the hexie project

hexie scrap sewing project

It’s a perfect plan, here’s why: You can do it in bed, all you need are some scraps, the most basic sewing ability and paper. Plus it has a calming effect, for me anyway. The first thought was to use only pale, small prints. But then the idea of playing with scale and color was appealing – using large prints in these little hexies. That dissolved into abandoning all constraints and going with a fully random assemblage – no planning, no thought, inviting serendipity.

I also didn’t really have a plan for what they would become, that evolved too. At first I thought I’d patch a quilt with them- I love it when hexies or groups of them just turn up somewhere. And I used a few in my mending.

mending a linen smock with hexies

I like making them so much though I want a legit hexie project. The current plan is to just keep going and going. Instead of a fully random situation I’ve begun to plan some color transitions and shapes and lines, still taking a meandering, “yes and approach” and  not laying out a design beforehand.

The idea of approaching a hexie project in a painterly and abstract way is super duper appealing to me. It’s also super duper appealing that it will take an immense amount of time over days, months, years…

hexie scrap sewing project

They are simple to make.  There are tons of detailed hexie (english paper piecing) methods, tutorials, tips and ideas on the interwebs to explore, I’ll give you some basics on my process  here. I started with template paper that was precut and later made my own paper templates using magazine pages. My shape is 2 inches at the widest point. Place the paper on your fabric and cut about  3/8th of an inch from the edge.

Fold one side over the edge and finger press the fold.

Fold an adjacent side down, finger press the edge and stitch through the fold to hold it in place. Don’t stitch through the paper.

Keep your needle attached and fold down the next side and finger press the edge.

Stitch that fold and continue around until all 6 sides are basted.

hexie project

After I get a bunch I press them. To stitch them together place 2 with the right sides together and whip stitch the edge. Keep adding hexies stitching one edge at a time.

hexie scrap sewing project

After a bunch are assembled I’ve been pressing the whole thing and taking the paper out to use again – snipping out a couple stitches and using my needle to lift out the paper. This may be controversial…. I think you’re supposed to leave them in until it’s finished.  Feel free to share your opinion.

I’m working on it every morning, marking these strange moments with hexies. I so recommend it. If you’d like to join me use #hexiesforsanity on instagram. Make something small, make something big, make a design or go free form or both – that could be awesome. I’ll be updating you regularly on my progress.

Onward,
ann

PS – if the idea appeals to you but you’re not on instagram let me know in the comments – I’ll try to put together another sharing option.

PPS – If you have tips for making and assembling hexies please share in the comments.

Be sure to check the comments for great tips!

 

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the hexie project

51 Comments

  1. Margaret Rogers

    Please continue sharing for those of us not in Instagram. Like seeing your hexies and want to see how this progresses!

    • J. Franchell

      Yes please, for those not on Instagram! Love this and I want to try it! Thank you so much!

  2. sheryl mcgettigan

    Hi Ann,
    I too am not on any social media. I love reading your blog and seeing what you are up to.
    I think I will give the hexies a try.
    Stay safe!

  3. I like the idea of basting the hexigons with the paper in place…question: do you finish the back side with anything? Inquiring minds want to know!

    Stay sane, stay safe!

    warmly,

    Beth

    • Good question – yes – the idea will be to make it into something – I’m thinking a quilt. But you could make pin cushions or bags or a throw pillow – all sorts of stuff.

      • My late MIL made a beautiful flower garden quilt out of hexies about this size. The center was white or yellow, the flowers were pink, yellow, and other flower colors. Then surrounded with white. It is beautiful. I’d show a picture, but I don’t have the quilt. Her daughter does. And she lives a long way away from me.

        • Can your daughter in law post a picture on social media and tag in #annwoodhandmade or #hexiesforsanity

  4. Carol Wilson

    Be cautious when you press the magazine papers as the ink can transfer to your fabric – which may be good – or not.

  5. Joey Long

    I love it! Small enough to feel progress in short order, and not to feel frustration at not completing something giant. I love your ideas coming to my email, thank you so much!

  6. Lavella Denison

    I am not on Instagram and in further confession, can hardly sew at all but your projects and even reading comments from others make me want to learn how (sewing, fabric, projects! not so much instagram…). So, would you please continue to share in alternatives?

  7. I use Bohin fabric glue to attach the fabric to the paper shapes.

  8. if you have a small hole punch, you can use it in the center of the paper giving you something to grab when removing the papers. I use a stiletto and/or tweezers to pull out the papers of finished hexies.

