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Wednesday
Jun052013

Little Hexagons Tutorial

I heard all your lovely requests for a "little hexagons" tutorial last week (watch strap tutorial to follow soon!) so here it is.  I hope you find it helpful.

I want to start by saying the technique for English paper-piecing (EPP) small hexagons is no different than for larger ones.  In fact, EPP is the same regardless of template size or shape.

And there are a few EPP basting variations out there, but I wrote this tutorial to show you how I do it ... with glue.

Step 1 - Cut out a paper template (or buy precut templates) the size you want your hexagon to be when it's finished.  Regular computer printer paper works just fine.  The precut templates are a lightweight card stock - a little stiffer than regular paper, but still very easy to pierce with a needle. 

Then cut out a piece of fabric that is 1/4" larger than the paper template on all sides.  Accuracy is not critical for cutting the fabric.  You should have at least 1/4" seam allowance, but if it's more don't worry.  Unless I'm fussy cutting a hexagon, I usually stack up to 6 scraps of fabric, lay a template hexagon on top and cut my 1/4" allowance - based on the template - with a rotary cutter.  You can just as easily use scissors.  Some people like to make a fabric cutting template. 

My paper hexagon templates here are 1/2" which refers to the length of one side of the hexagon. 

Step 2 - Lay the paper template centered on the wrong side of the fabric hexagon.

Step 3 - Using a fabric glue pen (I use Fons & Porter) add a small dot of glue to each side of the paper template.  It goes on blue but dries clear. 

If you're working with larger hexagons (or any other EPP shape) you may want to use a few dots of glue per side.

Step 4 - Fold two opposite sides of the fabric hexagon onto the paper template (at the same time) and press the seam allowances into the glue to make them stick.

Repeat for the remaining sides.

Step 5 - Make a bunch.  (To make a flower you need one center and 6 petals.)

Step 6 - Take a center hexagon and a petal hexagon and hold them right sides together, lining up to edges.

Step 7 - Thread a needle (I use Sharps) with a color that will blend (if using contrasting colors, match the darker fabric) and knot the end.

Starting at one corner, sew the two edges together with a whip stitch.  Do not catch the paper template with your needle - just grab a little bit of fabric that is on the fold.

The tinier your stitches are, the better.  (Here's an example with a high contrast thread so you can see.)

Step 8 - When one edge is complete, fold the hexagons open and lay a second hexagon onto the center - right sides together.

Sew the next edge of the center to one edge of the second hexagon together with a whip stitch.

Step 9 - Repeat until all 6 petal hexagons are attached to the center hexagon.

Step 10 - On the back side, gently pull the glued seam allowance of the center hexagon away from the paper template.  (Remember, you only need a little glue.  The more glue you use, the harder it is to separate the fabric from the paper.)

Remove the paper template.  Most (if not all?) of the glue seems to stay stuck to the paper, not the fabric.

Some of my quilting friends do not like glue basting.  They would rather spend a little more time thread-basting because it's cleaner to pull out than to peel glued fabric off of paper.  And sometimes the seam allowance will fray a bit - which is not a problem because the fabric is already sewn in.  But for me, I really like the speed of glue basting.  It's a personal choice.

Step 10 - Fold the center hexagon to stitch the petals together.

That's it. 

You can join together as many hexagons as you like.  Remove a template when all sides of the shape have been whip-stitched to another piece.

Get creative and make beautiful designs with fabric placement.

It's not at all complicated.  It just takes time.  You will find that one little flower goes together very quickly and you can have a bunch made in an afternoon. 

EPP is the perfect hand sewing activity to do when you don't want to think or do anything that requires much concentration, but you just want to keep your hands busy.  It's portable too.  Just prep a bunch of hexies, toss them in a container with a needle, thread & scissors and you're good to go!

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Reader Comments (42)

Thank you for the great tutorial! Your hexies are just beautiful.
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTammy Roberts
Thanks so much for the hexies tutorial. I've always wondered how to do that.
BTW, what are those two adorable tiny floral fabrics you are using?
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMel Hop
HELLO! THANKS FOR ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL POST ♥
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLINDA
Beautiful! The smallness of your hexies make it look delicate and your fabric choice is perfect. Thanks for the sharing the process. It doesn't look as scary now!
Thank you very much for the tutorial - perfectly clear, as always. I've never tried glue, but it looks much quicker than basting. I'll try it next time!
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaula K
I've never used glue either. I will give it a try sometime. I'm making a hexagon quilt with 3/4 in. hexagons. (I'll be posting about it soon.) It is a great thing to do while we watch TV in the evening.

Love the fabrics you chose. Those tiny ones are so cute!
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCindy
Thank you so much! This is very helpful. I just tried my first hexie ever yesterday and wasn't sure what I was doing. I like the glue idea so will try that today.
Your work is beautiful!
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDawn
Thank you. I may get brave enough to try this now. Your work is just beautiful!
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Thanks Kristyne! The size makes it seem intimidating, but your tutorial takes the edge off. I will have to try this soon.
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
Thank you! Although I've made some hexies a while ago I never used glue. Honestly I'm not a great EEP fan but after your tutorial ... perhaps I should give it a try?
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHildy
Your work is so perfect. I love it.
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternanette
Thank you for a fab tutorial! I love your work, always beautiful!
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEwa
Thank you for the tutorial. I had no idea how easy these were. I'm adding the templates and glue stick to my shopping list.

