Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Introducing: The Hexagon Project

It all started because my scrap container for quilting cottons, one of those large plastic tubs, was filled to overflowing. In the back of my mind, I kept trying to think of how I could use those scraps.

A Stack of Cotton Fabric Hexagons for English Paper Piecing

I began to notice English paper piecing projects featuring hexagons. Amanda Jean from Crazy Mom Quilts acquired an old hexagon quilt and has been sewing a replica of it. In my Instagram feed, hexagon blocks and quilts have been featured in recent posts from The National Quilt Museum, All People Quilt, Aurifil Thread, Christine, and Vivian.

Although I’ve done hand quilting, I’ve never tried hand piecing. I spent some time reading about English paper piecing, and it seems like something I could enjoy doing. With a block-based design, I could easily keep one or two blocks’ worth of hexagons at the ready as an on-the-go project.

Back in 2000, I made a baby “I Spy” quilt using a set of Marti Michell templates. In addition to the two-inch hexagon that I used for that quilt, Template Set G includes a template for a one-inch hexagon. That happens to be the finished size I had in mind for this project idea that was slowly taking shape.

With the fabric template all set, I looked online at pre-cut hexagons to serve as the “paper” aspect of my paper piecing. Frugality won out; I have some card stock that is too thick for my printer and I found a free hexagon template download at Geta’s Quilting Studio.

And So It Begins...
I printed a template onto standard paper and set that on top of five sheets of card stock to cut out the paper hexagons. The process was fussier than I would have liked, but within a relatively short time I had 100 sturdy paper hexagons. I punched a hole in the center of each piece, through which I’ll be able to pin the fabric to the paper.

Cutting Hexagon Templates from Heavy Card Stock for English Paper Piecing

While sorting through the fabric in the plastic tub, I set aside all of the pieces that were at least 2 1/4 inches (5.7 cm) wide but no more than double that width. My goal is to cut all of these smaller scraps first, then choose larger scraps after I assess how many more hexagons I need and which colors are lacking.

Colorful Cotton Fabric Hexagons for English Paper Piecing

At the halfway point of cutting that first set of scraps, I have about 400 hexagons. I’ve been putting them up on my design wall to get a better idea of the range of colors but I’m running out of room! I have a few directions in mind for the design but want to see where the colors take me. And the design will likely dictate the size.

I can’t wait to see what I make!

What are your thoughts on English paper piecing?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Managing Projects with Trello

Are you familiar with the Trello website and app? Trello is a tool for project management and organization. I keep reading about it and, since individual accounts are free, I decided to try it. (No affiliation.)

While most of my sewing adventures lean toward quilting, I’ve made a lot of Halloween costumes as well as a few basic garments. I’d like to sew more pieces for my wardrobe but I’m still a beginner in that arena. If I come across a fabric that I love, I never know how much to buy or whether I already have a pattern that will work well with it.

How I’m Using Trello
This is where Trello comes in handy for me. I can make Boards for general categories. Within each Board, I can create specific Lists. And within each List, I can create individual Cards.

I’ve set up Boards for different types of sewing patterns, such as Pants Patterns. I also have Boards for woven and stretch fabrics. In the future, I plan to start a Projects Board.

Each Board holds a number of Lists. In Pants Patterns, as shown in the photo below, I have Lists for Pants, Shorts, and Leggings. My fabric Boards have Lists based on the type of fabric, such as Cottons, Silks, and Knits.

Trello Board for Pants Sewing Patterns

The Lists hold Cards with information about individual items. For each sewing pattern that I own, I made a Card that includes photos of the pattern envelope, any notable pattern details, and a Checklist for yardage and notions. For each fabric, the Card includes a photo of the fabric, details about the material, and yardage.

Trello Card for New Look S0184 Sewing Pattern

Each Board can have its own set of color-coded Labels. I set up identical Labels across all of my Boards for woven, stretch, and ranges of yardage. If I have a pattern I’d like to make, for example, I can search the yardage Label in one of my fabric Boards to quickly find appropriate fabrics that I already own.

The Boards, Lists, and Cards can be edited, duplicated and/or moved. For example, after I entered all of the information for New Look S0184 in the Leggings List shown above, I duplicated that Card then moved the new Card onto the Tunics List on my Shirt Patterns Board.

When I’m ready to make a pattern, I can move a duplicate copy of the pattern Card onto my Projects Board. From there, I’ll be able to edit the fabric and notions Checklist for the specific item that I’ll be making, then check off the supplies as I acquire them. I can link the fabric Card to the project Card, make notes for myself, and give the project a deadline. And those are only the features I’ve use so far.

While it was daunting to itemize everything, the site is intuitive to use. Now that the set-up is done, I think Trello will help me use my garment patterns and fabrics more efficiently. And because the tool is cloud-based, I’ll be able to reference those patterns and fabrics while I’m at the store for better planning. Going through everything to take photos and measurements has already improved the organization of the physical sewing space!

What tools do you use to manage your projects and stay organized?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Two Years!

As of this week, it’s been two years since I started sharing “The Art of Making Blog.” Happy blogiversary to me!

During the past year, the blog has had about 23,000 page views from more than 7,300 visitors. Thank you for choosing to spend some of your time reading about my creations!

The top five posts from this year — and, as it happens, from the entirety of the blog’s brief history — encompass a variety of topics:

Projects of my Top Five Blog Posts from the Past Year

The common thread (no pun intended) between the topics appears to be new experiences, whether they’re in the form of new techniques or the result of major life changes. I’m open to continuing with more new techniques but can’t help hoping that we’re done with major life changes for a while!

We moved across the country almost a year ago, which means that the bulk of the time that I’ve spent blogging has been with most of my supplies either packed away or in some state of partially unpacked disarray. Unpacking has been a slow process as I rediscover items that in some cases were packed almost as soon as they entered our old house. There are so many things I want to make! You can expect the topics to start branching out more from knitting and quilting, although fiber arts of some sort will continue to be the main focus.

I tend to have multiple projects in various stages of completion at any given time. I work on some of them regularly, while I only pick up others occasionally. I’m still working out how much to share about the in-progress projects. I don’t want to bore you with post after post about the almost-imperceptible changes in a slow-moving project. I also don’t want to share a partial project that I won’t revisit for six months or more. Finding a good balance is my top writing goal for the blog.

I hope you’ll continue on this journey with me. Cheers to another year!