Take it to make it…

Do you have any portable sewing or stitching projects?  Something you can grab and take with you to school and sporting events, the carpool line… the DMV?

If you’ve never tried English Paper Piecing and “hexies”, this is the perfect time to give it a try.  It’s easier than you think and it’s highly addictive.

Google “hexie quilt” and this is some of what pops up in Images.

hexi: /hek see/
See also, hexie.
noun.  a six-sided unit that is one of the hottest trends in quilting today
verb. “to hexie”… to make the six-sided units that are one of the hottest trends in quilting today

Google really likes hexies.  So does Pinterest.  So does Instagram – #hexies and #hexiequilt.

If you’re already making hexies, please jump in with suggestions!  And if you’re new to hexies and English Paper Piecing, here are a few of our favorite books to start with:

Adventures in Hexagons by Emily Breclaw for C&T Publishing.  The New Hexagon and the New Hexagon Coloring Book, both by Katya Marek for Martingale.  The first two are terrific resources for learning English Paper Piecing – EPP.  The coloring book serves two purposes – it lets you plan your hexie creations, and it’s just plan therapeutic fun.  Another excellent book is All Points Patchwork by Diane Gilleland – published in 2015 by Storey Publishing.

One of the most popular patterns based on hexagons is Lucy Carson Kingwell’s Smitten.

Smitten can be pieced by hand or by machine.  But if you’re looking for a slow-stitching, portable project… we suggest hand-piecing.

If you’re looking for ideas to combine for pieced hexagon blocks, we suggest Katya Marek’s The New Hexagon calendar.  There are 365 different hexagon blocks.

So what do you need “to hexie”?

Supplies – required and optional:

  • Fabric.  Okay, that’s obvious.  But what size pieces do you need?  More on that in a moment.
  • Paper hexies.  You can cut these yourself or purchase pre-made paper pieces.  There are dozens of sizes and shapes.  For hexies, the measurement provided is the length of each side, not the measurement across the hexie.
  • Thread.  40wt. or 50 wt.  That’s personal preference, I know dedicated, passionate hexiers who will only use one or the other.  The color is neutral – something closest to the range of your fabrics.  If the fabrics are mostly lights and pastels, go with white.  If they’re mostly very dark, a dark tan or gray will work nicely.
  • Needles.  Also personal preference.  I stitch everything – e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. – with No. 9 Straw needles.  I like the length of the needle and how thin it is.  Most of the experts suggest a No. 9 or No. 10 needle.  While straw – also known as Milliners – needles are generally recommended, use what feels comfortable to you.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you must use one kind-size of needle or another!  That said, I would probably recommend something other than a No. 22 Chenille or No. 3 Dollmaking Needle.
  • Scissors.  Unless you’re into breaking thread with your teeth, a small pair of scissors for cutting threads is a good idea.  If you like trimming the excess fabric before or after making the hexie, a small pair of scissors that cuts fabric is a good idea.
  • Thimble – optional.  If you’re hand-stitching the seam allowance to make the hexies and you like using a thimble, add one to your portable hexie kit.
  • Clips – optional.  These can be used to hold down the seam allowance while basting the hexie, or for holding two hexies together while they’re being joined.
  • Hole-punch – optional.  For punching a hole in the middle of the hexie to make removal of the paper a little easier later on.
  • Glue Pen or Stick – optional.  Many of the stitchers in the office love glue-basting the seam allowance to the back of the hexie and using clips to hold them in place while the glue sets.

Fabric.  I think you’ve already figured out that the size of your fabric piece is determined by the size of the hexie.

If you’ve got a stash of 2.5″ mini-charm squaresModa Candy – then 1″ hexagons are the perfect size.  They also work beautifully with leftover pieces of Jelly Roll strips.  (We have some of those right now.)  The 1″ hexie papers fit easily within the 2.5″ width and still have a nice seam allowance for regular or glue-basting.

Do you have a Moda Scrap Bag?

The 1-1/4″ hexies will fit most of the strips in Moda Scrap Bags.  (Because they can vary in width, double-check the width of the strip if you’re buying Scrap Bags for a larger hexie.)

If you’d like to cut your own pieces – the simplest way to figure out what size is to measure across the hexie from flat-side to flat-side and add at least 1/2″ for seam allowance.

Fussy-cutting?  For today, let it suffice to say that fussy-cutting is best done at home with templates, a rotary cutter and mat.  Once they’re cut, they’re portable!

Now that we’ve got the parts for your on-the-go kit, what should you put it in?  That’s up to you, and yes, everybody has their preferences.  I prefer something small like the medium-size tin – with window – shown in the first picture.  It’s just big enough for a stack of charm squares, papers, scissors, thread, glue pen and binding clips.  And it fits in my bag.

If you’re working with bigger hexies and fabric squares, and like something a bit larger, the smallest suitcase in the sets of three work nicely.


There are also zipper bags – Moda’s stitch by stitch/piece by piece bags or one made by you.  (Or in this case, by me.)

One word of advice… with a fabric bag like these, use a scissor-keep for the pointy-ends of the scissors.  Especially if you’re going to put the zipper bag in a bigger bag and have a tendency to blindly reach into the bigger bag to find something.  Ouch.

So do you hexie?  Do you have a hexie kit ready to take with you?  What’s in your kit?

I know.  So many questions.  But as always, I want to know what’s in your bag!

Just in case you still need a little convincing… from Google.

Happy Tuesday!

