Paper Piecing ~ Hexagons

on August 16 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 135 Comments

all buttoned up. is always one of our favorite blog visits. Melissa has crazy-good skills with knits, she’s great about sharing sewing tips and she offers wonderful glimpses of her beautifully busy life with her boys at home. Visit Melissa at all buttoned up., on Flickr, and in the latest issue of Stitch magazine!   Today she brings you her Hex jeans and an easier-than-you-thought hexagon paper piecing tutorial:

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From Melissa: Hexes are fantastic. I never get tired of them and they have timeless appeal. This is a quick tutorial for hand sewing hex “flowers” together. I’ve done paper piecing several different ways, but I’ve found this to be the most portable and flexible—it’s perfect for throwing into a pouch and taking off to the woods/beach/desert. When you get home, you’ll have a handy pile of patches ready to appliqué, quilt together, or salvage the other knee of your favourite jeans.

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You’ll need:

  • Hexagon Template (one inch per side works great) cut out of plastic. I used a yogurt lid.
  • Pile of Scraps (reasonably unwrinkled)
  • Thread
  • Hand sewing needle—I used a quilting sharp
  • Glue stick
  • Paper scissors
  • Fabric scissors—for traveling, I take small school type scissors and designate one for each purpose
  • Scrap paper/small notebook

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1. Trace and cut a small pile of paper hexagons using your template and scrap paper. You may also find and download/print a whole sheet of hexes, but I find that it’s easier to use old envelopes or junk mail for this purpose.

2. Glue one hexagon to the wrong side of one of your scraps. Cut the fabric around the paper, leaving yourself a small fabric allowance, about 1/8”. Repeat for all 7 hexagons.

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3. Finger press your fabric along the paper edges of two of your hexagons. With right sides together, match the corners of two of your hexagons. Knot the end of your thread and begin sewing small ladder stitches through each edge, picking up the tiniest bit of fabric each time. Tie off at the end of each row.

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4. When attempting large flowers, sew each together in rows and then the rows together– twisting each hex so that right sides are together and they lay flat when they are sewn together.

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5. Finally, finger press around the entire flower. As you tear out each piece of paper, it’s best to baste down the edges. Or, you can leave the papers in and deal with them when you’re closer to an iron. When you arrive home, press the whole thing and start planning how you’re going to utilize all your vacation handiwork. I’ve made bags and coasters, put them onto boxes, and I think they’d make a VERY pretty pillow.

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135 Responses to Paper Piecing ~ Hexagons

  1. Lolly says:

    I tried paper piecing for the first time yesterday and it was a blast! I cannot wait to take it a step further! Thanks for sharing the tut!

  2. melissa says:

    I’m not a big hand piecer, but I could really see myself using this tute for an application like the jeans or a tote or something. Thanks for the great instructions!

  3. susie says:

    LOVE the hex flower as a jeans patch! I’m totally borrowing that idea — thanks!

  4. Tiffany says:

    One of my favorite posts from SMS Hand Sewing Month yet! xoxo.

  5. kimberley Carlson says:

    awesome! I will have to try this! I’ve always wanted to try making hexagons, but it seemed too tricky. all I need here is ONE! can do! : )

  6. Anna says:

    What perfect timing for this tutorial! I just found a pattern that uses hexagons and I thought I’d give it a go. Thanks for the tutorial, it’s very inspiring.

    Anna

  7. Chisti says:

    Am totally going to do this project – too bad you can’t really dude it up – son has more holey jeans than me. Love that I can take it with. I crochet on the go, but would love to change it up – plus, who wouldn’t want a few of these as a gift for their own jeans?

  8. Kelli says:

    I LOVE hexagons…they’re on the list of things to make. it’s a long list, but they’re on there somewhere. Thanks for the tips!

  9. Grace Wong says:

    I love that idea, I think I’m going to try that someday.

  10. Terri says:

    love, love, love, decorated jeans and these are awesome!!!11

  11. Daniela C Beier says:

    Love this. And seems so simple. I am surely going to try. Thank you!

  12. jackie says:

    i love hexagons and i love this project. so much cuter than a hole, or a boring ol patch.

  13. Amanda says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! I hadn’t a clue how to make these. :)

  14. Ronni says:

    I’ve been wanting to try this for a while and this was just the perfect tutorial. Thank you so much!

