Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Celebrate Quilts from the Past

I  love making small quilts with an antique look and a touch of history and, if you follow my blog, you probably do too. I'm Kathleen Tracy, The Sentimental Quilter, and Madame Samm has kindly asked me to be a guest blogger today. I'm a quilt designer and author with Martingale & Co. (That Patchwork Place).


I love reproduction fabrics and small quilts and there's a mix of both in my books. Quilts come in all sizes and I'm happy that so many quilters today are recognizing that small quilts are SO much fun to make - you can actually crank them out pretty quickly in between the large ones. I sometmes like to experiment with quilt blocks, colors or styles in my small quilts before I try them in a larger quilt.


Making quilts - large or small - with reproduction fabrics and traditional blocks is a great way for quilters to celebrate the past. Many of you know that this year is the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War - marking 150 years since the attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. My new book, The Civil War Sewing Circle, focuses on the impact that ordinary women had on the war through their sewing circles.


There's a small quilt in this book that is dear to my heart - the little one made with hexagons that's on the cover. I love love love hexagons and for awhile they were all the rage in Blogland. Every quilter and her cousin was making these cute little hexagon flowers using the English Paper Piecing technique.


Even though the hexagon quilts we are most familiar with today were called Grandmother's Flower Garden quilts from the 1930s, hexagon quilts were actually very popular during the 19th century too and they were often called Mosaic or Honeycomb quilts.  Here's an antique crib quilt that was made in 1850 using hexagons. Isn't it lovely??

I was really inspired by it when I made my own little hexagon quilt for The Civil War Sewing Circle. Unfortunately, while I was in the middle of making the 16 quilts/projects for the book, not to mention writing all of the delightful text, I realized I did NOT have time to make a big one by hand and so I took the shortcut and appliqued the "flowers" onto dark background squares to make it go a little faster and still make my deadline. I have quite a few hexagon flowers left over -  they were so much fun to make I just kept going. Perhaps someday I'll have time to put them together into a larger quilt too!


Here's how I did it. I used printable hexagons generated by this website to make mine and set each to come out at .60. Print them out on cardstock so you can use them over and over. There are also places that sell pre-cut paper hexagons but I couldn't find the size I was looking for and so this worked better for me for a smaller quilt.


Cut out the cardstock pieces and place on the wrong side of a 2-inch scrap square.


Cut out the shape and trim to a generous 1/4" all around. Fold over the edges one at a time and baste. I like to punch a hole in the center of the paper and use a small pin to hold the fabric in place and also to make it easier to pull out the paper later.


Then whipstitch six of them around a center hexagon, one side at a time, leaving the connecting side pieces or "spokes"  for last.


Take out the papers, applique the flowers onto background squares, or whipstitch them together one at a time to make the whole quilt by hand. Maybe that's what I'll do next time for a real antique-looking quilt.


It looks harder than it is but I know you can do this! Remember, just take it ONE hexagon at a time, LOL. I'm telling you, once you start, you can't stop . . . Even though my little quilt is finished I still like to pick up some scraps and make a few hexagons every now and then - it's so relaxing. Maybe I WILL make a bigger one someday.

editors note...I did a review of Kathy's book for Martingale....thought I would include it here...one of my fav sew far...


The Civil War Sewing Circle is reflective of an author who praises women of our past.
Kathleen Tracy introduces Adelia to us, a lady who was part of a sewing circle during the Civil war. Her desire to seek more directs us to unique designs of quilts that were made for the service men of that day. As you turn each page you can’t help but be drawn in to the words that spill upon your heart; the color that mirrors the souls of days gone by. You are moved by the hardship they had experienced. What was truly a necessity of that era, you come to understand their sense of loss; as well as the comfort that was shared by the quilters and the recipients alike.  Be it quilt designs or letter pockets; you put this book down you and you find such appreciation for the author and for being a woman who holds a thread in needle in hand. This book is certainly a treasure that touches more than your heart, it touches your soul.  I know ….whew! 