  9. should have explained, I punch the holes when I cut the paper hexies, before sewing.:)

  10. Christina Shaw

    I’ve done both glue basting and thread basting EPP and find if you’re going to reuse the papers, thread basting tends to keep the paper in better shape as long as you’re careful not to pierce it with your needle. Glue basting is much faster and wastes much less thread, good for very large projects or when you need to make sure nothing shifts, like when fussy cutting for a kaleidoscope pattern.
    As for removing papers, the only thing that’s really important is waiting until all your sides are connected before you do. Otherwise, to each their own!

  11. I have about 70 already made. I keep going back and doing one or two every once in awhile but don’t have a plan yet. I like that you just baste down the corners. I sew all around each one! I am going to try your method today!
    Thanks for the ideas you send. I love your patterns. Especially the mushrooms. Totally addicted to those!

  12. Phyllis de Vries

    I used to glue my hexies to the paper, but now I baste them with thread, but I think it is a matter of personal preference. They are addictive and so much fun to make.

    Please stay safe, Ann!

    Phyllis

  13. Tracy Mills

    I punch holes in papers and easily remove with tweezers! I also spray starch and iron them and remove papers before connecting together. Easier on the hands! You’re right-very theraputic!

  14. This is wonderful, Ann – thank you! I never understood the “why” behind paper piecing – duh! – and now I get it. I’ve a HUGE amount of scraps and can’t wait to make use of them. Looking forward to others on #hexiesforsanity

  15. Pat Jacobs

    I use junk mail letters to cut the hexies with my Fisgars hexie punch. They come in 3 different sizes. I have used the post card inserts in magazines to punch out the shapes when I want to glue baste. They have a little more body than just copy paper. LOVE your blog and your style!

  16. Kathy L.

    I am not on social media sites but adore your emails/blog. Keep it coming. You are truly an inspiration. I started hexies awhile back but somehow got involved in other projects. Thanks for reminding me how much I loved them. I thought I had to have a plan – like grandmother’s garden pattern.) But the random idea could be so much fun too. Thanks.

  17. Received a lovely array of scraps in the fabric scrap challenge. Didn’t have an idea for using them til now! What a great idea. Thank you!

  18. jean betts

    thanks for the inspiration and sewing tips. I have a hexie project underway too and like your technique better than mine. I started a small project and then decided they would make a good pattern on my front window in place of the hearts and rainbows many people in my community are doing. I did 5 hexies for my first 3 weeks of self isolation and the 2 weeks leading up to it then plan to do one for each following week. I sincerely hope this doesn’t last long enough to make something. Stay safe and keep on stitching.

  19. thanks for the inspiration and sewing tips. I have a hexie project underway too and like your technique better than mine. I started a small project and then decided they would make a good pattern on my front window in place of the hearts and rainbows many people in my community are doing. I did 5 hexies for my first 3 weeks of self isolation and the 2 weeks leading up to it, now plan to do one for each following week. I sincerely hope this doesn’t last long enough to make something. Stay safe and keep on stitching.

  20. Rosemary B

    Ann, So marvelous and beautiful your hexies are!! I love making them too
    and have several quilt ideas. I have so much fabric.
    Anyway, one thing I do with my papers is punch a hole in the center with a hole punch (duh, not with my fist) that way the papers are easy to remove with a crochet hook or school scissors, what every you have.
    I also have a kit box with me that I take with me, it comes apart in three pieces sort of, so that I can take just the hexies into the doctor office with daddy, or sitting around someplace (not anymore) So I have the tools in a little box. It is nice to have something to drag around with you…. when life gets back to what it was, what was that life anyway.
    So, I have seen two adorable quilts. I made the kingfisher quilt (find on instagram) and I am going to make another quilt top with hexies.
    right now, I have to make a grand boy quilt, also finish three quilts on the table now, also binding…. tons of quilts for binding.
    I really enjoy your inspiration. I am rarely on social Media bc I just find it to be a time suck.
    Enjoy your days, stay healthy. You are loved

  21. Hello Ann! It was so lovely to meet you in LA this fall. I got to make a needlebook with you. My mom gifted me French General’s pincushion pattern with hexies. Apparently I was too stingy with how much fabric I cut around and they’ve just been giving me fits! I am hand-cutting cardstock to make the templates. Thank you for your newsletters and photos during this time. They’re so soothing.

