Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Hex on Blog Time Sneaking Up on Me!

I don't know why, but it always seems that "blog time" comes around the corner so fast each month that it takes me by surprise.  I sweat over what to put in my blog... and this month I started sweating early because most of what I've been working on is not "photo ready."  I've been doing lots of paperwork and pattern-writing... nothing that I can take a picture of! 
This month, I've decided to share a bunch of hexagon quilts with you .  It seems that hexagons started showing up in only the last year or two.  I went back and looked at all my Houston quilt show pictures -- there were lots of hexagons last year, only a couple the year before, and I only found one picture from 2011.  Where did all these hexagons come from?  Well... it's not as if they didn't exist until a year or two ago.  Take a look...
The quilt below was part of the French Legendary Quilts exhibit at the International Quilters Association (IQA) show in Houston last year.  These quilts are totally hand-made (no machine work at all!) and are replicas of antique quilts.  This quilt, Mosaic quilt, was made by Isabelle Etienne-Bugnot of Soisy-sur-Seine, France.  It is based on a circa 1840 quilt in the DAR Museum in Washington, D.C.  (note:  please excuse the plastic band in front of the quilt at the bottom of the picture... sometimes I can't avoid those in my picture-taking...).
I love the quilt above with its diamonds made of hexagons... though I must admit that hexagons are NOT my unit of choice.  In fact, there were SO many hexagons in the quilt show and in the vendors' booths last year that everytime I saw one, I started humming Taylor Swift's "I.....i....iii....i... will never, ever, ever....  (and I changed the lyrics).... make a hexagon"!  Really - hexagons were everywhere I looked!!!

Here's another one at the show last year:  Honeycomb (Rayon de miel) by Liliane Verger of Royan, France.  Liliane's quilt was inspired by an English quilt made in the 1840s.  This quilt offers hexagon diamonds and hexagon stars.  The outer edge of the quilt offers a unique way of handling those persnickety hexagons, too.

Here's a closeup of Liliane's blocks.  She used the English paper piecing method - is there any other way?  In this method, fabric is stitched around a hexagonal template, then the hexagons are sewn together and the template paper is removed.


Hexagonal Star, below, was made by Renee Elie of Royan, France.  Here are the stars... and no hexagon diamonds.  Instead, Renee has hexagon flowers -- a common use for hexagons.  This quilt was inspired by an 1830 quilt.  With almost 10,000 three-quarter inch hexagons, I can only imagine how long it took to complete this quilt.  That's probably another reason hexagons hold little appeal to me.  I'm still open to the idea... but not excited at this point.  What a masterpiece of work, though!

Here are some close-ups of the Hexagonal Star quilt.
And another close-up.  Can you imagine making all of those hexagons... and fussy-cutting so many units?  It is another reason I'm not tempted.  Yet.

I have to admit they are pretty... and after all... now you know that I do love intricacy!

Here's another hexagon quilt - with flowers and diamonds done as a strippy quilt!  This one, Diamonds with Flowers (Losanges de fleurs) was made by Dominique Husson of Arvert, France.  It was inspired by an 1840 American quilt.  The hexagons are each one inch in size. 

But wait... there's more!  Check out the fussy cutting in these flowers and diamonds.  It is simply amazing.

Dominique's choice of fabrics is simply wonderful.  It makes me think of fabric in an entirely different way.

You might not realize it, but "baby blocks" are actually a form of hexagon - made of three diamonds.  Cubes by Catherine Guy of Saint-heand, France, was based on a quilt made between 1855 and 1875.  With over 3,000 pieces, the quilt was jaw-dropping in its perfection.  The pattern for this quilt was published in American and British women's magazines circal 1850-1860.

The fabric used in the above quilt also made me think of fabric in a different way.  I think we all might be a bit too timid in our fabric choices:  can you see the red and white checked fabric that is used in one of the baby block rows?  Who would have imagined that it would melt right into the other fabrics?

