Wednesday, July 10, 2013

V and Co: tips for small hexagon paper piecing

 phew! well i said i would get this out on wednesday didn't i? i didn't mention that it might be at 11:59 on wednesday night...but with all the kids home for summer, that's how we're rolling today.
anyways, here's my helpful hints for small hexagon paper piecing.

i'll talk about getting your hexagons started, and then i'll finish with a more NON traditional finish by teaching you how to appliqué it onto a block, or in this case appliquéing it to the fabric used to make my little zipper pouch.

you can keep making your hexagons using the first part of this tutorial and by using the how to attach them method i do, plus add a center if you want a more traditional flower project.

i tend to be a little bit of a cross between the two so i went with my twist and i will show you how to appliqué your flower.

anyways here's what i've learned while trying my hand at small paper piecing:

the hexagons featured are 7/8" or 1" point to point

*i like to use freezer paper for my hexagons.
trace on the paper side of your freezer paper with a template.
the shiny side goes down on the wrong side of the fabric and you can iron on your paper to your fabric.
it stays put while you cut out and also while you hand stitch down your sides.
they are also easy to pull out and are reusable. :)
*make sure you have around 1/4" extra allowance around your hexagons.
if you want you can draw with an erasable pen your 1/4" allowance around the hexagon paper.
 *it doesn't have to be perfectly 1/4" but if you go smaller it will be harder to work with.
i eyeballed mine, and as you can see some were a little bigger than 1/4" and this was okay. :)
*with an iron start on one side of your small hexagon and press down towards the center your extra fabric allowance.
 *continue to do so around all 6 sides.

 when you turn it around you will have a nice looking small hexagon.

*do NOT hyperventilate when your fabric hexagons don't stay perfectly pressed.
our next step will take care of this issue.
seriously relax. this is supposed to be fun remember.
 *k, here's the deal, we want to make sure those pesky corners stay nice and crisp and put, so with a needle and thread you are going to come up starting on the top part of your hexagon (the part that shows to the world without the seam) to the back side of your hexagon right next to one of your folded corners. (why we start with the knot facing on the seamless side of the hexagon will make sense later on)
 *next go across your fold and make a stitch going through the hexagon to the other side. (the side where your knot is)
 *continue to do this to all your corners.
these are big stitches on purpose, they go away later on so don't worry that they don't look perfect or pretty.

 *finish off by knotting and cutting off extra thread.
how are we doing?
feeling good?
okay now do that to all 5 other hexagons.

you have now done your first step to paper piecing. yay you!
if you want to make more of a traditional flower you can continue to make one more hexagon for the middle of your flower and then continue with the next step of instructions.

now lets attach them together to make a pretty looking flower. 
 first things first you need matching thread to your hexagons. i've used the eggplant thread in my thread collection with aurifil *line up 2 of your hexagons right sides together. make sure you edges line up nicely.
*start your first stitch just slightly in from your corner. this will help keep your bulky knot slightly inside and away from your edge so there's no chance of your knot showing later on.
*make this first stitch very close to the top edge of your creases. we want to make these stitches not show up on the other side, so the closer to the edge you can get the better.
*now go back to the very corner and again make a stitch very close to the edge of your crease in the fabric. 
**i like to do two stitches on top of each other on the corners to make them extra sturdy.
*make a ladder stitch across the two hexagons. this will assure that your stitches will be hidden from the other side.
to make a ladder stitch:
*use the above pictures as your guide
*take the needle and thread and bring the needle down and up (a very small stitch) through the top crease (fold) of the hexagon side.
*cross over to the other side and repeat this stitch in the fold going directly across from where you stitch came up on the opposite side.
*repeat this till you get to the end of the hexagon.

