Monday, July 2, 2012

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing for Hexagon Patchwork

Finally, I have a full post for you. I was hoping to get this post up in a day, but it has taken a few extra days to put this post together. It has lots photos and hope you will find it useful! I bough the 1500 pieces of 3/4" hexagon paper piecing when I was trying to make the grandmother quilt three years ago. The package has been saved for a long time and I have a small project in mind and these hexagons are great of it. I'd like to show you how I  baste and piece the fabric and paper piecing together. 

I am a visual person! Usually I like to map out things around when I sew. I could have done a simple math, but I though put the hex pieces out and measure them together by an actual ruler would be more clear.. Here are total of 60 pieces of 3/4" hexies.When they are all joined together will give a roughly 9"x10". I ordered my paper piecing from here.

 Select your fabric prints. With 3/4" size hexagon. I cut my fabrics into 2"x2" squares.

Lay your paper piecing on top of the fabric piece.

Trim the four corners. It will give clean look in the back when you fold them. Often time I might put three pieces together and carefully trim four corners together. I always put a piece of paper on top, so I can get nice cuts around the paper.

Fold the top of the fabric side down { Some tutorials show to used paper clips or sewing pins to held the paper and fabric in place, but I go without both of tools}. You might find using paper clips and sewing pins helpful, so I encourage you try out and see what fits you the best!

Let your needle go through paper and fabric together.  {I used embroidery needles for the basting. I found the thinner needles work better, but you may just use what's available for you}.

Then you will  turn your fabric and paper work clockwise for the second fold. The folding corner { where my fingers were} will overlap the first fold fabric and the second fold fabric.

Use the needle from the back then go through the fabric and paper. This time your needle will go through the overlap fabric{ Hope this explain clear, but let me know it is confused}.

 Fold your third side of fabric then go through with your needle.  There will be total of six folds until you finish.

At the last fold. I like to give it a small pull.

 Tied a little knot and you are done!

 Repeat the same method for your other hex pieces.

 After finished all the pieces. Play with them...  ..

 The back of each fabric and paper piece..

 Pick two pieces of the hex then put them right side together. Make sure corner point to corner point.

Use your needle go through the corner points. I like to double my thread , but you might just use a single tread for this part.

After the needle went through the first time. I always go through the same corner point the second time to reinforce the join corner points.

 Take your needle and slowly go around the side. It is like stitch in loops.

 When you finish the side. It would look like this. Many small stitches.

 At the end, tied a small knot to finish your stitch.

 Here is the small knot.

 I always take my needle and go under the folding fabric to hide the knot that I just made.

 It gives a clean and reinforcement.

 You will repeat the same join method for how many pieces you need.

The back for the  hexagon would look like this { Later on, the paper will be take off}.

 Should we keep going??

 I always match the hexagons before I start my stitches. So I would have ideas about which side would match to each other.

 Take the stitched piece then put it down to match the other piece and put them right side together.

 Use needle then stitch both hexagon corners together. Again, I doubled loop the corner, so it is reinforced.

 You would do the loops again on the side.

 Once you get to the second corner point. Be extra careful to give another double stitches.

 Then you'll need to turn your paper to match the second side of hex together { right side together}.

 I found single thread works better on this part. Since there are many loops you have already make. Single thread would be easier. When I did the single thread, the loops were even closer to each other, so it gives same strenght as double thread.

 Again, double loop in the corner points.

 You would continune the same method till you finish the hexagons.

As the piece gets bigger, you will find it is a little hard to work. In the past, I would start taking the paper off, but this time I save them. I folded the paper around, so it wasn't really an issue.

 Once you have all the hexagons pieces. the back would look like this.

Now! Time to take papers out.. I like to use my seam ripper for this part. Be extra careful! You have just hand stitched all the pieces together. I'd say, it is delicate, but strong as well! You will find you need some time to take these paper and basted thread out.... take you time!

 Once you have all the paper out and thread clean. You will see the sides around is off the folding look.

Give a gentle iron press. Refold the sides before you press! Make them look good, since you have work so hard to get this far!!  Now you have a piece of hexagon patchwork to make into any project that you have in mind! 

It took a a little longer time to put this tutorial together. I enjoy photography and give my best description here for you! If there's any step that's not clear to you.. please let me know!! Try some English paper piecing! You'll love it and it is a great portable project that you can take during your trips and doesn't take up your space. Have fun and enjoy!



  1. chase. this is beautiful.
    I can't wait to see what you make with this.

    1. Thank you!! I am getting measure and ideas down here. Hope will finish it soon!

  2. wow-thanks for the tutorial-i will have to try this with all the little pieces of fabric i keep :)

    1. Hope this tutorial is helpful to you! YES! scraps fabric is excellent for this project. You play as you go...

  3. Thanks for the great tutorial, Chase! It really helps to have so many pictures, step by step. I haven't done that much hand sewing. How do you make your knot at the end of a row of stitching? Like making a French knot, or what? If I do that, I have trouble getting the knot to go right down at the fabric; it tends to end up a little ways up the thread...

    1. At the end of a row of stitching is the same. I always double loop the ending corner points. Then you tied a knot close to your fabric. Just like getting a normal knot {simple one} Then I always tuck under the one folded side, so the knot is hidden away. The length of the tread shouldn't be too long. I used my about 11 inches long. It seems like you have to thread it often, but it will prevent to get your tread twist. please let me know if you need more information or I can try to get a photo on how I do it.

  4. your patchwork is gorgeous, Chase! Now I want to try it myself, thanks for a great tutorial, too.

    1. Thank you!! Please let me know if you need more information. I'll try my best to help out!! The 3/4" is my fav. size. It is great of making small patchwork. Enjoy!!

  5. Love the tiny hexies!!! It's so pretty. I'll be watching what you do with this pretty piece! Great tutorial too!! xx

    1. Thank you!! I am planning careful with this piece! waiting for the weather to cool off, so I can think clear.. hopefully this weekend I can start..

  6. Thanks for this great hexies tuto... I love your work!!

  7. GREAT tutorial!!! First time I've understood what all the hoo-haw was about for English PPing!!! LOVE it!

  8. Thank you for putting this tutorial together. It is brilliantly described and accompanied of really wonderful photographs. Now I feel I can get started! Thanks!

  9. Thank you very much for your clear photos and description.

    1. I am glad you enjoy this tutorial~ Have fun!

  10. Hello Chase,
    Love your work! Your photos are beautiful & the explanation of your method very helpful. I am working on a project with 1/4" hexagon templates (yes, very tiny!!) & am using size 9 John James straw needles. Do you find any particular needles are especially suitable to work with?
    Thanks, Sandy

  11. Hello Chase,
    Love your work! Your photos are beautiful & the explanations really helpful. I am working on a project using 1/4" hexagons (yes, very tiny!) & John James Straw needles size 9. Do you find a particular needle type or size is particularly good? Many thanks, Sandy

  12. I work in a hospital, i work very nights. thanks you for yours explanations because my nights are easier because i am using hexagons for Patchwork Book/Planner Cover. I am following yours tutorials. thanks for your work and explanations very easy.