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  • Irina

Hexagon Christmas stocking SAL, week 3. Quilting

This week we are talking about creating back panel, quilting ideas for the front and the back of the stocking and basics of big stitch hand quilting.

I have been enjoying seeing everyone´s progress and your stockings are coming together so nicely. Many of you finished the front panels!

The first prize for the SewAlong is a beautiful modern Christmas Tree Paper Pieced Pattern in pdf format by Jitka from @jitkadesign, The winner is Julie from @julie_juson4. Congratulations! Her Hexie in a hexie front panel is amazing!

Back panel

There are few options to create the back panel for the stocking.

1) The easiest one is to cut the panel from one piece of fabric and quilt it by machine with a walking foot in a simple cross hatch - crossing diagonal lines. Increase the stitch length to 3.0 for quilting and mark the quilting lines using the ruler and either water soluble marker or Hera marker .

2) You can make the back panel from hexagons in the same way you made the front.

3) You can use quilt as you go (QAYG) method to create the back panel (you can find more info in this blog post)

4) Or you can make a patchwork panel for the back.

The last two options are great as machine piecing and quilting doesn´t take that much time as hand sewing. And there are so many possibilities to the layout!

Here I will show you just few examples.

Squares and rectangles

I had some leftover pieces from 5" charm squares after cutting hexagons, so I cut those in 2,5" x 5" rectangles. I also had few pieces of 2,5"mini charm squares. So here is a simple layout using squares and rectangles.


The easiest simple layout using squares.

If you put the squares on point, it looks fancier.

No matter what layout you choose these are the basic patchwork rules:

- decrease your stitch length to 2,0;

- sew the squares in rows first, then join rows together;

- if you would like your seams to match, press the seams with hot iron (without steam) in each row in opposite directions (for example, first row to the right, 2nd row - to the left, 3rd row to the right);

- if there is no need for matching seams, then press the seams between units in the row open;

- press the seams between the rows open.

Remember, you need to mirror the template for the back panel! (simply flip it to the other side, so the toes on both panels face the opposite ways).

Once your panel is finished, give it a good press with hot iron, trace the template and cut the panel with 1/2" seam allowance. Baste the panel by your preferred method to a piece of batting.

Here is my finished back panel. I really wanted to use the square layout on point but my son chose the rectangles and squares instead😊

Quilting designs for hexagons

Before we talk about hand quilting, I will show few ideas how to quilt the hexagon panel.

The most common design is diagonal lines through the corners of hexagons. You can mark the lines with a ruler and water soluble marker or use Hera marker to trace the lines.

The second design is outlining inside the hexagon shape. I prefer quilting it in rows. I marked with numbers the order you need to quilt - first, the bottom of the hexagons going from left to right, then return from right to left quilting the top part and sides of the hexies.

And here is the design which I like the most for 1 inch hexagons - it goes rather quickly and gives beautiful texture. The numbers show quilting order.

Hand quilting

I absolutely love the texture and special touch hand quilting gives to a project. I don´t mind spending extra time to add the details that would make the stocking unique and even more precious.

If you have never tried hand quilting, this is the right project to start. It is not difficult when you have right tools.

It doesn´t require anything fancy but a needle, thread and thimble.

It is again a matter of personal preferences. After trying many different thimbles, needles and threads this is what I settled to.

I like using Perle cotton #8 or sometimes 3 strands of embroidery floss (if I don´t have suitable color of Perle cotton) because I prefer my stitches to look slightly larger so they show off nicely. I haven´t tried Aurifil 12 wt but I saw many quilters successfully using it on IG.

I use long sharp needles (John James Sharps, size 9) as they have the eye big enough for Perle cotton, easily go through the layers and more comfortable to gather few stitches in one go.

Sashiko leather thimble by Sew Mate is my choice for hand quilting. They are inexpensive. Of course, they wear eventually but not too soon. I have been using this type of thimbles since 2015.

But I do recommend you to try different needles, threads and thimbles to find what feels right and works for you.

We will be stitching through the top fabric and batting. Big stitch Hand quilting is basically the simple running stitch.

Decide on where you would like to start. For large projects we usually start from the center, but on a Christmas stocking you can start anywhere.

I just want to tell you that in the beginning your thimble may feel unnatural on your finger and you may struggle through the first several stitches but it will quickly get easier.  Stick with it! 

Make a knot and push your threaded needle straight up through both layers from the back to front in the place you want to start.

I hold the panel in my left hand (thumb on top and other 4 finger are under the panel. I have a thimble on the middle finger of my right right hand to push the needle through the layers.

The goal is to make even stitches (it is not easy but keep trying). Make 2-3 stitches with your needle through both layers and push the needle with the thimble and then pull it with index finger and the thumb.

Make sure you are not pulling the thread too tight and the quilted surface is smooth. I sometimes pull on the quilted line in the opposite directions to make sure the stitching is not tight.

When you pivot from one line to another, make sure the connecting stitch at the back is slightly loose but not tight.

When the thread ends, take the needle to the back, wrap the thread around needle once, pull the thread through the loop and cut it leaving a short tail.

If you are stitching cross hatch (diagonal lines) it looks nicer when your stitches don´t cross where the two lines meet.

Hand quilt only inside the traced stocking template so all hand quilting is secure.

Here is my quilted front panel.

I wanted to show you my quilted back panel but it seems that I forgot to take a picture😊

I am really looking forward to seeing your quilting this week! Next Monday, November 16th, I will announce the Week 3 prize winner. Our sponsors are Kim and Nisha from @brimfieldawakening., they are kindly offering papers for one block of your choice from their fabulous store!

Happy quilting!

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