09 April 2013

Bracelet break

I've been diligently working away at my copious amounts of school work.  [Two papers and a midterm due this week!]  I've also managed to make some more progress on the hexie front.  I've now got close to 100 little hexies all pieced together!  Mom and Flea have suggested that I not make an entire quilt top out of tiny hexies and that I make some kind of pattern or shape to applique onto a quilt top instead.  In the class the quilt will be for, we have a sort of class joke about trees.  So I've decided that the hexies are going to make a nice tree top.  The hexies will be the leaves and I'll free-motion quilt the trunk and branches.  Then to quilt the hexies, I'll quilt little leaf shapes over them... probably randomly.  Thanks to the interwebs, I managed to find a free graph paper generator that gives me 1" hexagonal graph paper.  I'm using this to map out what my hexie tree top will look like.  In the meantime, I'm also creating quite the large quilt-y/hexie pinboard with all things related to this hextra special project.

Not that my interest in hexie-making is waning or anything, but I have been thinking about making bracelets recently too.  This afternoon, I'm working on my midterm for my motivation class and decided I deserved a little break.  When T and I were on our honeymoon, I started collecting bracelets from the places we visited.  A nice old man gave me a simple bee bracelet at the honey farm we visited and that kind of started the idea.  A few days later, when we were in Nice, there was a cute little craft fair by the port and I bought some pretty fabric bracelets.  Again, they are very simple, and the old lady who was selling them was very cute and French.  Her younger helper (maybe her daughter or someone whom she treated like a daughter) explained that the bracelets are made from scraps of fabrics and beads and baubles the old lady has collected over the years.  None of the bracelets were the same.  It was really hard to choose which one I wanted, so in the end I chose two.  Since then, I've been thinking it would be fun to make some of these bracelets, so today I tried it!  If you're interested in a pretty bracelet that can be made in 15 minutes (if you have all the supplies on hand because you are me or an old French lady), here's a quick tutorial!

Supplies you'll need:
Fabric - preferably a lightweight cotton lawn type with a smallish print
At least 1 bead with a big hole - the hole should be about the size of the hole in a pony bead
Tape measure (optional)

How to make it:
1)  Iron your fabric so it's nice and wrinkle free.

2)  Cut a strip of fabric that's about 1' wide by 10" long.  The length you'll need depends on the size of your hand (not your wrist).  To measure how long your strip will need to be, use the tape measure to measure your hand at its widest point when you put your fingers together as though you're going to put on a bracelet.  This length (mine was 8"), is the absolute minimum length you'll need.  Add 2 or more inches to this number to get your final strip length.

3)  Iron the two sides of the strip in towards the middle as though you are making bias tape.  In fact, if I had been clever, I would have used my handy Simplicity Bias Tape Maker for this project.  But that would have required me finding the appropriate tip and getting it all set up.  For a 10" strip of fabric, that seemed unnecessary.

4)  Fold the little strip of bias tape in half, as you would when you are using it to bind something.  Iron it.

5)  Here's the only slightly tricky part.  Start to twist the little strip you've got.  This is something like if you were spinning yarn.  You want the strip of fabric to turn into a round cord.  After you've twisted the first inch or so and it's staying put a little, iron down the length of the cord as you twist.  This way you're ironing the twist into the fabric, which makes it hold the twist better.

6)  Your bracelet cord is all done!  Now get that big-holed bead and string it onto one side of your cord.  String the other end of the cord through the bead in the opposite direction.  [Does this make sense?  It's like you're making a "x" with the ends of the cord and the center of the "x" is in the bead.]  Tie the ends to the cord in neat little knots.  If you had extra length in your cord, you can tie knots and cut off any excess.  If, like me, you made your cord exactly the length you wanted, you'll have to make sure your knots are very close to the ends.
7)  Ta-da!  Put on your bracelet and be the envy of everyone!

04 April 2013

Hextra work...

Two posts in one week!  Something crazy must be going on!  Well, I have taken on a potentially crazy project.  I'm making a little quilt!  I want it to be useful for something, someday, but I don't have much time to finish it because it's going to be for a class final paper.  [I'll explain.]  So, I've decided on a crib size quilt which are typically 23"x46."  And now, on to the back story.

