Turkey Tracks: “Lucy Boston Quilt: Red and Green”

Turkey Tracks:  February 8, 2015

Lucy Boston Quilt:  Red and Green


About six months or more ago, I became fascinated with the Lucy Boston quilt block–made with paper piecing.   I saw these blocks at Alewives quilting store in Damariscotta Mills, Maine.  Rhea Butler and some of her staff were playing around with these blocks.  And theirs look much more like Lucy Boston’s eclectic fabric choices–see below.

I thought I’d just experiment and that I’d try to do opposites on the color wheel, like red and green.  Maybe I’d even make several small quilts playing with opposites on the color wheel, like purple/yellow and blue/orange.

I wound up doing four blocks–which turned out being larger than I had thought once surrounded with the outlying neutral pieces.  This quilt finishes at 33 inches square.



This quilt also did not turn out to be square–even with the paper piecing–due to the bias edges on the pieces needed to make a straight edge.

Here’s a close-up of the blocks–which are very fun to do:



And, closer still of the joining blocks–which I kept very plain:


Lucy Boston herself made a coverlet–with elaborately fussy cut pieces of fabric–and the amazing coverlet is captured by Linda Franz in her book LUCY BOSTON:  PATCHWORK OF THE CROSSES.  Lucy Boston lived in England and made these blocks in the 1950s.



Here are more pics of this amazing quilt–from the book:




And a close-up of one block to give you some idea of the complexity Lucy Boston manages–look also at her cornerstones around each block:


So, I learned a few things about this kind of project.  Cut the edge paper pieces on a STRAIGHT EDGE.  And stay stitch them with the sewing machine.

I had a terrible time trying to decide how to quilt this project–and opted for some rudimentary quilting that used pearl cotton in straight lines and handquilting that just outlined the blocks.  But, handquilting was really, really hard with the thickness of the seams.  Since I had done all this handwork, I was not especially wanting to use the machine to quilt.  BUT, I think I would now if doing this kind of project again.  I don’t know, maybe Lucy Boston had the right idea with just making a coverlet–where she stitched around the edges, right sides facing, and turned the coverlet and…ironed flat???   I didn’t want to tie this quilt as I thought that would look messy.  But, maybe just in the center of the cornerstones???  And with a very neutral pearl cotton???

Linda Franz does have alternative sewing methods–including stitching the blocks all on a domestic machine.

And Leah Day has a video on her web site showing an alternative way to paper piece that is different than whip stitching.  I linked to this video in an earlier post on paper piecing.  Search for Leah Day, and you will find it.  Or just go to Day’s site and search for hexies and sewing…

These blocks are really fun to make–and I find myself wondering how they would look butted up to each other without the surrounding neutral layers.


Meanwhile, this quilt wanted to be outside my quilt room:


And daughter-in-law Tami’s quilt that used to occupy this spot has been moved to a place of honor in the main room on this floor.

Turkey Tracks: Honeycomb Hand-Sewing Project

Turkey Tracks:  May 21, 2014

Honeycomb Hand-Sewing Project


Well, isn’t this fun?


This piece will be finished when I complete the circle of white English Paper Piecing templates–which I bought from Alewives Quilting in Damariscotta, Maine.

Lucy Boston pioneered this “honeycomb” quilting.  A “honeycomb” is a hexagon, but with an elongated top and bottom side.

Here’s the “how to” and inspirational book by Linda Franz.


And here’s some ideas of how the honeycombs can be combined.  Lucy Boston used combinations of 24 honeycombs ringed by 24 white honeycombs.  I started with the top left version.



I’m probably only going to do four of these in shades of red and green and link them into a four-patch.  Or, as a banner.

The “blocks” are joined by a series of squared.  And if one wanted to make something bigger that gets squared off, one needs a series of templates that will “square off” the blocks.  You can order those or make them yourself as the patterns are in the book.