  15. Amy says:

    That is so cool…I love the jeans! What a constructive way to use some time in the car. Thank you!

  16. Rachel says:

    I want to try paper piecing and hexagons but I think it would tip me over the crafting edge if I add hand sewing to the other things I do. Still a little craziness never hurt anyone.

  17. Karin says:

    Thanks for the directions – I have briefly wondered how to do it and appreciate your putting it all together! I saw the picture of jeans and your blog and MUST do that. Love it! Thank you!

  18. Rebekah says:

    I’m always looking for something small to do while I’m watching movies with my husband (is it bad that I can never take my mind off of sewing?!) and this looks perfect!

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  19. Annette says:

    Hexagons are popping up everywhere – and I’m lovin’ it! Now off to make a stack and get supplies ready for that tennis lesson later today!

  20. Natasha says:

    what a great idea for hexagons!!!

  21. Jeanie says:

    Love your easy tutorial. Thank you !

  22. Emily says:

    Wow! Adorable and you make it sound so easy… can’t wait to try!

  23. Bonnie Tucker says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I am currently with Hexagons. This is my take along project when I visit my dad on the hospital. I am going to try using glue instead of baiting the fabric to it self.

  24. I really do like the grandmother’s garden quilt pattern that uses the hexagons. Paper piecing is lots of fun but I am not yet ready to make it all by hand – It would take a long time to make a bed sized quilt but maybe some day. Thanks for the tutorial.
    Warmest regards,
    Anna

  25. Kristi says:

    This looks so incredibly fun AND adorable. I’ve never sewed anything like a hex patch… it looks awesome!

  26. Heather says:

    How clever! Love the hexagons!

  27. Shannah says:

    LOVE the hexagons as a knee patch! Will do this!

  28. Katie Mitchell says:

    Love your website!

  29. I loved this tutorial! I’ve just begun to learn to quilt and this takes all the guess work out of hexing. Awesome!

  30. juliecache says:

    using this to patch ds’s denim comforter. thanks for the tips!

  31. This is a great idea for a take along sewing project. Cute jeans patch too!

  32. Jenny says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I just love the hexagon flowers & my daughter will too!

  33. Margie says:

    Oh these are so nice & you make it look so easy!!

  34. Kori says:

    Thanks for a great tutorial! Can’t wait to try it.

  35. Sam E. says:

    I made hexes in a never-ending and painful home ec. class years and years ago and have been somewhat scarred as a result, but I think you might have convinced me to give it another go!

  36. Amanda says:

    I’m excited to try this! Thanks for the tutorial :)

  37. Celina says:

    I can’t wait to try this! I have some fabric just waiting to be used for hexagons!

  38. Stacy says:

    That is really neat! Thanks for sharing!

  39. ingrid says:

    so easy and so cute, and she’s right i do have everything on hand!
    thanks

  40. janet says:

    what a great technique. thanks for the tutorial. Will this work easily for other geometric shapes? I’ve very fond of triangles myself.

  41. Carrie L says:

    I think I will now be addicted to hexagons! Thanks for the tips!

  42. Cheryl says:

    Thanks so much for the tutorial on hexagons! Such a fun project!

  43. Lisa says:

    Hummm good idea for me to take on vacation, love busy work while riding in the car..

  44. Lauren says:

    Thanks, I’ve always wondered how to do those!

  45. Tara says:

    That is a super cute way to mend jeans! I bet my daughter will love that the next time she rips a hole in a pair which, as a toddler, happens often! :)

  46. jenna says:

    I LOVE hexagons! So cute!

  47. Amanda says:

    I’ve been saving my scraps to make one of these quilts. I love the idea of making them into a patch on jeans though. I’ll have to make miniature ones and try them on my daughter’s.

  48. blair says:

    so incredibly cute! Its like the stars are aligning and we’re all doing hexagons right now, I love it!

  49. sora says:

    I always wanted to try this so now I will. :)

  50. Carla says:

    Wow she makes it so easy that now I HAVE to try to make some. Thanks!

  51. Helena says:

    Wow! Thanks for that love those jeans with the hexs on them so cute…

  52. that’s such an awesome patch idea… i love it! now on my MUST try list!

  53. Kim says:

    Oh so you do take out the paper! I was wondering about that. Sounds like a lovely and easy project to do. Thanks!

