When I first decided to add the Honeycombs to our paper shape selection I personally had never heard of the famous Lucy Boston quilt! But a dear friend hotly insisted that I had to do the Honeycomb shape because they were such fun to work with.
What can I say? – She was right! Thank you, Julie!
Now, six months later, I have made a lovely little table runner (‘Spring Honeys‘) and several other small projects. And whilst ‘playing’ with the Honeycombs I have discovered at least two more patterns you can do with them! (I say ‘discovered’ and not ‘designed’ because I am sure the patterns exist already and have not sprung solely from my own imagination).
But I have not had the opportunity yet to make a ‘proper Lucy Boston’ style quilt until now. Here is a close up of the original quilt showing just a few blocks.
The pattern is so intriguing (and popular!) because each block looks different due to changing placement of light/dark colour values and clever fussy cutting of fabric motifs. I have never fussy cut ANY of the fabric I use – so this is a first for me too (with variable success rate as it turns out, but more about that later).
As in the original I am using 1 inch size Honeycombs (2.54 cm) and the pattern also requires matching 1 inch Squares. These can be found here
The original Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses quilt is enormous in size (88 x 99 inches /224 x 252cm), made up of 56 blocks (7 x 8). We do now stock Linda Franz’ book about the quilt on our website, it is a slim but super book that gives the pattern and good instructions and a lot of the history of the quilt! You can find the book here.
Unfortunately I do not have the time to make it that size (the tutorial would never be finished this side of 2020). Therefore I have decided to make mine just 3 x 3 blocks. That also means that I can probably get away with using a fat quarter bundle for the Honeycombs and about 1 m of cream fabric (which I happened to fall in love with at Malvern). Don’t go hunting for the same fabrics (Winters Lane/Mods), it was a range from 2013 that is pretty much sold out everywhere which also meant that I had trouble finding enough fabric for a matching border.
For each quilt block shown in this tutorial you will need:
16 Honeycombs covered in patterned fabrics (2-3 different fabrics per block). This block is then surrounded by a further 20 Honeycombs covered in the ‘background’ colour. Here I am using cream fabric (as in the original Lucy Boston quilt).
NOTE: A keen observer might now point out that MY quilt blocks are actually SMALLER than the originals, and that would be a correct observation! The original Lucy Boston quilt blocks are made from 24 Honeycombs, which are then surrounded by a further 24 Honeycombs in the background colour. I decided that the block would be too big for the quilt I was planning to make and therefore omitted some pieces. Here are some pictures to show you the difference between the two block sizes.
They each look nice and have their merits. It is perfectly OK to change a pattern aspect in order to make the pattern work for you, but some quilters may disagree! (Well, I have no time for the ‘quilt police’)
Cutting the fabric:
For most if the paper piecing projects that I do I usually cut my fabrics into strips (using a ruler and rotary cutter, or simply scissors) as I find this a very convenient way to cut my fabric for the pieces. You can figure out the strip width by measuring the width of the paper piece and adding (at least) 0.5 inches for the seam allowance (one quarter inch on each side).
I then simply place the paper piece onto the fabric strip and cut off the amount needed with scissors. This method works well or most types of shapes (including Hexagons).
That means that for the Honeycombs you COULD rotary cut a 2 inch strip of fabric. However,then the direction of the weave would run down the center of the shape, which is not ideal (workable, but not ideal). It is better to cut a 2.5 inch strip and stand the shape ‘on its side’ as shown in the photos. So in principle you are cutting squares off the fabric strips (and the grain is aligned with one of the sides of the 90 degree tip of the shape -sounds more complicated than it is). Then the excess fabric at the corners is trimmed back and you can get on with covering the papers with the fabric as normal (for a paper piecing picture tutorial see the ‘How to’ category on the main menu bar).
The block assembly for the Patchwork of the Crosses is quite simple.
Starting in the center you stitch together 4 Honeycombs into a cross (hence the name of the block), then you add another 4 Honeycombs (covered in a different fabric), nestling them into the axles of the cross.
In the next stage you stitch 4 ‘pairs’ of 2 Honeycombs each together first. Then these ‘Doubles’ then get stitched to the long sides of the block (so that they sit on top of the tips of the inner cross).
Now, this is were MY block deviates from the Lucy Boston original Patchwork of the Crosses block! In the original you would now add another set of 4 Honeycomb doublets into the gaps between the previously added doublets (in the pictures here that would be between the red doublets). These are the pieces that I have decided to omit in my Patchwork of the crosses block.
In MY version of the block the ‘inner’ part of the block is now finished, and I can start to surround the inner part with Honeycombs covered in t he cream fabric. This again done by stitching them into 4 sets of doublets first and then adding them to the inner part (see photos below).
After the first set of cream Honeycombs you then add another 4 sets of Honeycombs, but only this time around you stitch 3 together (side to side) to make ‘triplets’. When the 4 sets of cream triplets are added the block is finished! Ta-Dah!
(apologies, I should have turned the block before photographing it)
Well, now you can have to go at playing with the fabric placement within the block!
The idea is to make each block ‘look different’. This can be achieved by moving the colour values (light and dark fabric) around, as you can see in the other example blocks shown in the photos below.
You can add even more interest , or another dimension, to the block by cleverly fussy cutting some of your Honeycomb pieces. You could pick out a particular motif – like I have done with the little birds on my fabric – and see what happens when you rearrange them in the block pattern. I had some very happy ‘accidents’ happen to me when I did that :-). But fussy cutting is not for the fainthearted! You will end but with a pretty ‘ravaged’ piece of material when you are done! Some quilters are quite ‘allergic’ to that because you may end up with unusable bits which are only good for the scrap bag.
Also I found that trying to do the fussy cutting WITHOUT a cutting template (see-through acrylic, for accurate cutting) was not very easy! Some of my motifs therefore do not line up properly.
But I do not really mind, it is all hand-work after all! Why shouldn’t it show?
Here are some more pictures of the other block I have stitched for my quilt. I hope you like them
In part Two of the tutorial I will show you how the blocks go together with the little squares. Hopefully it should not be too long before that turorial goes online.