These past few days I have literally been stitchin aweigh…okay, “away” if you want to be literally correct! I’ve been working on a quilt block for a friend at work who is leaving soon. His wife is super crafty, like Betsy Ross and I, and has asked people at work to each make a square to fill up a farewell quilt. The neat thing is this particular person is a foreign exchange officer from the U.K. AND I just so happened to have some leftover British themed fabric from this quilt I made my sister-in-law, Elena, for Christmas last year…
I decided I wanted to make some type of anchor for my block since the anchor truly symbolizes the American Navy as the symbol for the rank of a Navy Chief and everyone knows chiefs run the Navy (or you do now)! I thought incorporating British themed fabrics into an anchor themed project would truly depict Gordon’s time with us in the states and in the U.S. Navy. Here is a tutorial on how to create an Anchor made out of hexagons!
- Cardstock paper or paper thick enough to be used as a template
- Pencil for tracing hexagons
- Fabric Scraps, big enough to cover the size of your hexies (at least 2.5″ circles for this tutorial)
- Fabric Scissors
- Color Coordinating Thread
- Everyday Scissors
- Background fabric cut to the desired size of your block (my block measures 6.5″ x 6.5″)
- Cut out your desired hexagon size/shape from a previous project or print from an online source. My hexagons measure 1.25″ in diameter (corner to corner) or each of the 6 sides measured 5/8″ in length.
- Trace out the desired number of hexagons onto your cardstock paper. You will need 16 hexagons for this tutorial.
- Cut out your hexagons using your everyday scissors and NOT your fabric scissors. Using fabric scissors on anything other than fabric can cause them to become dull and lose their effectiveness on your materials.
- Place a fabric scrap behind your hexagon and pin in place.
- Cut your fabric to the shape of the hexagon, leaving a 1/4″ all the way around (as pictured above). This will hide any rough edges and will eventually be stitched down. Repeat for the other 15 hexagons.
- Tie a double knot in one end of your thread and thread your needle with the other end.
- Pick up one of your hexies and finger press one of the six edges down against the paper. Pull your needle up through all 3 layers (fabric, paper and fabric again) in the middle of that edge of the hexagon.
- Continuing in a clock-wise direction around the hexagon, fold down the next edge and place your needle in between all of the layers to keep the corner in place.
- Your next stitch will be in the middle of this 2nd edge of the hexagon.
- Fold down the 3rd consecutive edge and place your needle through all layers in the corner of the hexie.
- Continue all the way around your hexagon until you reach your first stich. You do not need to tie off the edge of your thread, just slide your needle underneath one of your stitches and trim the thread so you have a loose tail hanging over the side.
- Repeat steps 6-11 for all hexagons. When complete, all of your hexies will look like this when you flip them over.
- Once all of your hexagons are stitched up, it’s time to starch and iron. Starching fabric helps it stiffen up and keep its shape better. Starch is perfect for this project since these little guys need to be able to hold their shape once we remove the paper (that step comes later though).
- Now that your hexies are all starched, lay them out in this anchor design in whatever way the fabrics look best together. You may be doing your anchor in all of the same fabric or in many different fabrics. Either way, make sure you like the way it looks before we start stiching it all together!
- Now, it’s time to stich all of them together. First let’s focus on the top portion…
- You can really start with what ever section you would like, but I’m going to work left to right, top to bottom. Going with my example, take “your” red polka dotted piece and lay it right on top of the red/white circular piece like so…
- Next, pick up just the two pieces you have laid on top of one another…we are going to stich them together first, then work our way to the other pieces. Grabbing both of those pieces in one hand, you will get your needle and thread ready with a double knot in one end and will make your first stitch through the corner of both pieces and will always stitch from the red polka dot fabric to the red/white circular fabric. Pretend like there is a tooth pick between both pieces and you are wrapping your thread around them, but really you are stitching your needle in the same direction each time you make a stitch.
- Continue stitching all the way until the next corner. Then, to tie off the stitch, you will put your needle through the last two corners and before pulling it all the way tight you will loop it through the loop created between your needle and the fabric. Loop it through twice, then pull all the way and watch as a knot is formed right along your stitch. Then, you can clip off the loose thread.
- Your two pieces will look like this once stitched…
- Repeat these steps with all of your pieces, stitching together the appropriate sides (i.e. the ones meant to be stitched together). All of the sides left unstitched will eventually be sewn down to your background piece of fabric and will be secured that way. You won’t always just sew one side together at a time. Sometimes you’ll be able to do two sides before finishing off your thread and clipping the end. It just depends on which sides you choose to stitch together first. Once all of your pieces are stitched it should look something like this…
- Now, it’s time to starch and iron one last time. Once you’ve completed that, it’s time to snip the stitches we made in the very beginning when we folded over the excess fabric around each hexie and stitched it to the paper. That paper needs to come out now, since most of our edges are secured to one another. Use your seam ripper and pull out the thread carefully.
- Once you’ve pulled out all of those threads, it’s time to remove the paper. You should be able to just pull them out and carefully fold the edges back down if they come a little loose during the process. Repeat for all 16 hexies until no paper is left in your anchor!
- Now, it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for…time to pin your anchor to the background fabric! I chose to pin mine “on point” to make it fit onto this tiny square. I even cut it a little too close! Definitely going to have some of it stitched down when putting other fabric squares up next to it so keep that in mind! You want to try to leave at least 1/4″ of space around the outside of your anchor if possible. If not, no big deal, it’s good for every project to have a few imperfections…it shows the handiwork!
- Time to stich this little guy to the background fabric. You can use any color thread. It just depends on how much you want your stitch to stick out. I chose white to match my background fabric, but almost went with a red thread to stand out a little more. Pick any hexi to choose with and align it in your sewing machine to allow for a stitch 1/8″ in from the edge. This will ensure that 1/4″ excess we folded over to make a nice crisp edge around our hexagons is secured in place and won’t come unfolded after a few washes.
- Sew all the way around the edge, pivoting at each corner and keeping that stitch 1/8″ from the edge. This is what it should look like when you are all done.
Since this is meant to be a quilt yearbook I had to write a little message on it so I took mine a step further and personalized it for Gordon with a fabric marker that won’t come out in the wash. I left him with a very nautical phrase to take back to England…
This little anchor goes great on other projects like large quilts, baby quilts or even some table runners like these that I made for my mom and mother-in-law last mother’s day!
Hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and if nothing else….have fun stitchin aweigh!