Anyone Have Any Hexagon Advice?

Kirsten of Kirsten*Can acquired this vintage gem at a yard sale.

Quilting friends new and old, I am seeking advice and direction. I am counting on you to share your thoughts. (Then peek at the bottom for Lilac Watch Wednesday, Week 3.)

I have never tried English Paper Piecing, but have been intrigued by it for a very long time. Even as a small child, I adored the Grandma’s Flower Garden quilts made from hexagons. To me, their simple geometry is very satisfying. They are almost abstract in design, but a recurring pattern in quilt history at least as far back as the 1700’s.

JoAnn B. at Pieceful Afternoon created this cheery Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt.

Like many quilters, knitters, and crafters, I like to have a small “take-along” project that can be done on a car trip, bus ride, or just moved about the house easily. I am strongly considering starting a hexagon project. No deadline, just something to pick up when I have a chance, and set aside when I need to. I certainly have enough fabric scraps to make one. And it seems to fall in quite nicely with my love of scrappy quilts and postage stamp sized piecing. Do not remind me that I have tons of WIP’s and UFO’s already. After all, what difference would it make having one more make?

Nancie Roach is putting sashing on each hexagon before she assembles them.

After scavenging books and searching online, I found a massive volume of good ideas for just such an undertaking. I also found some stunning examples of hexagon quilts, and a ton of great inspiration. Special thanks to each of the quilters whose work is pictured here, for motivating the rest of us, and for letting me use their photographs. Click on any of the photos to see more of their work. And scroll down to see a list of hexagon quilt-related links.

Now, will you please help me out?

Kathy Miller's hexagon table topper makes an entertaining "I Spy" for humans and cats alike

Have you done hexagon projects? What size pieces seem to work the best for you? Did you use plain paper, vellum, freezer paper, or something else? Are the pre-cut paper pieces a good investment? How have you used your hexagons—in quilts, coasters, clothes, or something else? Should the fabric be starched? Does the thread and needle selection make a difference in ease of joining? And just how tedious is it to remove the paper bits later?

Malka D. writes the blog A Stitch In Dye, and made this funky hexagon quilt.

Please comment and share your experiences with these questions, as well as any other hexagon advice you may have. And if you, too, are considering doing your first hexagon project, I hope you will let me know. We can take on this quilting adventure together!

Thanks in advance for all the great suggestions that I know you will be sharing.

Some fun paper-piecing and hexagon sites to check out include:

Shirley Anne Owens aka sao, of Shirley Anne's Heart, used a fresh set of colors for this gem.

Here are a few of the online tutorials that I have enjoyed reading, in no particular order:

Lilac Watch Wednesday, Week 3 – update

On Monday this week the high temperature soared to 38 degrees, and snowflakes were seen drifting around the air.

But Tuesday brought a sunny day, and all the growing things perked up instantly.

A week with warmer weather would work wonders on our dispositions as well as on the tulips, lilacs, and apple trees. My fingers are crossed.

©2011, The Curious Quilter,,


About thecuriousquilter

Quilter, sewer, writer, gardener, mother, sister, friend, always learning, always curious.
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21 Responses to Anyone Have Any Hexagon Advice?

  1. Janet says:

    I think that it is totally worth purchasing the hexagon papers. Please let us know if you find a good place in North America to get them.

  2. Suzi Stone says:

    I have several Grandmother flower garden quilts in progress. I am frugal and use leftover computer paper from my former job. I think the precut pieces would be great – it is so timeconsuming to draw and cut each piece of paper and they don’t always come out the exact size, but I can ususally fix when I make the flower motifs.
    This is a great scrap project. Have fun.

  3. Carol McClendon says:

    Hi I just recently started my first hexagon quilt too! I found that the 21/2″ squares work perfectly and the papers that you buy already cut are easy. It was the easiest thing in the world to do the English paper piecing. I had no trouble getting the paper out, but you leave in until connected to the next hexagon. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have. I take it with me too. I love your blog and visit here often. Just thought you would like to know!! Thanks, Carol

  4. Cassie says:

    I think that company paperpieces is the only one all over that sells the pieces. I have purchased them recently at a quilting store for like $2.00 which isn’t that expensive and I don’t have to spend time trying to cut hexies out! Let me know if you want a package or two of hexies and I can go get some and send them to you. They have all different sizes. Also the one with sashing from above is an easy fold over each sides and sew them down. I joined IFQ and they have a pattern for that.

  5. Shari says:

    I’ve not tried hexagons, but have certainly thought about it. I have some large acrylic templates that I”ve not yet used that let you make one large finished hexagon which you then join to other finished hexagons, but it’s not what you are talking about. A friend made a little bag for me and I had it in mind to try making my own.

