Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The old sexagon is the new...

I laughed out loud when I read the original sexagon post over at Lansey Brothers.  The gist- kinda- is how the sexagon has gone out of vogue; the word, not the shape.  It has been replaced with "hexagon" & the much more cumbersome "six sided polygon".  For those of you asking yourselves "this is coming up here why?", the sexagon is actually better known to quilters everywhere as the unit that makes up the Grandmother's Flower Garden.

Just to be clear, we are talking about an actual six-sided shape, not the six person sexual position/act, although now I really want everyone to start calling that a Grandmother's Flower Garden.  Whenever it might come up in conversation.  Whenever that might be.

So..the sexagon quilt.  I have been quilting for a while now, but I have never made one of those.  I have made the odd blossom now & then to add to something else. but to commit to a full-size sexagon...I just don't have that kind of time.  Also,  I am just not that into all those little pieces that all need to fit together.   Still it's a useful skill so here we go:

As with all handwork, your first sexagon is probably the hardest.  The first tricky part is making sure all six sides (& each angle) is exactly equal to every other side (& angle).  But since we are talking about fabric sexagons, there is some wiggle room.  More than you can imagine, actually.

Begin by getting yourself a sexagon.  Lansey Brothers have oh-so-conveniently provided one right in their sexagon post.  Click it, print it, cut it out.  It's a nice big one & for a beginner, the big ones are just so much easier to work with.  Trace it onto something a bit more stable (I like to use those card stock campaign thingeys we get swamped with every November).  Cut out as many of these as you will need pieces for your sexagon quilt.  To make a single flower, you will need seven, although you could certainly keep going until you run out of steam.

If you are like me, you will print a second sexagon, pencil in a slightly larger sexagon around the first (say 3/8ths of an inch).  This is your fabric template, so you can cut the fabric large enough to fold a bit over the edges.  I should note that you can actually buy these; you can buy the masters to make your own templates or you can just buy the templates.  But what if you just don't take to sexagons?  Then you will have them, just sitting there & you will find yourself saying things like "I thought I would really like sexagons, but alas they are not for me".

Match one fabric sexagon to one recycled junk mail sexagon, centering the smaller on the wrong-side of the larger.  There is no wrong side to the smaller, cardstock sexagon.  Somehow attach the two; some people use fabric glue stick, but I prefer teeny-eeny torn off pieces of painter's tape.  Start basting.

If you are having trouble seeing the potential of the sexagon in quilting, take a cruise on over to The Great Hexagon Quilt-Along.  & if you can get them to change it to The Great Sexagon Quilt-Along, you would be well on the way to bringing the sexagon back into the lexicon.  If you cannot see yourself going whole hog for a sexagon quilt, this site here has some other fine suggestions (& better directions than mine).  I cannot see myself making a whole one, but was delighted when I got another blue&yellow basket in the mail, this one with sexagon flowers.
In absolutely-true, double entendre news, my mother-in-law drops broad hints that she would like a sexagon/grandmother's flower garden quilt whenever we see one.  There is a really big one at Dudley Farm.  Maybe if they had billed themselves as the Home of the Sexagon Quilt they could have boosted attendance.  Maybe not.


  1. The sexagon...er...Grandma's flower garden was my first venture in patchwork. I put it away when I wasn't sure how to square it off. Years later when i had done several more quilts, I found it and finished it. I guess my first venture will always be my favorite.

  2. Lol! Great post mb. If you don't mind I'm going to feature your sexagon image and a link to your post in my next entry

  3. You made me giggle out loud. I'm actually about half through a queen size sexagon quilt (and am still puzzling on how to square it off...). I used a different method; Quilts by Katy in Texas sells a rubber stamp and stamp pad with 1-inch side hexagon and the cutting line; you stamp, cut and then hand sew together. I have 42 flowers, using 30's repro, with 3 rows of hexes (sexes) outside the center, and now adding the half row of green sexes that will connect everything together. I have some pictures of about half of the sexes, in an earlier stage, on my blog. www.LindaBigD.blogspot.com
    Now I will forever be in double entendre land when working and talking about this quilt.