Eye Spy & Tumbler

Tumblers, cut
Tumblers, cut

I have been cutting patches for Julie‘s Tumbler quilt for awhile. It seems only fair since she cut a boatload of hexagons for my Eye Spy quilt. Periodically, I get a bunch together and give them to her when I see her. They fit very nicely into a Recchiuti caramel box, so she gets a nice smell of chocolate along with her Tumblers. It occurred to me that I should surprise her sometime and give her a box of the actual chocolates!

I kind of like having a list of patches to cut as I work through new fabric or fabric I am using. There is something nice about collecting a bunch of blocks and then putting them all together at the end of the year or the end of some other timeframe.

The other day, Julie wrote about getting close to the end in a recent post. She is struggling with the same issue I had and that is the edge. When I was finishing up the Eye Spy, I didn’t want to slice off several hexagons to make a straight edge. That is the suggestion that many resources had for the edge of an Eye Spy.

Eye Spy, Full
Eye Spy, Full

I also didn’t really want to sew a binding around all of those weird angles. I did that once and once was enough. The one weird angle in the Chocolate Box was enough for me. As you may remember, I did some triangle gymnastics on the Eye Spy to finish the edge in order to end up with a straight edge.

I think this is a case of thinking about what design would be best for the quilt. Chopping off hexagons that were fussy cut to include an image would be jarring, I think. If I had thought ahead, I might have made the edge hexagons a solid or tone-on-tone fabric and not worried about chopping them off. Solid fabrics might have provided a kind of border effect.

I am happy with my solution. It wasn’t the easiest solution, but I think it looks good. I am sure Julie will come up with a good solution as well.

Eye Spy Photos

Eye Spy, detail
Eye Spy, detail

As with the Nosegay, I wasn’t able to get the whole Eye Spy quilt in the photos. Still, I am happy that I finally got a mostly entire picture of the quilt.

The Child loves his quilt, which makes my heart happy. He doesn’t search out the pictures that I carefully fussy cut. He arranges the quilt and folds it carefully over him.

Eye Spy, Full
Eye Spy, Full

Eye Spy Lurching Towards the Finish Line

I don’t know where this month has gone. Frankly, I am glad February is coming to a close, but I still wonder what happened to the days.

My next longarm day is March 2 and the Eye Spy is in line to be quilted. As a result, I needed to make a back and get the Eye Spy in shape for finishing. I put the diamonds in to fill in the diamond shaped space, so that I wouldn’t have to hack through any of the hexagons (which is what most patterns recommend). I didn’t want a zig zaggy border, so I started out by cutting off the excess from the diamonds.  I had intended just to leave the edges straight after cutting – no borders.

Eye Spy corner before border

While cutting the diamonds in half, I realized that the middle of those diamonds was one big bias edge. This brand spanking new bias in addition to 3 sides of each hexagon being on the bias was asking for trouble during the quilting process. The top  needed some stabilization, so I added some borders and corners to the odd shaped corners of the top.

Corner detail
Corner detail

The little star printed piece is the patch I had to insert into the corner to make the corner a 90 degree angle. You can see it really well above.

Finished top with borders

Above is a picture of half of the top. The quilt top is another monster and I gave up on moving furniture to fit the whole thing into one picture. I am going to have to think up a way to photograph whole quilts, especially these huge things I seem to be making.

I used a new (to me) method of measuring for borders.  I measured width-wise (across) and lengthwise (down) in three places on the quilt and cut the borders to the average size. I did have to ease, but the top is flat and I am happy about that. I found one little tuck that I will need to fix before the longarming. All in all it worked pretty well.

Scary backing fabric
Scary backing fabric

I acquired the crocodile fabric a long time ago, perhaps in the early 1990s from a woman named Joan who was getting rid of everything. It is a Joe Boxer fabric and I never saw anything like it. I also never heard of Joe Boxer selling fabric, but they totally should, because their fabrics have such a sense of humor.

