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Introducing: Adventures in Hexagons

I would like to introduce you to Adventures in Hexagons, my very first published book.


Yesterday I received the spring C&T catalog in the mail. Seeing the book images and marketing text was like holding my dream in my hands. It’s real. And in May 2017, it will be a reality in book stores and quilt stores too.


Adventures in HexagonsMy goal with this book was twofold- to help readers learn to sew hexagon in the manner best suited to them, and to help quilters design their own hexagon quilts. So the book essentially has three sections.  The first is devoted to explaining English paper piecing, hand sewing with templates, and machine sewing with templates. The second section includes 11 quilt patterns of varying sizes and skill levels.  Every one of them can be pieced by EPP, or by hand or machine with templates. If you’re an Inklingo fan, I’ve included finished shape sizes with all of the cutting instructions to make navigating the patterns simpler for you.

The final section of the book is a Design Primer. With it, you can take any of the blocks in the book, or your own hexagon block creations, and turn them into unique, fantastic quilts.

Here are a couple more pages from the C&T catalog where they show images of the quilts from the book.catalog-page2

catalog-page3 I can’t wait to share more about the book and the quilts in the coming months. I’ll also host a blog tour next summer, and a special quilt along for an entirely new quilt inspired by the book.

But before all of that, I want to extend a very, very heartfelt thank-you to you, dear readers. Throughout this adventure in hexagons, you have been my support and encouragement.  Your comments on the blog and interactions on social media, and your friendship made this book possible, and I am truly blessed to know you. Thank you.



Happy Stitching!



Recipe for a Lovely Evening

Our schedule has been a bit hectic lately, with school, scouts, sports, and a business trip mixed in for added insanity.  However, I managed to sneak in a wonderfully quiet evening of hand sewing while the guys were on a camping trip and the younger kiddos went to bed early.  Here’s how I managed it:



One favorite movie

One cup of delicious hot tea (my current fave is Stash decaf Chocolate Hazelnut)

Approximately two dozen fabric patches, already printed and chopped


1.  Get kiddos to bed early

2.  Brew tea.  Replenish by steaming cupfuls as necessary throughout evening

3.  Play movie.  If you intend to accomplish a lot in this evening, put on a movie you know well.

4.  Sew to your heart’s content!  (Or until you run out of patches)




(You can see how the top block looked previously here.)

Happy Stitching!


My Hoffman Challenge Quilt

It’s very, very difficult keeping secrets from this blog!  I’m so excited to finally show you my very first Hoffman Challenge Quilt, entitled A Moment’s Reflection.


The quilt measures 40″ square.  I used Electric Quilt to design the quilt and test color ideas.  I used the Inklingo 4.5″ Winding Ways shape collection.  The quilt is entirely hand-pieced and hand-quilted.

When I originally picked fabric, I found a gorgeous black with gold polka dots.  Unfortunately, the fabric was as dark on the back as the front, so I couldn’t print my shapes on it with Inklingo.  Instead, I used a black Michael Miller fabric from my stash, and painted gold dots on after I printed and cut out the shapes.


I used Sulky cotton thread for the quilting, and quilted allover in a Higaki sashiko pattern.


In one corner, I quilted a cherry blossom, and echoed around it in circles.  The higaki pattern reflected the background of the challenge fabric.  The fabric made me think of a Japanese garden, which inspired the idea of a cherry blossom on water.


As much fun as this quilt was, next time I will quilt it differently.  The combination of a heavy (think embroidery floss) thread, lots and lots of seams to stitch over, and hand quilting meant I used over twenty tapestry needles on the quilting alone, and the quilting stitches were not as uniform as I would have liked.

I’m really glad I entered this challenge.  It pushed me to work outside my normal comfort zones, and empowered me to try new things.  The judge’s feedback was not as scary as I expected, and provided some good insight to apply to next year’s quilt.  Best of all, the quilt will be traveling with the challenge for a year!  In January, it will be in Jefferson, Texas, which is close enough for me to go and see it!!!  In case you’d like to see it in person, it will be traveling with trunk G, and all the schedules are listed on the Hoffman Challenge website.

Once I wrap up a couple designs for fall Market, I’m going to create a pattern for this quilt.  I’m excited to see how it turns out with different fabrics and color schemes.  And my mind is already spinning (literally) with possibilities for next year’s quilt.  This is the challenge fabric:


So many quilt ideas, so little time!!

Happy Stitching!


