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Tips on Eye Spy (I Spy) Assembly

By Addy Harkavy, Pinetree Quiltworks.

During the past few weeks, we've been hearing that some quilters are having difficulty getting the rows to assemble accurately when they make I Spy (Eye Spy) quilts. The tip applies to any hex-within-star layout (Eye Spy and traditional quilts, including baby blocks in stars). Before we give the tip, however, we'll quickly review the pattern and the process.

A finished Eye Spy quilt shows hexagons, each within a "star". When layout is applied to baby blocks, each baby block appears to float within a star and is particularly effective when the triangles (star points) are black. The basic assembly process is to sew a triangle to opposite sides of the hexagons, then to sew the hexagons/star assemblies together to make a row. To assemble the quilt top, the hexagon/triangle rows are sewn together. This is the point at which quilters may find that the triangles don't connect accurately to the hexagons to create the six-pointed star effect.

So here's the tip: Lay out two rows, right sides together. There's a "v" (albeit wide) on the right side of the quilt where the star points should touch one another at the edges. Before sewing, be sure the two rows are lined up accurately and feel for the spot where the Vs line up about " (a quarter inch) in from the raw edge. Place a pin at this spot, and go on to the next intersection. You can precheck this alignment by putting the pins parallel to the raw edge and opening the pinned "seam". If the points line up accurately, you can then leave those pins in place, pin perpendicular to the raw edge, and remove your first set of pins before sewing.

Accurate cutting and sewing are critical to making a hexagon-in-star designs. I've tested the Marti Michell large and small hexagon sets, and heartily recommend them for Eye Spy and other hexagon-based designs because the nubbed corners make it almost foolproof to line up edges of patches for accurate sewing. These versatile sets provide hexagons, triangles, and half hexagons in a variety of sizes and are a good value.

The I Spy template sets are dedicated to I Spy quilts and provide the hex and triangle and permit accurate rotary cutting, too, although the edges of templates do not allow for cutting nubbed corners for optimally accurate patch placement.

Each template set makes a different size hex-and-triangle unit.

Addy Harkavy 2003. Reprinted with permission by Addy Harkavy.

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