43 comments:

  1. What beautiful little quilts! And the book looks amazing - another treasure for my wish list :)

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  2. Actually I think the appliqué flowers have a far more interesting background negative space. It looks like you've pieced something really complicated! Love it!!

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  3. I just stumbled on your wonderful yahoo group last week, and am in love! You have cost me a fortune in civil war fabrics this past weekend. Shame on you!! hahahahaha I am loving your books and can hardly wait to cut into my new fabric stash. It is very rewarding to be able to finish a small quilt in a sitting and bind it same day. Now these little hexi's probably not so fast, but I am going to try it on my trip as a portable project. I think it will be perfect!
    Thanks

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  4. fantastic post!!!! Great mini-quilts!! Sweet memories!! Thanks for sharing. I'm delighted! Tiziana from Italy

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  5. What beautiful little quilts!!!
    I love the Civil War fabric and your little quilts...
    Thanks you for sharing!!!

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  6. Love the small quilts. I don't have a lot of civil war fabrics, but enough to make the cute hexie. I like them on the background squares - very doable. Thank you for a fun and informative post.

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  7. I have a hexagon die with my accuquilt and haven't really put it to good use yet. Thanks so much for the tute on sewing them together. It might just be my next handwork project.

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  8. Thank you Kathy for the hexagon tutorial. I am a big fan of yours and reproduction fabrics. I am on my second small quilt from the new book. Now hexagons may be my first hand pieced project.

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  9. Thanks for sharing. This is my next handwork I want to try. I love the printing idea of the hexies.

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  10. Thank you for sharing. This is one of the quilts on my bucket list.

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  11. Thanks for showing your hexagon quilts. My daughter-in-laws grandmother has asked me to make a quilt for her using her 1930's hexagons that she hand made but never got around to putting them together. Thanks for letting me know that it is ok to cut squares of fabric, I think I will use muslin, and then applique the flowers onto the squares. I am going to start this tonight.

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  12. Yes, I may work on other quilts, but I love my Hexagon quilt. I love how relaxing it is to sit and stitch those hexies... they do take FOREVER to amount to a whole quilt though.. LOL. I'm still stitching away.. someday it will all be done..and very much worth it.

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  13. Your book looks sew interesting. I love reading stories from the period of the civil war and I have an antique album quilt from that period as well.
    I think your idea of punching a hole in the center of your hexie template is brilliant. Never thought of it but certainly would make it easier for basting. Great post.

    Gail :)

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  14. Thanks for showing all your pretty quilts. I love seeing hexagon quilts which was the very first quilt I made.

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  15. Good Morning Kathy...your post here is timely and very uplifting. As I stated in my review, this is one book that had my attention. Love the stories behind the quilt history. You my dear are a delight and history was never my fav subject till now. Thank you!

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  16. Wonderful post! Love your little quilts, sew cute!

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  17. Haven't done the Hexagon yet, but getting very tempting. I seem to be reading a lot about them lately - wonder if that means I am being drawn in? Your book is delightful and the review was very nice also. Judy C

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  18. I love the civil war fabrics and the look of quilts when made in those wonderful colors. They remind me of my grandmother. :) Your quilts are beautiful and your instructions for the hexagons were great - I think I could do it even though I've never tried one. Thanks for posting!

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  19. Thank you for such a wonderful post, love your books and quilts.

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  20. Hi! You've really inspired me! When you say you "set each to come out at .60" do you mean you set the Hexagon size to .60? Just wanted to make sure I'm understanding! Thank you!

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  21. Beautiful little quilts, love making them too.
    I also love making hexagons, but I don't paper piece, I just sew them together by hand.

    Debbie

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  22. I've been hit with the hexagon bug and started making a few flowers. I have no plan but enjoy sewing on them in the evenings while watching tv. I love your small quilt idea and will put mine to use when I have enough to work with. Thanks for the great post!!

