This page lays out my Hexie Tutorial for Beginners. If you like to learn by seeing someone ‘doing’, my video tutorial might be for you (see below). Otherwise, I hope this step by step tutorial helps get you going!
First Steps in Hexie EPP
EPP is the acronym for English Paper Piecing, which is the technique I discuss in this tutorial.
Step 1: What do I need?
There’s all kinds of specialist bits and bobs that you might want to keep on hand. I keep it simple and everything I mention here is covered in my Hexie Essentials shopping guide (click here).
- Fabric – go shopping in your stash if that works for you. Although shopping is fun too!
- Paper pieces – I buy precut paper pieces and used 3/4″ inch paper pieces for this project. You CAN make your own.
- Clover clips – I use the red ones. I think you REALLY need these to stabilise your work.
- Needles – I can’t stress enough that you need quality needles. Sharps, embroidery needles, whatever you fancy. I favour anything with a slightly larger eye as my eyesight prefers them! I use a manual needle threader but of course you can get fancy needle threaders too!
- Rotary Cutter – I recut my hexie material into strips, then sub-divide. If you want to use scissors, you can. I like GOOD scissors.
- Clear ruler – I use my favourite large 6×12 for strips and then use a smaller square, whatever’s to hand, for sub-cutting. The kit you see above is my ‘on the road’ kit, so everything is the ‘travel size version’.
Step 2: Cutting fabric
Important Note on Measurements
My hexies are 3/4″ inch for this project. That indicates the width of one side of the hexagon. The distance from flat side to side is in fact 1.25″ and from point to point is 1.5″. Even with that knowledge in hand, look how the hexie in the pic above and below is slightly bigger than 1.25″ – this looks more like 1 inch and 5/16ths.
For this reason, I cut the strips of fabric OVER size (WOF – width of fabric) at 2 inches. The usual advice is to add 1/2″ inch to the size from flat side to flat side, but for a 3/4″ inch hexie, it’s easier to cut 2″.
Step 3: A note on fabric choice
You may know I LOVE to mix up colours any old way. However, for hexies, I have found to my own detriment that getting your tonal range right at the get-go will save you a lot of extra effort as it takes so long to work on a hexie project (two years and counting on this one!).
I wanted to work out a kind of faded red, cream and blue look. Some American friends will identify this as a ‘quilt of valor’ or Independence Day colourway… but here it’s intended as a faded French fabric colourway.
So you have cut your fabric into 2″ strips, so what happens next?
Step 4: Cutting your strips into hexies
Like almost all patchwork projects, we are aiming for a 1/4″ inch seam allowance. Let’s look at how best to do it before discussing the cheat!
Set your hexie paper flat sides parallel to the cut side of the fabric strip. Yes, I am including the selvedge edge in my project, but don’t feel you have to do this!
Next, carefully measure a 1/4″ inch seam allowance along the top left side and carefully trim using a rotary cutter.
Repeat and trim the bottom left side, discarding the trimmed pieces.
This leaves one side of the strip ready to go!
Next, we are going to cut the right top and right bottom sides in the same way, giving a 1/4″ inch seam allowance. Note: go the WHOLE way from one side of the strip to the other. You can’t see it in the picture below, but I have used my rotary cutter to go the whole way from edge to edge for both cuts.
Can you see what I mean in the picture below? If you do this carefully, the left side of the remaining strip is already DONE for the next Hexie cut!
So here we are, my little pile of trimmed hexies!
Step 5: Baste stitch your hexies
I have followed a number of tutorials on YouTube on how to baste hexies. Here’s my take on it that makes sense to me, at least!
First off, I hand baste, I don’t use glue. It might make things a little faster, but I don’t want that glue on my papers or in my project.
I fold over one seam, that is a 1/4″ inch of overhang fabric and hold it in place with a clover clip. I finger press the other side which gives me the shape of the seam.
Holding that side in place, I fold over the next side of the hexie and place a holding stitch at the corner joint of the two seams. From top of Side 1, push the needle through to the paper level, up through Side 2 and repeat – now that joint is held. I try and make the distance of the stitch across the joint/corner be as tight as possible – about 1/8th of an inch or a millimetre.
Finger press the third side and then repeat the rules above, putting in two stitches to hold the joint and move to the fourth side. Repeat until you have to remove the clover clip. At the final corner joint, tie a simple knot by sewing through the final loop of the stitch or any other method you prefer to sew a final knot.
Step 6: Layout your project
Thinking of the tones you have selected, layout a portion of your project and test how you want it to appear. In my Hexie Stars project, I’m creating diamonds or leaves, which go together into a six-pointed star.
And here you go, here is my finished diamond, ready for use in the whole project (as yet unfinished!).
I really do hope you found this tutorial helpful. All comments and clarifications are welcome too.