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The Story of Scrap Happy - The Hexagon Quilt that 'Growed'!

25,000 pieces!

Scrap Happy is my most ambitious quilt yet. I enjoy hand sewing but this is ridiculous...

It all started when I was given a few packets of mail order samples in the shape of
triangles. I later came across the concept of charm quilts, bought a book about them and
tried to machine the triangles together. I found that they were not perfectly cut for that
purpose and they were too small and fiddly anyway. Hence the idea of returning to
handsewing. This was just before Easter 1999.

I disliked sewing triangles by hand because of the acute angles, so it was back to the tried
and tested hexagons. A bit archaic in the fact that patchwork has moved on so much
since hexagons were just about all anybody did, especially here in Britain, but they are such
a satisfying shape to sew together. Since then I am hooked on English Paper Piecing because its a technique that can be taken around with you - car journeys, waiting rooms, hospital bedsides, even meetings will find me quietly stitching away! Friends, neighbours, friends of friends and people from around the world have contributed from their stashes in the manner of swopping for British dollshouse magazines. I have been amazed at the variety of fabrics and it was such fun waiting for squishies, another term I learned!

The general pattern of the quilt consists of a large central elongated hexagon which is a
charm quilt in itself. There are 2782 hexagons in the centre. This was all the quilt was ever intended to be. I didn't plan to make a full size quilt at the outset. I 'finished' the quilt with a couple of rows of blue fabric. I then thought it would be nice to do some more colour rows. I then finished it off again with a row of blue. Then madness took over. I worked out on graph paper how I could surround the central area with smaller areas of a similar shape. These were manageable areas to work with and it was intriguing to see how the quilt grew.

And so it continued. By the time I had nearly finished the front I had more scraps than ever. It seemed silly to buy backing material specially, so I made another quilt with larger hexagons for the back. The materials show up better in many ways and I can bore people with stories of the skirts I made in the 60s, and precious fabrics from the 30s and 40s, plus pieces from my children's dolls clothes in the 80s. Plus of course fabrics from all over the world.

A particular treasured memory for me was putting in the final hexagon on the front quilt on May 10th 2001, my late mother's birthday. The timing of this wasn't planned, just a happy coincidence. The family then celebrated with champagne when it was finally finished ten days later after nearly two and half years of working on it just about every day.

Now find out what happened to some of the leftover scraps!

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