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  23. I love your little quilts and I follow your blog, you have such beautiful quilts. Those little hexies look so sweet.

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  24. Great post! I love Kathleen's blog and have been a follower for a while.

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  25. Great post! I, too, am a follower of Kathy's blog and absolutely love traditional quilting...and small quilts.

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  26. This is a great take on making hexies! I think I could do this! Thanks for sharing.

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  27. I love making and displaying little quilts around my house, they are in every basket, on every wall, on every piece of furniture. I've been thinking about trying hexagons, maybe this is the right time.

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  28. I am becoming a lover of Civil War fabrics..at first I wasn't so sure but now I love the color combinations. Interestingly, I am a guest reader this week in a 4th grade class as part of theri study of the Civil War. My book is Pink and Say by Patricia Pollaco and is about two young boys on both sides of the war after one is rescued by the other. Have a Kleenex handy when you read this book! I am going to go get your book TODAY so I can add that to my time with the children on Thursday. Your blog is one of my favorites, so funny, and a great "words" smith so to speak. I have the hexagon templates all ready so I need to go to it!
    Loved your Post
    Blessings
    Gmama Jane

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  29. Thanks for the informative post. The hexie bug finally bit me and I am attempting a hexagon bed quilt - double grandmother's flower garden 1" finished hexies. While I have a few basted, just started to put my first flower together. It is definitely a long-term project. Sew, your post really caught my attention! Enjoyed the Civil War quilt info and the photos too.

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  30. The "hole in the middle of the template" tip was worth reading the whole post. Thanks!

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  31. Your hexagon quilt ideas are beautiful! I have recently been introduced to the Grandma's Garden quilt by a special friend and it was the PERFECT outlet for me, as I was searching for a way to preserve my children's special articles of clothing. I have always had totes upon totes of clothes that I just couldn't give away and here I have been able to make them last forever through the hexi quilt. It was very hard to cut into that first dress, that favorite shirt, and the very special sun outfit from Great-grandma who is no longer with us, but I LOVE the way it is all coming together! I am always looking for ideas on how to put my finished project together and you have inspired me! Thank you!!

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  32. you really have that cute designs i think that would be a great design in my work aprons.

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  33. Thank you, thank you so much for the post! I so wanted to make hexagons but I had no idea how! I love it, one at a time, like potato chips!!! I also will need your book!

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  34. I love your mini quilts. Putting the hole in the middle of your hex templates is pure genius!!! I will definately do mine that way from now on! Brilliant!

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  35. Great mini quilts, beautifully done

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  36. How wonderful these are. I cut large hexagons using a plastic template years and years ago out of denim. I did get it sewed together but it has sat in the closet for years unfinished. This looks so much less difficult to put them together.

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  37. I have loved Kathleen's books for years. I'm so glad to read her post and love her hexagon tips. I've been working on a hexagon quilt for awhile and like her tips which may speed it along!!

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  38. punch a hole in the middle of the hex paper - genius!!! I love your sweet little quilts, even though I'm more of a mod fabric quilter these days, I adore repro.

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  39. What a wonderful post!!! I just love your quilts!! They are gorgeous!! I can't wait until I get my hands on your new book. I've only resently realized what style of quilter I really am. I'm always drawn to those reproduction fabrics. They are so warm and inviting!!! I will continue to make modern quilts for my daughter though! Cause she just loves those! Thanks for the wonderful post!! Hugs Ariane

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  40. OOooo. I've been a long term hexi-lover / English Piecing enthusiast...but I've never seen the hole-in-the template trick! Brilliant. Thanks.

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  41. Beautiful quilts. Card stock eh? Ok then I am going to have to try that.

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  42. What a great post! I just purchased Kathy's new book and LOVE it! Just can't get enough of those little quilts.

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  43. I absolutely LOVE Civil War era quilts. The prints. The patterns. And the traditions that they carry on. I'll definitely check out your book!

    -- Colleen @ Made by Colleen

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