Thursday, June 30, 2011

Accuquilt GO! Hexagons: Placemat Tutorial

Some of you may remember I received an AccuQuilt GO! fabric cutter for Christmas this past year, and have briefly shared of few of my triumphs as well as trials and tribulations in using the cutter over the past few months.  I never did put a blog post together about my experiences using the cutter, that is, until now. 

I am participating in the AccuQuilt bloggers program, which basically entails that I get to try out a few of the AccuQuilt dies (and GO! Baby fabric cutter), blog about my experiences and share a few tutorials using the cutter and various dies, and in the end get to giveaway a GO! Baby fabric cutter as well as 3 dies to one lucky blog reader!  Sounds like a good deal, right? 

This is the first of a few AccuQuilt GO! inspired posts you will see over the next few weeks highlighting a few projects featuring some of the AccuQuilt dies. 

Today's tutorial will feature the GO! hexagon die which cuts a 2", 3" and 5" finished hexagons, and a tutorial for machine piecing your cut hexagons into some fun summer placemats.

To complete this project you will need:

36 3" hexagons per placemat (total of 72 3" hexagons for 2 placemats)
(2) 3.5" x 17" strips of neutral fabric per placemat
(1) 12.5" x 17" piece of fabric for backing of placemat
scrap of batting appx. 12.5" x 17" per placemat
GO! fabric cutter (AccuQuilt GO! or GO! Baby)
GO! hexagon die
6" x 12" GO! cutting mat
rotary cutter
cutting mat
quilting ruler

For this tutorial, I will be using my GO! Baby cutter.

The first step I have found very helpful when using all of my dies for my AccuQuilt GO! is to mark the blades on the die itself using a sharpie marker.  By marking the blades it makes it easy to see where the blades will be cutting your fabric, and will help to reduce wasted fabric, as you can plainly see where the cut marks will be. 

When using the dies, you do not need to lay fabric over the entire die, but instead choose which shape you are interested in cutting.  I am mostly working out of my scrap bin for this project, but I like to trim my piece of fabric so that it is not much larger than the shape you will be cutting.  This does not need to be precise, as you can see my fabric scrap barely covers the marked blades, which will leave very little scrap fabric.

I have found that I can cut at least 6 layers of quality quilting fabric using the hexagon die and still obtain accurately cut hexagons.  I also have found that when using the hexagon die it is not necessary to make note of the grain line when cutting.  This is something that the instructions recommend, and for some dies it is importation, however I have found that no matter what direction I lay my fabrics when cutting hexagons, I have accurately cut hexagons every time. 

Next layer the cutting mat ontop of your fabric.

Feed the die, fabric and mat through the cutter, and using a little bit (just a teeny tiny amount) of muscle to turn the crank which causes the blades to cut your fabric. 

These are my results of one run through the  cutter.  6 hexagons and very minimal scrap.  As I was working from my scrap bins to begin with, I wasn't overly concerned about those little extra bits of fabric that were left over. 

Repeat the cutting process until you have 72 hexagons (if you are cutting 6 hexagons per run through the cutter, this should take approximately 12 passes).  My hexagons were much more accurately cut when using the Accuquilt AND I had all my hexagons cut in less than 15 minutes (by far it took me much longer to choose my fabrics than to do the actual cutting!) 

Choose 36 of your hexagons and arrange them as pictured below.  You will need 2 rows of 9 hexagons and 2 rows of 8 hexagons. 

For part 2 of this tutorial, we are now going to sew these hexagons together by machine!  I cannot take full credit for  this tutorial, you can checkout this video tutorial which shows the basic process of machine piecing hexagons.  The video is a great place to start, however I have added a few extra steps which I think helps tremendously when sew these by machine. 

Step 1:  Mark your hexagons.  Choose 2 straight sides that are opposite one another (my two sides are marked by the black arrows) on the wrong side of the fabric, mark a 1/4 inch seam along your two opposite sides.  Next make a 1/4 inch mark which intersect with the top and bottom of your lines you drew along the straight edges.  In doing this you are marking your starting and stopping points for sewing with perfect 1/4 seam allowances.  Mark all your hexagons in this manner.

Step 2:  Now we are going to sew the straight sides of the hexagons together to form a chain of hexagons.  Sew 2 rows of 8 hexagons together and 2 rows of 9 hexagons together (per placemat).  Layer two hexagons right sides facing and begin and end your line of stitches at the intersection of your 1/4 inch markings.  Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your line of stitiches!  This is very important, as you will be maneuvering these quite a bit while sewing.    

