12 Hexie (or less) Blog Hop: Winter Holidays Blackwork Hexie Tree Quilt

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

When Diane over at Craftypod invited me to join the "12 Hexies (or less) Blog Hop", I immediately accepted the invitation based only on my love of making hexies and with no idea what I would make. However, my recently-acquired enthusiasm for blackwork (learn more here) and the desire to create another mini quilt for my Winter Holiday wall quilt collection sort of bumped up against each other and provided the perfect solution for the blog hop project! A 16 x 20 quilt wall hanging! And the design? 12 hexies embroidered with Christmas themed blackwork designs, arranged into the shape of a lovely holiday tree.

12 Hexie EPP Blog Hop

I am especially pleased to be a part of this particular blog hop. Scroll to the bottom of this post and you will find links to all the fabulously creative hexie projects designed by the other members of the hop. An unbelievably awesome collection of crafty genius if there ever was one!

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Fair warning, there are lots of pictures in this post!! However, because this post is designed to be a jumping-off place for personal creativity instead of a step by step tutorial, I am mostly just sharing tips and ideas and techniques I've discovered. Hopefully I am providing most of what you need to create a blackwork hexie project of your own. And that project can be big and complicated, or as simple as one lovely blackwork hexie on a pillow! (Although once you design and stitch one blackwork hexie, you will probably be wanting to make more!)

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Start with a design! Which in my case was nothing more than a simple pencil sketch of a hexie tree!

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Drawing upon a stash of various printed hexies from my files and this great tutorial for making a hexie of any size, I cut out a selection of different sized paper hexie patterns and began arranging and re-arranging them on a 16x20 piece of cardboard until I arrived at a design that worked for me.

Once I was happy with the look of the tree, I carefully traced around each paper pattern hexie while it was still in its final position on the cardboard.

I assigned each hexie a number from 1 to 12, and wrote that number on both the paper hexie pattern and the traced hexie on the cardboard (for later position reference).

Taking the time to make a permanent record of how the shapes would eventually be positioned on the quilt is a personal choice and by no means the only way to attack this project. I am sure some crafters might complete all the hexies and once done, arrange them into a pleasing tree form. Do what works for you!!!

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Once the paper pattern hexies are numbered and can be removed from the design board, they can be used to trace out a set of templates on card-weight paper. Just be sure to transfer the number given to the paper pattern hexie to the template version as well!

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Aida cloth is a great choice for blackwork stitching and for a project this size, only one package is needed. (You can find it pre-packaged at most craft stores in the embroidery section.) It comes in different "holes per inch" designations and colors.

Pin the hexies on the Aida, leaving plenty of space between them for 3/8" seam allowances.

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Try to pin the paper pattern to the Aida carefully so that at least two edges of the hexie pattern are aligned with the grain of the Aida. (I got a little careless about this a couple times and it shows in the work later. Word to the wise.)

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Once all the hexie patterns are pinned into place, cut leaving a 3/8" seam allowance.

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Finally, transfer the pattern number directly onto the seam allowance of the Aida hexie. I just used a pencil. Remove the paper pattern and it is time to stitch!

And stitch! And stitch. And stitchÂ…..

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Before sharing all the Christmassy patterns, I am going to proceed with construction steps.

THEN I am sharing a close look at the actual patterns in case you want to duplicate any of them!!! Hint: look at the images on Flickr to get a better view of the detail.

If you want or need instruction for assembling a hexie, simply pop over to Craftypod where you can find all the support and information you need! Here is the place to go - right here!

Most of us in the hexie making universe like to use a tiny spot of glue to hold the fabric hexie in place while basting it to the template. However, I am here to tell you from ugly experience - do NOT do this!!! Once the blackwork stitching is completed, there will be millions and millions of threads on the back side which can easily become entangled in even the smallest dot of glue.

To solve this problem, use large hair clips to hold template and fabric together while basting.

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Quilt binding clips are another good option.

Take care while securing the fabric hexie to the template. At this point it is important to determine how you want your pattern to appear in relationship to the top and bottom points of the hexie. It is also important that the two vertical edges of the template are placed along the grain of the Aida.

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Once the fabric hexie is secured to the template, baste, turn over and admire!!

And then place the hexie on a thick bath towel - stitched side toward the towel - and give it a good press back side only.

Remove the basting threads and paper template. 
 