  54. Kara says:

    What a good idea! I usually do all my sewing on a machine, but I’m loving that some of these hand sewn ideas can be taken with me here or there to work on.

  55. Carrie Trapp says:

    Paper piecing looks like a lot of fun! My box of tiny pieces of fabric is the perfect place to start a new hexagon obsession :-).

  56. brandi says:

    these are gorgeous! and simple! they’d be a great easy applique on a baby onesie or blanket.

  57. Amber says:

    I’m not a very big fan of hand sewing, but this actually looks like something I could manage, and enjoy :)

  58. Michelle says:

    That’s a great technique. I do my hexagons differently, with a thicker paper and thread basting, but I also re-use my papers. here is a something very calming about putting the shapes together and then stitching them together. And it’s heaps of fun!

  59. Michelle says:

    I love those jeans! I’m off to practice to I can doctor up a pair of my dd’s jeans.

  60. Beth says:

    I like the idea of starting out with a patch. So, I don’t have to make a whole Grandmother’s Flower Garden after all! This looks pretty do-able. Thanks for offering so many great projects for those of us who are a little hesitant to leave our dear sewing machines!

  61. Sarah S says:

    Lovely! This is a bit different than most of the tutorials I’ve seen out there. Seems simpler, can’t wait to try!

  62. craftytammie says:

    She makes it look so easy! I can see me taking these along for a quick time filler. Thanks for sharing!

  63. min says:

    I love these too….whenever I get a new magazine, I immediately pull those little re-order cards out and pop them in a baggie for use with paper piecing. It’s my revenge for those pesky papers. :)

  64. Mama Lusco says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I love hexagons, but have never tried them…I may try them after reading this :)

  65. what an adorable project!

  66. Kerri says:

    I have a pair of jeans that I can do this to. :)

  67. Liz says:

    love it! might have to add these to a skirt…

  68. GTM says:

    I’ve got hex fever too! They are so much fun! Love the yogurt lid idea ;)

  69. Jodieth says:

    Wow, great idea with the glue. I am putting this on my “to do list”.
    Thanks

  70. Julianne says:

    This is a great tutorial! I’ve been ‘working on’ a hexagon quilt for years, but I just never seem to get anywhere with it!! I’m inspired to pull it back out of storage.

  71. Julie C says:

    Wow this will help me finish my Great Grandmothers quilt. A grandmother’s flower garden of course.

  72. Aimee says:

    Thanks for the clear instructions – I have always loved a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt!

  73. Kim K. says:

    very cool! thanks so much for this tutorial!

  74. Nadia Abbasi says:

    I have an infant and a toddler now so I can’t do my little counted-cross-stitch take-along projects anymore (no peace and quiet!)….so this seems like a perfect alternative, and I love your ideas!

    Nadia

  75. Linnea says:

    Oh, these are so going to be my next project! they seem to be popping up all over the place and this tutorial was just the inspiration I’ve been waiting for! thanks Melissa and SMS :)

  76. Amy says:

    These things are always so much clearer and easier to follow with pictures. Thank you!

  77. Tanya says:

    Have never tried these, but now I will!
    Thanks

  78. Tracey says:

    Very cute! I realize this takes away the “on the go” element, but if you were in fact near an iron for this project…. I’m wondering why fusible interfacing wouldn’t work better than paper…this way you could maintain a little “body” in the flower even after all the hexes were sewn together?

    I’m probably missing an obvious reason…I’ve never tried this sort of project but I’d like to! Thanks for the tutorial.

  79. Jenni says:

    thank you! I was just thinking I needed to cover a hole in my jeans with something…ask and you shall receive!

  80. Julia M. in MI says:

    I love this idea. Thank you for sharing it. I have a pair of jeans calling for a hexagon flower also. =)

  81. Krista says:

    Okay, okay, I’m starting to see hexes in my sleep – I guess I better actually try making some! Heading camping next week…will gather supplies!

  82. Amanda C. says:

    So many great inspirational ideas, tutorials, and photos. I like the use of the yogurt lid too.

  83. alisha says:

    Great idea for a take-along craft!

  84. BeckyS says:

    You make that look so easy! I may have to try embellishing a bag using your tute.

  85. Maribeth says:

    I did paper piecing for the first time this summer and loved it! Fun and portable-I stitched during a long car ride and made appliques for a table runner.