Thank you for your generosity in sharing this lesson. You are a blessing.
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteredith
Thanks SO MUCH for the tutorial and giving all points of view on controversial hexie propagation! lol I am newer to quilting but love your end result so I think my first hexies may require me to buy that Fons & Porter glue I have been eying :) Yours are fabulous :D Kathi
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathi
You are a mind reader! I was just thinking I wanted to learn this beautiful skill. I'm a bit too lazy to cut out my own hexies though, so I'll have to try and find them somewhere local, so I don't have to wait for them to come in the post :)
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterXanthe Grundy
Thanks so much for the tutorial, it really helped me. I think I am ready to try it.
I love your blog. Keep up the good work!
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMary
Thank you very much, and "ditto" Nanette. Going online to find a cute, inexpensive watch face for your next tutorial.
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPolly Hada
I have done this,and I must say yours looks much better than mine did, that whip stitch,I think I took too big a bite of fabric, I am trying this again! Your tutorials are just so great! You have a realift for making things clear. Love that fabric, I think the small print works so well with the samll hexies!
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie Nyquist
I was just thinking about hexies! You've demystified these gems for me cos they really looked complex. Blond and complex are like oil and water. Just sayin'...!
Love the 'new' watchstrap, too. What a fantastic accessory!
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeather (mtl)
Thank you SO VERY MUCH! You rock as always! I owe you! xoxo B
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBari Jo
love this!
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana
Simply wonderful! I'm going to attempt a honey bee bag paper pieced together. Am I crazy? Maybe, but crafty crazy is good. Thanks, Kristyne!
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlori hunstad
This was very helpful. Thank you! I will keep my eye out for the basting glue.
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnita
I LOVE YOUR METHOD AND MAY DO MY HEXAGONS THAT WAY EXCEPT I MIGHT USE REGULAR GLUE STICK SINCE i DON'T HAVE A FABRIC GLUE STICK.
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZig
Thank you for your detailed tutorial! I have made hexies in the past, but my process seems complicated now that I have seen your steps. I will definitely follow your instructions and will also work harder for the crisp tidiness that your sample shows.

I would also like to know about the tiny print fabric that you used.

If you keep working on the sample that you showed us before teaching the class last weekend, I do hope you will post a picture of the finished project.
June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl
Thank you so much for this tute! I've just fallen in love with hexes and I'm ready to try making some. It's will be so helpful!

I would love to know what fabrics you are using. It is gorgeous!

Hugs,
Gina
June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGina snyder
your hexies are always so pretty! I love the idea of using glue too! what a great way to speed things up - definitely going to invest in some ;) thanks for the tip xo
June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessie @ MessyJesse
Thank you for the tutorial. I love your fabric selections on your projects!
June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMNakata45
I have a question about ironing hexies: How do you iron them flat afterwards? Are your edges facing in and, if so, does that create a small hollow centre? I'm just curious.
Gosh, but this new set of hexies you have is gorgeous!
June 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeather (mtl)
Hi:
Great post, I have been enjoying EPP for a while now, and I am one that baste with thread. I would love to try the glue idea, do you know of any other glues that would work? I really don't like the brand you mentioned, I know its all a personal preference. LOL

Thanks,
Vicki
June 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVicki
Ok, so I've done hexies before, but your idea with the glue stick: brilliant!!! I know it'll be sooo much faster than sewing the edges down on the back: THANK YOU!!!! I'll be using that from here on out!!
June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHelen LeBrett
Interesting...I never thought of glue for basting hexies. I'm knee deep in hexies and find them totally addictive and wonderfully portable. I sew most of mine while watching TV or on long drives.
June 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeanne
The glue is awesome. I so want to try making hexagones, but lets face it, they are scary little things.
July 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex
Lovely post"little hexagons". I really enjoy your tutorial. You are really creative. Today You have impressed me and I have become fan of your. Looking forward to see your newer tutorial.
December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSEO Forum Posting
What do you do with your completed flowers?
March 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRuth
Very clear picture and instructions. I had completed one king size which took me two years without realising it. Now thinking of making another one.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGina Chua
Your work is beautiful! but what a waste of time. Try Inklingo and watch your hexes and flowers form with just a running stitch.
http://inklingo.com/section/inklingo-quick-start/63/msg/Welcome+to+Inklingo%21/a5771bce93e200c36f7cd9dfd0e5deaa
May 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJudy Morin
I adore your hexies! I found a blush pin dot cotton, ordered it and it has arrived. But, I cannot find a tiny floral print fabric like yours. I have searched and searched online. Can you share the name of the fabrics you used in this tutorial? Thanks so much!
July 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPJ in Texas
What a charming colour combo & design! I'm really, really inspired to do this. Thanks you for sharing such a wonderful tutorial. :D
October 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterZurainny Ismail
Thank you so much for this well constructed tutorial. I was watching one of our senior adults at church as she was doing her hexagon quilt pieces before service. I am crafty so I went to Joan Fabric and Hobby Lobby and purchased some material. I am going to use tiny polka dots for the center ( I have Pink, Lavender, and Green). I also not knowingly did buy the smaller print of flowers (All thanks to God for the suggestion). The senior I was watching did not use the glue but used a basting pattern and she used a square cut pattern. I like both styles. It goes to show you can create your own style. Thank you so much for sharing your creative talent with others.
November 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Ward
Thank you for this tutorial. I have never used the fabric glue pen before so will see if this is available here in Australia. The fabrics you have used for these hexies is divine, love it.
February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJeanette
Thank you for this wonderful tutorial. The best one I have read so far . I only want to make one quilt to pass on and the hand made element of hexies appeals to me considering the fabric set I am intending to use. Thank you again for taking the time in creating this amazing blog. Susi Adelaide South Australia
June 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSusi Messenger

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