Patchwork of the Crosses

I’ve seen Lucy Boston’s Patchwork of the Crosses quilt come up frequently on blogs I follow and Pinterest.  And it’s a variation on hexagons, which I also find intriguing.  So I’m plotting to start one of my own.  I bought two excellent books, available from the Inklingo website:


I’ve been admiring Cathi and Karen’s nearly finished quilt tops. . . .

And then I saw this lovely tutorial from Red Brolly, and it pushed me over the edge.  I think I’m going to start on my own Patchwork of the Crosses.  After much, much deliberation, I’ve decided I will do mine the old fashioned way, just like Lucy Boston, and use English paper piecing.  I know there are MANY stunning POTC quilts out there, fussy-cut flawlessly and hand pieced with Inklingo, so why on earth would I English paper piece?!?

Several reasons.  First, I’m envisioning a quilt with lots of dark batiks and oriental fabrics.  It’s possible to print on those, but tough to see the lines.  Second, I like fussy-cutting the old-fashioned way, lining up my acrylic template and cutting around the exact spot I want.  (Speaking of, did you catch Sue Daley’s you tube video on fussy cutting?!  Brilliant tips in there!) And finally, I’m picturing this quilt evolving over several years.  I’ve got enough of the types of fabric I want in my stash to get started, but plan to seek out more.  I don’t want to get halfway finished with this quilt and have my printer die (like it did in the middle of my rainbow flowers quilt last year), and not be able to finish.  So we’ll see how this goes.  Now I’m off to start auditioning fabrics!

Happy Stitching!


Winding Ways– Lots of Ways

Over the past year, I’ve grown more enamored of the Winding Ways (or Wheel of Mystery) block.  It all started with a picture of the blocks used on point to make flowers on the Inklingo blog.  I made a block like that, then the little quilt for AAQI, and then I took a deep breath and made an entire Winding Ways quilt (more on that soon!)

Now I’m turning that quilt into a pattern, so I thought I’d try several methods of making a Winding Ways block. It has been enlightening, to say the least!  Below are the three methods I’ve tried.  Just a caveat, this quilt uses small blocks, so that’s why you won’t see From Marti Michell templates, or Accuquilt listed in my comparisons.  They’re just too big for what I need here.


Method 1- Inklingo Winding Ways 4.5″ shape collection, $20

This is the method I used for my quilt, and it produced excellent results. PROS: The pieces fit together and were fun to sew.  The design book includes a piecing order and pressing method that works well.  CONS:  Inklingo is very time-consuming in the preparation of fabric, freezer paper, and printing.  Unlike EPP, you can’t just grab a couple scraps of fabric, baste them to shapes, and see if the idea in your head is going to work.  It takes time to get everything ready to print.  And for this quilt especially, I had to cut out each shape by hand with scissors.

Once your shapes are printed and cut out, it is lovely to stack them up and sew happily along the little lines.


Method 2- John Flynn Wheel of Mystery acrylic templates (3″ or 4″), $7.00

PROS:  Very inexpensive templates, unique instructions for seam pressing.

CONS:  These were really difficult to work with.  The templates have a notch for matching the center of each seam, and the instructions recommend using a rotary cutter or xacto blade to make the notches.  I couldn’t get either one to fit in that tiny notch.

I think these templates would be better suited to tracing pieces with a marker and then cutting out by hand, as the templates are very, very thin.  If you’re already experienced with making Winding Ways quilts, these templates may work wonderfully for you.  I struggled with them.



Method 3- Paper Pieces Winding Ways 3″ paper pack, $5 (pieces for 15 blocks), $14 acrylic templates for rotary cutting

PROS- very accurate, quick to see how your block will look finished

CONS- no instructions provided for basting or sewing these teeny-tiny shapes

I’m intrigued by this method, and planning a tutorial on basting and sewing these.  I think it has a lot of potential, once I get it down.  As you can see from the picture, I’m already working on a second block.  I think the key here is smaller seam allowances.  You can purchase acrylic templates from paper pieces, but they have a 3/8 inch seam allowance, which is WAY too big for that tiny pointed piece.

How about you?  What’s your preferred method for making a Winding Ways block?

Happy Stitching!


Playing with New Ideas

With the onset of summer came a slew of new pattern ideas, so I’ve been frantically prepping hexagons.  The pattern I’m working on now will be another Inklingo or English paper piecing project, so you can see both types of hexies in the photo below.  I love, love, love the bright colors.  Walking into my studio with these all over the place just makes me smile.


