Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Got fabric scraps? Get quilting! Jumpstart your hexie obsession with my free 1" hexagon template and part one in my English paper piecing tutorial series!

As you all know, I’ve been making hexies nonstop since last month’s trip to Portland. And, because so many of you have asked questions or expressed an interest in learning how it’s done, I decided to put together a series of posts on the basics of English paper piecing. The first post (this one) will show you how to make a hexie, the second post will take you through the process of joining your hexies into a quilt block or geometric pattern, and the third post will show you how to incorporate a finished hexie quilt block into a project. The English paper piecing method that you’ll learn in this series is the method that Diane Gilleland generously taught me during my Portland visit.

Beyond quilts, what else can you make with hexies? Check out Diane’s giant hexie placemat project and her post on rescuing old quilt blocks with English paper piecing for great examples of non-quilt projects!

Before you get started, you should know that making one hexie may lead to a serious hexie addiction. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Please note that the links to supplies and tools that are provided below are affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you choose to make a purchase after clicking through.

Supplies:
* English Paper Piecing 1" Hexagon Template PDF, printed on cardstock at actual size (full scale)
* Cotton fabric scraps or fat quarters, two contrasting prints or colors
* Hand quilting thread, a color that will blend in with your fabrics
* Glue stick

Tools:
* Fabric scissors
* Hand quilting needle
* Paper scissors

Before you begin:
Print the English Paper Piecing 1" Hexagon Template PDF at full scale on cardstock, then carefully cut out the individual hexagon shapes.

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Step 1
Apply a small smear of glue to the back of a hexagon template.

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Step 2
Press the template in place (glue side down) on the wrong side of the fabric, centering it on the part of the pattern that you would like to display on your hexagon.

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Step 3
Use your fabric scissors to cut the fabric out around the template, leaving a ¼" to a ½" seam allowance around the template.

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Step 4
Fold the fabric snuggly over one edge of the template and finger press the crease.

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Step 5
Fold the fabric over the next edge, creating a nice sharp corner where the two sides meet. Finger press this crease too.

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Step 6
Thread your needle and knot off the end, then insert the threaded needle into the folded edge of the fabric on both sides of the corner, just below the point. Take care NOT to sew through the hexagon template.

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Step 7
Pull the thread through the fabric until you reach the knot at the end, then reinsert the needle into the same place in the fabric.

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Step 8
Pull the thread all the way through the fabric one more time, completing the stitch and securing the corner.

Note: These are basting stitches that are used to hold the fabric in the correct shape around the template as you sew. The stitches do not need to be deep or large, and you should never sew into or through the paper template. In most cases, the stitches—along with the paper hexagon template—will be removed once a project has been pieced together. (That said, if the fabric is thick enough that the stitches aren’t visible in your finished project, you can just leave them in. It’ll be our little secret.)

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Step 9
Fold the fabric over the next edge and secure the next corner by following the instructions above.

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Step 10
Continue folding the fabric over the template and placing stitches at the corners until all of the corners have been secured in place.

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Step 11
When you get back around to the first edge that you folded, bring the needle through the center of the folded fabric and clip the thread, leaving a short tail.

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

Step 12
Inspect your finished hexagon to make sure that the edges are straight, the fabric is stretched evenly, and the corners are sharp.

To prepare for part 2 of this tutorial, follow the steps above to make a total of 6 hexagons in the first fabric pattern/color and one hexagon in the second fabric pattern/color.

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1 | The Zen of Making

In the next post in my English paper piecing series, I’ll show you how to join the hexagons together to create a quilt block or a geometric pattern!


32 thoughts on “Tutorial: English Paper Piecing, Hexies Part 1

  1. I got hooked on hexagons 10 yrs ago when a friend gave me 50 pre-cut vintage hexes. I continued to cut and sew flowers for “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” until I realized I had 2 sizes of flowers. I now have a twin size comforter, a lap quilt and many more flowers to use…I look forward to seeing what you do with them

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  4. Sorry to be coming to this party a bit late!!! But had it on my to do – MUST to do list – to definitely pop over to read your tutorial! Honestly, there are so many how to hexie tutorials out there in blogland but I have to say this one is absolutely one of the prettiest and well done. You really did a gorgeous and thorough job of presenting the basic hexie making steps here. And on top of that you have inspired me to follow along and create a hexie block! Just bought the fabric today!!

  5. OK, all of u pro quilters, please do not laugh too loud, but as a newbie to the quilting world, I have a maybe dumb question. I have sewn drapes, comforters, clothing, etc, but I want to try quilting now and I want to start with this hexagon pattern. My question: do I remove the hexagon templates after sewing or leave them in. I want to make a quilt for my bed. U can giggle now.

  6. what a great tutorial. I have done english paper piecing before, but have not seen this technique where you do not sew through the paper! Sew much easier. Your fabric choices are sublime. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. I have never really been that interested in quilting …. until now! I love this simple idea of using paper templates and can’t wait to try. I am also thinking of making them with paper, not fabric, then framing an interesting grouping of them. I am a paper addict and have tons of paper so a way I go! Like many of the others who have commented here, I agree that your tutorial is well thought out and so very easy to follow. Thank you so much for taking the time to teach us.
    Lis

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  9. How in the world can you cut those templates when they’re connected like that? I can’t imagine you could cut them accurately.

    I like to just use paper clips to hold the fabric to the template. Glue is messy and you have to soak the glue out of the fabric when you’re done.

    • Cutting out the templates with a pair of sharp paper scissors works just fine for me, but I’d definitely recommend using a ruler and an X-Acto knife to anyone who’d rather have a guide when cutting multiple straight lines.

      As for glue, I haven’t really had any trouble with the tiny amount that I’ve been using–especially since it’s a glue stick and doesn’t soak immediately into fabric like a liquid adhesive would. I find that the small spot of glue stays just tacky enough for the template to stick to the fabric while I get the first stitches in, but it generally stays on the paper, not on the fabric, once it’s dry and I’m ready to pop the template out.

      That said, the paper clip method is great (as is the Clover Wonder Clip variation that I keep seeing from other quilters). I just use glue to avoid carrying around more small pieces when I’m stitching on the go. :)
      thezenofmaking recently posted..Saturday Internet Crushes: Merchant & Mills

  10. I love doing hexies! I’m on my third project! I like to use hand quilting thread to baste and to sew them together. I fine the little heavier thread is easier to use and doesn’t knot as easily.
    Very good instructions and pictures!

  11. Hello, I am English and belong to a group making a quilt. We use 2 stiff card hexagons, one slightly larger than the other to allow for the folded-over edge. The larger hex is used to cut out the fabric and the smaller one for the papers. Scrap computer paper is ideal for those.
    I have just started quilting at the age of 70. I’m not going to be producing intricate quilts, but I do enjoy it and get lots of inspiration from Favequilts.

  12. OMG, I am getting ready to start to learn English Paper Piecing when I came across your blog with tutorials. They are great! Your photos and instructions are so detailed.

    Last night, I use my Cricut to cut out TONS of 3/4″ and 1″ hexagons for EPP. I can’t wait to get started! Thanks so much for your explanations and inspiration!

  13. I just knew there had to be a away around stitching the paper and fabric together and then spending an eternity unpicking the basting stitches at the end! Thank you so much! Now I will use the extra time (next time) on other projects! Cheers.

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  15. Have you tried using only glue? No thread? I did a hexie swap with some online friends and one friend made hers with no thread, just glue. They are very crisp and sharp. May be the hexie of the future?

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