Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How to Piece Hexagons: Part 1

While preparing to teach about Y-seams and hexagons at Sewing Summit, I tried every way I could find to sew hexagons together. I finally came back to a fairly standard method with a couple tweaks. I found I was most successful and had the best results when piecing my hexagons using this method. I wanted to share how I go about piecing hexagons. Because this is a very picture heavy tutorial I've split it into two sections. The first part discusses how to piece hexagons into strips. The second part of the tutorial will show how to piece the strips together.

Cut the hexagons using templates, an acrylic ruler, die cutter or the method I show here.

Layout your hexagons to stitch together. Make sure the lengthwise grain is vertical (shown by the blue arrow). The crosswise grain should be horizontal (shown by the purple arrow). The first step will be to sew the long columns together vertically.

Generally you mark the seam lines on your hexagons to make sure 1/4" is left open for nesting seams. After sewing lots of hexagons, it hit me to mark my machine rather than my hexagons. Then I just have to mark it once to sew lots and lots of hexagons.

Set one hexagon aside and mark 1/4" seam lines with a dark pen, making sure the lines are easy to see.

Place the marked hexagon on your machine as if you are beginning to sew a seam. Put the needle down on the black line and make sure the edge is carefully lined up along the 1/4" seam line.

Mark your machine with washi tape along the edge of the fabric. This tape will act as a guide when stitching hexagons together such that marking each hexagon isn't required. I like washi tape because it's thin and not super sticky. It shouldn't leave a residue on your machine. I prefer a solid color that's quite different from the colors of the fabrics I'm sewing. Target has washi tape packs that come in four different colorways.

Repeat the process for the bottom of the hexagon. Line up the edge of the fabric along the 1/4" seam line and place the needle down right on the black line.

Mark the edge of the fabric with another piece of washi tape. Keep the tape and marked hexagon handy. You will need to remark this spot with each bobbin change if your machine has a drop in bobbin like my machine.

Now with your machine marked, you're ready to stitch. Match up two hexagons, ensuring that the grain lines are running in the same directions as shown above. Line up the hexagon with the first piece of washi tape. Stitch a 1/4" seam making sure to backstitch well.

Stitch a 1/4" seam and stop stitching when the fabric is lined up with the second piece of tape. Backstitch well.

The stitched piece should look like this. You want an open 1/4" at each end of the seam.

Continue stitching hexagons together until each row is complete.

The next post, coming later this week, will show how to stitch all these rows together.

Image Map


  1. Thanks SO MUCH for sharing all this! I didn't get in your SS class but I'm thrilled to get your tips - which you make seem obvious and easy, nice work :-)

  2. Phew, thanks for the reminder about why I bought washi tape from Target while I was there (took 4 different Targets to find it!) I was totally puzzled by the time I got home lol

  3. Very clever! I've been avoiding hexagons since I have a fear of y-seams and an aversion to EPP. This is a good nudge to get over that fear… :-)

  4. How smart you are!!!! I love it when some one figures out a technique to make piecing easier. :)
    Thanks for sharing it. Looking forward to part two.

  5. Great idea, marking the machine!!

  6. I doubt I would have thought to mark the machine like that. Great idea!

  7. Brillant, absolutely brilliant; mark once, sew many. Thank you very much for sharing this technique!

  8. That is such a great tutorial! I also like your way of cutting the hexagons! Definitely adding this to my list of things I want to make!

  9. Oh thank you so much for the tutorial. You helped me at Sewing Summit... but I am just getting around to making the block. I know I know. So I have forgotten your pointers. Thanks for writing it up!

  10. Oh thank you so much!! You are so much help.

  11. Thank you so much for simplifying the process. I have an obsession with hexi's and figured there had to be an easier way to join them.
    There's no stopping me now! ����