So, as these ideas were rolling, I realized on Sunday evening that I didn’t have enough 1″ hexagon papers.  Sizzix Big Shot to the rescue!!  The 2″ Bigz die cuts four hexagons on a quarter of a sheet of cardstock. (They measure their hexies through the middle instead of on a side like quilters, so you have to watch the numbering).  I love Paper Pieces, and will preferentially seek them out at quilt stores, but this was a lovely after-hours alternative.  It was kind of fun to have a hundred die cut hexagons ready to go in a matter of minutes.

How’s your summer starting?  Do you find more or less time to quilt in the “lazy” days of summer?

Happy Stitching!



A Small Beginning

This is all Cathi Godwin’s fault.  A while back, she posted about a darling  Seven Sisters mug rug.  Before that, I was blissfully unaware that Inklingo diamonds came in a half inch size.  Now, I’m turning over my entire scrap stash to find 4.25 by 5.25 inch fabric pieces to make these little gems.  The hexagons are an inch on a side.


And since they have twelve tiny pieces inside that one inch hexie, I’m trying something new and grading the seams.  Not that I intend to hand quilt this, but the trimming does help the block to lay flatter.


These make me smile each time I see them on my design wall.  If I can keep at this pace, I’m hoping to use these in a new pattern to release this fall. We’ll see how far the enthusiasm takes me before I wake up and realize these are insane.

Speaking of insanity, I’m also frantically trying to finish my quilt for the Hoffman Challenge.  And starting to have nightmares about it.  Have you ever submitted a quilt to a contest?  Do you have any tips to share on blocking or other mysterious means of achieving perfection?

Happy Stitching!




Designing Octagon Quilts with EQ and Inklingo- Part 3

For the past week, I’ve showed you how to design a small octagon quilt in Electric Quilt, and print the shapes from the Inklingo free shape collection and Periwinkle Octagon collection.  Today, we’ll assemble those pieces into a cute little tabletop quilt.


Let’s get started!

1. Assemble kites and diamonds into units.  For the four pointed stars, sew two kites together along a short side.  Repeat for a second pair.  Join the two pairs along the straight side.  For the octagon kites, sew a diamond to each side of the star (this seam can be sewn continuously).


2.  Press the center seam of the kites clockwise.  Then press the seams with the diamonds counterclockwise.


3. You will also need to sew partial kites for the edges of the quilt.  In the first row, sew two sets of three white kites, one set of three light blue kites, and two pairs of light blue kites.


4. Join the first row as shown. This seam can be sewn continuously. Pay careful attention to your star layout as you sew each octagon into the quilt.  It’s very easy to turn the stars around.


5. Layout kites for the second row.


6.  Join kites to first row.


7. Repeat for the rest of the quilt following the EQ layout.



8. Now you’ll need to trim the edges of the quilt to square.  Press your quilt THOROUGHLY so the extra edges of the kites are straight.  Then take a clear ruler with quarter inch markings and line the quarter inch line up with the center of the kites.  Trim along this line.



9.  Layer your quilt top with batting and backing, and quilt as desired.  I quilted wavy lines that stopped where the fabric changed colors to enhance the “woven” idea of the quilt.



10. Bind your quilt.  I used two strips, 1 1/2″ by width of fabric to bind the quilt with a single fold binding.



11.  Now your quilt is ready to enjoy, in plenty of time for Flag Day and the Fourth of July!

If you make a quilt from this tutorial, I’d love to see it! E-mail me a picture at emily@thecaffeinatedquilter.com


Happy Stitching!


Designing Octagon Quilts with EQ and Inklingo- Part Two

Have you been playing with the blocks we designed last week?  I did some searching on Pinterest, and found lots of great periwinkle quilts.  Check out my board for some great inspiration.  These shapes have so many more possibilites than I’d first realized.  I think I’ll be doing a full-sized design one of these days.  But for now, let’s play some more with the “Long May She Weave” table topper.

Today we’ll take the block from last post, place it in a quilt and cut out our kites and diamonds.

1. Open your EQ file from last week. Click the Work on Quilt button, and set up a quilt with a horizontal layout, 4 by 4 blocks.

2. Place your block from last week in the 16 block spaces (you can do this all at once by holding down the control key as you place a block in the first space.)

3. Recolor your patches as desired.  I used the layout below to create a woven effect.


4.  For my quilt, I used red, dark blue, light blue and cream.  However, when I colored the quilt in EQ, I used two shades of red and two of cream, since both of those colors have kites and diamonds in my layout.  I used one shade of red and cream for the kites, and a different one for the diamonds, to make the next step simpler.

