Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tutorial--Cutting Accurate Hexagons without a Template

Festival of Hexies

I’ve had hexagons on the brain lately.  I'm in the process of preparing for my Sewing Summit class I’m team teaching with Faith from Fresh Lemons Quilts.  I was excited with Ali asked me to participate in her Festival of Hexagons because it fit perfectly with a tutorial I was already planning to provide for all the attendees of my class.

A couple months ago I wanted to cut large hexagons.  After searching for a tutorial I found nothing.  The math doesn’t work out nice and simple for hexagons, and I couldn’t find the info on cutting them accurately.  Since necessity is the mother of invention, I decided I had to figure it out.  With the help of the hubs (who remembers trigonometry far better than I do) we figured out how to cut hexagons with reasonable accuracy without templates or a special ruler. Being the Excel pro that he is, he also put the equations into a little spreadsheet, and we came up with the measurements in the following chart.  The key to success is cutting these accurately as possible.  The measurements are rounded to the closest 1/16”.  In order to sew these hexagons together and still achieve great corners, cut the beginning rectangle as close as possible to the recommended measurement. 
The first number on the chart refers to the width of the block or corner to corner.  The second number refers to the actual height of the hexagon.  The final number is the rounded number for cutting.  Use the numbers on this chart for the following steps in cutting your hexagons.  All increments are in inches.
  1. Cut the beginning rectangle to the recommended size.  
  2. Fold in half along the long side.  Finger press.  
  3. Place ruler along the corner of the of the fold with the 60 degree line along the fold.  Cut from the very point of the fold to the upper edges.  Repeat with the other side without moving the fabric.  
  4. Open the hexagon and check accuracy of all sides and diameters before cutting many hexagons.  Make sure that each side and diameter is nearly the same. 
  5. Don't forget to save the scraps!  The extra triangles make perfect half-rectangle triangles.  This technique works best with larger hexagons.  
  6. Although I've provided measurements for smaller hexagons, when cutting smaller hexagons (under 6” or so) for machine piecing I would still recommend using templates or an acrylic ruler for better accuracy.
These very large hexagons were for the back of this quilt.  They have a 12.5” diameter (or a 6.25" side).  This was a great idea until I started trying to piece these with the 100% linen.  I realized this wasn’t a great idea. Luckily it worked out. 

For smaller hexagon templates, feel free to download this pdf from Google Docs I created in Photoshop.  There are two pages for this template and provide hexagons from a 3" diameter up to an 8.5" diameter.  Just trace them onto template plastic to make your own hexagon templates.

If you have a 60 degree ruler, I did find this video tutorial via a post from Little Bluebell that will help you out when cutting hexagons from strips.

Don't forget to enter your hexagon project into the Festival of Hexagons.  There are some great prizes!  Also, check out all the other great posts!

Monday, Aug. 13
Ali from a²(w)
Tuesday, Aug. 14
Amanda from A Crafty Fox
Wednesday, Aug. 15
Kelly from Kelbysews
Thursday, Aug. 16
Terri from Sew Fantastic
Friday, Aug. 17
Jeni from In Color Order
Monday, Aug. 20
Lindsey from LRStitched
Tuesday, Aug. 21
Wednesday, Aug. 22
Michelle from Super Orange Sewing (formerly I Like Orange, Too)
Thursday, Aug. 23
Sara from Sew Sweetness
Friday, Aug. 24

Saturday, Aug. 25
Aug. 27 - Sept. 2
Link Party
Sept. 3 - Sept. 5
Friday, Sept. 7
Winners announced


  1. Oooh, fab way to cut supersized hexies!

  2. Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in Creative Busy Bee Craft Inspirations, under the Page 1 post on Aug. 21, 2012. Thanks again.

  3. Awesome! It makes my math heart so happy to see the table with cuts. :)

  4. Thank you so much for this. I've had a large hexagon quilt on my to do list for some time now and this is just what I needed.

  5. Thank you Kati for sharing this. The video is very good too! I"ll have to try it!

  6. Thank you Kati for sharing this with us.
    have great day

  7. Ohhh thanks was thinking about some supervised hexagons for quilt back

  8. I needed a template today so I made one with the drawing compass. Great Festival so far, I'm hooked on those Hexies.

  9. Great tip!

    homemakerhoney @gmail .com

  10. Ah, thanks so much for that template for hexagons. I'm new to this and sort of thought that all the quilters out there had some magic way of cutting them. Looks like it's just a little bit of hard work! No magic shortcuts!

  11. Hi so I signed up for your class in the sewing summit. Do I just cut out a piece a plastic to match the 5 in diameter hexagon from the template and then go from there? Sorry if its an obvious question.