Saturday, May 7, 2016

Morris Hexathon 1: Westminster

Hexathon #1: Westminster Star
by Becky Brown
Morris Earthly Paradise prints.

Our first hexie is a six-pointed star inspired by the tilework floor at Westminster Abbey, a London Landmark for a thousand years.

Mosaic floor at the High Altar in Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey. The building dates to 1245.

The preservation of the Abbey was a particular interest of William Morris and others in the 19th-century Arts and Crafts movement. The Abbey had been rebuilt, restored, remodeled and updated by "architects of ignorance," a favorite phrase of Morris's. The thorny question: To what period shall we restore a monument?

Morris founded the Society for Preservation of Ancient Buildings in 1877 to advocate for his philosophy. The SPAB's goals were preservation and return to original structures rather than change for current taste or current function. In Morris's time the 13th-century cosmati (Italian mosaic) floors were covered over. Carpeting the mosaic was a major mistake, a modernization that needed to be undone. Over a century later those floors have recently been revealed, preserved and restored (we'd hope to Morris's satisfaction.)

The pattern is two pieces, a 60-degree diamond
and the same diamond cut in half end to end into a triangle.

Pattern for an 8" Hexagon
(4" sides)

To Print
  • Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11". 
  • Click on the image above. 
  • Right click on it and save it to your file. 
  • Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". The hexagon's sides should measure 4".
  • Adjust the printed page size if necessary.
Certainly quiltmakers were making six-pointed stars in hexagonal designs before the patterns were published. There are many ways to fit a star into a hexagon and this particular version, which requires two templates, doesn't seem to have been published with a name.

Mid-19th-century quilt from the collection of
the Victoria and Albert Museum

The closest published pattern I was able to find in BlockBase is #3700, which places the star rather vaguely inside a square.

Early-20th-century names:

  • Morning Star from the Joseph Doyle Company
  • Novel Star from the Ladies Art Company
From the Ladies Art Company's pattern catalog.
We'll return to the star format throughout our 26 hexie run.

Westminster Star
by Bettina Havig

British silk frame quilt, sold at Christie's.

It's certainly easy to imagine the link between hexagon patchwork and mosaics. Inspiration may have been as close as the nearest church floor.

Cleaning the Cosmati floors at Westminster Abbey. 

Links to more about Westminster Abbey's pavements.


Star of Constantine by Bertha Stenge, 1936. 
Collection of the Illinois State Museum

Star of Constantine won first place in Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition in 1936. Stenge's inspiration was a Byzantine plate.


  1. So excited the day has finally arrived! Thanks for the history. And Becky's hexagon is stunning...the fussy cutting created a wonderful set of rings.

  2. As a quilt historian, I have a question for you. Have your seen the 1857 Album Quilt owned by Gay Bomers at Sentimental Stitches? It is machine quilted!?! In 1857!?! Is this possible? Was it a flimsy that someone machine quilted later? the stitching is chain stitch which reminds me of my toy Singer sewing machine. Please tell me what you think?n It is a lovely quilt.
    pam @ pamspaintbox.blogspot.com

  3. Couldn't agree more with Denniele! I too am looking forward to this project. Is Dustin going to have a Flickr page on this? Thanks so much Barbara and Becky!

  4. Thank you for this project, Barbara! I had trouble printing it to size (4" sides) although I followed your instructions. Then I changed the paper to size A4 and it was just right. Off to pick fabrics.

  5. Looking forward to starting this project.

  6. Mine also printed at 6" instead of 8". I will try to adjust the paper size to A4. Thank you.

  7. Glad day 1 is finally here! Been looking forward to this. :) The block is lovely and so is the history lesson. Thank you! I'm actually hoping to make a large quilt out of these - I'll end up making a total of 73 of your blocks, along with 96 plain whole & 46 plain half hexies. I too had problems printing it out... I finally went to EQ and recreated it to print out. I do not have the option to print A4. Have you considered just uploading a PDF instead of a JPG? There's free program that do it for you. I use them for my patterns that way those who print them out don't have any problems with sizing.

  8. I printed from my file at 109% and got 4" sides. If this had not worked, I would have hand drafted with a 4" side and 60 degree angles. Sometimes easier for me to do "my hand" than by computer!!! Happy to get started. Will use my Rose and Hubble W. M. prints.

  9. The reason I don't use PDF's is that you have to hang them in someone's cloud and then they change the cloud's address. Plus people still have troubles sizing PDF's. I wish there were a fool proof way to coordinate printer and documents!

    1. Ahh. I didn't realize or think about the differences since your based on blogspot.

  10. I resized and printed OK, but I forsee lots of hand piecing in my future :)

  11. Thank you for all the information. I have drafted my own hexagon as I had problems printing off. Fabrics are cut and I am looking forward to putting them together.

  12. Thank you so much for this information. I love making hexagons, so I'm thinking of join your group. I have printed out the pattern, not a problem. Next step is the fabric.

  13. OK - here is a dumb question and forgive if I have just not read the instructions carefully.
    Will all of the blocks be using the same size hexagon? Exactly how big is this "hexagon" that was provided on the previous post?

    Is it the "template" to make the 6 pointed star? Sorry but for some reason this is not computing when it says that it will make an 8" block.

  14. I love all the history and research in this .... although I don't think I can sew along with you I will enjoy reading about it all...

  15. Thanks a lot fot this new project, Barbara. I love Hexies and History !
    Mine is done : http://sbgcreations.canalblog.com/archives/2016/05/14/33811811.html
    Can't wait for the next bloc ! ;-)

  16. I'm hesitant to start this wonderful project as I've never hand pieced. Will these be do-able as machine pieced or should I just bit the bullet and pull out my thimble and sharpen my needles?
    Thank you Barbara for all you do to advance the history of quiltmaking.

  17. Are there instructions on how to do it? I'm starting really late to the party. I can't find measurements or steps on how to do it... guidelines, etc?