I can't quite believe I'm writing this... but the quilt is finished!
8 months, hundreds of hexagons and thousands of tiny stitches later and it is complete.
I am so glad I persevered, though it was quite a project to undertake for a novice quilter. It took much longer than I expected and at certain points it was more fiddly than you can possibly imagine. I swore at it several times.
I loved having a portable project, the quilt moved with me from room to room and travelled with me at Christmas. I was able to sit on the sofa and half-watch TV while sewing, so from that point of view it was much more sociable than being sat up to a sewing machine.
It isn't perfect, but it is handmade from start to finish and I am very happy with the result. I am already starting to plan the next one...
For those of you interested in making your own hand-pieced quilt, I have been saving up a few links of tutorials, techniques and resources. I hope you find them helpful:
- This beginner's guide by Flossie at Flossie Teacakes, is a wonderful introduction to hand-piecing. Her blog is a great resource of all things sewn, and this guide has lots of helpful tips and pointers.
- I used this technique from Amy at Badskirt for the border on the back. I considered a few different finishing options before settling on this one. I liked the idea of continuing the hexagon theme on the back and this seemed the neatest and most secure way to finish the quilt.
- I ladder stitched the border to the backing, following this technique.
- I made my own hexagon templates, using this site to print them at home onto basic printing paper.
- I used glue to attach my hexagons to the backing paper. I liked this technique as it was faster than hand sewing them. However they can be tricky to remove without fraying the edges of the fabric. This doesn't matter in the middle of the quilt but for the edge I would consider hand sewing the fabric around the papers. This would mean they would detach more easily and the hexagons would hold their shape in preparation for sewing to the backing.
- I used this batting and found it really easy to work with, soft and warm.
- It is much better to work with a shorter length of thread (about 2 feet) and re-thread often rather than trying to work with a longer length. If the thread is too long it will tangle and you will want to throw the whole thing across the room, trust me. I pieced the hexagons with standard cotton thread, but for hand-quilting I bought some Aurifil 50 thread and it was so much smoother and less prone to tangling, I would use this throughout for the next project.
- I used Clover Gold Eye quilting needles, number 9.
- I bought a standard 12" quilting hoop and found the best way to achieve neat hand-quilted stitches was to work towards myself with a rocking motion, loading a couple of stitches onto the needle at a time. I tried all manners of thimbles and finger guards before fashioning my own using a cotton wool pad. I simply wrapped the pad around my middle finger and secured it with some washi tape. This protected my finger and stopped the needle from slipping.
In the months I have been making this quilt, I have also pinned plenty of inspirational designs and techniques to my pinterest quilting board here, so do take a look. You can also look back over my quilting posts on the blog here.
If you have any questions, do add them to the comments and I'll try my best to help!