As you recall from my last blog, I have been a "ghost" or "stunt" quilter for Mickey Depre. So you can imagine that I have learned a few tricks about working with hexies along the way! This post does not contain many pictures, but I do have a few tips!
1. A Steady Betty is a great tool to use when you are working with lots of pieces on your lap.
2. When you are basting your hexies, use up your cheap thread. You know the stuff...it was the bargain "3 spools for a buck" at the big box store. The stuff you bought when you first started quilting. When you are basting, you are just gonna remove those stitches any way, so why waste your good, quality thread. A good contrast to your fabric is great, to make it easier to find those basting stitching when it is time to remove them.
3. When basting pieced hexies, you will have seams in corners, and along edges, that you want to make sure remain in their places. I like to do a cross stitch in those corners, and through those seam junctions to make sure they behave. This is important if you want your final product to have seams that line up
4. And speaking of removing stitches (see #2), a good sharp seam ripper is always a good thing. They can get dull, just like any other instrument. Replace them when they start to give you fits. My personal favorite is the Alex Anderson 4 in 1 tool. It has a great seam ripper, along with a stilletto, a wooden press, and a point turner.
5. Speaking of stillettos (great segues, eh!), I use that stilletto when I am removing the paper after I have removed the basting stitches. I find that it gets into the corners without disturbing the seam.
6. Before you remove the papers from the edge hexies, you will want to prep those edges that have not been joined to a partner. A light starch or Mary Ellen's Best Press will keep those edges crisp. Rather than spray, I like to pour some into a little bowl and "paint" it on those edges with a small flat paint brush. I then press till dry. It gives a nice crisp edge that holds until you can applique or do your finishing.
7. When sewing your hexies together, Mickey has recommended 100# silk thread. The other day I grabbed my travel box to piece some hexies, and failed to put my silk thread in. I did have some Aurifil 50wt Mako cotton with me. In my opinion, it worked just as well as the finer silk, and was much easier to work with.
8. Replace your hand needles. Hopefully, we all know to replace our sewing machine needles after 8 hours of use. Our hand needles can become dull also. I am so guilty of using the same needle for YEARS. But a fresh, sharp needle just makes stitching much easier. I don't have a personal favorite, although I do like the longer needles, as it is easier for me to grasp.
9. A needle threader is a true Godsend! I have two that I like. Clover's Desk Needle Threader and Bohin Desktop Needle threader. They both work well.
10. Finally, I just learned this trick from another blog. Instead of using a whip stitch to sew your hexies together, try a ladder stitch. It makes an invisible seam, and is just as easy to do! With what ever method you use to sew your hexies together, make sure that you securely stitch your corners and your end to make sure they don't come unraveled.
Well, that is all the tips that I can think of! Everyone, have a great day!