Here is the next block in our Sampler Quilt Class. These directions are for machine sewing your hexagons.
- Hexagon Template
- mechanical pencil
- thin Pigma pen (or similar)
- template plastic
- glue stick
- foreground fabric
- 13″ x 13″ piece of background fabric
- Perfect Piecer ruler by Jinny Beyer
- Small rotary ruler such as the Creative Grids 4.5″x8.5“
- Fabric scissors (see note on using a rotary cutter**)
- Design surface or sandpaper board
- Wooden kebab stick, stiletto or similar item you can use with your iron
- sewing machine
- Mary Ellen’s Best Press
- hand sewing needle
- hand sewing thread
- Block is 12.5″ unfinished, 12″ finished
- These directions use a quarter inch seam allowance.
- You will be creating Y seams.
- Chain piecing is not part of this tutorial.
- Respect the bias.
- Do not sew into the seam allowance.
1. Prepare pattern for your hexagon template by printing two copies of the pattern.
Place one copy of the pattern with your other notes for reference or in your binder. Use it as reference first. Rough cut the hexagon pattern out of the other sheet.
Nota bene: Sometimes the seam allowance doesn’t print out, so you may need to add 1/4″ seam allowance to the pattern before rough cutting.
Glue the paper pattern (with seam allowances), using the glue stick (or other suitable adhesive), to the template plastic.
Create an Accurate Pattern
Fine cut the paper pattern you have adhered to the template plastic so you have an accurate template.
Gather your fabric and press it all. You can rough cut some pieces and press it with Mary Ellen’s Best Press to help keep the bias from stretching. The MEBP won’t prevent the bias from stretching, but it will add a bit of stiffness and help.
Place your template face down on the wrong side of the fabric and trace carefully around your template directly on to the fabric.
Cut using scissors.**
**PLEASE Do not cut around your template plastic template with a rotary cutter. I want you to be able to finish the block with no blood. There is not enough protection for your fingers. A rotary ruler gives your finger some protection from the blade of your cutter cutter. If you use a rotary cutter, you may want to use a hexagon ruler, such as the Fons & Porter Hexagon ruler. The smallest hexagon on that ruler is larger than my template, but you can alter the pattern slightly by using 19 of those hexagons, which fit in the 12.5″ block. You can also cut using a rotary ruler and rotary cutter by lining up the ruler on the line you drew around your template.
Cut 19 hexagons from your fabric.
Now, mark your hexagons so that the Y seams will be easy to sew. As mentioned in the supply list, I use the Jinny Beyer Perfect Piecer.
Line up your ruler in every angle in every hexagon and make a dot.***
You can also make a cross at the seam allowance by lining up a regular ruler along your cut edge and drawing a line near the angle. See the tutorial called Hexagons -Preparing to Sew, which gives more information.
***Nota bene: I used a different color fabric so you could sort of see the dot.
Remember: you will sew between the dots only NOT into the seam allowance. This is how you sew Y seams and we have done that in other tutorials.
Arrange your hexagons in a pleasing manner on your design surface or on a sandpaper board.
Take two hexagons, that will be next to each other in the final block, place them right sides together.
Put them under the presser foot, lining up your Perfect Piecer mark under the needle
Sew a few stitches, then backstitch.
Sew the entire seam to the second Perfect Piecer mark. Backstitch*+ to secure.
*+Nota bene: You want to backstitch even though it is a bit tedious, because no other seams will cross the seams stitching the hexagons together. If you do not backstitch, there is a chance your stitches will come out before you get to the quilting part. You can also leave long tails and make a knot at every intersection.
I like to to sew my hexagon patches together in groups of three, thus we will need to add the third hexagon to the two you just sewed together.
Lay the piece of two hexagons you just sewed on the table and place the third hexagon patch on top of top one, right sides together. Sew the third hexagon to the piece of two hexagons starting at the dot marked Start and stopping at the Perfect Piecer mark indicated as Stop. Backstitch as described above.
Remove from the machine and clip your threads.
Now you are ready to sew the last seam to make a larger patch out of the three hexagons. Line up your third hexagon with the hexagon you didn’t sew a minute ago.
Pin. I put the pin in a place closer to the stop mark, so I can fit the sewing machine foot on the Perfect Piecer Start mark.
Nota bene: I don’t normally pin small hexagons, but when I am sewing the last seam it is useful.
The second hexagon will be kind of rolled up. Just keep it out of the way of the needle. You don’t want to sew it to the underside of the other hexagons.
I keep my pieces on the design wall as I sew them in order to keep them in order.
Keep sewing your patches together in chunks, then into larger chunks until you get all of them sewn together. Sewing groups of hexagons together is like sewing 2 or three together. Sew between Perfect Piecer dots. You just have to be carefully to keep the other, already sewn, hexagons out of the way. Just keep looking at the finished pieces to make sure they are in the right shape.
Nota bene: It is useful to have a digital camera handy and take a photo of your layout in case of confusion while sewing. You can also number your patches with numbered pins or Post-it notes.
More on sewing hexagons can be found in a previous post.
For small hexagon blocks, I usually don’t press until I am done sewing all of them, because I want all the swirls to be orderly.
Press from the back, one seam at a time so all of the seams look like they are pressed in a circular motion. While pressing from the back you will need to make sure the front is smooth. The center where the patches meet will look like a mini hexagon.
When finished the block will have a lot of mini hexagons on the back.
In order to prepare for applique’, you have to do something with the edges. If you want to do raw edge applique, you will need to trim the seam allowance off the outer edges, using the Perfect Piecer marks as a guide.
My preferred method is pressing the seam allowance on the outer edges in to make a clean edge.
Lay your hexagon piece right sides down on your ironing board.
Use the Perfect Piecer marks as a guide. Fold and finger press the outer edges in.
Next, get your fingers out of the way and press using a hot iron so the edges are pressed permanently under. Use a stiletto or kebab stick to hold the edge under the iron.
Once all of the edges are pressed under you are ready to place your piece on the background.
If you have not already done so, cut a background piece 13″ x 13″. It is cut a little larger to accommodate any take up from the applique’. You will trim it to 12.5″ x 12.5″.
Fold in quarters and finger press just so you can see the lines. DO NOT press with an iron. These press lines are a guide and shouldnät become permanent.
Using your finger pressed lines, center the hexagon piece, right side up, on the background.
Sew down either by hand or by machine using the applique’ tutorial.
YAY! You have completed your block! Good job!
You can find more information in the Hexagon Clarification post.
Remember: no sewing into the seam allowances!