The paper pieced hexie. You’ve seen them around in all kinds of projects, but we think this one is perfect, not only to introduce you to a traditional piecing method, but to give you a modern way to display your handiwork! This project is sure to brighten a spot in your house, your office, or a wee one’s nursery. When we set out to make a hexie garland we knew we wanted to show off the rainbow of fantastic colors in the American Made Brand line of solid quilting cottons.
You know what they say about quilting methods though, ask ten quilters how to do something, you’ll get ten different answers. So, we’re going to give you this tutorial on how to do traditional English paper piecing the way that we like to do it. There are a variety of methods, none of them wrong. This is just our way and we think it’s pretty painless.
Let’s move along, shall we? Here’s what you’ll need to complete a hexie garland featuring twelve, double-sided hexies.
To make our rainbow, we used AMB colors: Dark Orange, Light Tomato, Dark Fuchsia, Dark Eggplant, Light Olive, Light Gold, Coral, Light Eggplant, Light Emerald, Emerald, Dark Sky, and Blue
You can purchase a kit with all the supplies here!
Piecing the Hexies
Thread your needle using about an arm’s length of thread. You can use any color thread for the basting stitches since your hexies will be sandwiched together, but we prefer to use gray since it blends nicely with all of the colors and we’ll use the same thread for connecting the pairs. For the tutorial, we are using a heavy duty white thread simply for the contrast it provides. Thread your needle and knot one end.
Grab your template and one square of fabric. Place the fabric wrong side up and center your template. Keeping your template centered, fold the top of the fabric over the template and secure with the paperclip. This keeps your fabric in place.
Working to your left, you will now fold down the fabric over the next side of the template and finger press, forming a crisp corner. Secure with a single stitch on that first overlapping fold, taking care to stitch through fabric only. You are not catching the template in your stitch at all through this process.
Without cutting your thread, move to the next section of fabric and fold fabric snugly over the template, securing with another single stitch on the overlapping fold. You will have a visible piece of thread that travels from corner to corner. Fear not! This will not be seen in the final product.
Continue in this manner until you come to the last corner.
Remove the paperclip from your first fold and stitch the final corner. You can easily secure the end of your thread in your final stitch – as you form the loop, pull your needle through the stitch before pulling it tight. Trim thread, leaving a short tail, about a half inch to be tucked inside when you sandwich your hexies.
Press your completed hexie (without steam) before you remove the paper template.
When you are ready to remove the template*, you can use a crochet hook, your fingernail, or even the paperclip to help you get under the fabric and tug on the edge of the paper. Feel free to bend the hexie around to wiggle the paper out – it will retain its shape once the template has been removed and you can always give it another press.
And don’t worry, you can also iron those templates flat for reuse if they get a little wonky when pulling them out of the fabric.
Repeat these steps to complete 24 hexies.
Now let’s make your pairs!
Sewing Your Hexie Pairs
Now that you have all of your hexies pieced, we’re ready to make them double sided. Again, thread your needle and knot one end. Place two hexies with their wrong sides together. Starting from the inside of a corner, begin to blind stitch.
You’ll be alternating stitches along one edge and then the next in succession…
It really only takes 3 or 4 stitches on each edge to hold these together. Once you reach a corner, go ahead and pull your thread taught to cinch up the seam.
Make your way all the way around, secure with a knot, and hide your end inside the hexie.
You may certainly choose to whip stitch around the hexie if you’re more comfortable with that method, but I think this is a great opportunity to practice a little blind stitch if you’ve never done it before and the result will be nicer!
Continue stitching all of your desired pairs and you should have a set of 12 double-side hexagons.
Stringing Your Garland
Now that you’ve stitched all of your pairs, lay them out in the order of your preference.
For this garland, we used a 2 yard length of perle cotton to string our hexies together. Thread your tapestry needle with the perle cotton or desired string and place your needle in between the pairs. You are essentially pulling the string between the wrong sides of the hexies you’ve sewn together.
Once you’ve gotten your needle through both points, pull the hexie along the string and smooth it out. Catching some of your folded over fabric inside the hexie with your needle is A-okay, so long as you can still pull your perle cotton through – that little extra friction will help the hexies stay in place on your garland. As you can see here, we chose to string our hexies from the 1st and the 3rd points which allows you to hang the garland horizontally.
Your hexies should move easily enough to adjust the spacing in between and will remain in place once finished.
Once you’ve decided where you’d like to hang the garland, you can adjust the spacing between hexies accordingly. Ours are spaced about 1.5 inches apart.
The variations for your hexie garland are pretty endless. While we’ve done a rainbow palette here, you can use a variety of prints and colors to match your decor and of course you can alter the size of the hexies themselves. Depending on the look you are going for, you could also use a very thin grosgrain or satin ribbon, yarn, or twine to string your hexies together.
Picturing a vertical garland? You can string the hexies between opposing corners so that they’re centered on the string. If you go this route, you’ll probably want to knot your string or ribbon between hexies as well, because…gravity.
*A note about hanging your garland in a window. If you know ahead of time that you’d like to string your garland across a window or any other potentially backlit area, we suggest keeping one paper template in each sewn hexie pair so that you don’t see the irregular seam allowances or string showing through.
We hope this inspires you to go ahead and try paper piecing little hexies! Show us your hexie garlands by tagging us (@spoolpgh) on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! We can’t wait to see your garlands!
If you’d like to make this rainbow garland, our shop now has a limited stock of rainbow hexie garland kits. The kit provides your materials, precut and ready to sew!