Thursday, February 9, 2017

Owls and a Fox and Stars—Oh, My!

Have you ever started a project, and then somehow got so involved with other things that you forgot all about it? About five or six years ago, I was at Quilt Festival in Cincinnati and picked up a sample of Paper Pieces to make a hexie flower. By the end of the show, I had purchased the diamond shapes and a jelly roll of Moda's Kansas Troubles. I basted and stitched on every car trip we took for the next few months. My husband even took me to a quilt shop on one of our trips, so I could get the neutral setting fabric. I got this far and was pretty tickled, and then I looked at it, loving the secondary design, and couldn't decide how to proceed. Should I make a group of blocks like this and think of a setting for them, or should I just keep adding stars until I run out of fabric? A jelly roll would make a lot of stars, I discovered.

Now I can't wait to get back to this!
I made a few more stars, but didn't put them together, thinking I'd wait until some inspiration struck me. Before I was inspired, however, I forgot all about these fun little stars. 

Until we went to Houston in the fall, and I rediscovered the fun of English paper piecing. Kara and I thought it might be fun to do some fussy-cutting, and then embellish the design with embroidery. It seemed like a great reason to search for fun fabric, and we were, after all, at the International Quilt Festival, so there was no shortage of fabulous choices! We, of course, bought WAY more than we needed, but one can never have too much in one's fabric palette, right?! 

For our first hexie design, we chose a fabric line from Blend Fabrics, with adorable woodland creatures and fun patterns to mix and match. We had fabric spread out everywhere, trying to decide which to use and how we wanted to fussy-cut the designs. I chose owls, and Kara opted for a fox. And then the fun began. It didn't take us long to finish our hexies, which measured about a foot in size. For us, the fun part is usually the embroidery, and we were eager to start embellishing. That, naturally, meant shopping for thread, which we found at the WonderFil Specialty Threads booth. We stocked up on threads in the Sue Spargo Collection: various weights of pearl cotton, rayon, rayon/metallic, and wool threads, to match our fabric design. Oh, what fun!

Kara is working on her fox hexie and is nearly finished. Here are a few shots of her work thus far.

The block is basted on a ground fabric, which offers stability while embroidering.

Such sweet flowers!

Kara used embroidery stitches to accentuate the flower designs in the fabric.

The stitching adds lovely texture.

How adorable is this furry fox?! Turkey work with wool thread creates his furry chest and ears.

I raced to finish my hexie, because I wanted to stitch it to a bag for my granddaughter and fill it with books for Christmas. She seems to love her bag!

Stitching knots

I attached the hexie to the bag using a fly stitch.

The finished book bag, with her name stitched on the top.

  A couple detail shots

The lazy daisies in the leaves were stitched with variegated green pearl cotton (Eleganza™), gray rayon (Razzle™), and gold wool (Ellana™)—all from the Sue Spargo Collection from WonderFil Specialty Threads.

The center star and surrounding knots are stitched with Dazzle™ thread,
which has one strand of metallic with the rayon, adding a bit of sparkle.

Wise owls are embellished with lazy daisy stitches, knots, and turkey work.

The different kinds of threads add interest with the variety of textures and sheen.


Ella loves the texture added by the stitching on the bag. And she loves reaching in for her books!


Kara has jumped on the star bandwagon, and she is creating a border for the Secret Garden block that we will be teaching at the Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg at the end of the month. I can't wait to see it! Stay tuned for the big reveal. As for me, I am looking forward to getting back to my own rediscovered stars. So many projects, so little time!

What about you? Have you tried English paper piecing? What are you stitching on now?


  1. Teri and Kera, I too am working on EPP projects. I wanted to make a star with the diamonds, but there are those "ends" that I do not know how to sew them together. Hexigons are so much easier to sew together. I have the book All Points Patchwork, but it does not show how to put the diamonds together. Maybe I need to look at You Tube for a tutorial. Thx

    1. I fought with the ends of the stars as well. I had the most success taking a pin and pinning the ends back on to the diamond halves so I could see where I was stitching. I found these tutorials helpful as well.
      Have fun,

  2. You two are so inspiring! I would never have thought of embellishing fabric like this. Love it!

  3. I am making a EPP star quilt with scraps with my Quilting Bee. We need 80 stars and have already 76!!! This month we will start sewing the rows. Also did some hexies for a baby quilt. I do EPP when I travel or visit my daughter in Athens. Love your bag!! The embellishments are great. Gives the hexies another dimension!!

    1. Thank you! We love how portable EPP can be. That's a lot of stars! I had to make 25 and I thought they would never end. We'd love to see pictures when you put them together.