Below is another quilt using hexagons as baby blocks.  At first, it looks like stars, but if you disect the larger hexagon shapes (the stars), you wil notice that there are three baby block hexagons in each larger hexagon. Stars or Baby Blocks was made by Marie-Paule Nedelec and Anne Helene Nedelec, from Chateaubriant, France.  It was inspired by a circa 1880 quilt from Kentucky. 

You can check out the "stars" or baby blocks in this close-up.  Notice the precision required to make all these blocks fit together so nicely.

Alice Springs, below, uses combinations of hexagons with piecing and applique.  Annick Tauzin of Floirac, France based her quilt on a "Persian applique," circa 1840, from Australia.  Persian applique is a more arcane term for what most of us call broderie perse.

Here are some close-ups of Annick's quilt.  The hand-quilting is incredible in this quilt.


Note, in the picture below, that there are elongated hexagons in the narrow border to the right of the flowers.

The quilt below was made by Keiko Hasegawa of Ikoma, Nara, Japan.  She made a series of hexagon quilts, then had a baby named Canon... and named this quilt Canon because this quilt is for her.  Keiko listened to music and canons, and sang along as she made this quilt.

Here are some close-ups of this amazing quilt.

Notice the hexagon border in this quilt.  It's a nice touch and makes for a certain unity across the face of the qiult.

And, as in many hexagone quilts, there was ample fussy-cutting of pieces.

Not all hexagon quilts are based on antique quilts or use reproduction fabric.  Here's a bright, cheery quilt by Lilija Kostenko fo Gouda, The Netherlands.  Lilija says this quilt reminded her of a summer day. 

You might notice that there are hexagons inside of hexagons in this quilt -- AND there are elongated hexagons.  I told you there were hexagons everywhere last year!  Look at those wild fabrics, too.

Celtic Summer Celebration by Jaynette Huff of Conway, Arkansas, is a wonderful exercise in detail.  With original basket designs, this quilt has over 690 quarter-inch hexagons (yes, quarter inch!), over 2,580 beads, buttons and charms, and includes "hidden treasures" such as a pig, frog, ladybug, armadillo, and squirrel.  What fun!

Looking at the above picture, you might not have found the hexagons.  Look at the center of this photo and you can see a basket of flowers.

Here's a closer look... notice the buttons and the beads in this picture. 

And in this picture, you can easily see more hexagon flowers -- but also, you can see the 1/8th inch bias tubes that Jaynette made for this quilt.  Wow!  Jaynette's quilt is an original design using Celtic applique designs modified from Everything Celtic by Mary Butler Shannon.

Hiromi Yokota of Yokohama City, Kanagawa, Japan, made Flower of 13,585 Pieces and Peace.  Hiromi says we cannot make peace or a quilt in a few days - so she wanted to make a flower quilt of hexagones using "1 centimeter paper liner method and a feeling of peace".  It is hand made and hand-quilted.

Here are two close-ups.  What an amazing amount of work. 

Notice the outer edge of the quilt:  Hiromi went to great pains to maintain the hexagon shapes when she backed and quilted her quilt with a knife-edge where no binding is visible from the top of the quilt.

Here are diamonds and flowers and a star - all in the same quilt - and all within a large, hexagonal shape.  Credit for this quitl, Flowers from Grandmother's Secret Garden, goes to Diana Perry of Hot Springs, Arkansas.  With one-quarter inch hexagons, Diana sewed approximately 2,000 hexagons to make this quilt.

The quilb below is an antique quilt.  I try really hard to provide attribution for each quilt I post on my blog, but I have lost the source information for this picture.  I do remember that it was in a special exhibit at the Houston quilt show.  It is an amazing piece of work -- and very folksy!  Check out all of the hexagons just appliqued at random, as well as in flowers.  Isn't it all fun?

Here's a close-up of the quilt.  Notice the charming baskets, the heart motifs, the butterfly... I bet the maker smiled her way through all of her stitching.

These baskets just tickled my fancy with their wild abandon and crazy use of fabrics.