I am joining the pieces with the method Leah Day demonstrated on a utube video.  I posted that link on this blog earlier, but you can google Leah Day and “English Paper Piecing” for the series of three videos.  I like this method because it does not show the whip-stitch stitches on the front.

Turkey Tracks: I’m Obsessed: Hand Sewing

Turkey Tracks:  November 18, 2013

I’m Obsessed


Hand Sewing

It’s official.

I’m obsessed with hand sewing.  I have one project going and two more planned.  And I can’t wait for dark to fall so I can settle in and hand sew while watching something fun on the television.  Though just at the moment I’m hand-quilting the clam shell quilt which is, as yet, nameless, but not homeless.  And, I’m putting the binding on the Winding Ways/Wheels of Mystery quilt which I’m naming “Earth.”

I think my obsession all started with Bonnie Hunter’s numerous posts on her hexie projects.  Hexies are all the rage in quilting these days, which I’m sure most quilters know.  And these projects are NOT your grandmother’s flower garden variety.

Or, maybe it was seeing the gorgeous quilt that Rhea Butler of Alewives quilting, in Damariscotta Mills, Maine, from Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke’s MATERIAL OBSESSION 2 book.  (Those gals are from Australia, the home of fantastic quilting.)

I did a hexie project a while back–a challenge to depict a grocery store product–I chose Green Hive Honey, a local raw, unheated honey.  That quilt was called “A Thousand Flowers” since that’s what it takes to make a ridiculously small bit of raw honey.  (You can search for it elsewhere on the blog.)  I found sewing the hexies tedious–especially the whip stitching that joined them.  And the stitches showed in a way I didn’t like.

BUT, But, But!  There is a better way to do this whole process.  And I began to discover that only recently with Micky Dupre and Bonnie Hunter’s book, RING AROUND THE HEXIES:  A Collaboration Celebration.

Hexie blocks

You can English Paper Piece the hexies and then the way you join them is NOT with whip stitching.  I’m posting a video from Leah Davis that’s a close-up of her hands piecing hexies in the “new” way in a separate post.  (Ask and you shall receive from the universe.)

So, Bonnie makes a pieced quilt, leaving, in the above case, blank black squares on-point.  Micky pieces a hexie formation–and she manipulates the hexies to get interesting color changes–and appliques her arrangement onto the quilt.  They are beautiful.  The resulting quilt is beautiful.

But, I think my own obsession stemmed from Rhea Butler’s quilt from MATERIAL OBSESSIONS–hanging in Alewives.  And somehow I did not take a picture of the whole quilt.

Kite Block book

That quilt is made of large hexies–all constructed from a kite-shape (a quadrilateral) that when combined forms a hexie.

Here are some examples of those bigger blocks.  You can see the “kite” in the dark, outer prints with circles–it takes two “kites” to form that dark patch.  The outer neutral fabric is also made of the “kite” shape.  The red dotted fabric is used to link a line of blocks together–it’s a large diamond shape.

Kite Template block

And, here hyou can see the kite shape a bit better:

Kite block 2

These big hexies are joined with interesting geometric shapes and lavish, BIG borders from contemporary fabrics.

Here’s fabric for my first try at these blocks–and you can see the kite template.  The dark fabric will be used on the outer ring.  I suspect the peach fabric will form the inner ring.

Kite Block fabrics

I was going to do these by hand, but Rhea says they sew well on the machine, too.  So, I’ll play around.

BUT, if I’m not going to hand-sew these, what is going to occupy my fingers?

This project I suspect:

Take a hexie and pull out the sides, and you get a “honeycomb” hexie.  And back in the day in England, a woman named Lucy Boston used that shape to construct the most amazing quilts.  Rhea Butler was already playing with this honeycomb hexie when I saw her last.

Here’s the book, done by Linda Franz, and a packet of honeycomb papers.  One varies the block by varying the fabric color within the block.

Honeycomb blocks

Whatever I do I’ll pull from the stash.

So, on to Leah Day’s excellent video.