Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Hex, Hexe, Hexie: What's the Link?

Hex, Hexe, Hexie: What's the Link?

My brain always itches to know the whats and hows and whys when I see possible connections--especially in the quilt world. This one didn't fail me either. There is one. I'll get to that in a minute. 

When Mary Huey at Quilting through Rose-colored Trifocals! posted a hexie baby quilt quilt-along, I knew it was for me. Her method for chain piecing is really a time saver, and I have been in a bit of a rut lately. This would get my sewing juices flowing again. I've found it's not all bad to let someone else set the pace once in a while. You can still join in at the link above. I sew slower than Mary so you can run in the back of the pack with me.

A dedicated fan of templates, I pulled out my Small Hexagon Plus, and started cutting. I had a fat quarter bundle of 20 from Bluprint cut in under an hour. I cut extra so figure 200 hexagons in that time. Templates are quick, and they're accurate. 

I sewed her connected pairs on the straight of grain first, and then went on to connecting those. If things look unpressed, they are! Other methods will have you pressing seams open, but Mary advises to wait. I like this method so much better! 

About that Hex, Hexe, Hexie Connection

When people talk about the actual shape or the template, they tend to use the proper term of hexagon. In common talk, and specifically with hand sewing projects the term hexie is more often used. Hexie and hexe sound alike so so I started digging.

Hex is used as both noun and verb. It's attributed to Pennsylvania Dutch who painted symbols on their barns to invoke health, fertility, etc. Generally a circle is drawn with either geometric divisions or common symbols such as flowers, animals, hearts, etc. See images Pennsylvania Dutch hex paintings. I remember these being very popular around my home as I grew up as a Mennonite in Amish country here in Ohio. Both Tuscarawas and Holmes Co. were prolific with them, but I rarely see them anymore. 

Most of what I've read said the Amish never used them so perhaps it was more the Mennonite or Mennonite-related side, which is almost everyone else here. This would be more probable. Wikipedia mentions hex as related to fraktur or Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. The Sonnenberg Mennonites, Kidron, Ohio, were well known for their fraktur so I have started down that avenue. I have several books in my library that I need to dig through next. And finally, Midnight Blue Pagan Study Center has an interesting first hand take on hexencraft that is worth reading. The hexenmeister or hex master was the person who did the paintings originally.

The relationship between these hex signs and quilt blocks is unmistakable, yet we rarely hear that. Applique hearts, tulips, animals, and all the geometric symbols we piece are shared. If the early settlers used these to evoke health, fertility, etc. on their barns, would this also pertain to a textile used to cover a bed? My mind is turning. Is yours? Can you add anything or have any other ideas? 

I piece, and I think.

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.


Linda Swanekamp said...

I love the hexagon look. Not going to paper piece or hand sew them. Will check out the link and see if I can sew them all by machine, not afraid of y seams. Thanks!!

Angie in SoCal said...

Mary has a sure fire method to quickly make a hexie quilt. I've used her method to make a couple of baby quilts with big hexies - visualize 6" sides. Worked great. I like to do the small ones for relaxation. Great post - thanks.

Quilting Babcia said...

Though I'm not a huge fan of hexie quilts, your post is fascinating to me for the historical aspects. I'll be checking out all the links you provided hopefully in the next day or so. Thanks for sharing!

Marly said...

Reading here about the connection between hexagon designs and the Pennsylvania Dutch, it is interesting to note that the Dutch word "heks"(pronounced "hex") means witch.
I don't see a linguistic connection but who knows what went on in the minds of immigrants faced with learning a new language a few hundred years ago.

KaHolly said...

Very interesting, Julie. I have read about how these signs were made for couples entering a marriage before. I’ve never seen hexies by machine. All those y seams could be very challenging!

Sandy Panagos said...

Since the Pennsylvania Dutch used these to evoke positive things, but the word translates "witch" maybe they were meant to be more of an "anti-hex"? Thanks for this. Very interesting!

Kate said...

I guess my mind went in a different direction as in hexes and witches (must be the proximity to Halloween). Looks like a fun quilt along in progress. Enjoy your stitching time.