Turtle Row by Row: Our Boys on the Go, Part 1

I finally decided to bite the bullet and finish the turtle Row that I started last summer.  It is from the Crazy Quilter in Lind, Washington; this is the link to her retreat website.  It is only $10 for the kit and came in a green/brown colorway and a green/blue one.  I loved them both but decided on the green/brown.

The row is based on her pet turtles named Tank and Tater.  They live in the garden at the side of the shop and you can go in to feed and pet them.  Some of my children actually want to go with me to the quilt store so they can spend time and feed the turtles and I can shop, WIN-WIN!

When I pulled out the pattern and supplies I had stopped at this point.  (I did have to pick up another pattern since I had traded mine away when I decided to make a flamingo Row by Row quilt.) There are MANY hexagons and variations of hexagons in this pattern.  It was intimidating then but I was up for the challenge now!  See those pucker and bulges in the larger, finished turtle shell?

OK – these are all tortoises and I keep calling them turtles – my bad.Turtle Row by Row - starting pointI had my Hubs cut plastic templates for me of the 3 sizes of hexies.  That was helpful.  All of PJ’s patterns (the owner of the shop and designer of the pattern) are VERY through and VERY thick!  I had the hexagons already cut along with the heads and legs of the turtles.

I started by marking with my quilting marker (the blue dots) on the corners of each of the hexies.  I then laid out the fabric in the order that I wanted for the small shell.  I started sewing one to another, then adding one more seam at a time.

If you have never attached hexagons it can be complex, this became a “How To of Hexies.”  Start sewing on the dot, or 1/4″ from the edge, then stop sewing that same distance from the end.  PJ suggests being a stitch or two short is better than over.  She also suggests back stitching  by one or two stitches.  There is lots of tension on that last stitch.

Once you have a few assembled then it becomes even more tricky.  It is almost a 3-dimensional task to sew this short line without going over the next and only sewing 2 layers together instead of 3, 4 or 12!

Also, since there are partial hexies on the bottom and tops to make this turtle shell there are odd and short seams all over.  Here I start sewing 1/4″ from the edge.Turtle Row by Row - shell assembly 2

Ironing can also be a 3-D process, setting the seam then ironing it open.  Checking your work to make sure all lays flat.  I really wanted this shell to be perfect.  I do not end up using the blue dots but it is working out and looking good.  They are a good, constant reminder to not sew to the edge.

I just kept working one seam at a time and adding a single hexagon.  Sometimes there are 3 seams per hexy and often more.

Almost the correct size, still a few more to add.

Bit by bit and just being patient – that was the goal.  I only had one more hexy to add and then finally covered the small shell with hexagons!

The final step was cutting the edges off.  It was really beautiful and I LOVED these batiks!  I just hope I have enough left over to make a small something else.Turtle Row by Row - shell assembly 13

Then I needed to turn all the edges under.  I started with only using the iron.Turtle Row by Row - shell folding 1But, quickly progressed to using a fabric glue – it was much better.  All those little clipped edges and pesky seams that wanted to flip-up… I glued them into submission!Turtle Row by Row - shell folding 3They both finally turned out like this, pretty great!  Glad I waited and made myself be patient with the small shell.

I may really have to play with hexies more after these shells.  Next, part 2, will be all the interesting ways to modify and redesign hexagons.



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