Less is more with the Hex is Gone Quilt!

The gift that keeps on giving

My Hex is Gone quilt!

If quilting is your hobby, then there’s a good chance you’ve made a quilt for someone else. After all, quilts make great gifts! They’re personal and heartfelt. Also – on a practical level – a person can only keep so many before they start to run out of space!

The problem is, once you decide to make someone a quilt, a deadline is created. And nothing’s more stressful than quilting under a deadline – even a self-imposed one!

Though I should know better, this is exactly what happened to me after resolving to make the Hex Is Gone quilt.

Best Laid Traps

There I was, cutting the last few yards of the Animals QC in Teal (from the popular Maple Woods collection) into fat quarters, when I started to think “Gosh this fabric would make such a cute baby quilt. And hey! I know someone who’s about to have a baby!”

The thing is, the baby in question wasn’t just almost due, she was past due…by a week and a half. Given this reality, the sensible thing would have been to make this quilt a 6 month, or even a first birthday gift. But… I was going to visit the expecting parents in a few weeks and wouldn’t it be great to have this ready for them then?!

In short, I laid a trap for myself and then fell right into it. But sometimes it’s hard to make a realistic assessment about how difficult a project will be, or how long it will take, especially when you’re excited about it! And I went into this project SUPER excited, not only because I was making a gift for a new baby that I couldn’t wait to meet, but also because I was in LOVE with my feature fabric, and I knew exactly which pattern I wanted to use.

The Pattern

I’d had my eye on the Hex Is Gone quilt (designed by Allie Perry for Taren Studios) for a while.

It’s fat quarter friendly and comprised entirely of triangles that are cleverly arranged in specific color groupings to look like hexagons with a missing (or ‘accent’) piece. The construction is fairly straightforward: cut triangles, sew them into rows, and then sew the rows together.

This pattern intrigued me because I had a hunch that there was a way to make the construction process even simpler.

Rather than cutting 3 triangles from the same fabric and sewing them back together to make half a hexagon, couldn’t you just…cut half a hexagon? (Aka a trapezoid?) This would minimize the time spent cutting and piecing – an appealing prospect given my insane deadline!

I checked the fabric requirements for the baby size: 10 fat quarters and 1/2 yard of accent fabric – perfect!

Fabric Choices

I knew that I wanted the Animals QC in Teal to be the focal piece for this quilt, so – just in case – I scooped up the last 4 fat quarters. At first I toyed with incorporating several prints, but I couldn’t settle on an accent fabric. Pink? Blue? Grey? Peach? I pulled out every solid color featured in my main print, and unwittingly solved the problem: use the Animals QC in Teal for the accent fabric and surround it with complementing solids! (Luckily, the cutting instructions for 1/2 a yard of accent fabric also worked for 2 fat quarters!)

While hunting for a solid to use as an accent fabric, I unintentionally planned my entire quilt! There’s so many beautiful colors featured in this print.

Breaking Trail

With my fabric picked it was time to put my new cutting plan into action. I’m sure there’s a precise mathematical method that could be used to make a trapezoid that’s the correct height, width and angle based on the size of the triangles in question…but that method is beyond me. So instead, I used a Creative Grids 60 Degree Equilateral Triangle Ruler ruler to cut 3 triangles from scrap fabric and sewed them together per the Hex Is More instructions. I then traced the resulting trapezoid and cut a sturdy template out of corrugated poster board. Finally, I used my template to cut a trapezoid out of scrap fabric, and (to test it) sewed it to a 60 degree triangle – it worked beautifully!

Now it was time to do some math. (Well, at least some counting!)

Note: I like the flat top on this equilateral triangle ruler, it makes piecing your triangles easier. (You can watch the Creative Grids video tutorial for this ruler here.) But, if you don’t want to invest in a new ruler, Taren studios has a free triangular template available for download on her website! Find it here.

Quilt Math

Including my own ‘fabric key’ on the quilt layout page was a game changer.

Based on the pattern’s cutting key, I assigned each of my 10 solid fabrics a number. I then cut a small scrap of all ten, wrote the assigned number on each, and taped them above the quilt layout (on page 6) so I’d have something to refer back to. (This proved VERY helpful and I definitely recommend it!) Next, using the quilt layout, I counted how many trapezoids and single triangles needed to be cut from each fabric. I made a table with my findings:

*1 trapezoid = 3 triangles of the same color right next to each other in the same row. The Hex Is Gone cutting directions for triangles translates well to trapezoids. A fat quarter of each fabric is still enough to get all the shapes you need!

A few corrections

Side note – there are a few mislabeled triangles in Allie’s baby quilt layout. I couldn’t find any corrections on Taren Studio’s website, so I’ve included mine here:

2nd Row, 3rd triangle – says ‘A’ should say ‘3’
2nd Row, 7th, 8th, and 9th triangles – say ‘8’ should say ‘4’
6th Row, 1st triangle – says ‘A’ should say 6
6th Row, 7th and 8th triangles – say ‘4’ should say 12

Easy Breezy

My ‘math’ done, it was time to cut and piece. As predicted, less triangles and more trapezoids significantly sped up my process! (Plus, my absolute heartthrob of a boyfriend pressed open each seam after I sewed it which significantly streamlined everything. If you can coerce your partner into participating in your hobbies, I highly recommend it!)