Step 3: After your rows of hexagons are sewn together, DO NOT press the seams!  I have found that by leaving the seams unpressed until the end, its much easier to maneuver the hexagons to sew the rows together. 

Step 4: Select a row of 8 hexagons and a row of 9 hexagons and line them up as pictured below.  The black arrow indicates where we will begin sewing. 

Step 5: Now flip up your bottom row so that your first two edges are lined up to sew.  It should look something like this:

Step 6: Now you are ready to begin sewing the rows together.  See over to the right where my finger is pointing?  That is your intersection and where your 1/4 inch seam allowance marking is, and also where your stitches either started or stopped when you sewed your hexies into rows.  This will now be your stopping point.  Sew a line of stitches using your 1/4 inch foot and stop at your 1/4 inch seam allowance marking. 

See how that lined up nice and perfect? 

Step 7: Open up your rows, you should have a nice intersection (on mine it is between the green polka dot and yellow fabric, and yellow fabric and blue/green dots).  We are now going to sew our next seam together.  See where my arrow is pointing?  That will be the next seam we are going to sew.  Fold your hexagons so they are lined up to sew together.  (In my case I will be folding my hexagons so the green polka dot and blue/gree dot fabric are right sides facing).

This is how your hexagons should line up.

Now that our next two hexagons are right sides facing, can you see where my arrow is pointing?  There is no marking or seam line from previous stitches, which makes it tricky to sew with an accurate 1/4 that lines up with your other 2 seams that will eventually intersect. 

Step 8: Heres a tip, flip your entire hexagon conglomeration over, and now can you see how you have a nicely marked seam allowance 1/4 inch from each edge?  This makes it super easy to see where exactly to start and stop your stitch line!  Sew a 1/4 inch seam starting and stopping at the beginnings/endings of your existing stitches.

See how that works?  You should now have a perfectly intersecting seam with no gaps or holes.

Open up your rows again and make sure your intersection is nice and neat.  The arrow marked A below shows this nice pretty intersection.  The arrow marked B shows our next seam we will sew. 

Repeat steps 7 and 8 to finish sewing the two rows together one side of the hexagon at a time  Remember as your fold your hexagons right sides together, choose the side that has both the starting and stopping points for sewing marked to make your seams line up just right. 

You should now have all 4 rows attached together.  The back should look something like this.   

Now is the time to press your seams flat.  There really is no rhyme or reason when pressing the seams, I end up pressing to one side or the other so that things are nice and flat.

I don't know about you, but I've never had corners this precise and crisp when sewing hexagons together by hand, and there are no visible stitch marks!  (And it saves hours and hours of time...)

This is what you should end up with after all 4 rows are sewn together and the seams are pressed flat.

To turn these into a placemat,  trim your arrangement of hexagons to 6 1/2" x 17".  Attach your neutral solid to each long end of the hexagons and press seams open.  At this point you should have a 12 1/2" x 17" "quilt top" that you can finish as you like.  I chose to layer my batting, and then placemat top right side up and then placemat backing right side down.  Pin and sew 1/4" around all edges, leaving an approximately 4" opening along the long edge for turning.  Turn the entire conglomeration right sides out, and press.

For finishing, I edge stitched appx 1/8" from the edge around all 4 sides.  I then did two lines of straight line quilting 1/4" from each seam connecting the solid fabric to the hexagons.  You could also quilt more heaviliy, or finish with a more traditional binding, the choice is yours. 

Enjoy your new pretty summer placemats!

I do have to say that I am quite pleased with both my Accuquilt GO! and the GO! Baby fabric cutter.  There are certainly differences between the two cutters, first and one of the only I've noticed is the size.

Here are both cutters side by side folded up.  While both cutters are quite portable, the GO! Baby would actually fit in a tote bag (it measures only 12" wide and 8 1/4" high) and weighs only 8 lbs!

Here they are opened up side by side.  I am completely pleased with how both cutters cut fabric.  There was absolutely no difference between my hexagons cut with the GO! and the GO! Baby.  Of course the main difference between the cutters are the size of dies that will fit through the GO! Baby.  The GO! Baby will not fit dies measuring wider than 6".  

Overall I am very happy with both versions of the GO!  By far, cutting is my least favorite part of the quilting process, and both of these machines make light of the work, and do so lightening fast.  I can't say that I use my GO! 100% of the time when cutting, but I do love it for cutting shapes such as hexagons, circles, drunkard's path blocks, and my strip cutter for bindings in particular.  