    I would say don’t start too small and fiddly. 2 or 2.5 inches sounds reasonable. I would definitely buy the pre-cut papers and investigate the different basting techniques (fabric glue vs thread). A lot of my friends have little tins full of papers and fabric and they pull it out at guild days etc. A very portable project. Eventually we see them getting put together – both ‘flower’ and scrappy. I love the idea of the I-spy table runner. A large-ish hexagon (3 or 4 inch) would be a good trial piece.

    You have put together a great resource on this topic and I look forward to looking through them (eventually). But I have no immediate plans to try hexagons just yet.

    Good luck!!

  6. Gwen says:

    Bonnie Hunter has an on going hexi project that she talks about on Quiltville.

  7. Stacey says:

    I’m also working on a hexagon project & find it very fun. I would agree not to start to small. Mine are about 2″ I printed out mine online & just photocopy them & then cut them out. I cut out one sheet of paper & then make those into hexies. I’m using mostly scrap fabric, reclaimed fabric, & donated fabric….lol. What I would suggest is when basting the fabric to the paper to not baste through the paper. Just saves you a step later as you don’t have to go back & remove the basting. Another tip I read was to keep the paper in when sewing the hexies together. Good luck.

    • Juliet says:

      That’s so clever using a page of pre-drawn hexagons and then just copying the page to make lots of templates. Can I ask where you found the initial page? I’d like to do the same. Thank you! And I hope your project is coming on well 🙂

      • I just used a search engine, and looked for one i liked. I wanted one inch, but the sizes i found varied. If I use only the ones I printed they will fit together nicely, even though they are a bit under 1″. I copy my original over and over, but the project is a UFO at this time, as the 2012 Postage Stamp Quilt items have me very busy!!

      • Juliet says:

        Seems a bit rude to reply to myself but can’t see another way to do this!

        Just thought I’d answer my own question in case anyone else is looking for hexagon grid paper online. Try You can specify everything about the grid that’s generated – size of hexagons, width and colour of line, size of paper – and then download the resulting grid as a pdf to print off at your leisure. The are generators for other shapes too. The people at my quilting group were very impressed that this is possible nowadays – saves all that drawing round templates!

      • Just double check the measurements when you print, as some printers resize things slightly! Print one, photocopy the rest?

  8. Dawn says:

    Glad Creations used to carry the pre cut papers. I havent bought any for years, but that is where I got them. I like the precuts, the paper is sturdy enough that they can be reused repeatedly before they break down.

  9. Gail says:

    I made my squid quilt with pre-cut pieces from
    I’m currently planning my new hexie project, which will be made up of about 4,000 hexies… and am wishing there were cheaper pre-made pieces available. I have a hard time spending over $100 for paper of any sort. I guess I’ll have to be careful and re-use, re-use, re-use! I can’t imagine making hexies without them.

  10. Shirley Kennard says:

    Just come upon your page and really enjoyed it. I have been using 21/2 inch hexagons, started half heartedly last year from a pattern online and printed off on the computer., Then suddenly the urge has increased and I love it. So far my quilt is almost queen size, lots of various shades of light blues, and I am hoping to increase it to king size. There is a running battle between my daughter and granddaughter as to who is to have itbut having taken all this time to make it I would like to enjoy it, if only for a couple of months!!!

    • I say keep it for yourself and let them enjoy it when they visit!

      Not that you need another project, lol, but you might enjoy looking through all the 2012 Postage Stamp Quilt Swaps and challenge pages!

  11. Marcia says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog and all the interesting responses. In need of a small portable project to take while traveling, I have recently been playing with a few template shapes. The pre-cut paper templates sure do save a lot of time, but are not cost efficient. I cut my own templates out of card stock or leftover folders in the evening while listening to an audiobook. Removing the papers from the patchwork after piecing is quick and simple, but I find it tedious removing the basting stitches. I now do glue basting with a streamline glue pen and couldn’t be happier with the amount of time this process saves me. It would be interesting to know how others plan to finish their quilts with borders and binding!

    • I cut mine from card-stock or sturdy junk mail, like the subscription inserts in magazines. Then I stitch baste but NOT through the paper, so I can remove the paper and leave the basting later. Keeps it neater for quilter to have the seams where you want them! I tried the glue basting but in the end found this to be much faster, and fewer chemicals to wash out later.

      This is certainly a process quilt, and I love it!

  12. Liz says:

    I made a dress out of them… That took a while.

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