5. To calculate how many shapes you’ll need to print with Inklingo, go to File>Print>Fabric Yardage>Preview.  This will show you all the patches of each color in the quilt.



6.  For all the kite shapes, divide this patch count by two (remember, in the EQ block we’re technically using “half kites” to make the block edges simpler, but in the actual quilt you’ll be working with full kites).  I love using this patch count in simple hexagon quilts, but for this quilt I had to really double check the numbers against the diagram.  For example, the light blue kites have lots of partials in the corners and borders of the quilt.

7.  Here are my adjusted patch count totals:

40 light blue kites

20 Red kites

32 Dark blue kites

20 Cream kites

32 Red diamonds

32 Cream diamonds

8.  You can make this quilt really scrappy if you like, but if you go with four colors like mine, you’ll need:  12″ by 40″ light blue, 12.25″ by 40″ of red, 12.25″ by 40″ of cream, and 12″ by 20″ of dark blue.

9.  Print your shapes on your fabric with Inklingo.  If you need help with this step, there are LOTS of good tutorials and advice on the Inklingo website.

Later this week, I’ll show you how I turned all these fun kites and diamonds into a finished table top quilt.

Happy Stitching!




Designing Octagon Quilts with EQ and Inklingo- Part One

Today I’m excited to celebrate my 2 year blogiversary with you!  For this party, we’ll be designing octagon quilts in EQ, and turning them into reality quickly with Inklingo.

If you’re here from the Quilting Gallery, welcome!  You can see pictures of my Doodlebug Garden quilt here.

Last month, Linda Franz introduced the Periwinkle Octagon Collection, complete with a reverse mystery for making a quilt with the new shapes. You can see the collection and the related posts here.  I was intrigued by the shapes, but wanted to make something a little smaller than a full sized quilt.  In the blog posts, Linda includes EQ files for the quilt so you can recolor it.  Her blocks have several octagons in each, but I wanted a file with the octagons individually.  So today, I’ll show you how I drafted that block, and next week I’ll walk you through each step of the sewing process.

First, though, I want to show you the end result 🙂

Long May She Weave

My husband dubbed it, “Long May She Weave.”  Would you like to make one too?  You’ll need the Inklingo Periwinkle Octagon collection  for the kite shape, and the free collection for the diamond.  If you have EQ, you can design along with me and create your own designs or colorations.  Let’s get started!

1. Open up a new EQ project.  Click on the Work on Block icon, and then pull down the Block menu< New Block < PatchDraw block.  Set up your block like this:


(Grid: circle, 12 rings, 8 spokes, 48 horizontal and vertical snaps).

2.  Using the blue pencil tool on the left, click on each spot where a spoke touches a ring to create your octagon. Note: the vertical and horizontal spokes aren’t shown, but you can still see where to click by following the horizontal and vertical lines that go through the center of the block. When you get all the way around, click twice on your original point to complete the octagon.


3. Now pick a corner to start making your kites. Using the pencil again, click on the narrow point, then the block corner, then follow the spoke to click the octagon point, and back to your starting point. Repeat for second kite in the corner.


4.  Complete kites in the next corner.  Use the arrow tool to select your first two kites, then copy and paste.


5. Use the flip buttons (icons right after the snaps setup in the top bar) to rotate kites.  Then use the arrow key to move them to the right corner.


6. Repeat for the bottom corners.

7. Now click on the color tab at the bottom of the block.  Color as desired and add to sketchbook.  You won’t need this octagon block for my quilt, but you may want it as you play with designs.


8. Go back to the pieced tab of the block and click on the octagon.  Delete it.  This will enable us to draft the star in the center of the octagon.


9. Copy and paste the kites again, arranging them in the center of the block.  After you copy and paste the kite, use the tool that shows a square changing to a diamond to rotate the kites into the correct orientation.


10.  Once you have the four center units placed, draw a diamond with the pencil tool to fill in the gaps.


11. Copy, paste and rotate the other three diamonds.  Then color in your patches, and you’re ready to use the block in a quilt layout!  Please note, the Periwinkle Octagon collection uses kite shapes (purple below), not half kites like the EQ patches, so make sure you always color the two triangles in the same color to represent the full-sized kites.9coloredblock


So now you’re ready to design with the Periwinkle Octagon and free shape collections.  Next week, I’ll show you how I used EQ to calculate yardage and patch counts, and walk you through my steps to sewing “Long May She Weave” together.

Happy Stitching!