At one point, I thought I would cut out the alligators (crocodiles??) and applique’ them on something, but the inspiration never struck. Also, I only have about a half yard, which limited what project I could complete using the fabric. I came across the fabric over the weekend and proposed it as a backing fabric. The Child took a liking to it, so I will use it as part of the backing. Shopping in my fabric closet can be fun!

hexagons on the back
hexagons on the back

I had some leftover hexagons, so I put some straight edges on them and will also use this piece for the back. I need to find a nice way of making this bit play nicely with the crocs.

Empty Design Wall

My design wall is empty because I have finished piecing the Eye Spy (hexagon quilt)! Hooray!

I worried about not posting any progress or anything here during the past few days, but I wanted to soldier through the piecing. I knew you would all wait for me ;-), but I do like to write every day and this blog gives me one opportunity to do so.

Eventually I had to take the top part of the piece off the design wall and put it on the floor. I don’t have a design wall that allows me to see a whole twin sixed quilt. Having the bottom of the piece on the floor and the top on the wall just didn’t work for me.

Having it on the floor is inconvenient at the best of times, and was really inconvenient this time, because I had to move a lot of stuff from around the room to get the piece to fit. Still, the inconvenience gave me an incentive to soldier on; I was able to see what fit together where and how to piece it, so it worked out. As you can see from the photo above, it fits a lot better now that it is pieced together.

This is a detail of the finished [bottom left] corner. I added the red diamonds after deciding that I did not want a wonky border. I will cut half of the diamonds off to make the border straight….eventually.

I really had topuzzle through some areas. The [bottom right] corner was one of those. That hole just appeared when I laid the piece down on the floor and I didn’t know whether it would be taken up with piecing or if I needed to add a piece. I ended up adding two of the hexagon units eventually to fill in.

So, now the piece is in the closet with 4 other quilts that need to be quilted. I will send the Cheerful Baskets to TFQ to be quilted by The Quilting Loft as soon as I make the label and back. I had a strong desire to piece tops after finishing the Cheerful Baskets. While The Tarts Come to Tea fluttered in and out of my mind, nothing sprang to mind and demanded my attention after finishing the hexagons. Perhaps finishing will be on the list. Perhaps I need to make those backs and get that sleeve done, etc.

I did have sewing the FOTY blocks into a quilt on my list, but have decided to take that to the CQFA quilt retreat to sew. By that time, I will have, hopefully, finished washing and pressing all the fabric I bought in 2008 and will really have a large block of time to get busy on it.

Hexagon Edges

I am also still working on the hexagons. I am in a spot where there is a lot of sewing triangles to hexagons and then pressing. It is the part where it looks like not much progress is being made.

However, I did take some time to figure out the bottom of the quilt. I am at the point where I need to shift everything up.

Since my design wall isn’t big enough to handle a twin sized quilt, I need to shift the top off the design wall, leave a few pieces so I know how to hook the top and bottom together and then slap up the hexagons destined to be on the bottom of the quilt.

So far, it isn’t working. I haven’t gotten the right steps in my head enough to move forward so I am sewing equilateral triangles to hexagons (check!), pressing (half check!) and sewing together four hexagon units to make diamonds.

I am also still thinking about the side borders. My decision was to have an uneven border. That decision is still not settling completely well with me. I am thinking of making a big diamond template and sewing a plain red piece (or use different fabrics) onto the edges.

Puzzling Through the Eye Spy; Progress

The first order of business this week (after all the cooking and tidying, of course) was to, once and for all, decide how I was going to put the quilt together. Below, you can see I have arranged the ‘blocks’ (two equilateral triangles and a hexagon) two different ways.

On the right the blocks were oriented with the triangles on the top and the bottom of the hexagons (Option A). On the left, the blocks are arranged with one triangle in the upper right hand corner and one triangle in the lower left hand corner (Option B).

I discussed previously that I thought the edge would be a problem. I finally decided that I would go with Option A. Mostly, I decided that I could better figure out how to make the edges straight using the diamonds. With Option B, the side edges seemed like they would really be a problem and I would end up hacking them off, which I didn’t really want to do. You can see the edge that seemed to be a problem on the photo above left.

