For EPP Week day 2, we have an English Paper Piecing hexagons tutorial! Hexagons are the most popular shape for English Paper Piecing, so let’s start by talking about what a hexagon is.
What is a hexagon?
| A hexagon is a polygon with 6 sides that are all equal in length. Hexagons are measured by how long each side is– a 1″ hexagon, for example, has 1″ sides. The radius of a hexagon is always twice the length of the side– a hexagon with 1″ sides has a 2″ radius, measured from point to point.
|Hexagons fit together to make a honeycomb-like pattern, which requires using “Y” shaped seams. This is part of the reason hexagons are usually English paper pieced instead of sewn on a machine– it’s much easier to be precise and sew neat intersections by hand.|
English Paper Piecing Hexagons
- hexagon paper pieces
- cutting template
- needle and thread
- Wonder Clip(s)
- optional: fabric glue pen
To see a complete list of supplies and accessories for EPP, click here for yesterday’s post.
step 1: tracing and cutting
Start with flat, ironed fabric. Lay template over fabric and trace all around the outside edge with a fabric pen or pencil. Whether you trace the lines onto the right or wrong side of the fabric is up to you– sometimes the ink shows up better on the paler reverse side, or you want to fussy cut a motif (more on that coming later this week) so either side is fine based on your preference. Cut out hexagon on the traced line.
Step 2: Basting
This is the key step in EPP– forming the fabric around the paper shape. There are 2 different ways people baste EPP shapes togther, one being with stitches and the other being with glue. There are pros and cons to both technique, and it all boils down to your personal preference which one you use. Here, we’ll discuss the first method, thread basting.
Thread Basting Method:
Lay paper piece down in the center of the cut hexagon, right side of fabric down. Thread needle; you can use the thread doubled or single strand. Knot one end. Fold fabric down on 2 sides of the hexagon and use Wonder Clip to hold the corner in place. Make two small stitches right on the corner, going only through the fabric (don’t sew through the paper.) Pull snugly; fold down the next corner of fabric and move Wonder Clip to hold it in place, then make a small stitch in this corner. Keep going like this until you’ve come back to the first stitch where you began. Slip needle under the first stitch you made and secure with a small knot. Cut thread, and you’re done!
Glue Basting Method:
Lightly dab glue onto corners of fabric, then fold down. Repeat all the way around the hexagon, gluing at each corner, until all edges are flatly secured around the perimeter. Add more dabs of glue as needed to secure. It’s totally ok if glue sticks to both paper and fabric–it will remove easily later.
Once you’ve got all your hexagons basted, it’s time to sew them together!
Step 3: Sewing 2 Hexagons Together
Grab 2 basted hexagons. With right sides together and wrong sides (the side with the paper showing) facing out and papers still in place, use a clip to hold hexagons together, lining up sides. Thread needle and knot one end, but don’t double the thread– it would make it too thick and more likely to show. Use a whip stitch to sew the edges of one side together, being careful to sew only the fabric edges and not through the paper. At the end of the edge, tie off thread and snip it, leaving a very short tail. Remove clip and open piece to see your hexies!
You can add a third hexagon by sewing a basted one onto one of the 2 hexagons, then folding the piece so you can sew the other side to the second hexagon.
Check back tomorrow for another great post in our English Paper piecing series!