EPP Hexies

For me, English paper piecing has been a journey of trial and error - mostly error. I originally fell in love with the idea of English paper piecing about four years ago. I started a project with scrappy greens and neutrals, and I sewed on it every chance I got. I was planning to make a nice, big quilt for the bed.

As the project grew, it became increasingly obvious that there wasn't enough contrast in my fabrics. The design was getting lost! I was disappointed, but I knew I wouldn't be happy with it if I kept going. It was time to try something else.

Once I decided to scrap my original project, it was back to the drawing board. After the first experience, I thought I would rather have less fabrics and fantastic contrast than a bunch of fabrics and risk repeating my mistake. I also decided that with how long English paper piecing takes, I would be better off starting with something at least a little bit smaller.

I opened up EQ7 and spent quite a bit of time playing with different ideas. This is what I eventually landed on. It will be about 45" by 50" finished, and will be a wall hanging. It uses just two fabrics, which keeps things simpler and allows the design to shine.

Once I had a design, I headed to the local quilt shop. I found lovely purple and grey fabrics that would be perfect, then I looked for thread. Even with all of the values in my original project, I never had any trouble with the thread showing between the hexagons. With that in mind, I thought I would be fine with a single thread color for this project, too. I chose a grey thread with a value somewhere between the two fabrics and headed home.

When I started to sew, I quickly saw that the thread was visible between the purple hexagons. I told myself it wouldn't be that noticeable when standing back from the wall hanging, and I thought anything darker would show even worse between the grey hexies. I forged ahead. Unfortunately, the more I progressed, the less I liked what I was making, and my project ground to a virtual halt.

The last time I pulled it out, I decided to try adding a purple hexagon with purple thread (it's the purple hexie on the top left). It looked so much better! I debated for a while between continuing with my newfound wisdom and starting over. I eventually decided that I would be putting way too many hours into this to be unhappy with the center. It was time for take 3.

By the time I had the center 7 hexies together, I was grudgingly happy that I had started over. It looks way better without thread showing in the seams. Now I use a thread that matches whichever hexagon I am currently adding. This ensures that it never contrasts with either fabric. Even when looking up close, the thread isn't noticeable between the hexagons.

Now I'm so glad I started over. I was concerned about my wasted effort, but I've made more progress on this version in the last month than I did in two years on the old one. I'm absolutely thrilled with how this is coming together. I finally have a hexagon project that I'm excited about finishing.

What about you? Do you have a handwork project you enjoy? Was it smooth sailing out the gate, or did you have a rocky start like me? I would love to hear about it! If you leave your email address when you comment, I will be sure to respond to you personally.

I'm linking up with Wednesday Wait Loss and Midweek Makers.

Posted on May 16, 2017 and filed under Quilting, Work in Progress.

350 Blocks Project: April Report

I finally started my Helicopter quilt this month! I designed it a couple of years ago, and I've been collecting fabrics for about a year and a half. My goal was to have enough fabrics for every helicopter seed to be unique. Once I achieved that, I had to wait to be able to get all of my background fabric from a single dye lot. The fabric I chose for the background is Hemp from Hoffman Fabric's collection of hand dyed watercolor batiks

Cutting for this quilt requires a fair bit of organization. I was able to set up an extra folding table to keep everything in order. The only place for the table was in front of the bathroom door, so I got to crawl under it whenever I needed inside. Quilting is always an adventure! At this point, about 1/3 of the quilt has been cut, and the table is back in the closet.

I had a lovely four-day retreat with friends at Windy Stitches this month, and I spent most of it working on the blocks for this quilt. I'm paper piecing them, and I'm loving how accurately they come out. The points are beautiful!

I was able to finish 25 blocks in April. I made one sample while I was cutting, and I sewed the remaining 24 at retreat. It feels amazing to see this coming together in fabric after so much time spent planning.

After I got home, I spent a little bit of time working on my Roller Rink quilt. I've chosen to go scrappy instead of strip piecing. So far, all of my squares have been sewn into pairs. Next, I'll be sewing 2/3 of the pairs into fours, and the other 1/3 will get one more square to make sets of three. This project has been on the back burner since October, and I'm excited to be working on it again.

Block Totals

April Total: 25
Year to Date Total: 123
Year to Date Goal: 103

So far, I'm staying on track. But the goal for May is 46 blocks! I don't have high hopes, but we'll see what happens. If I'm able to get enough sewing time, I may be able to finish my Roller Rink blocks. I'm planning on making 42 of those.

If you're interested in the 350 Blocks Project, you can get all the information on how it works here. You can see the monthly goals and everyone's progress here.

Posted on May 1, 2017 and filed under Quilting, 350 Blocks Project.

Taco Soup Slow Cooker Recipe

This is one of the easiest dinners I make. It's so nice to get it started in the morning and come home in the evening to dinner that's ready to eat. The leftovers reheat well for lunch the next day.

Supplies

  • 6 quart slow cooker

Soup Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lean ground meat
  • 1 onion
  • 1/3 cup minced garlic (the kind that comes in a jar)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (2 Tbsp)
  • 1 packet ranch dressing mix (3 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 4 15oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 15oz can corn
  • 2 15oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 15oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Toppings

  • mexican blend shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • fresh cilantro
  • tortilla chips

Directions

  1. Chop onion.
  2. Cook ground meat and onion together on the stove. If needed, add a bit of oil to prevent sticking.
  3. When the meat is nearly cooked through, add the minced garlic and seasonings.
  4. Put the fully cooked meat mixture in the slow cooker. Depending on the type of meat you used, you may need to drain the fat first.
  5. Add canned tomatoes and corn directly to the slow cooker. Do not drain the liquid.
  6. Add rinsed beans and fold gently until all ingredients are mixed well.
  7. Cook on low for 6-10 hours.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve with toppings and enjoy.
Posted on April 14, 2017 and filed under Recipes.