Tuesday 1 December 2015

How to Sew English Paper Pieced Hexies Together

A couple of weeks ago, I showed you how to baste English Paper Pieced hexagons together. The next step in the process is to sew them together. Today's tutorial will show you how I sew my hexies to each other.

How to sew English Paper Pieced Hexies together... TUTORIAL ~ Threading My Way

A small, fine needle is used for English Paper Piecing (EPP). Milliner needles in a size 10 or 11 are often recommended. The following links have detailed information on needle types, shapes, sizes and uses...

I couldn't find milliner's needles when I began EPP and I bought embroidery needles in a size 10. They work fine for me, and it wasn't until I read through the articles above, that I remembered I couldn't find the milliner's needles. I really must buy some milliner's needles and compare the two.

The articles all say, however, that which needle to use is a personal preference. Try a variety and see which works best.

I use cotton thread - again, a personal preference. Matching the thread colour to the fabric colour will help to hide your stitches. Not always possible with patterned fabric and when the two hexies are different colours. I never go out to buy a specific colour just to sew a few hexies together. If I don't have the right colour, I make do.

  • Thread the needle (single thread)
  • Make a knot in the end of the thread.

It's a bit hard to describe, but here's how I make my knots...
  • Wind the end of the thread 1¼ times around the forefinger (pointer finger).
  • Place thumb and forefinger together.
  • Pull the forefinger back, gliding it across the thumb. The thread will twist.
  • Place the middle finger at the top of the twisted thread.
  • Pull the thread with the other hand.
You can see it more clearly in this video. The video shows double thread. For EPP use a single strand of thread.

At a quilting retreat last year, I learnt another way to tie a knot. Out of habit, I tend to go back to the first way, having been doing it that way since learning to sew as child many years ago. The second video also uses double thread, instead of the single needed for EPP.

I probably overdo it, but I make two knots at the beginning and end - just to be sure it holds. You can see the first knot is about ⅛" from the edge. For the second knot (See photos below for ending)...
  • Slide the needle between the fabric and the paper template, to where you'll begin sewing - being careful not to catch the template.
  • Make a loop and thread the needle through the loop a couple of times.
  • Tighten

Now you're ready to start stitching those two hexies together. Using a whip stitch, stitch from right to left (I'm right handed). I have seen right handed people sewing from left to right.
  • Hold the two hexes with a Wonder Clip. (see photo below)
  • Start with the hexie furthest away from you.
  • Push the needle through both hexies, catching only one or two threads of fabric on each hexie. The more fabric you catch, the more the stitches will show.
  • Take the needle to the back hexie, push to the front and repeat till you get to the end.
Make sure you don't sew through the paper templates.

These links will show you more visuals...

I can usually sew two sides of a pair of hexies, with one length of thread. When I try to sew three sides, it almost always tends to knot.

  • To secure the thread at the end, make a loop.

  • Thread the needle through the loop a couple of times.
  • Pull to tighten.

  • Slide the needle between the fabric and the paper template, being careful not to catch the template.
  • Make a second knot.

Open up your hexies and admire your tiny, tiny stitches. The stitching is by no means invisible, but it doesn't show too much. It's definitely a case of, the more you do, the better you become.

No one is going to examine your stitching, other than you!!! Everyone else will be admiring what you have created with your hexies, and perhaps telling you that you are crazy to spend your time hand sewing little shapes together.

How to sew English Paper Pieced Hexies together... TUTORIAL ~ Threading My Way

I have a long way to go before I have enough hexies to make a quilt, but that's my aim. In the meantime, I've started a very small hexie project - a zippered pouch.

English Paper Piecing is SLOW work, but funnily enough, I find it very relaxing. I'll always prefer machine sewing, as I can achieve a lot in a much faster time, but I can't take my machine with me when I go out, so that's when the hand sewing wins.

... Pam

If you think others would benefit from reading this post, feel free to share on social media.


  1. I love sewing hexies. It is a great winter project for me. Plus whenever I take the Amtrak train to Seattle from North Dakota, very good project to bring along. Enjoy reading your blog and thanks for the lesson on sewing them together.

    1. I sew my hexies when I'm out and about, too, Mary Ann. Have fun sewing yours.

  2. This is the most thorough and beautifully photographed tutorial on sewing the hexies together that I've ever seen Pam. thank you for putting it together! i pinned it to a really large group board on Pinterest. I really need to try this someday!

  3. I'm just the same on hand vs machine sewing. I have to have some hand sewing going for time during ballet lessons etc. And also for the occasional evenings when I'm tempted to sit in front of the tv 'watching' something! I'm looking forward to seeing your zippered pouch. Is it made with similar size hexies or did you go smaller?

  4. In English Paper Piecing (EPP), a small, fine needle like a milliner needle in size 10 or 11 is commonly recommended. However, using an embroidery needle in size 10 has worked well for the user. It is essential to choose a needle based on one's preferences, so trying various options is advised. Cotton thread is popular among users, and matching the color to the fabric helps conceal stitches. Threading the needle and making a knot at the end are important steps. Two methods for tying knots were shared, along with videos demonstrating each technique. While both methods are useful, the choice depends on individual preference. Single-threaded needles should be used for EPP.
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