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WARNING: long post!
I like to have an on-going handwork project to work on, typically when we are on the road. This has been needleturn applique and/or hexies (English Paper Piecing). I love both techniques.
I had been looking forward to a needleturn project of chickens for quite some time but when I worked on the first one, my interest waned. I have thought upon it and I *think* it's the combination of fabrics for the appliques that came in the kits. They are darling and at first glance, you'd think they'd be perfect. Certainly the overall effect caught my eye but actually *working* with the fabrics just isn't doing anything for me. So, I'm going to put that one on the back burner.
My fall-back hand work is prepping hexies. It's mindless, it's easy, and I'll eventually use them in something. I'm always looking for some "interesting" use of hexies **other than** Grandmother's Flower Garden. For whatever reason, I don't particularly care for that layout. I came across an interesting 4-hexie combination into a diamond. All the diamonds were then smooshed together to form the quilt top. That's what I'm working on now.
AND THEN .... dun / dun / dun ....
A quilter posed a question in one of the hexie FB groups I belong to. She was working on a layout that looked like 3D hollow cubes but was having trouble following the directions, so was asking for help. I couldn't offer assistance BUT ... THAT LAYOUT. *Man*, that looked interesting. And sure enough, it was made up of hexies!
Well .... yes and no. I have steadfastly avoided patterns where the hexies are pieced. I just do NOT want to get that involved. But this hollow cube?? Gosh, I LOVE optical illusion quilts and this one wasn't heavily pieced, ya know? There are 3 pieces: an equilateral triangle with two trapezoid borders. Not too bad but the little voice in the back of my mind is say .... back away. back away. It looked as thought MAYBE I could make a two fabric strip set to eliminate hand piecing the borders and streamline the process. But sadly .. no. There aren't enough hollow cubes made from the same combination of fabrics to warrant making strip sets, as they would all be pretty short in length. But, I tried anyway and made one hollow cube hexagon by machine. It wasn't too obnoxious but it was not what I wanted/needed for a portable project.
So, I bit the bullet and hand cut out some paper templates: the triangle and 2 trapezoid pieces. As you know, a hexie is a six-sided figure of equal lengths. Fiskar punches make producing those templates so easy! But for THIS layout, the hexie is NOT a solid template. Oh no. This hexagon is made up of SIX individual triangles ... and each triangle is comprised of that small triangle + 2 trapezoid borders. Sigh. Furthermore, each triangle has a different and SPECIFIC color combination of small triangle + trapezoid pieces. If you mess up and put the wrong colors together, you will not get a 3D hollow cube. Forget drinking any alcohol doing this layout.
Slowly, steadily, I work through the templates and colors and produce a totally hand-pieced hexagon that gives the effect of a hollow cube. I am so amazed and delighted with this optical illusion! But hand cutting all the paper templates I figure is necessary is going to be daunting. Y'all know how lazy I am, so made a cut file for my Scan & Cut and now have that machine cut out my paper templates for me. :-)
Here is the progression:
first you have the 3 pieces for each triangle ...a small equilateral triangle and 2 trapezoid pieces of different sizes. Each paper template is wrapped with a specific color fabric and those 3 pieces are then sewn together to form one triangle.
Then, you sew the pieced triangles together, making sure that your colors are all in the correct placement. This much doesn't look like much, does it?
Patience, young grasshopper! When you have all 6 pieced triangles sewn together in the correct order, you get a HOLLOW CUBE! And yes, this really IS a hexagon!
Here are the two I've done so far ... the left-hand one is machine sewn; the right-hand one is hand-pieced.
Dang, but I love this look!
I've also been looking at different ways to arrange the hollow cube hexies. (You may need to download the picture below in order to make it larger to see the details.) Some layouts have all the hollow cubes smooshed together; not sure if I like that. I *do* like the layout where the hollow cubes are spread apart. I *do* like the hollow cubes that have the (light, medium, dark) interior colors ... that's what makes them 3D. Some of the examples have all the same fabric inside the cube and it's not as effective. I do like the 3rd layout where the hollow cubes are smooshed together but also are irregularly placed with some blocks apart from the main mass.
But I have a very long way to go before I am in the position to finalize what the layout is going to be. I can make the hollow cubes without needing to have that decision made. I think the biggest time suck is going to be finding the 3 colors that I need: light, medium, and dark of ONE color .. although the borders can be different from the interior, just for a different appearance. If I use different fabrics for borders & interior, I would just need to remember to place the same *values* in the proper position for the 3D effect.
So, the next Forever Project journey begins. :-)
edited to correct the name of the shape of the border pieces from (the incorrect) rhombus) to (the correct) trapezoid.
Please be sure to give your daughters the name and address of the mental institution that you will be confined to when you finally flip out this time .....
LOLOLOL!! Actually, once I've gotten started, it's not THAT bad. It does take longer than doing whole hexagons but not magnitudes longer.
Besides, isn't taking one's time the entire purpose of a Forever Project? :-)
I think you will go bonkers finding gorgeous color combos you will want to work with .....
I think you are correct. :-)
I'm not usually a huge fan of hexis and I will never hand piece anything, but I am loving loving loving this!
The layout possibilities are endless. I really like optical illusion quilts and this one is going to be fantastic.
Can't wait to see your progress!
I really love these. It will be fun to see what layout you decide on. I'll be following.
Oh my gosh...,.smartie pants you! Proud of you for figuring that out!
Wow! Those look so unique and they really do look like hollow cubes! I really like them. Congratulations of finding a true "forever" project.
I have 6 large hexies made following your instructions but since they are for working on at quilt guild meetings, they have been put aside until (if?) the coronavirus subsides and we can start going out again.
Keep us updated on your progress please.
So, what I've been (sporadically) doing on this project: making kits.
Since my Forever Projects are basically road projects, I need them to be in a state of grab-n-go. Although it's possible, it is difficult to even rough cut fabric in the car. I am now doing that rough cutting here at home and assembling little "kits" for each hollow cube. Each cube needs a light/med/dark combination. The kit contains the templates wrapped with the specific color required and the edges pressed crisp.
In the past, I haven't pressed my EPP templates, as it hasn't been necessary. But *these* templates are a bit larger than my ordinary hexi templates so that the edges are longer. I don't baste through the templates, only securing the corners, so I can easily pop the template out when that piece has been surrounded by other pieces. However, since these templates have longer edges than typical, the fabric doesn't want to really stay folded around the edges. I realized that if I steam press the wrapped template, the fabric will stay put AND the edges are really, really crisp!
So, that's what I'm doing now: wrapping the templates with fabric ("prepping"), pairing up which shapes get matched with the other shapes (there are specific rules to follow to result in the 3D effect), and then bundling all the bundles into a small ziploc. These, then are my grab-n-go components!
In the photo below, on the right hand side, you'll see 2 "hat-like" bundles .. those are the light and medium shapes. The "hats" are really just the triangle and 2 rhombus shapes paper-clipped together. :-) Below the "hats", are the triangle & rhombus shapes pinned to the dark fabric of this combination. Once the dark fabric gets wrapped around their templates, I'll pair them into the combinations required and pop everything into a ziploc.
On the left hand side, are other combinations that have a color needed to be cut out .... just as I am currently doing on the right hand side.
At the top, is a small box that holds all the assembled "kits".
I've only been working on my red/pink and yellow/orange scraps so far. Because it's easy, I've been sticking to monochromatic themes BUT in looking at my reference photos, I can see that their hollow cubes are NOT necessarily monochromatic. I just need to have the light/medium/dark contrast for the hollow cube to work. I'm going to *try* to make some of the hollow cubes multi-color for variety.