  86. Colleen says:

    I have never attempted hexagons. Now I just might. Thanks for the tutorial!

  87. Jennwith4 says:

    Very cute! I’ll have to try that!

  88. mommymae says:

    i have a hole in my favorite jeans & this would be perfect!

  89. Greeblygreebly says:

    Great idea to use a yogurt lid for the template!

  90. Andrea says:

    love this idea! I have never tried this It would be fantastic as a quilt if I had the patience for such a thing.

  91. Michelle says:

    I use scrapbooking punches to make the paper templates for my paper piecing. You can find hexes in all sizes, squares, triangles, diamonds, even circles (for applique). Some can punch really thin plastic, too. It saves so much time and energy in cutting out the paper shapes, you can get right to the fun part where you get to touch fabric and sew!

  92. melissa f. says:

    Thanks All!

    Just to clarify– the glue is water soluble, so it washes right off if any is left behind. But I find that when I rip out my hex papers, most of the glue stays on the paper and not on the fabric. I use a glue stick to get zippers where I want them in clothes construction, and occasionally I use one to wrangle and an unwieldy hem that won’t pin down!

  93. This is so much smarter than the way I did my hexagons. Think I’ll print this out and put it in my traveling sewing bag. Thanks, Melissa!

  94. Karen says:

    This http://www.flickr.com/photos/enola_sneezes/2720651630/ is my tin for on the go hexagon paper piecing. I have one in the car and one in my handbag so I can sew wherever I get 5 minutes.

    I’m sewing my hexagons from old cotton shirts that my husband and boys have grown out of or worn out, although DH has a couple of shirts I like the look of at the moment. He might just get ready for work one morning to find a sleeve missing, lol

    Karen
    My Blog http://EnolasSneezes.vox.com

  95. amanda says:

    This looks like a great method for making a few hexagons to applique on another project. I don’t think it would be the right method for making an entire paper pieced quilt, but there are other English paper piecing methods that work really well for that such as basting around the paper (not through the paper) and removing papers once the pieces are completely surrounded.

  96. Krystina says:

    I am in love with those jeans… I always loved the idea of making a hexagon quilt but given thought it would take too much time to put a whole quilt together. Now I’m thinking outside of the box.. or hex!

  97. Elizabeth says:

    Very pretty. (Also, I love that you have your books organized by the color of the spines.)

  98. Alissa says:

    Have been seeing Hex’s all over blog land recently… may have to give them a try! Love them.

  99. Jen V says:

    Thanks you! I’m off for 5 nights of camping & now I have a project to play with while I’m not chasing the 2 y.o.

  100. Melissa says:

    This is the second blog this morning I have seen that illustrates the wonderful hex! Love the jeans–too cute!

  101. Leslie says:

    This technique is different than what I’m accustomed to doing…adding it to the “to try” list now!

  102. Bettina Groh says:

    I have been stuffing scraps into a bag and searching for SOMETHING to do with them….thanks to your tutorial I may actually be able to make these! Thank you!

  103. Amy says:

    Wow, I love All Buttoned Up and thanks so much for the tutorial. I cannot wait to try this on my favorite pair of jeans.

  104. Veronica says:

    What a cool way to patch a pair of holey jeans. I never would have thought of that. That’s a great idea!

  105. donnag says:

    The hexes have captured me. I started making hexes for a quilt less than a month ago and now have a cookie tin full. I have printed sheets of hexagons on the back of scrap paper and cut out four layers at once. It is way more addictive than I anticipated!

  106. Need to Sew says:

    I have wanted to try those adorable little hexagons for awhile now – thank you for the tutorial and for making it look so easy!

  107. Ammie says:

    Oh, this is fantastic. You make this look so easy. It may not be, but the thing that appeals to me in sewing hexes is that it is portable and can be done in small doses. Small doses are all that my 8 month old Kidoodle allows us around here! :) Looks so fun!

  108. amy says:

    Wow, this is so clear. For some reason this has always baffled me. I can’t wait to try it!

  109. jennsquared says:

    Those are really cute!

  110. Jess says:

    Thanks for the information about the paper piecing! I have always wondered about that.

  111. Becky says:

    This is just one more of the projects on my “Must try this” list!!

