Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Katja's Millefiore Quilt-Along and Simplified Set-In Piecing

Did you see the quilt Julie at Pink Doxies started last week while using my DVD workshop, Set-In Piecing Simplified?  It began with Mrs. Bannister's Star that she found in Jen Kingwell's book, Quilt Lovely. 
 She did exactly what I hope every quilter who uses the DVD to learn this exciting y-seam piecing approach will do -- apply it to their next project and stop being afraid of set-in piecing.  The DVD introduces the technique using a scrappy tumbling block quilt, but the idea applies to anything with a y-seam so I want to share another project where I'm using it with you today.

I've been lurking on the Katje Marek's Millifiorie Facebook page for almost six months, printing out and saving all the patterns.  WARNING -- if you click on that link, be prepared to be distracted for a couple hours sifting through the hundred of photos of participants work. 
They make me want to tear my stash apart and start cutting fabric!  
Julie's experiment pushed me over the edge and this past weekend, I dipped my toe into The New Hexagon. 

I'm not certain I'll do the entire quilt so I started with the rosette for June and made the center block.  Most of the participants in the project are doing it EPP (English paper piecing) but the first time I opened the book last fall I determined most of the blocks in Katja's book, The New Hexagon, can be cut with Marti Michell's Sets G and H.

If you've never used rotary cutting templates, I encourage you to give it a try.  I taught and did massive amounts of strip piecing and rotary cutting for 20 years but since I converted (mostly) to templates 10 years ago, the consistency and accuracy of my work has improved remarkably. 
You can read more about cutting and working with these templates by clicking on the Diamond Stars Playtime Sew-along tab at the top of the blog.
I cut the fabrics for the center hexagon as spontaneously as I could.  I'm not sure I LOVE the orientation of the stripe in the center star, but I was anxious to stitch!!
I always lay out the complete block before I start stitching as that makes it easier for me to break it down into the best units for assembly.   Some familiarity with hexagons and their allies is helpful before starting the blocks in this book as the blocks are not dissected for the order of assembly. 
Here are the two basic units that need to be assembled first.
I worked on both units simultaneously -- chain-piecing through the same step on one unit first and then the other, working back and forth until I had all of them ready to press. 
I started by stitching the striped diamonds together in a chain,
then added one triangle to the end of each hexagon,
 then went back and started to set the hexagon into the pair of diamonds,
then the second triangle onto the opposite of those hexagons,
and finally the third seam of the diamond/hexagon unit.
Once each unit was pressed, I laid them out again and began to assemble them into the finished block.
At this point, I had to build from the center out and you might be wondering how I maintained the chain-piecing with all this seemingly stop-and-start stitching.
The answer is I had a second project at hand.  I continued to add the background hexies to the piece I'm trying to get off the workwall.  It's multi-tasking!!
This has actually turned out to be a good strategy for getting the big quilt together.  I'm easily bored and so adding in all the background hexies has been challenging until I started using them as the "sew-offs" (or leaders and enders) for other work. 
Altogether it took 26 minutes to assemble the center hexagon for the June rosette.
I also took this cluster from this point
to this point -- adding 8 background hexies and a rosette to the unit!!  I was so absorbed by the excitement of the new block that I barely noticed the effort needed to stay on task with the background hexies. 
What's on tap for today?  Happily, I now have all the segments of this big mosaic quilt ready to assemble, so I'm going to dive into that. 
But first I have to cut the next group of "new hexagon" blocks for Katje's June rosette so I can keep chain-piecing!!
If you are ready to try out this idea, click on the "BUY NOW" button up there on the right side and order your copy of Set-In Piecing Simplified.  It's $15.95 and that includes shipping!  I'll put it in the mail tomorrow morning!!
Have a pieceful day!
Mary Huey
Joining up with a couple new LINK-UP's today!  Check them out!


  1. Oh wow! Just what I need, another project! I think I'll just watch you create your quilt. I am trying so hard not to be distracted this year and to stay focused on my own projects. But it is sooo hard!

    1. You are soooo right!! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Beautiful block.Happy sewing .I`ve never tried machine hexies only hand sewing them!

    1. I love hexies by machine or hand -- have both going on at the same time!! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Finally ordered the CD after this post-I'm ready to not be afraid of y-seams after looking at Julie's page. Luckily (?) I wasn't able to follow the Katje link-FB said I had to log in and since I can't do that I've saved hours of time! :)
    Your porch, and blocks look lovely- and thanks for the clear explanation of how to group for piecing that block.

  4. Mary, your porch looks so inviting. You're going to have a lot of leisurely hourse there. Thanks for the tutorial in this post. Do you still have some G template packages to sell? May I suggest you add a photo of it to your sidebar,and set it up as you did the DVD. That way we can order our set from you. I've seen other bloggers tht just have a shop tab and on it are all the items they want to sell as photos that make it possible. Just a thought.

  5. I have long admired Katja's book. One day!

  6. You make it look so easy!! Love the star in the middle.