Look for more reviews and projects using the Accuquilt GO! and a fun little giveaway in the coming weeks!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WIP Wednesday {6.29.2011}

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

It's Wednesday!  Here's whats new...

New Projects

AccuQuilt GO!

I received this box of fun the other day from the good people of AccuQuilt and have been having fun trying out some new dies and experimenting with how this GO! Baby works in comparison to my Accuquilt GO! cutter I received for Christmas.  More on this in the next few days, but a little birdie told me there will be a tutorial featuring this little guy, the hexagon die, and machine piecing hexagons into some yummy summer placemats.  Here's a sneak peek:

4x5 Modern Quilting Bee

I'm super excited to get started with this new off shoot of the 3x6 bee.  Groups of 6 modern quilters making blocks for each of the other 5 quilters in their "hive" using modern fabrics from each members own "stash".  Here's my mosaic I've put together to help my fellow hive-mates:

4x5 modern bee inspiration

In Progress

Farmers Wife QAL

My creation

I've completed blocks 1-10, and as you can see, am 100% embracing the scrappiness!  Hopefully I can keep this on the controlled side of scrappiness and away from train wreck scrappiness.  You'll tell me if I'm veering off track, right?  I am loving making these little blocks...some more than others, but its been fun to practice these more precise traditional piecing methods.  Only 101 more to go...

Double Wedding Ring Quilt

Zero progress.  Maybe I'll get down to it this week.  Or maybe I'll be sending a belated wedding gift.  

Kaleidoscope QAL

This stack of fabrics sure does look yummy.  Unfortunately its still just a stack of fabrics.  Maybe for next week I'll have all sorts of pretty triangles to show!

Quilt tops awaiting quilting

Central Park Baby Quilt
Postage Stamp Quilt

This Weeks Stats

New Projects: 2
Completed Projects: 0
Ongoing Projects: 9

June Bee Blocks
Postage Stamp Quilt
Central Park Baby Quilt
Double Wedding Ring Quilt
Kaliedoscope Quilt Along
Farmers Wife Quilt Along
Dining Room Remodel
Accuquilt GO! tutorial
4 x 5 Modern Quilt Bee

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I worked on a few more blocks for the Farmer's Wife QAL, which were a little more challenging than the first few I put together, however just as addicting.

Farmers Wife QAL- Birds in the Air
Birds in the Air

I don't think I've ever spent so long working on something so small!  I'm learning that with these intricately pieced blocks, the more contrast between the fabrics, the better the pattern shows up.  As for this block I used some Anna Maria Horner Good Folks and Denyse Schmidt Hope Valley.  This block certainly gave me a run for my money, it really wasn't overly difficult, but all those teeny tiny HSTs, I'm going cross eyed just thinking about it!  Aside from the monstrously thick seams on the back from all those small pieces, I'm really pleased with how this block turned out, however I can't say I ever wish to make this block on this scale again.  

Farmers Wife QAL- Bouquet

Please disregard the funky little icky-ness on the bottom right corner of the block.  The rest of this block came together pretty seamlessly, lots of odd shaped piecing, but nothing overly difficult, again though, not quite sure what happened with that bottom corner.  I figure in the grand scheme of 111 blocks, who's really going to notice, right??

Farmers Wife QAL- Box

It's funny how sometimes two fabrics look great when you hold them up next to each other, but actually in the block?  Not so much.  This block is very...busy.  Yes, busy is a good word.  I like it enough to not remake it, but it's not my favorite.  

Farmers Wife QAL- Bowtie

This was the simplest of the four blocks I worked on today, and my favorite.  I love this block, and the colors I chose too.  There's some It's a Hoot!, Riley Blake and Joel Dewberry.  Yum.  

My creation

Here's the 10 I have completed so far, and as you can see, I am fully embracing the scrappiness. 

 My creation

I'm loving making these teensy tiny blocks, however if there is one and only one thing I am learning from working on them, it's to slow down and pay attention!  I know its time to call it quits for the day when I start to make silly mistakes.  Stay tuned for more work from down on the farm next week!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm a Farmers Wife

Its official, I've caught the Farmers Wife fever thats been going around blogger land.  I bought the book last week and have been itching to get sewing and finally last night I sat down at my machine and went to town. 