  112. Kolleen says:

    I love hexagons–just started making them because I needed something for “sewing night” that didn’t require lugging around the machine!

  113. Laura W. says:

    Oh thank you for this awesome tutorial… I’ve been wanting to try hexagons for a while now! I have a ton a scraps to use up & this would be perfect :)

  114. Corvus says:

    I love the idea of using a pile of hexes as a patch, and they would make for a glorious pillow. Thank you! I’ll have to give this a try.

  115. Natalie says:

    I like that this is an *on the go* activity!

  116. andrea says:

    Hi-
    I’ve been wanting to try out these hexagons for awhile now ,thanks for the tutorial : )

  117. Desiree says:

    Thanks for the tips – looks easy & fun. I can’t wait to give it a go. :)

  118. Jenny says:

    Sounds simple enough. Id love to take these with me on vacation or just driving in the car…as a passanger I should clarify!
    Thanks for the tutorial.

  119. Raheli says:

    This is great! I have been tooling around with paper piecing — mostly because my other sewing projects can’t travel with me. I’m going to find a bag to store my project in, so it’s always ready to run… even if I’m just running to the living room.

  120. Andi says:

    I’ve been wanting to learn how to do this since I discovered a pattern for a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt among my grandmother’s stash. I love the look of the hexagon flowers! Thanks so much!

  121. Kate says:

    Never would have thought to use glue. Is it pretty easy to take off? I’ve always basted, which takes a bit longer. Might need to add coasters to the Christmas to-do list! Thanks!

  122. Katie B says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! You make it look so easy.

  123. Beth says:

    I always wondered when the paper came out!! I love “all buttoned up” and somehow lost my bookmark for it among all the others …. Thanks for sharing her work!

  124. lea says:

    what a simple way to do hexagons – I am just getting into the fun of this and it is good to see another way of approaching it.

  125. Lisa says:

    I just saw a beautiful vintage hex quilt on display at a National Park in WV. Took lots of photos – has me dreaming of making my own . . .

  126. Deb says:

    Wow! Unique use for hexagons, I’m going to try this right now, this evening! I’m off to hospital with my son on Wednesday (he’s having his tonsils out and he’s two…poor darling!) while he’s out to it with drugs I’ll be able to keep my brain on something else and my hands busy, keeping the stress levels doooowwn! Can’t wait to get organised :-)

  127. Susie says:

    How fortuitous! Having spent 16 months kneeling down to change nappies, last week four pairs of jeans (!) wore through at the knee. I was feeling very dispairing but, no longer, I know exactly how to fix it now. Thank you!

  128. Shayne says:

    That is such a sweet idea – a lovely way to use hexagons, which I think can be a bit overpowering when they are used in traditional ways for cushions or quilts.

  129. Kerneknop says:

    I have a pair of pants with a hole on the knee that I never use for anything except for Sundays at home – with a hexagon flower on they would be really cool for everyday use. Great, old new clothes for me. Yay!!!

  130. Junglewife says:

    Too cute! I have gotten my hexagon templates using an online service where you can make your own hexagon graph paper to any size you like: http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/hexagonal/ I print the size I want and then just cut out the hexagons – when I need more I can just print off more paper!

    I just cut squares of fabric a little bigger than each hexagon (I know it’s not the most fabic-economical way, but it’s the easiest for me – AND I can use my rotary cutter!) and baste the fabric around the hexagon, only sewing fabric to itself instead of through the paper.

    I then sew the hexagons together, and can pull out the papers after they’re sewn together. Works for me!

  131. Alexandra says:

    There sure seems to be a hexagon frenzy lately !

  132. Kristy says:

    Thanks Mellisa! Your instructions make it seem so simple, I’m gonna have to try these out soon.

  133. morepjs says:

    Thanks so much for that tutorial….I am always a little hopeless at small fabric shapes.

  134. Amber Lee says:

    I’ve never been one to take a sewing project out on the road (anywhere with out a machine or iron), but I might just have to try this sitting on a porch sipping lemonade, they look awesome!

  135. Anna says:

    My mother made my sister a hex quilt many years ago now. Given that patience is not something the women in my family are renowned for (myself included!), it was quite a feat :-) I think it took her well over a year to finish piecing it, but it was quite impressive once it was done! A flower patch for holey jeans sounds far more manageable to me ;-)

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