  22. I’m wondering if you have a hexie pattern to cut from. I fear if I tried to draw one, it would be lopsided!

  23. chris wackett

    Hexies are fabulous ,the best ongoing project ever . I’m into my second year of making a quilt ..it’s currently singles bed sized using 1 1/2 inch pieces . I started off using blues and greens only but ran out so I’m adding a frame with reds. Then who knows ? That’s the fun ..
    I like that I have a small box with everything I need in it that I can carry in my bag so I’m never bored if I have to wait anywhere .
    At some point I will start another , contemplating tiny embroidery on plain fabric

  24. I’m a thread baster, and old-school: I stitch *through* the paper because I find it gives me a crisper edge and sharper corners. I find the results better enough that I don’t mind pulling out the basting afterwards, and the holes in the papers don’t appear to affect their future performance – I’m still using papers I made 10 years ago for the queensize hexie quilt I sleep under every night. I’ve tried the other two ways and still prefer stitching through. It doesn’t slow me up much: I’ve made two queensize quilts and am just getting to the end of a 70 inch square lap quilt using much larger hexies to show case pretty fabrics.
    (https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/2020/03/27/anemone-quilt-how-to-do-hexies)

  25. Thanks for sharing this. I love hexies too, but especially love reading your newsletters and blog, such beautiful ideas.

  26. Cindy Cooksey

    Hexies are a weakness of mine. I’ve been making them off and on for maybe 15 years. I have made a few of them during this strange period that we find ourselves in now. My tip is that there is a wonderful website that can generate a page of hexagons in whatever size you choose, for free. You just have to print them out. http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/hexagonal/

  27. Lynn Nudd

    I’m not on social media either but thoroughly enjoy your emails etc. You can use squares to cover your hexies – a 2 1/2 inch square is perfect for a 1 inch hexie. Much quicker to cut as you can use a ruler and rotary cutter. I always cut 2 1/2 inch squares from fabric offcuts if I can get one out! Consequently I have a big boxful which has led to me making a quilt – currently ongoing and a long term project – called “Memories of Projects Past”. Stay safe and keep well, Ann.

  28. Judy Klem

    Ann! I have been making fabric surgical masks and scrub hats for health care workers to wear during the pandemic. I’m saving my scraps and today decided to use them for a hexie quilt…my Corona Virus quilt! Your post today is all the encouragement I need! Thank you so much and stay safe and healthy. ❤️

  29. Ann Sharman

    Me too. Have been making tiny hexies since Christmas, but mine are only one inch across. I use pre printed papers, and all sorts of scraps including bits of the old shirts from my husband and sons when they lived at home. No distinct purpose – the making is all.

  30. Hexies are very addictive, everyone has shared the best tips for papers and methods of removing them. My only piece of advice is to leave the papers in all the hexies that are at the edge of the work. Only remove papers from those hexies that are fully surrounded by completed shapes. If you remove the edge papers the hexies are harder to add to and will loose their shape quickly. Otherwise carry on you are all doing great!!

  31. Heather Nicholson

    You leave the papers in until you’ve sewn all six sides to other shapes. Then you can take them out. Your work looks beautiful!

    I’ve been loving your patterns! I have a few tiny rag dolls, and my daughter loves her new picnic bug. I need a few more dolls and some nice mice! Many thanks.

    • Heather Nicholson

      Oh, and if you haven’t seen her work yet, check out Florence Knapp’s work on her blog, Flossie Teacakes. Awesome EPP!

  32. Susan Artusa

    Dumb question here! Do you have to remove the paper if you are going to use it in something other than a quilt..like maybe a picture? Second question- doesn’t the paper get sewn into the hexie when you are attaching them? Now you know why I had so much trouble with them!

  33. Mary Park

    Hi Ann, I was so inspired with your hexies, I have started my own, my sister and I just cleaned out my mother’s barn and found her fabric stash, lovely vintage pieces, some just the right size for a hexie, so with your inspiration and Mom’s fabric I started making hexies, you are right, it’s relaxing and amazing to w a tch it grow, I am not on Instagram so I don’t know how to share it, but I am just going to keep on going and my goal is a quilt. Thank you, I love your creations.
    Mary

  34. Sherri-l

    You can use freezer paper, which is waxy on one side, to iron to your fabric for more stability. It easily pulls off when you are ready to remove them. It’s also easier to use a die cut machine to cut several papers at one time.

  35. Becky P Slack

    Hi, Ann….a new subscriber here….I love making hexies…. I’ve made small quilts with them for small dolls….love reading your emails….will check out Instagram….

  36. Carol R Parker

    I love this idea! I am a fabri-holic so I have plenty of resources for something like this! I have a few of your patterns, and have enjoyed using my scraps to create little birds, and hope to make a ship one of these days (I don’t eat cereal, so will have to ask my son if he can save me a few boxes at his house). I’ve been working remotely from home, and somehow have a lot less work to do because of the nature of my workload having to do with veterinary students, so do small work at my computer at home. But even so, I have been doing small needlework and bookbinding in my spare time as much as I can, so I know this will be one of my favorite things to do! I’ve loved your creations for a long time, now, and try to keep up with your newsletter as often as I can. Thank you so much!

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