English paper pieced hexagons

This is how I learned English paper piecing many years ago when I lived in NY.  This type of handwork is quite addictive and very relaxing, at least to me!  It takes time and I believe in the “slow movement” not sure why we are all in such a rush.

“There is more to life than increasing its speed” Gandhi

On that note, here’s my first tutorial.  Give the kids some Playdough to keep them busy (my three sons used to play with it for hours!) and put your feet up and see how I make paper pieced hexagons.

Japanese fabric hexagons

Supplies you’ll need: template plastic, x-acto knife, freezer paper, good quality cotton fabric (this project is great for scraps), needles (i like straw needles), thread wax, good 100% cotton thread, crappy thread (for basting), small scissors, pencil, iron.

Begin by tracing your hexagon template (there are lots of different size ones on the web) onto template plastic and cut out with x-acto knife.  Trace around plastic template onto the rough side of freezer paper, do this for as many hexagons as you want for your project.  I cut out a ton and have them on hand for when the mood strikes me.

in the middle of the supplies you can see my plastic template and pile of freezer paper hexagons

Next iron the smooth side of the freezer paper hexagon to the wrong side of your fabric.  Be sure to leave enough room around each hexagons for a 1/4″ seam allowance.

ironing down hexagons

Cut out your fabric hexagons being sure to include a 1/4″ seam allowance on all sides.

cut out hexagon with 1/4″ seam allowance

Thread your needle with your crappy thread that you have run over your thread wax (cuts down on knots.) Knot one end.  Fold over your seam allowance and using big basting stitches sew seam allowance over (wrong sides together) on all edges of hexagon.  Make sure your knots are on the right side of the hexagon (for easy removal of basting thread when you are done).

two sides folded over and sewn with basting stitches

all sides basted over, wrong side view

basted hexagon, right side view

To join your little hexagons line up two edges, right sides together and whip stitch this time using your good cotton thread that you have run over the thread wax.  Keep doing this with your hexagons always with right sides together into any pattern you like.  Check out my quilts Pinterest board for some ideas.

hard to see, I like very tiny whip stitches!

back of completed block

hexagons sewn together to form two very different looking blocks

When you have sewn all of your blocks and then sewn them together simply pull out your basting stitches and pull off your freezer paper.  If the freezer paper is giving you any trouble just use tweezers to pull off.  Then you’re ready to make your quilt sandwich!  Which is of course batting and backing.  Have fun!

Cheers!
Jayne


Comments

  1. I remember doing this as a child. I made loads of hexagon ‘flowers’ but never got round to making them all into a quilt. Now onto experimenting with quilt blocks, made on the machine but I am still being lured by the hand sewing technique of these and ‘tumbling blocks’. I think I am kidding myself I actually have time on my hands though!! Thank you for sharing this lovely inspiration :-)

    • You’re welcome for the inspiration! I look at handwork as a very comfortable meditative process and don’t stress myself about getting it done, it’s always there when I want to sit down with some tea and an old movie. Get some fabric or your old blocks out ( the fabric must be so cool!) and do some hand piecing and make a mini quilt or doll quilt. Have fun!

      • I have just heeded your advice whilst sewing a linen toy chicken(!) for a friend this evening. There was lots of fiddly hand sewing and I didn’t stress! Just went with the ‘slow’! Unfortunately I have no idea what happened to my hexagons… it was a very very long time ago indeed! ;-)

  2. I am definitely going to try making these… it’s a good project to do in the evenings while watching TV… just make a big bunch and then stitch them together into a beautiful quilt… perhaps for a Christmas gift?! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I agree with adaisygarden, that’s my favorite type of project to do and before you know it, you’re done!! Great Post!

  4. Looks fab – and nice tutorial!

  5. How lovely! I’ve never had the patience to do such artwork myself, but I really enjoy seeing the wonderful works of art others create. Thank you so much for sharing!

    xoxo,
    Chelle

  6. This is a great tutorial! I’ll have to give freezer paper a try.

    P.S. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I wasn’t able to reply to you via e-mail, but I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your comment. :)

    • Hi Janelle! Love your blog, I am a faithful follower! Can you believe I still haven’t figured out the whole reply by email thing?? I am very challenged!

  7. Reblogged this on Something to Ponder About and commented:
    I always thought I knew how to do this, but in a tutorial, you can always learn something new. I never knew about thread wax. Now my struggles with sewing will be a thing of the past.

  8. I am glad to have come across another hexagon practitioner!
    They are truly satisfying. Well done for this clear tutorial.

    • Thank you, I just love to make them and have found a “challenge” that I will be posting about today as I want to take my hexagon project and finally finish it, lol!

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  1. [...] I digress. I was talking about this little cardigan! It’s going to have some sort of hexagon embellishment on the lapel in some cute fabric that I haven’t yet picked. I’m still [...]

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