Farmers Wife QAL #1

This first block "Attic Windows" gave me a little trouble, however it was completely my doing.  I was so adamant against using those templates, that I thought "I'll just measure the dimensions and cut things out that way"  now this works very well for  the squares and rectangles, but the pattern pieces snip off the corners of the triangles, I guess to save you the hassle of snipping corners however this completely threw me off when I tried cutting out my triangles without using the templates.  So there I sat for about a half an hour trying to figure out why this darn block wasn't going together properly!  After the second round with the seam ripper a light bulb went off and I figured out my error.  I had cut the triangles too small, and surprise surprise, things weren't working right.  Lesson learned.  Embrace the templates (at least for the triangles and odd shapes).  After I came to this conclusion, it was smooth sailing!

Farmers Wife QAL #2
Block 2: Autumn Tints.
Farmers Wife QAL #3
Block 3: Basket.
Farmers Wife QAL #4
Block 4: Basket Weave

Farmers Wife QAL #5
Block 5: Bat Wing
Farmers Wife QAL #6
Block 6: Big Dipper

As you can see, I am embracing the scrappiness...I'm hoping that I can keep it controlled, so it doesn't look like a big mess of fabric spit up when all is said and done...111 is a lot of scrappy blocks!  I didn't really plan it, but it kind of just happened that I'm trying to use grey as a constant through out most of the blocks as sort of a background color, or somewhere in the block.

Farmers Wife QAL Blocks 1-6
I just love piecing these little blocks, I, like others dont have much "formal" quilting training with traditional precise piecing like this, so its nice to get some experience, and such a wide variety of blocks to make!  I want to get started on another little project tonight, but part of me is saying "oh just make a few more of these blocks instead..." it's official, I'm addicted.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WIP Wednesday {6.22.2011}

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Time for the weekly installment of WIP Wednesday!  Heres whats been going on...

Completed Projects

Kitchen extras

This is more of an odds and ends finish for the week, but a finish none the less!  I put together these potholders and stay put kitchen towel to be included in a baking/kitchen themed gift basket.  After I finished these up, I was so tempted to keep them for myself, as they would go great in my kitchen, but after a few minutes of inner debate, they will be going in the gift basket.  Here's my post on these with pattern/tutorial information.

I also put together these two "cookie jars" with the dry ingredients layered to make both Reeses Peanut Butter Cup cookies and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies in a wide mouth canning jar.  I printed out the baking instructions on some pretty cardstock and tied them with a ribbon to the lid, printed out a pretty label and affixed it to the jar with ribbon, and that was it!  Super simple and I think the presentation is pretty cool.  I just need to dig out a gift basket and make it look presentable by Sunday.  Hope it goes over well!

In Progress  

Double Wedding Ring Quilt 

Its finally starting to look like a quilt!  I finished up the third row, which had the most arcs to piece out of any row, so I feel like I've made it over the hump, and it should be downhill from here.  I really feel like I've finally got the hang of it and hit my groove in working on this.  I was almost surprised to realize, that I definitely spend way more time sitting on the couch pinning these pieces into place than actually sewing.  I know that Kaelin from The Plaid Scottie is starting a DWR quilt along soon also using this free pattern.  I would highly recommend this paper piecing method for the arcs, and it would have been nice to have some guidance for those tricky spots along the way, as the directions are certainly lacking in that area.  2 more rows to go on this...home stretch...

New Projects 

Farmers Wife Quilt Along

Ok so I caved.  Seeing all these adorable little mini blocks popping up all over the blogosphere like Lee's and Elizabeth's, I just couldn't resist joining in the fun.  I don't actually have any sewing to show you yet...but I have the book...and the templates.  I won't waste time griping about the templates, I mean really would it have been hard to write out "cut 2 2 and 1/2 inch squares" instead of a template?  Oh well, I'll live.  I really like the slow pace with this, 2 6 inch blocks per week is totally doable in my opinion.  I am just itching to get started on this, so hopefully there will be something more to show soon!

Quilt tops awaiting quilting

Central Park Baby Quilt
Postage Stamp Quilt

This Weeks Stats

New Projects: 1
Completed Projects: 2
Ongoing Projects: 7
June Bee Blocks
Postage Stamp Quilt
Central Park Baby Quilt
Double Wedding Ring Quilt
Apron Project (cousin's bridal shower)
Kitchen themed gift basket
Kaliedoscope Quilt Along
Farmers Wife Quilt Along
Dining Room Remodel