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Once all 12 blackwork hexies are completed, appliqué them to the background fabric. Because it is important to this design that the hexies are attached in as close to a perfect vertical position as possible, I pinned them into place, and then basted them into place - lots of basting so they could not move much during the final step of appliquéing the blackwork hexies to the quilt fabric.

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

If you use thread that matches the Aida to appliqué the edges of the hexies to the background, then the stitches will practically disappear into the Aida cloth!

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

The next step is to create the quilt. And I leave it up to you which quilt method you wish to use. For my wall hanging, I simply combined the top, back and batting together pillowcase-style (see Diane's tutorial here on Craftstylish). Certainly a pretty binding would also be a nice way to frame the piece.

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

I do not own a walking foot, my presser foot has been on a drunken binge for years, and I do not consider myself a quilter by any stretch, but I wanted to try to quilt around each hexie. I came up with what turned out to be a great idea for doing just that!! So I am sharing!

Before quilting, I used a pencil and straightedge to mark through all the hexie points, making an easily-visible line on the fabric that extends from each point. This serves as a stitch guide - you know - when to stop stitching one direction and turn and stitch in another!

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

I placed the LEFT edge of my presser foot next to the hexie (perfect guide), and starting in the middle of a side, stitched to the point marker, turned, stitched to the next point marker Â…Â….. and continued around the entire hexie.

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

I am happy with the results. Certainly produced some nice straight stitching lines!

Once the quilting was done, I added a few tiny gold beads to some of the background stars just for a glint of sparkle. A few snowflake buttons provide continuity and a way to tie the hexies together into a tree!

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

And now! The Christmas themed blackwork designs!

You are welcome to copy mine. But you might also try making your own. Like me, your first few might not be quite what you want them to be, but turn it all over to Muse. She will prove to be a great guide.

I found the Bustle and Sew blackwork tutorial linked in this post very helpful. I would snag a copy of the June 2013 Bustle and Sew Magazine if I were you!!

The blackwork pattern above is: "Snowflake"! It was my first and gave me a case of the smarty pants. Attempts made to create some of the others took care of dismissing that state of mind!!! But in time, Muse and I worked out more Christmassy goodness together!

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Poinsettia! (Turned out to be my favorite to stitch.)

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Christmas Baubles

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Light Prisms

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Christmas Trees. Notice how easily you can combine one basic shape with different elements in different configurations to create completely different stitch patterns.

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

Christmas Hearts. Notice that the simple heart pattern is quite clear in the upper right hexie. But look closely - it is combined with the same elements (ie squares) in different configurations to produce completely different patterns.

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

I call this group étoile de Noël. And again, if you look closely, you will notice how by simply changing the sizes of two elements - stars and squares - new pattern possibilities emerge.

Blackwork Hexie Holiday Tree

When I shared this idea - an alternate to using snowflake buttons - the blog hop manager liked it so much she gave me a special "Mom" pass to use more than 12 hexies if I wanted. However, being the A++ student type who always follows the rules, I am saving this version for another day!

Don't you love how all those bright, vintage Christmas fabric hexies make the tree pop? Just a sneak peak into the pretty future of this little quilt!

One day soon, when they have all been appliquéd in place, I will share!

Hi Pam this is really

Hi Pam this is really gorgious and brilliant and sooooo beautiful.
I hope you will share the finished pict.
I like the idea of the embroidery on the paches.
Well done girl!!!!!

Gorgeous! Looks lovely!

Gorgeous! Looks lovely!

What a beautiful project.

What a beautiful project. Love the idea of arranging hexies into a tree. And your blackwork is gorgeous.

Oh Pam! This is soooo

Oh Pam! This is soooo wonderful!!! I am officially head-over-heels for your blackwork hexies!! Your greens are beautiful... subtle color variations make it so dimensional! Haven't written in a LONG time, but had to now to say how amazing your hexie creation is!! Have been trying to keep up with your site and your goings-ons!! Soo loving the entire hexie blog hop- am keeping tabs on Diane, too! Looking forward to your next creations! :)

Lovely combination of

Lovely combination of blackwork and hexagons - genius!

Woouuh! Wonderful! Such fine

Woouuh! Wonderful! Such fine craftsmanship! Very beautiful! And I like it with extra hexagones. I have three more to put on my project, but will wait a bit and write another post for that!

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