Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Part 2: Tips for Hexified Panel Quilts/One Block Wonders

Tips 102: Cutting Your Triangles

As I have been rewriting and updating my pattern, Hexified Panel Quilts, I'm finding there is more information to share than what can be included in the pattern. In my growing experience in making Hexified Panel Quilts and/or One Block Wonders, I have used a wide variety of 60 degree triangle rulers. The large rulers often used with wide border prints to create the twisting triangle table runners are great for that purpose; however, they are too large and awkward for making triangles for these quilts. I've used rulers from 12" to 10" to 8" to 6", and even a couple of 60 degree diamond rulers when in a pinch! In my opinion, the smaller the ruler, the better because it fits better in your hand, and a smaller ruler takes up less space overall as you alternate directions when cutting. For recent workshops and classes, shops have had a harder time finding smaller 60 degree triangle rulers, so when an opportunity came up to create my own, I went for it!
Introducing the Gypsy Dreamer Quilts 5 1/2" 60 degree triangle ruler, GDQ-60R! After making over 30 of these quilts, I have yet to cut strips wider than 3 1/2", so a 5 1/2" ruler is plenty of space to meet my needs. The rulers are etched with lines every 1/4" for ease of measuring your marking line. These are now available on my GDQ Etsy shop for $16.
Regardless of which ruler I'm using, adding a piece of tape, photo mounting tape, or even Dr. Scholl's Molefoam Padding does the trick of keeping my cuts straight and even along the strip. My absolute favorite is the Molefoam Padding. It comes in the foot care department with two ~3x4" squares per package. The thickness of the molefoam, as opposed to the thin moleskin, is similar to the thickness of your six layers of fabric being cut to form triangles for your Hexified Panel Quilts or OBWs. As I get ready to cut my triangles, I first cut a long piece off one edge--I'm not overly particular about how wide the strip is as long as the cut is straight.
Then I line up one angled edge of my triangle ruler, wrong side UP, with the 60 degree line on my 6.5x24" ruler. I place the point at the mark for the strip width I cut (in this case 2.25"), and then place the strip of molefoam along the triangle ruler at the strip width line, snugging it up against the edge of the long ruler. Once the molefoam strip is securely place along the bottom of the ruler, I trim the strip to match the width of the ruler.
Given that we are cutting multiple layers, having the molefoam extend to the edges of the ruler help to box in the triangles as you cut them. Without this guide, as you cut, you may find the layers tend to spread out and cause wonky corners. Boxing them in with the molefoam helps minimize this problem.
Immediately before cutting my first set of triangles, I check the layers of the strip to be sure everything is matched up. If one or two layers are off more than you would like, you can micromanage them, only along the length of the strip, by shifting the layers individually until all are matching to your satisfaction. For me, unless it is 1/4" or more off, I tend to leave them alone as they still blend beautifully when sewn into hexies. 
You're now ready to start cutting your triangle sets. Place the ruler at the desired place at one end of the strip of six layers. On this photo I chose to place my ruler where the frame around the panel will be hidden in the seam. I could have as easily moved it to the left, so long as I have it no closer to the end than where the shortest layer ends. You want every set of triangles to be complete with tips on all three corners.

After you make your first cut and set your first set of triangles aside, alternate the direction of your ruler as you cut back and forth across the length of the strip. 
The half-triangle on each end will be your only waste. The partial triangle on the right looks large enough to use; however, that is the selvedge end. Using that as a set of triangles could cause problems as the selvedges are woven differently and can add extra bulk to the seams. 

The number of triangle sets you will get from a strip will depend on the width of your strip. This strip was cut at 2.25" and yielded 14 sets of triangles per 22" long strip. Wider strips yield fewer triangle sets, whereas narrower strips yield more. A typical 2.75" strip (my favorite strip width for full WOF panels) that is 22" long will yield ~12 sets of triangles. Each row is then stacked with the direction of each set alternating, making them easy to grab to sew.

If you want to keep the sets together in case of disaster (kids, pets, wind, etc), you can certainly pin each set together and store them in a large Ziploc bag.

Extra Tip! Fussy Cutting Triangle Sets

There may be times when you want to keep certain elements of your panels to include in your hexies. Whether it means adjusting your cut across the middle of the panels to either side of the natural fold from the bolt in order to retain elements in the center of the panel, or moving your triangle ruler to include special elements along your strip sets, you have the choice of how our quilt is cut up. Don't be afraid to experiment to get what you want for your layout.

On a subsequent strip I came to a hummingbird that I wanted to be sure was included in my hexie collection for this layout. I chose to fussy cut and lose a little in the middle in order to get as much of the hummer as I could. 
I cut the triangle sets until I got close and then stopped to move my ruler over to see where I needed to be to include the hummer.  
I cut the hummer triangle set and then went back to the previous section and cut the flower triangle set, leaving a strip between them that is now waste. Since the strip was a little longer than I needed due to the extra frame at the end by the selvedge, I was still able to cut 14 sets of triangles from this strip. The final partial triangle piece was reduced by the amount of that strip between triangles. 

You're now ready to go to the sewing machine with a stack of triangle sets and get sewing! Part 3 is coming soon with tips on keeping a consistent 1/4" seam and more.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

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