I've have spent the last couple of weeks rewriting and updating my Hexified Panel Quilts pattern. As a result, I find there are loads more tips and tricks that could be helpful to those making Hexified Panel Quilts or One Block Wonders. Having made over 30 Hexified Panel Quilts and/or One Block Wonders, it seems appropriate to share some of tips that are helpful to know when going through the process of making these one-of-a-kind quilts. From layering and cutting your strips, to cutting the triangles, to assembling them into the units ready for design, there are numerous steps that can make or break your success, as well as test your patience. This series of tutorials is meant to help you through some of those steps and make the process easier and smoother.
It has been nearly ten years since I made Strutting Peacocks, my first One Block Wonder. Oh my, how much I've learned since those early days!Cutting your panels
The first thing I've learned is imperative to making a successful OBW or Hexified Panel Quilt is to be sure all of your panels were cut from the same bolt. Several times at workshops I've had students come in with panels they purchased on the internet, 3 panels from one vendor and 4 from another. Invariably, the panels from two different bolts do NOT match up properly and can cause a number of problems. Not realizing I would have a perfect example just hours before writing this, I had planned to just explain why it makes a different.
For those using full width of fabric panels, rather than wrangle 44" long strips and try to keep them aligned, I cut the panels in half at the fold before I start. Our most common rulers are only 24" long and our cutting mats typically no longer than 36", so trying to cut a 44" long strip is awkward at best! Working with two stacks about the size of fat quarters makes it much easier to handle, and the 22" WOF strips are easier to keep aligned as well. There has been much discussion about the loss of extra hexies when doing this; however, you will only lose one hexie per strip, which isn't much in the big picture. A 24x44" panel cut at 2 3/4" can yield ~12 sets of triangles per 22"/half-WOF strip. Multiply 12 sets x 8 strips across the 24" panel and for just half of your panel you get 96. Double that for both halves of your full WOF panel and you get 192 sets of triangles! Losing 8 sets by cutting the panel in half is minimal waste and makes the process so much more manageable!
When pinning, I prefer to add my pins oriented long-ways along the long edge of the panels, using only flathead pins. The flathead pins make it easier to place your ruler down on top of them, without causing the ruler to rock as it might when placed on top of pins with round heads. I typically cut my strips width of fabric as there is just a hair of ease when stretched, whereas there is no ease along the length of grain. I've found that little bit of ease is very useful when assembling your units into rows as bias edges of some triangles meet straight edges on other triangles in the assembly process.
NOTE: When cutting fabric, there will always be bits of fibers left over, similar to the sawdust left behind when cutting lumber. Even if you cut each strip accurately, the placement of your ruler and any twist, as well as the width of the blade, can cause a fifth strip to possibly come out short. For example, if I have exactly 8" of usable fabric with no remnant and want to cut four 2" strips, I will choose to cut 1 7/8" or slightly less per strip to give myself a little leeway. Leaving the extra on the untrimmed opposite edge, gives me a little space for minor errors without shorting the final strip.
More snippets from the sewing room soon,