On Saturday hubby and I drove west to Charters Towers.
It's a beautiful small country town about 160 klm away and it's where we called home from 2009-2011, living in a lovely old cottage that captured my heart.
We go back to visit every couple of months and as the giant water tank on top of Towers Hill comes into view about 10 klm out of town my heart always skips a beat because it feels like coming home and I tend to become a wee bit emotional about that.
First stop is always, without exception, the local newsagent. They stock all my favourite English country magazines and many craft magazines from overseas that I cannot find in the big city. The week following our Charters Towers visit has me enjoying many long afternoon teas and I'm sure you understand why.
We don't visit people while we're there, we come to visit the town itself. Quite simply the atmosphere, the peace of country life, the simplicity and 'slowing' that cloaks the town draws us in as we wander up and down Gill Street (for in all tiny towns there is but one main street, yes?) and scan the Houses For Sale ads displayed across the various estate agent windows. We dream, hope, pray. After all, you never know, a teaching position may open up there again one day for my darling man and we could set down deep roots at last in a town we love.
I slip into my favourite charity shops to see what treasures can be found and inevitably come out with at least a few vintage buttons and a book or two. There's also a gorgeous gift shop with so many pretty things under one roof that a number of birthday gifts are usually purchased in advance for shabby chic loving friends or family.
Coffee and cake (or a hearty breakfast if we've come early in the morning) is enjoyed at Henry's Restaurant next to the cinema before a final stroll back to the car, and then it's a slow drive around the streets, looking at the beautiful old homes, enjoying expansive views from the hill and ending with a drive past one particular home we've had our eye on since 2009 - always hopeful a 'for sale' sign will one day appear out front when the time is right.
We don't talk much during the 90 minute trip back home, each of us in our own thoughts...but that evening we share our dreams about life, the future, and perhaps that town.
Have you lived somewhere that stole your heart and never gave it back?
During the three hour round trip to Charters Towers I sewed one inch hexies on my lap as Mr E drove.
When we go away on long road trips I take embroidery, and next weekend we're off on one of those much longer trips which is why this shorter drive was a good test to see if sewing hexies would be more relaxing during the journey, and it is.
In fact I enjoyed making them so much that I continued sewing hexies that night while we watched an old movie. Fortunately I'd prepared a lot of hexie fabrics whilst sorting through my scraps basket so I just kept going until I ran out.
The next morning I prepared more and before we go away I shall add to them, just in case.
A few ladies have asked me to show how I make a hexie.
Many blogs and designers have done tutorials on this so I won't go overboard with it, but here's a simple run through what I do.
You need hexagon shaped paper templates and these can be purchased in packs from your local quilt shop, online, printed from the internet to cut out yourself, or even as occasional freebies with craft magazines.
As we live fairly remote in the big scheme of things around Australia, unsold magazines are not sent back to publishing houses from here for cost reasons, so the newsagents resell them after their month of issue has expired for just a dollar or two. This is how I purchase most of my craft magazines, and most of the time there's free fabric, plastic templates, kits or paper templates attached. One of those $2 magazines had 250 one inch hexies included when I bought it last week, just in time for my trip!
I have a plastic template for tracing the hexagon shape needed to make a 1" paper hexie (also from a $2 magazine) but I feel confident now to cut four at a time with scissors alone.
I cut four squares of fabric large enough to give me a border around the paper shape and holding the paper and fabric together with one hand I use my super dooper Klasse shears to cut through the fabrics.
The border is close to a 1/4" all around, but sometimes a little less when using smaller fabric scraps.
If you're not confident doing it my way use a proper hexie template sized to suit the hexie you want to make, or trace the hexie onto the wrong side of your fabric and draw a line 1/4" outside it for your cutting line.
Cut along the line with scissors or a rotary cutter.
There's two ways to fold the fabric around the paper hexie - hand stitching or glue.
I hand baste because for me this is sooooo very relaxing.
Folding one edge at a time around the paper you sew large basting stitches (running stitches) through the fabric and paper until you have done all six sides.
No need to knot the thread, it will be removed later when you take out the papers.
(papers can be re-used)
This is quick and easy, perfect for doing on your lap in the car or anywhere you're out and about.
To use the glue method a glue pen is best. You only need enough to secure the fabric to the paper because you'll need to lift up the edges later and remove the papers.
Press the fabric borders over onto the hexie paper with your fingers, one at a time.
I'm a hand baster because it's very calming and I don't much like peeling glued fabric borders away from the paper later, but I have friends who love glue basting so do what makes you happy.
My camera was whisked away to the camera shop this morning to be cleaned so I don't have photos of sewing the hexies together, but it's not hard. Press the hexies flat with a warm dry iron as this will give you a nice crisp edge, then hold two hexies right side together (still basted, still with paper inside) and sew along one side with a blind stitch.
Sew as many together as you need and when you're done remove the basting stitches and the papers.
I think these will become the first of many hexie flowers...
Here's one of my old designs (The Summer House) which has embroidered and fabric hexies as a feature...
The embroidery is traced onto the hexie fabric shape first, then after the hexie is made it is sewn onto the design and embroidered.
I've done the same thing with hexies in a new pattern for April (see it here)...
Hopefully this has helped those of you who haven't yet ventured into paper piecing, but remember, I'm no expert, just a girl who likes to make them as simply and calmly as possible with minimum effort for maximum effect.
A few years ago I shared a free pattern and tutorial, The Hexie Flower Show". Perhaps you may like to practice with it?
You'll find the tutorial here
I wonder whether you prefer stitch basting or glue basting?
Bless you heaps!