Rich, scrappy EPP hexagon quilts are my favourite! But in the past, when I've tried to pull off this vibe, it's either been too rich, or too soft. With this version of Haypenny, I feel like I'm slowly understanding what fabrics I need to use, and how to put them together in a way I'm really happy with.
A Time and a Place for True Scrappy
My favourite guiding principle for scrap quilting over the years has always been to use up what I have.
- Got fabric from a fat quarter bundle that you wouldn't have bought otherwise? Use it.
- Got fabric that looked good online, but now you can't remember why you liked it? Use it.
- Got big beautiful florals that are't very useful after all? Use them, too.
It's kind of a high risk strategy, but it was one that gave me great joy when I pulled it off because I loved the idea that even ugly fabrics can be used to support beautiful ones. And, all together, the finished quilt is wonderful.
But, the more I've designed English paper pieced quilts, the more I've started to revisit my strategy and give it a bit more nuance. I've come to believe that my ‘throw everything at it’ strategy works very well on certain kinds of quilts that have an overall scrappy vibe, particulary, where every piece in the block is different. In that case, fabrics you don't love work very well.
But, for quilts that have big sections of a single print, like this Haypenny Quilt, fabrics you don't love are going to stand out, rather than blend in. So, I've been working to be a bit more selective, not only with the fabrics I buy, but the fabrics I use in small pieces that go together to make a big part of the block, like the rounds of hexagons here.
Basics Are the Building Blocks
Over the last year or so, I've been deliberately building my fabric collection, particularly with basics: fabrics that read as one colour, but have a small pattern on them.
They're just perfect for small shapes like 1" hexagons, that, when sewn together, make a flower or a border. I've discovered that I like these blocks best when I can't see the lines between the hexagons, which are made obvious by interrupted patterns, like cut off flowers or bodies of animals.
I've tried to collect as wide a variety as possible, rather than just dots or tiny florals. I've got leaves, splotches, crosses, tiny squares, and more, which make the blocks interesting and beautiful.
I used the same basics again as the background squares, keeping an eye out for contrast in colour, value, and scale of the print, so that the backgrounds became part of each block, instead of using a single background colour for the whole quilt.
Clear and Clean Is Just As Important As Rich and Vibrant
For this quilt, I made sure I included browns and navies and reds with my favourite aquas, pinks and yellows. But! I also made sure I included low volume fabrics (white patterned prints), too. I keep my low volume fabrics seperate in my stash, and usually only remember to bring them out when I want white backgrounds or an all white scrappy quilt.
In the past, I have only remembered to include browns and greys, in an effort to make my favourite fabrics stand out, but those quilts have ended up too muddy or flat. So, for this quilt, I tried to remember to keep a wide range of value and contrast because you need both in a rich, warm quilt. Putting some whites in the mix really makes this quilt shine.
My favourite inspiration for scrappy quilts has often been scrappy, crochet, granny square rugs, and I love how the colours and prints of this version of Haypenny has the same warm, rich, textured vibe.
Ready to make your own EPP hexagon quilt?
Haypenny is one of a trio of EPP hexagon quilts in the Small Change Quilts Pattern, all featuring traditional hexagon blocks that are then appliqued onto background squares and machine sewn. Grab your copy now!