I'm in the middle of a Master's program in educational psychology.  It's interesting and I was actually excited to start school again after working for several years.  But, I'm a procrastinator.  It's not so much that I don't want to do the work.  I mean, I kind of don't, but I do like the topics and I like to think about them.  But I tend to let projects expand to fill all the available time.  I can be doing something else entirely, but in the back of my mind, I'm mulling over paper topics, ideas, themes, structure, whatever, until there's just barely enough time to write the darn thing.  Until that almost-panic moment, I feel like I can keep on just thinking, not actually doing the work.

This particular semester, I have two classes about which I'm not really that excited.  The course descriptions sounded intriguing, and enough of the initial classes were interesting enough that I didn't drop the courses.  But now, past midterm time (one has the midterm due and the other has the two article reviews...), I'm finding it hard to motivate myself to get to work!  This is especially sad because one of the classes is about student motivation... whoops.

The other class I'm not super excited about is a theory-based class about culture and intelligence.  Sounds like a cool class right?  The topic is definitely interesting, and some of the readings (not that I've been reading them all...) are also interesting.  But I have trouble with classes in which I can't find a practical application for the content.  This past Tuesday, as I zoned out a little in class, I kept thinking about my hexies and how I would much rather be making them than talking about our individual definitions of wisdom.  The more I zoned out thought about it, the more I felt like I could use my hexies as an analogy for some theories of intelligence we've discussed.  I had the idea that if I made a hexie quilt and then wrote a paper about how the quilt and the process of making it is analagous to theories of intelligence, I would be able to make the course content meaningful to me (and motivate myself to get to work!).  Longer story short, the professor likes the idea, so I'm making a quilt. 

I am taking full advantage of the opportunity to incorporate my crafting into course work.  So, naturally I started a pinboard of all the ideas and resources I'm collecting with regard to hexies and quilting.  One resource I found was this handy hex-quilt calculator.  You tell it how big your hexies are and how big you want the finished product to be and it tells you how many hexies you will need.  Very useful.  Here's what it gave me:
See that? Only 410 hexies!  Plus 30 half hexies... but I think I can do it.  I've already got 74 done:

I'm also happy to say that I actually spent some time doing research today and also managed to read a few articles!  Hopefully this little quilty pleasure project will be just the thing to keep me motivated through the end of the semester!

01 April 2013


I have some hoarder tendencies.  One thing I have a hard time throwing away is fabric.  Even the smallest of scraps seems like they could be used for something!  In fact, Tuzi has a hedgehog beanbag which is stuffed with fabric scraps instead of the bag of beans IKEA sells for that purpose.  Every so often, I go on a purge of my crafting room and throw away the bins of tiny scraps I've been saving up to that point.  I try not to go through the tubs because then I get all remorseful and half the time, I save them anyway.

Well, about a week ago, I stumbled across the perfect project to continue my hoarding tendencies!  It's well known to quilters, I suppose, but I haven't ever been very into quilting (not quite that patient; instant gratification projects are more my style).  It's paper pieced hexagons!  The technique is also called English paper piecing which fits in nicely with my English themed life lately (watched all of Downton Abbey, BBC's Sherlock and as usual have been enjoying tea all day, every day).  So anyway, I was inspired and remembered that long ago, I acquired a hexagon paper punch.  At the time, I had no idea why I would ever use it, but I kept it anyway because it's one of those Creative Memories ones that has two sizes and has the measurements marked right on the punch (very helpful when you don't like to measure things, like me).  I went ahead and punched out a bunch of hexagons and got started chopping up some scraps into little 1.25" squares.

Paper hexies arranged in a pattern
Fabric squares to match the paper hexies
One little hexie
4 hexies sewn together
After doing a few test hexies, I made the whole pattern and sewed it onto a re-sized 2XL t-shirt I had from an uncompleted project a few years ago.  Here's how it turned out:
Sorry about the weird colours; I took the photo in the bathroom mirror and it was kind of dark, so I had to adjust so you could see the hexies better.  I'll get a better photo later and post it.

Anyway, I've had hex-mania since then and have made a similar shirt for Flea and have another mini-quilt for a shirt for Sneetch (once I get her a shirt).  I've also made a little "hexie fabric" so that could produce this:
Now I think I want to try making slightly larger hexies.  These are 1" across.  If I get really good at them, maybe I'll be able to make a baby quilt one day!