Digging into My Christmas Quilt Vault

This is a repost from 2013, but I still love the fabrics and I think you'll enjoy the tutorial on how to make this Twisted Hexagon block. This was done interview style with Benartex's representative.

Christmas Spectacular Collection by Kitty Yoshida for Benartex Fabrics

Why did you choose these fabrics?
Holiday fabrics can oftentimes be novelty prints and santas, reindeer, snowmen and Christmas trees. To come across such an elegant group of fabrics featuring large poinsettias and glittering scrollwork was such a delight. I knew I wanted to highlight those large flowers, but I was having a hard time selecting which of the 3 colors to use!

How did you come up with your design?
Large scale fabrics do not want to be chopped up into tiny pieces. I referenced some past blocks I used in other quilts. One block is the traditional Diadem block which appears in my second book, Supersize 'Em Quilts. I began making one of those. The four corners are paper pieced with a quick, rotary cut center. I liked it, but it wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

12" Diadem Block

I've been working a lot lately with a Twisted Hexagon Block. There is a center hexagon with half-hexagons twirling around it in a log cabin-type manner. I cut out a few patches, now using the cream color of that luscious large-scale print.

Twisted Hexagon line drawing

Did you use a specialty ruler? 
Absolutely! Hexagons and 60 degree angles can be tricky. While I could get my shapes by using the diagonal lines on my straight rulers, I have had several 60 degree rulers in my sewing room for as long as I have been quilting. They make the cutting so easy and they can cut a variety of shapes based on the equilateral triangle (sorry for the math-trash talk). 

The half-hexagons finish to half the height of the center hexagon (7"). They are cut from a 4" strip (half of 7" = 3-1/2", plus the seam allowances). Notice that I lined up the 3-1/2" finished height with the 3-1/2" line on the ruler. Perfect half-hexie!

I used my Creative Grid 60 degree ruler to cut my half-hexagons

 The whole hexagons finish to a 7" height. The template includes the 1/4" seam allowance.

I used a freezer paper whole hexagon to fussy-cut the center hexagons

To cut your freezer paper hexagon template: Cut a 7-1/2" x  9-1/2" piece of freezer paper. Fold in half lengthwise (now it's 3-1/4" x 9-1/2"). Align the 3-1/2" horizontal line of your 60 degree ruler with the top of the cut edges of the folded strip (3-1/2" is half of the finished 7" height of the hexagon). Make a cut on both sides. Your hexagon is ready!

 Twisted Hexagon with a cream center and the 6 patches, ready to sew.

I don't know if I want the cream or black centers.

 Half-hexagons are added in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. I chose clockwise.

Begin with a partial seam; add next half-hexie in a clockwise direction
When you get the 6th half-hex added, now you finish the first seam you made.

Aren't you bothered by starts and stops and beginning all over again?
I cannot envision how a group of fabrics will flesh themselves out. I am not afraid to make a block - or several blocks - to see how the fabrics look together. It's the way I work. The more you sew, the more you "fail", but the more you succeed. I think I learn more from the "rejects" than I do from the published quilts. I always tell my students to JUST KEEP MOVING. And I have to trust my instincts. If I feel that something is wrong/not right with a block or a setting or even a quilt, then there IS something wrong. I have taken whole borders off of quilt centers because I just felt they weren't right.

So, how does this block look?
I had to make both a cream and black center Twisted Hexagon block in order to know which one I would like in the table runner.

Twisted Hexagon with black center

How long does it take you to sew, once you decide on a design?
I have been sewing for the camera for 30 years. I have a teaching background in high school math and English. I don't consult other people's patterns (frankly, they confuse me). I can look at a traditional block in a book, figure out what size I would like to make and then because I've done this thousands (yes, thousands) of times, I immediately start slicing and dicing. I love my rulers; I know what size strips to cut for any size block. I can cut out a quilt in a few hours and finish sewing it in a day or two. Since I'm not consulting someone's directions, but relying on the numbers in my head, the time is reduced quite a bit.

GASP! What if you run out of fabric? Well, I do - often. That just means that the quilt is finished!

Cutting the half-triangles to "square up" the Twisted Hexagon.

Again, I trust the rulers and the accuracy they provide. I used the 7-1/2" horizontal line on the 60 degree ruler with my 7-1/2" cut strip. The vertical line on the left gives me the needed seam allowance for perfect blocks.

Adding the half-triangles, two at a time.

I made a single Twisted Hexagon block with my "test" fabrics. This will be a place mat. It is 14" high by 16-1/2" wide. Perfect size for a place mat.

Here is the block with the black center

 Table runner: 27" x 52"
Three block Twisted Hexagon table runner

Anything else you want to say about this runner?
Do you notice that the red inner borders form a t-shape? That's because the height of the 3 blocks is 42-1/2" unfinished. That's all the length of the outer border (green colorway). I didn't want to piece it. So, I had to work with what I had. My two choices were: no inner border OR criss-cross the reds as you can see. This meant that I could use the full width of the floral print and not have to piece it. Out of the hundreds of quilts I've made, I probably have used this one or two times. But it is acceptable and common and the quilt top is DONE!

I have blogged about Twisted Hexagons often here in blog-ville. Do a search at the top of this page and you can see a lot of process photos.

Hope you enjoyed seeing a blast from the past. You can find my Twisted Hexagons pattern in my Etsy shop.