It’s VERY easy to get mixed up when piecing this quilt together. (I really tried to keep everything in order and still had to get out the seam ripper a few times.) So, to minimize confusion, I laid out out all the pieces on a design wall, and put each row back in place after sewing it. There may be a way to chain-piece this project that would also help keep things in order, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to do it.

For next time

Now that I know how well the trapezoid template worked, if I ever make this quilt again, I think I’ll also try making a diamond template for the sections where two triangles of the same color are sewn together. The less cutting and piecing the better! What’s more – if you’re using prints rather than solids – incorporating diamonds and trapezoids will make it so only one seam disrupts the print in each hexagon, rather than five.

I might try making a diamond template in addition to a trapezoid!

Zig and Zag

Everything pieced, it was time to square-up the quilt top up by cutting off the zig-zagged edges. The thing was, I kind of liked the zig-zag! I’d never bound anything other than a normal rectangular quilt before, but I felt confident I could do it.

At this point I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Maisie!!! Didn’t you say you had a deadline?? You wanted to finish this quilt near the baby’s birth date, and now you’re going to attempt a technique you’ve never even seen someone else do, let alone done it yourself! Are you going to do any research at all before committing to this??”

And to you, dear reader, I respond – you’re right! I did have an insane deadline in my head. And yes I should have done some research. But – in my defense – my trapezoid idea had worked really well! I’d already saved, like, a ton of time!

And so, like Icarus, I ignored the increasing heat and flew higher.

Pride cometh

Things were going great! I’d used 505 Temporary Adhesive Spray to assemble the quilt sandwich and a Hera Marker to ‘draw’ my diagonal lines, an inch apart. Even the actual quilting, which I did on my Pfaff, went smoothly. I was KILLING it. Deadline, shmeadline – it was time to bind!

Even though the zig-zagged edges are longer, a 1/2 yard of binding fabric was still enough!

My plan was to bind like normal: align the raw binding edges with the quilt edge, machine stitch it to the quilt front, flip it over and hand-sew to the back. The first corner was fine. It wasn’t the right angle I was used to, but folding the binding back on itself and aligning to the new edge worked great. Then I came to my first interior angle…

The trouble with binding a interior angle (versus an exterior one) is that the excess fabric that accrues when you change direction has no corner to fold over and around. Instead it needs to be smushed in on itself. Though I was observing this issue as I machine stitched, I had no solution and decided that I’d just figure it out when it came time to hand-stitch.

A short time later

Curse past Maisie and her nonchalant attitude! I had to finagle the hand-sewing of the binding over 11 interior angles, and it never really got any easier. My ‘method’ was just to shove the excess fold of fabric beneath the binding in the least obtrusive way possible. It was finicky and tiring. My fingers hurt from gripping the needle and, at one point, I realized that I’d failed to catch a section of the quit top in my machine stitch, and had to pull out an hour’s worth of hand stitching!

An closer look at my less-than-perfect hand-stitching job!

Later – whilst recounting to Carly the difficulty of this binding process – she casually mused “I wonder what the instructions for binding the Science Fair quilt are…” I stared at her, struck dumb. Science Fair, by Jaybird Quilts, features zigzagged edges, so there were sure to be instructions in the pattern on how to bind them….

So, yeah, if I’d bothered to do any research, I might have discovered that binding a zig-zagged edge with bias binding is WAY easier. But, we live and we learn I suppose. And it’s good that I saved ‘so much’ time with my trapezoid template because the binding took forever. My irrational deadline loomed nearer. The baby arrived! But, in the end…

I did it!

Welcome to the world, baby girl!

I have a theory that we enjoy making quilts for others because – despite the stress and deadlines – each stitch is a tangible expression of love. It’s not always easy to verbally express the affection you feel for someone. But, I think, that wrapping them in a hand-made quilt is the second best way to say ‘I love you’.

I may never get better at personal time-management. However, I know that as long as I have people I care about, I’ll keep making quilts for them.

Happy Quilting!

Maisie

P.S. Thank you to the parents of this darling girl for sending over these pictures! Congratulations on the new addition to your wonderful family.

10 thoughts on “Less is more with the Hex is Gone Quilt!

  1. Rose Rademan says:

    Good on you Maise for figuring it all out! The first thing I thought of was what a pain that was going to be to sew!! The trapezoid idea was brilliant and next time do the diamonds too!

  2. Mary Howland says:

    Gorgeous quilt – love the design. Thank you for your notes on piecing and the corrections. I’ll check out the pattern. One suggestion which I make whenever I see this – I have a vision issue which makes it difficult to read blogs unless the print/font color is dark. I know many bloggers use a gray or light black but it’s not easy to see and read. Thank you.

  3. Laurie Boyd says:

    I have been quilting for years and this is one of my favorite quilts of all time! Beautiful colors, design and workmanship. Great job!
    Baby obviously loves it, too!
    P.S. I agree that binding a quilt in this way is challenging. I just did one recently for my three year old grandson. Yes, it was worth it in the end.

    • Maisie Gospodarek says:

      That is so nice Laurie – thank you for reading! I’m glad you have also attempted a binding like this. You’re right that, while it was challenging, I think it was worth it! I’m pleased with how it came out.
      Maisie

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