Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hexagon Links

For those who've asked, here's the hexagon graph paper generator I've been using to print my hexagon paper pieces. Enter 1" in the "Hexagon Size" box, and you'll get 13 useable hexagons per sheet.  I've just been cutting them out by hand because I didn't expect to enjoy doing this and assumed I would only be cutting out one sheet of hexagons.

Cutting out the hexagons is the only boring part of the process, so I can see how paying for pre-cut papers would probably be worth it. I found some hex paper pieces here, but they are a little expensive in my opinion. I'll just keep cutting them out by hand until my thumb gets too sore and then I'll cave in and order them.

Here's the cheat sheet for knowing what size fabric square you'll need for the most common hexagon sizes. I didn't realize that hexagons (at least in the quilt world) are measured by the length of one side, so a 1" hexagon is actually about 1 3/4" x 2".

This post at Sometimes Crafter is the most helpful hexagon information I've read and her photos are beautiful. Personally, I'm getting the best results with the ladder/slipstitch method of attaching the hexagons together. I think I prefer it to the running stitch because it lays flatter on the front. ETA - After sewing more and more hexes together, I think that the whipstitch is going to be the best stitch for longevity and I'm using it going forward.

I am no expert by any means, but here's what I've found so far regarding sewing the hexes together.
  • When using the whipstitch, take TINY stitches and pick up only a few threads of each fabric. Keep your stitches tight to prevent them from showing on the right side.
  • Don't sew through the papers. You'll be able to tell when you are sewing through the paper and not just the fabric.  This is another good way to make sure you are taking tiny stitches catching only the edge of the fabric.
  • Hand quilting thread is very durable and will allow you to pull your stitches tightly without breaking the thread.  I've been using YLI hand quilting thread, which is by the way, dreamy to work with.
  • I'm using a No. 9 Between quilting needle.  The tip of the needle is extremely fine and allows you to pick up only a few threads on each fabric.  It's too difficult to pick up only the very edge of the fabric when using a sharps needle.

Click on the photos above for a larger image.

If I've done my math correctly, it would only take 1,173 one inch hexagons to make a 50" x 60" throw. That's fewer than 100 hexagons a month for a year. I made 48 in front of the TV while watching House one evening. 
        

To make it even more exciting, I've been reading about the history of charm quilts. Anyone up for a piece-along?

15 comments:

felicity said...

Oh, THANK YOU for the plethora of information that I am far too busy (read: lazy) to find myself! I have no idea when I will start this project, but start it I will. Oh, yes.

sophie said...

That hexagon graph paper is great. Thanks for the link.

A friend of mine recycled all those inserts that were falling out of her magazines, She cut them up into hexagons. They are a nice weight and worked well for her. She made one hexagon template from template plastic and traced it onto her small card stock.

Jackie said...

HI Melanie, Your hexies are looking great!! Don't you just love the process. If you ever need more cut, I can do it for you with my AccuQuilt. I use freezer paper and just stack them up on the die then cut. Voila! Hundreds accurately cut in an instant. Then, because it is freezer paper, I iron them to the back of the fabric. They don't move while you are basting and sewing. Then come out super easy when you are done.

Liz B. said...

Please accept this reminder from someone who finished an ENTIRE FOURTEEN INCH PILLOW of hexagons (you could hear the sarcasm, right?)--making the hexagons is definitely fun and easy and fast.
Sewing them together is a whole different story. It might not take long to make all the hexes you need, but stitching them together will take a good deal longer.
I hate hand sewing, and found myself addicted to making hexagons, then got unaddicted when it came time to sew them together!
:)

Abby said...

Ooh, this is great! I still cut mine out by hand, but I've been tracing a template on the back of scratch printer paper and it takes forever! This is so much better!

Nichole said...

what a great collection of links on hexagon piecing. it sounds like it is going to be quite useful for a lot of people. thanks for putting this together.

Sunshine Girl said...

You have convinced me to try making hexagons. I picked up some pre-cut hexagon pieces at a quilt show last weekend to try. If I become addicted, I will be blaming you! LOL!! I would love to do a charm quilt quilt-a-long. I actually have one that was done by my Great-Aunt. I think it would be a great project to do!
BTW - Where do you live in TX. I am relocating to Fort Worth as soon as I sell my house in PA. My husband is already in TX so I can't wait to get there. Love your blog!

felicity said...

Me again - did you see that jaybirdquilts.com is hosting a hexagon quilt along for Old Red Barn Co?

http://www.flickr.com/groups/oldredbarncoquiltalong2009/discuss/72157623444280667/

sewtakeahike said...

wow! they look so pretty all stacked up like that! good luck with your throw, it will be a stunner for sure!

Sarah said...

I agree with Liz B! It takes a really long time to whipstitch the hexagons together. I have been working on my hexagon quilt (1.1 x 1.3m) for a little over a year now and am sick of the sight of it! I am totally over the fabrics and never want to see 1930's repro fabrics ever again (shame, eh?). Having said that, I absolutely LOVE making hexagons too, and love the way they look in a quilt. Crazily enough, I would join a hexagon quilt-along!

Poshyarns said...

I have just discovered your blog and I am delighted to have done so, lots of lovely work and beautiful pictures. I have nursed a longing to make a hexagon quilt for a very long time and your information and links are brilliant. I'm not sure I'm ready to plunge in yet but I am certainly feeling inspired.

jaybird said...

nice bit of info! i love that graph paper making site... i use it all the time!

lovestitches said...

As mentioned above making hexs and sewing them together are two totally different things. I made a dolls quilt and nearly cried with relief when I finished it. I bought the cardboard paperpieces.com shapes from a shop and have reused them several times over, they really are invaluable. Their ability to keep a firmer shape plus their multi-use really is worth the investment to me.

Anna Fogg said...

Hi Melanie, found you the other day, been wanting to make one of these for years, your fun style and ease gave me the little push I needed. Thanks! I am a mom of 7 and my last 4 are girls, 3 of whom LOVE fabrics, yarns and quilts, they are in love with my little growing pile of 1" hexies. Now, I am not doing a charm style, just using my very FAV colors, colors and fabrics that make me smile...but since you are, can I send you a few random 2.5" squares? Maybe you'll get a few you don't have. A gift I'd love to give for all the fun I've had on your blog. ~anna in md, wife to 1 hunky carpenter, mom to 7 homeschooled crazy kids

Sarah-Anne said...

I found your blog through your pictures. I'm just endeavouring on paper-piecing now and I can't wait. I love handsewing and can't wait to try something so traditional. I always need something to sew by hand! Thanks for all the help!