your family...You should make a pocket on the back so you can slip all this information into when the quilt is not being used...such a beauty...hopefully the quilting will go quickly for you...do you have a plan as to how you will be quilting this lovely quilt? Good luck!

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    1. Good idea, Wendy! I do have a notebook full of notes, including monthly progress reports. It's not like me to keep records like this, but I'm happy that I did. Yes, I do have a plan for the quilting... I'll post something about it soon.

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  4. Magnificent!!! I like your big smile while showing IT! When you get rid of the paperhexies, it wil be a lot lighter to handle. Are you going to quilt in the "ditch"? Don't worry about letters and mails while you are creating such a beauty...huisvlijtigliesje.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Lies! I sooooooooooooo ready to get rid of the paper pieces! I won't be stitching in the ditch; rather I plan to emphasize the flowers, flower centers, and leaves with my quilting stitches. I shall reveal my plan soon in the next post.

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  5. This such an amazing quilt! It will be treasured for generations. It's also interesting to hear how many hours work it was. I like the idea of putting a pocket with that info on the back :)

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    1. Glad to hear the "statistics" weren't too boring. Thanks for commenting. I like your ID picture.

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  6. It's glorious! What a beautiful labor of love. I'm a detail-oriented person so I really enjoyed reading the statistics. :)

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    1. Two votes for "statistics"... Yay!
      And thanks!

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  7. What beautiful work!

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  8. I love hearing about the process, design, hours worked, etc... This type of thing is so helpful, to know what you are going through is very helpful and inspiring..... I do miss your blogposts but understand that it has been an interesting period of time in the recent years.... Hope you will be sharing more soon.... I started a blog with great intentions.... HA, parents house got robbed within first 14 days, then Mom had emergency gallbladder surgery.....and then, and then, So hard.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear of the difficulties your parents had. Don't give up on blogging though. I think most of us who have been doing it for 5 or 6 years have times when we're very active and times when we slack off. The readers come back, thank goodness.

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  9. woohoo...good for you on the hand-quilting! you've created a gorgeous quilt top! I find the quilting very meditative. Even the employees at my fabric store who are quilters look at me as though I've lost my mind when I tell them I'm currently hand quilting a queen size quilt! but like you I pieced it all by hand so want to continue on as you are. (I didn't keep track of my hours though...)enjoy the journey...

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    1. I'm not too sure if keeping track of the hours was a good thing. It's the first time I've ever done that. People always ask me, how long did it take you to ____, and I never have an answer. I don't know what prompted me to keep track this time, probably curiosity.

      My next stop is your blog to see if you're posting pictures of you hand quilting. See you there ;>}

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  10. This is more than exquisite - what an amazing heirloom and treasure. As always, you did a remarkably perfect job it- even unquilted it's a beautiful piece of art! Congratulations!

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    1. Thanks, Marie... I do have to confess, however, that the seeming perfection is due to using die-cut paper pieces. I'm glad you like it.

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  11. I've been looking at this again - what a beautiful quilt, Robin. So fresh with the white borders around the flowers and the dark border for contrast. I have so much admiration and respect for quilters. Matt asked me why I don't quilt, since I do so much intricate handwork and beading. It never particularly resonated with me, I guess - I don't have that long of an attention span, maybe. But I enjoy the gorgeous work of others.

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    1. Interesting to think about this, Peggy. Quilting, especially machine sewing the pieces and machine quilting, doesn't resonate with me the way bead embroidery does. But I like it better than bead weaving. It's the fabrics, just like the beads, that are so compelling. Both my bead and my fabric stashes are embarrassingly large. I think for you, if fabrics resonate, then there might be some form of quilting arts that would appeal to you.

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    2. I occasionally do traditional quilts , but mostly make small Art Quilts.It gives me the best of several worlds, I get to quilt ( by hand mostly ) I also get to embroider, bead ,embellish to my hearts desire. Your quilt can be either in a traditional or contemporary design ,to me its the perfect to play.

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  12. Love your quilt and thanks for the numbers.The last handmade quilt I made took me almost 3 years to finish and the next one I make I'm buying myself a needle puller for the quilting process( to help save my fingers).
    And don't worry about not beading at the mo, your mind, body and soul obviously need the creativity of the quilt to process all thats happened in the last year plus. Cheers

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  13. Thanks, Faye! (BTW, Faye is my middle name.) I'm going to have to Google "needle puller"... thing my fingers need that too. Actually stitching the hexies together doesn't seem at all creative, but it IS meditative... good time for introspective thinking... and that is something I need right now. Hope the quilting fills that bill too.

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  14. WOW Your quilt is beautiful and dedication to the task unbelievable

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  15. Lovely, lovely work. And even though you counted all the hours, it isn't really *work* when it obviously brings you so much enjoyment!

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  16. Wonderful. Your hexie quilt looks so, so fantastic. Fantastic work.
    Grit

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  17. so so stunning! why we do this, i do not know. I think we like to torture ourselves. I started making hexies like you, whip stitching like you, and I have 56 plates of them ... mostly of Kaffe Fasset fabrics. The thought of stitching them by hand made me put them aside.... as I want a done quilt in my lifetime.

    I am now doing an entirely new grandmother's flower garden and I am machine-piecing it. Still time consuming, but maybe 15x quicker than done by hand. I am now in the process of attaching the plates together. So fun! :-) I started May 2013, and now is Sept 2013. I have high hopes the top will be done before 2013 says goodbye.

    I still do not know what to do with the edges. I saw a youtube video by Marci Baker, she added a phasing to the edges, to keep the triangles jutting on the finished edges.

    Have fun!

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  18. Hello, Robin!
    Sorry, I can't write very well in english...
    Tu trabajo es maravilloso. Sé perfectamente cuánto has trabajado para coser cada pieza y unirlas hasta formar ese top tan precioso.
    Te invito a pasar por mi blog... Verás que yo también estoy trabajando en un quilt como el tuyo.
    Una gran parte de la confección del top la hizo mi suegra (mother in law) que tiene más de 80 años, y yo ahora estoy acolchando cada pequeña flor en un color diferente... Un trabajo largo y, a decir verdad, un poco aburrido...!
    Ánimo con tu trabajo!
    Recibe un fuerte abrazo desde este rincón de España.

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    1. Hi Elena! This is what you said (in English): Your work is wonderful. I know exactly how much you have worked for each piece and sew them together to form the top so precious.
      I invite you to stop by my blog ... I will see that I am also working on a quilt like yours.
      A big part of making the top was made by my mother (mother in law) having more than 80 years, and am now quilting every little flower in a different color ... A long work and, in fact, a little boring ...!
      Cheer with your work!
      Get a hug from this corner of Spain.

      Thank you very much!!! Now I will go to your blog and see your quilt!!!! I will leave a comment in English, and I'll use Google translator (free) to put my words into Spanish.

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  19. Hi Robin, congratulaion for your wonderful hexie quilt! And a big thank you for the free download of ONEBEAD AT A TIME
    What you wrote about the healing process while beading is absolutely right, my experience also. Especially in the most difficulty times of my life so far I enjoyed the meditative way of repeating beads (or hexagons) all over again. I'm working on a 17000 hexie quilt right now. It's a free design from the blog Gritslife
    Greetings from Norway
    Brigitte

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  20. Mary Ellens best press is a good starch for quiltfabric. Before setting your iron on the whole, test it on a small piece to see if the thread you sewed with won't melt. And baste stitch the seams all around the edge of the quilt to secure them, but I guess you would. I never made an edge this way, I appliqued my hexyborder on to a plain fabric border before removing the papers.

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Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!