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18 thoughts on “Take it to make it…

  1. Totally addicted to EPP………atleast 4 major projects on the go and numerous smaller projects…………
    Lucy Boston is my main addiction at the moment………not finished the first one but already making the feature Lucy Blocks for the second quilt which will be finished different and quicker………..
    I constantly have a tin of sewing with me………about the size of a tissue box it contains snap lock bags with papers already prepared or blocks ready to make up………….
    I have light and darker thread (mostly use cream, grey, khaki- bottomline superiod thread), thimble, timber spool holder that also has a magnetic spot on the base to hold needles, hypafix tape for cracks in my fingers – I can still stitch with this and it does not interfere with stitching unlike bandaids on cracks, scizzors, aeroplane safe cutter on a long ribbon to hang around my neck (easier when traveling in the car stitching) glue stick and spare glue replacements, a few clover wonder clips…………Sometimes I carry an A4 size mini design board as it’s great on your lap in the car when travelling or sitting in front of the tv……….easy to pick everything in one go and move………..and most importantly I have to have my glasses specific for close stitching……….
    Always have spare needles as I have been places and broke my one needle and couldn’t stitch………

    EPP is great as there are different components to make it happen, cutting, or fussy cutting, gluing, sewing,joining units, removing papers (I use a tailors awl to help with this)…………..

    If you have never tried it give it a go…….I didn’t love it first up……..but then I discovered a glue pen………OMG heaven………
    prepare the fabric onto the paper well and it all works beautifully…………….gooduck……..

  2. I always carry my hexi project. It fits nicely in a clear container with a snap on lid. It is a longer range project simply because the stitching time varies…and it is pretty scrappy, which makes me happy. I don’t actually know how it will turn out because right now I am focused on making the flower shapes…

  3. I use a lunch box for my EPP. The current one is moda cowboys/girls…. all the stuff you have mentioned plus: paper trays from Taco Cabana, they stack nicely with one inside the other. I sort pieces of fabric not yet on papers, or the “centers” for units or odds and ends from other projects. I have been EPP for over 15 years.

  4. Been working on hexies off and on for years. But if I have a lot of sitting to do – like a week’s worth of M.D. appointments or an extra long Chemo session, I get bored with them. Have started a bunch of blocks from a sampler project. Background cut and marked. Applique’s cut ready to apply. Fabric, instructions for block, blunt scissors, needle and appropriate colored threads in a baggy I can stuff in my purse.

  5. Thanks so much for including me in your Hexie obsession post. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in just a few minutes here and there, and everywhere. <3 ~Katja

  6. And for travelling – or any other time – you can thread a whole bunch of needles onto the end of your spool of thread and cut off as needed – saves trying to thread a needle on bad roads! hh

  7. I love sewing hexies (although I hand piece them, rather than epp) and am currently sewing a quilt for Mini Archie with 1/4″ hexies… As for what’s in my tin, a pair of small scissors, a small pincushion (complete with size 12 sharps for sewing), a spool of Aurifil and a thread catcher. And a smaller tin with all the pieces in!

  8. I started a hexie project 15 years ago & picked it up every so often. My car accident 10 years ago makes it difficult for me to sit at a sewing machine, so now I make hexies every day. I’ve finished two large quilts lately & now I’m branching out into other color patterns & EPP shapes. I already had a fabric stash & tools that I loved & now I’m using them in new ways. It’s helping save my sanity!

  9. Mora scrap bags…awhile back my friends and I were visiting a shop where a woman was knitting g with fabric from a scrap bag-she was making a small rug. I misplaced the instructions…don’t know if this was her “own thing” or if you have instructions? Regarding EPP and scrap bags-any idea of approximately how many 1inch hexies you can get from a bag? I just love love love these scrap bags. I have been “collecting” them but havent used them yet.

  10. I was never a “hand sewer” until I found EPP. I L.O.V.E it! I have a stash of Hexis made up from scraps – it’s fun to be able to use up bits and pieces. I keep the finished hexis that I have no current plan for in one of the Moda suitcases. However, I have the BEST traveling hexi kit EVER! It’s a samples case from one of my wood shop reps. It fits perfectly in my lap. It is partly metal so I was able to attach magnets to the outside to keep my needles, small scissors, needle threader, ring pincushion (LOVE IT!) when it’s not on my finger, and thread (on the thread spool my husband made on his lathe – magnet glued to the bottom) all in place while I sew. Inside I have extra thread, needles, some paper clips and small binder clips in case I run out of my iron on papers, extra iron on hexi papers, and extra leather stick-on thimbles. Oh, and a few Peanut Butter Cups jut in case! It is totally tricked out for EPP on the go. I find myself leaving early for appointments just so I can have some peaceful EPP time! I am currently working on a small quilt that started as a table topper but I got carried away…

  11. Have several Hexie kits on the go. Also taught my grandson how to make them as he always has his nose in my space when I’m working on mine. Couldn’t afford to buy him sewing machine he wanted (since his sister got one for her 6th birthday). So, he got a sewing kit with Hexie papers, fabric, thread, scissors, etc. He is now 8 and when I go to visit he pulls out his kit before I even have a cup of morning coffee!

  12. Yes, I feared treading into hexiland, but sew happy I did. My bag is a turquoise dopkit with navy trim. Found it on the free table at a local guild meeting. Holds my Superior Threads bobbin donuts, needles, Clover needle threader on a wood base, Clover clips, Red Dots (since I’m inept at using a thimble), fabric, papers, and ready to sew hexies. I just keep making them, I’ve not joined the flowers together . . . yet. I figure that will happen in time or when I see a pattern and will “know” that is it! Allison C Bayer, Plano, Texas USA

  13. At first I didn’t like hexies, but once I got the hang of making them I was hooked! I keep all my supplies in a zippered cosmetic case with see-through pockets so I can just grab it on the way out the door.

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