The quilt below was also in a special antique quilt exhibit.  The quiltmaker is unknown, but it was made entirely of silk circa 1860.  Measuring 74 by 81 inches, this Grandmother's Flower Garden variation is unique.  It did not hang because of its delicate condition -- it laid on a slanted pallet to protect it from the stress of any stretching that hanging might cause.

Here's a close-up.  It reminds me of the Italian milleifiori ("thousand flowers") glass.

And if you had seen this quilt, you would have noticed the gorgeous quilting in the border. 

Seven Sisters is a classic pattern of stars - here was a quilt I saw in a class on dating fabrics.  Notice the hexagons!

It wasn't too hard to date the fabric, with the "Sail On, O Union" fabric in one of the hexagons.

While scouring the antique booths at the Houston quilt show, I found a most amazing quilt in John Saul's antique booth.  He has some incredible quilts, and this one certainly took the prize for amazing!  Made of one-inch silk hexagons, it was an unbelievable piece of work.

Here's a close-up.  Almost none of the silk had shattered, which made it all the more beautiful.

Here's another qult made of hexagons -- it looks quite different from some of the others seen here.  Made by Isako Wada of Kurokawa-Gun, Miyagi-Ken, Japan, Bolero 21609  was designed when Isako had a dream about making a hexagon quilt.  It is made of hexagon units - but notice that there are also many large and small hexagon motifs across the face of the quilt.  Isako named her quilt because she listened to Ravel's "Bolero" while she stitched - and my guess is that it has 21,609 pieces in it.

Here's another contemporary hexagon quilt.  Made by Cheryl See of Ashburn, Virginia, Star Struck has 12,256 hexagon units forming a rainbow-colored star which repeats in the background.  Cheryl notes that the otuer star is bordered by appliqued circles with complimentary-colored backgrounds that transition through the colors of the rainbow.  Appliqued flowers and Grandmother's flowers were placed throughout the quilt, forming secondary patterns and random surprises. 

Okay - so after seeing all these hexagons, was I tempted?  Even the least little bit?

Well... not so much.  Here's the closest I've gotten:  snowball blocks.  Of course, these are not hexagons; they're octagons!  But that's as close as I can get.

My friend Becky must have felt sorry for me, though.  After she heard me sing Taylor Swift's "I..I...I... will never, ever, ever..." so many times, she thought that I really needed a hexagon quilt.  She's an angel... and she did it, did it, did it for me....

So what have I been working on over the past month?  Like I said earlier, it's been computer work and home work and family matters.  I did finish binding my newest quilt, Twirly Balls and Pinwheels, and even put a sleeve on it.  When I finished it, it had some "waves" in it.  Those are sometimes to be expected when one deals with so many small pieces, such heavy quilting, and a wool batting.  I hesitated in trying to figure out how to make the quilt flat... and finally bit the bullet and blocked it.  It bled, despite the fact that I had pre-washed all my fabrics and the batting... and used no chemicals or pens that would cause bleeding.  Go figure.  I have a hunch it has to do with the pH level in water and will test that later with tap water, bottled water, and filtered water.  I'll keep you posted!
Quakertown Quilts ( will be offering the pattern in the next couple of weeks -- I finished writing it this week and will get it over to them next week.  Writing the pattern took extra long, not because the quilt is hard to make, but because I invested a LOT of time into photos so that everyone who makes the quilt will have a good time making it and avoid problems.  It is a wonderful quilt to make!  Quakertown, at some point (and maybe your own local quilt shop) will be kitting it as a 6-month block-of-the-month quilt.  It's not your classic block-of-the-month, but having the fabric delivered to you over a period of time makes it a lot easier to make; there are a lot of different fabrics in this quilt.

In my last blog, I mentioned that I was going to start doing lectures and workshops and traveling a bit.  Whoa!  Stop the presses!  Within two weeks, my calendar fell into overload!  I'm totally booked for 2013 and for most of 2014.  I'ved accepted a couple of 2015 engagements, but I'm reluctant to accept many more.  So... hang in there and send me an email if you're interested, but I'm kind of booked solid right now.  Having said that, I've made a new quick-and-easy "Twirly Ball" quilt that I'm going to use in workshops.  It was so much fun and so easy to make this quilt!  Hopefully, someday I can come to your guild and teach a workshop!