 *stitch two stitches like you did in the beginning on your first corner end.
*go back one stitch to tie off with a knot. cut off excess thread.
 *turn it around and you should have your first two hexagons attached to each other. with no stitches showing thanks to the ladder stitch.
 *continue to do this for the other hexagons. and then continue to join them to make your flower.

now lets learn how to applique the flower and how to take out all those paper pieces holding your hexagon shapes!
 *place your flower onto a base fabric.
*pin in place.
*use matching thread again! (shown is my simply color eggplant)
 *use the same appliqué technique i use in all my projects
make your first stitch by bringing the needle up through the fabric, its tip emerging a tiny bit to the side of one of the inside circle hexagon. 
-insert the needle back into the fabric, right next to the place where it emerged.(NEXT to it not right through the same place) 
-only go about halfway down with your needle and bring it back up just slightly from your first stitch. (the picture above shows what i am describing.
*do this around the whole circle hexagon inside of the flower. 
 next we are going to do the same appliqué method on the outside part of the flower.
*start on an inside corner of your flower like i have shown on the picture above.

 *applique just one side of your first hexagon. this will make removing the paper easier.
*cut the large stitches of your first hexagon that was holding the corners down.
*pull out the large stitches.
gently turn over your first hexagon, and pull away the paper
 *after you pull away the paper, fold over your extra fabric under and continue to appliqué the remaining two sides of the first hexagon.
 *repeat the first couple of steps of appliquéing one side of the next hexagon, pulling out the paper, and then finishing that next hexagon.
*finish appliquéing all your hexagons this way.

*you now have one small appliquéd hexagon flower.
make it into a pincushion, a block for a quilt, a zipper pouch, a baby doll blanket...whatever you want!

hopefully these hints and small project will inspire you to try paper piecing. and appliquéing!!! i love both! :)
we'll talk soon!


Claire said...

too cute and you make it look so easy!

RaspberrySunshine said...

Great tutorial!! I spent time last night cutting fabric for some small hexies in hopes of doing some stitching during our layover between flights this weekend! Thanks for the picture close-ups! I needed to see how you connect them without having the stitches show and your pictures helped :)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips! My first quilt was English paper pieced and I am just starting to plan another. Today the craft stores offer so many great helpers: freezer paper, pre-cut hexagons ...
Either way, it can be very relaxing.

KaHolly said...

Cute pouch!

Katie Z. said...

Good work, finishing with all the busyness of kids at home!

janequiltsslowly said...

Great tutorial. What beautiful little hexies. I'm just starting to try EPP and this was a great tutorial. I've been whip stitching mine together and have not had a problem with the stitches showing for the most part, but I am using 60 wt thread, maybe that helps. I'm going to try ladder stitching.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the tutorial! Do you have a recommendation for the best kind of needle to use for this type of hand stitching?

Kellie said...

I just received my order of precut hexies in the mail today....can hardly wait to get started on a project! I love doing handwork.

Annalia said...

Love it! Thank you! I'm on vacation and bemoaning my lack of a sewing machine, so this was timed perfectly for me.

Tammy said...

Gorgeous hexi's. And a gorgoue project you made with them as well.

gmp said...

Fantastic tutorial! I can't wait to try it. Thank you.

bdaiss said...

Wow. You have the patience of a saint to do this. I think I'd go batty after 2 hexs! (They'd hex me? :D)

Ashley said...

So cute! That is alot of work! Perhaps that is why you are the quilter! When I was ebay estimating my creative memories punches, the hexagon punches were through the roof selling for $60 a piece....wonder if it was because of quilters? Hmmm.

P11otter said...

Beautiful ! Thank you for this tutorial .

Hannele said...

Mavellous tutorial! Do you use one or more layers of freezer paper? The paper I've used is so thin that I fear it is not sturdy enough with only one layer...

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

great tutorial but I find it much easier to just mark the seams and do a running stitch. I have tried EPP but do not care for that method but love hexies so mark and stitch instead.
Love those colors you are using.

Jacqueline said...

Great tutorial, thank you!

Vanessa, could you please tell me what the name of the grey pouch fabric is?

Anonymous said...

Brilliant tutorial! Thank you for sharing <3 Natalie x

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Anonymous said...


Great tutorial! I found that I could take a 5" square, cut it into quarters and each piece was large enough for paper piecing. Once the fabric was pieced to the paper, I pressed it well then trimmed to 1/4" all around.

The benefit was that I could use a Moda 5" square package and I'm addicted to them!

Also, the end result was fewer fingers burned on the iron! (or is that less burned fingers -- English teachers can correct me here).

After that I followed all your steps. Thanks for sharing.

Teresa C

V and Co. said...

jacquline, it is by robert kaufman and it is essex in black

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