Monday, April 16, 2012

English Paper Piecing

My hexagons arrived today!  I immediately had to try them out:

This is just a leftover strip of fabric from my yoyos.  The hexagons have 3/4" sides, which makes them 1.5" across.  When I got the package they were smaller than I expected!  But now that I have worked with them I find them very comfortable.  In some ways they are probably easier to work with than larger ones.  I can already see that they are going to become extremely addictive.  I only bought a package of 125, and I can feel myself tensing because I know I will run out quickly.

Here is the back:

I used a combination of techniques gleaned from various sources.

  • The Paper Pieces website recommends 2" squares for the 3/4" hexagons.  They also recommend leaving the seam allowances untrimmed.  This makes them easier to baste as well as just saving a step with the cutting.  I cut a 2.5" strip down to 2" squares with scissors and by eye, so some of mine may have been a little larger.
  • I picked up two helpful tips from the video embedded below.  First, I didn't baste through the paper at all, I just took a tack stitch in each corner.  You can do this easily with the smaller pieces.  Then the basting doesn't need to be removed when you are ready to take the paper out!
  • The second helpful tip was to baste and sew with the same thread, all in one step.  This is easy and works great.

The stitching does show a bit with this technique.  Here I used 50 wt cotton in a neutral colour, but I think I will try to find some 100 wt silk, which will hopefully be a little less visible.  I prefer not to use nylon thread.  The Paper Pieces instructions suggest 6 - 10 stitches per inch, but I found I was taking 11 or 12 stitches per 3/4 inch.  That's what looks good to me, anyway.

Here is the first video.  You can skip over the first 5 minutes or so if you are planning to use fabric squares.  Right at the end she also has a great tip for basting larger pieces.

This second video also has some helpful tips to fill in the gaps:

I am trying not to drop everything and start this right away!  My first plan for this technique will be to use it for the centre panel of a 16" x 20" wall hanging that I will adapt from the book Fat Quarter Quilting by Lori Smith.  It is a great book, I will have to review it soon.  After that I have a much bigger plan in mind!


  1. This looks really promising. I have only done a little paper piecing and it took me years. I can see how this makes it achievable and exciting.

  2. Love the hexie flower and yes they are addictive. I have done the 1" and loved it and am, as you know, working with the 3/4". I baste mine with the sewline glue pen but will check out your videos later when I have a bit more time.

  3. Thanks, Jillian and Katherine. The little practice flower only took me an hour - and it was the first time I ever did any of it. The first video is genius, it saves all kinds of time! And it is easy to take out the pieces after.


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