Until we meet - and until next month -- happy quilting to everyone!

(c)2013 Susan H. Garman


  1. Wow Sue,
    what a amazing hexie show.
    All of them so wonderful.
    Grit from Germany

  2. You asked if there was any other way???
    My answer is yes! Inklingo uses no papers. You print directly onto the back of your fabric with ink that washes out.
    And hexes are just the start of it, as many shapes are available.
    Thanks for the inspiration this month.

  3. wonderful quilts - all of them.. I do admit to jumping on the hexie bandwagon after thinking I would never want to do them. I do not do EPP though and hand stitch instead - made easy by using Inklingo a method of printing your template directly onto fabric from your home computer/printer. it makes it very easy. I am making 2 quilts with different shapes of hexies and using another for embellishments on a different quilt. Thanks for showing so many.

  4. Is there a place where I can go to find out where you'll be presenting? I would love the opportunity to hear you speak in person.

  5. A lot of the hexie revival is directly due to Linda Franz and her Inklingo program. the fabric no longer need be basted around an insert. The stitch lines are printed on your fabric, through a very simple process, via your own scanner.
    Look her up!

  6. Another wonderful, informative blog...yours is by far my most favorite, and the highlight of another new month rolling around! Thanks for all the great pics and your thoughts/analysis of each....lots of inspiration every month! Nancy

  7. thanks for blogging and sharing so much beautiful hexagon quilts! Love the old quilts... and hexies are making a comeback in paper and fabric! Kathi

  8. Thanks for sharing all those hexagon quilts with everyone. They are amazing. Makes me want to get my UFO hexagons out of my closet and into my lap!!

  9. Thanks for sharing all those hexagon quilts with everyone. They are amazing. Makes me want to get my UFO hexagons out of the closet and into my hands!

  10. Making a hexagon quilt is so much easier now that they can be made with a simple running stitch when the templates are printed right on to the back of fabric using Inklingo. There are numerous sizes of hexagons available - all the way from .25" up to 3" ones.
    It's so much nicer to stitch hexagons without worrying about making invisible whip stitches or having papers that will have to be removed later - just print, cut and stitch!

  11. Actually there is. Inklingo. And, your latest pattern with pinwheel sashing, I have already done using Inklingo. You can see it here

  12. What an amazing assortment of hexagons! Quite impressive the amount of creativity shown in the designs! Loved them all thank you so much for sharing them.

  13. Wow what an inspiring post - lots of gorgeous quilts and full of ideas!! Thakn you for sharing them with us :-)

  14. Is Ohmygosh quilt pattern a pattern that is available for purchase?

    If so where?

    thanks so much for the help. I just adore that pattern and would love to create that quilt.

  15. What an incredible blog on hexies - You did a lot of research on these!

    You asked us if there was another way of doing these hexagons other than English Paper Piecing.

    Yes, there is, in fact. A much, much easier way! It's called "Inklingo" and you print your cut/sew lines directly onto the fabric. No need for pencils and markers... no need for templates or cardboards!

    Here's my blog link, with some of Linda Franz's links to her incredible "Inklingo" program....


    Rosa Robichaud
    Saint John, New Brunswick
    LOVED reading your blog!!!

  16. I'm taking a Craftsy BOM class and one of them was for two hexagon blocks. I'd never done a hexie block before and without the class I never would have as it did look terribly hard. I was immediately hooked! Most of the work was done sitting on the couch while watching TV. Due to physical problems I have to spend more time on the couch than in front of my sewing machine, so this was perfect for me. They weren't nearly as hard as I thought they would be. I used freezer paper ironed on to the fabric in hexagons (easily accomplished with sheets of 8x11 freezer paper and a printer). I've now taken all the 'guts' out of some thrift store men's silk ties and plan on trying to make them into a hexagon 'something'. thanks for all the great inspiration!