I stood staring at the above piece for a long time trying to figure out what do next and how to deal with the edges. I decided that I would only hack parts off as a last resort and I was looking at pieces for the edges to see which motifs wouldn’t be compromised if I cut them in half. That still left me with the problem of how to finish the edges so that they could be bound in some normal manner. As the picture above shows, those points on the top and bottom don’t qualify as easy to bind. As an aside, I have no problem with doing difficult bindings, but there has to be a design purpose as in Pink Spider Looking at the Stars from my early days of quiltmaking.

This is a close up of one section so you can better see the connections between the pieces.

This is one unit. After finally deciding on a plan to put the blocks together, I began to look at a unit and see what it needed to create a flat top edge. One thing I did with a hexagon was to sew one triangle to the bottom only. That creates one unit with a flat edge.

Having successfully created one flat top piece, I sewed a triangle on to the bottom of another. It wouldn’t butt up to the unit I already created, so I sewed a triangle to the side. Doing this made me realize that I needed to decide on which angle I would be sewing the units together. Once I made that decision I would have to strive to sew triangles to the top pieces to make straight lines to match that angle.

By sewing the black and beige unit to the larger diamond unit, I was able to to make the flat top longer and keep the straight line angle for sewing additional units together in place.

My challenges didn’t end there, though. I had to work out the next section. The way I started (above) obviously wouldn’t work if I wanted to avoid set in seams.

In the overall scheme, the above depiction might work, depending on the way I sewed the piece together and how the rows lined up.

I sewed another red triangle on to the opposite side. This gave me a straight line. With this succeeding, I started to realize that I only needed to sew a triangle on to the bottom and the left side of each top piece. You can see how the black and beige piece fits with the tropical drinks patch.

Above you can see the macro view of how I will sew the lines of the units together. I will sew from left to right.

I still have to make the rest of the top and that is what I am working on now. Stay tuned!

Puzzling Through the Eye Spy

This week was kind of crazy week work-wise for us. As I result, last night was the first time I got back to the Eye Spy. I spent the time with a bit of sewing, a bit of cutting and lot of puzzling. I am puzzling through the best way to put it together. As you may know, I like to jump right in and start sewing. This gets me into trouble sometimes, but I do enjoy just sewing. Puzzling through problems isn’t so bad as I can’t always visualize the whole process. Of course, if the problems become too problematic then the quilt pieces usually go back into the closet.

I started working on the sewing on that Sunday where I introduced the piece but I didn’t take the edges into account. I am very much into my self bordering technique and would like to use it here. I used it on the Interlocking Triangles quilts and some others. Essentially it means that I don’t like to hack off bits of a border block to end the quilt.

I attempted to work on this yesterday while I was sewing triangles to hexagons. My dilemma, defined, is that I really don’t want to just randomly hack off the edges to make a straight side. Nor do I want to apply a binding to an edge that needs a miter every two inches.

First, I broke the hexagons I have sewed into two groups. Left, the pieces are arranged in a way where the triangles are pointing up. In this orientation, there are no straight edges. The side edges could be okay with a slightly irregular edge made by putting the piece together in chunks using diamonds (see far left).

The top and bottom edges would be a piecing nightmare, however, because I would have to inset triangles somehow. I can imagine that this would be a top that ended up becoming a permanent member of the UFO/ WIP list.

Right, the hexagons are arranged in a way where the triangles are pointed to the left. This is the way that Simply Quilts suggested putting this top together and what the directions on the package of templates suggest. Still, hacking off the edges to make this work makes me cringe. I was considering putting fabrics that were allover prints on the edges so the mutilation wouldn’t be as brutal. I don’t know.


  1. Hack off the top & bottom or the sides, depending on layout.
  2. Choose to piece the quilt in chunks using diamonds and do inset piecing to make a straight edge along the top and bottom.
  3. Deal with very uneven edge in the binding process.
  4. Add some other shaped pieces to the edge in a uniform color (more red?) to make the edge square.

Left is a detail of the corner of the piece with the section I have sewn together and arranged with the triangles placed pointing left.

I’ll have to troll the web and look at what others have done.