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Machine Minute: Hexagons Gone Crazy

Hexagons are hot! Combine this popular shape with crazy quilting for a unique look.

Wed, 11 Dec 2013|

Hi, I'm Jennifer, here with another Machine Minute brought to you by Baby Lock and the Crescendo machine. It seems like in the quilting world everyone has gone crazy for hexagon shapes. And crazy quilting--that decorative stitching that we saw on so many quilts in the Victorian era--has come back around, too. So I've devised a project here that you can use the decorative stitches on your machines, the ones that maybe quilters don't use quite as often, and also use hexagons. What I did was fuse some fabric and then cut out seven hexagon shapes to make the Grandmother's Flower Garden shape. Now, I say that I use seven, because when you're doing a lot of heavy decorative stitching, you want to make sure that the foundation or the background fabric has a lot of stability to it. And you can put stabilizer underneath it, but if you're using a lightweight, sew-through fusible, you should be able to fuse your hexagons on to the background. And I put an extra one in the center that matched my background color. But it makes it look like there's a hole in the center, but really this is an extra hexagon. So, I have seven shapes here. Then, I wanted to test my stitches and my thread and needle choices before working on my actual project. So I just took some extra fabric and fused it onto the background fabric and then I was able to practice a variation of stitches and variation in terms of thread choices, the weights of thread, and needles I was using. Ultimately I ended up using a 30 weight thread and a 90/14 needle. That worked the best for me. But I would recommend making these stitch samples so you can choose the ones that you want to use on your final project and experiment with them before taking your piece to the machine. So, let's talk about that next. So one of my favorite stitches to use is this feather stitch, because it looks like a hand-embroidered stitch, but it's so easy to do by machine. I click the stitch that I want here. On this machine, it tells me what foot to use and it's very important, if your machine doesn't have this electronic display, that you look at your instruction manual and figure out the correct foot. Because if you're sewing with a quarter-inch foot and there's just a round needle hole, you'll break the needle. With decorative stitches, the needle is going to swing back and forth, from right to left, so it's very important that you have the right foot on before you begin decorative stitching. Then I also have a display that tells me the width and length of the stitch.  And what I love here is that I can adjust the width and the length, and I'll watch as this stitch pattern alters and becomes longer. So I can get exactly the kind of look I want. So I'm going to stop there and then I'm ready to stitch. I'm going to begin with the needle in the needle-down position. I'm going to touch the reinforcement stitch just to make sure I stitch a couple of stitches in the same place and that will anchor my stitch. Then I'll be ready to start sewing. Now with decorative stitches, I'm just sewing the short seam where two pieces abut. And in the center of the foot I'm keeping the guide line right on that intersection line. And I'm going to slow down as I get close, because I don't want to go too far into the middle. And again, I'll just push that reinforcement stitch to take a couple stitches. And that seam is finished. So, I'll rotate, select a different stitch, and move on to the next one. As it's stitching you'll notice that the fabric is going to go back and forth and it almost looks as though it's puckering as you're doing it. But that's just the movement the machine requires to stitch out the decorative shape, because the needle is going in all directions. This is why it's really important that you have that stabilizer, or in this case the lightweight fusible web, behind your fabric, because it gives it stability and prevents it from puckering. And why it's important that I put that center piece in to be the same stabilization as the outer ring. That way, I won't end up with any puckers in my finished piece. Just let the machine move along as it wants to and it's doing the work while you guide it. Once I finish sewing all of the intersections between the two pieces where they're adjacent to one another, then I'll finish by going around the center hexagon and finally around the outer hexagon. I hope you have a chance to try this project at home. And whether you make your finished piece into a pillow or a bag or some other project, maybe even a framed picture, I know you'll be crazy for hexagons after you try it, too.