Friday, February 3, 2017

Tutorial: Sewing a Hexagon Quilt by Machine

Pink Flamingo Hexagon Quilt: Machine Pieced Hexagons Tutorial | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017

As promised what follows is a step by step tutorial to show you the process of how I went about sewing my Pink Flamingo Hexagon Quilt by machine. This tutorial represents just one way of how to machine piece hexagons; a process that worked best for me, however I encourage you to make changes to suit your own needs and for your own sewing enjoyment.

Hexagon Template | Tutorial Machine Piecing Hexagons | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017

I used a plastic hexagon template with 2 inch (finished) sides, a 1/4" seam allowance, and with small holes for marking the points/dots where the seams intersect. You can substitute by making your own template from sturdy paper, however the plastic template does make cutting fabric and marking the seam allowance much easier and very accurate.

STEP 1
Using a rotary cutter and an accurate hexagon template cut all fabrics. Use a pencil to mark the points directly on the wrong side of the fabric for all of the hexagons. Marking a sewing line with a pencil - from dot to dot - is optional. I did not mark sewing lines, instead I used a 1/4" presser foot on my sewing machine to sew my hexagons together. When cutting your hexagons be mindful of the grain of the fabric. Cut all hexagons on grain (or parallel with the selvage edge). 

Tutorial: Machine Piecing Hexagons | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017

STEP 2 
The quilt design/layout is simple with the following two horizontal rows repeating in color sequence as pictured from the top of the quilt to the bottom of the quilt.

Hexagon Template | Tutorial Machine Piecing Hexagons | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017
Click on any image for a larger view.
Using a 1/4" seam allowance sew together each horizontal row by joining together the hexagons side by side as pictured below:
Hexagon Template | Tutorial Machine Piecing Hexagons | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017

Place two hexagons right sides together as pictured above - be mindful of matching the grain line of the fabric as indicated. With a short stitch length sew from dot to dot. Back-stitch at the start and end of the stitching line to lock the stitches in place. Stop stitching right at or just before the marked dot. If you have accidentally stitched too far use a seam ripper to undo those stitches.

Pinning is optional! I did not use any pins to piece this quilt top, however should you wish to use pins to match seams and secure the placement of the fabrics (especially when piecing the bias edges that are yet to come) go ahead and pop one or two pins in!

STEP 3
Once you have sewn together all of the horizontal rows of hexagons, join rows into pairs.

Tutorial Machine Piecing Hexagons | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017
Click on any image for a larger view.
Start at one end and work your way towards the other end. One seam at a time. Here's an example:

Tutorial Machine Piecing Hexagons | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017

To sew the seam as indicated with the arrow (the bias edge of the white hexagon and the bias edge of the brown hexagon) align the two sides together (where marked with stitching line - see below). You will note that the hexagon directly above the white hexagon (the pink hexagon) will neatly fold over, as indicated by the arrow.

Tutorial: Machine Piecing Hexagons | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017

Tutorial: Machine Piecing Hexagons | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017

At this point the seams have not been pressed. Ensure that the seam allowances are folded away from where you will be stitching. Sew from the marked dot to the marked dot. Back stitch at the start and end of the stitching line to secure stitches.
Tutorial: Machine Piecing Hexagons | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017

And you are ready for the next seam.

Tutorial: Machine Piecing Hexagons | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017


Tutorial: Machine Piecing Hexagons | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017

Repeat the process. Align seams, fold seam allowances away from the stitching line and sew from dot to dot.

The aligning of seams and the folding of the hexagons look awfully complicated however once you get the hang of the process it is simple and quite quick. You can sew two rows of hexagons together in less than 10 minutes.

Once you have sewn the rows together in pairs, sew pairs of rows together etc, until your quilt top is complete. To complete the quilt top I have added an additional horizontal row of white hexagons to the top and the bottom of the quilt.

STEP 4 -Pressing Seams
Tutorial: Machine Piecing Hexagons :: Pressing Seams | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017
[Pictured are my trial hexagons only. 
On close inspection you may notice that some of the
 hexagons are hand pieced (my initial plan was to hand piece this quilt),

 some of the fabrics have marked sewing lines,
 and some of the hexagons have been machine pieced].
Press all seams for all horizontal rows in the same direction (as indicated by the arrows). Then press the remaining seams as pictured, The points where the fabrics come together simply twist open. Press gently. Pressing the seams in this manner - rather than pressing seams open - meant that I could quilt the quilt top by stitching in the ditch without fear of weakening the piecing stitches.

POINTS TO REMEMBER:
  • Be mindful of the grain of the fabric when cutting hexagons as well as when sewing the hexagons together in horizontal rows. This will make sewing your quilt top together easier, will help to ensure the whole quilt top is on grain and therefore less "shifty", which in turn makes the quilt top easier to baste, and less likely to result in the layers of your quilt shifting when quilting.
  • Reducing your stitch length will give you more control when stitching up to the marked dot and not beyond. It is better to stitch to just before the marked dot than onto and beyond the dot.
  • If you have a pucker in a hexagon it is usually because your have stitched too far and into the seam allowance. It is not too late to fix this by simply unpicking those extra stitches.
  • It's a good idea to practise with larger size hexagons (2" sides and bigger) rather than smaller hexagons until you get the hang of the inset seams.
  • For the top, bottom, and side edges of the quilt I used have whole hexagons and trimmed off the excess fabric once the quilt top was complete.
Tutorial: Machine Piecing Hexagons :: Pressing Seams | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017
Tutorial: Machine Piecing Hexagons | © Red Pepper Quilts 2017

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask by leaving a comment, and I will explain/clarify as required.

Happy Stitching!
Rita

RELEVANT LINKS:
The Finished Pink Flamingo Hexagon Quilt
More Red Pepper Quilts Tutorials

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25 comments:

  1. What a great tutorial!! I love hexagons and can't wait to try this method out! Thank you!

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  2. Merci beaucoup pour ce bon tutoriel.

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  3. Thank you! I have a pile of pieced hexagons waiting to be sewn together and your tutorial will make the process so much easier.

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  4. Thanks for the tutorial Rita! I can't wait to try it out.

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  5. Rita - You always make it look so easy. And with a little practice, it really is. That's what I like about your blog. It gives regular folks the confidence to give things a try. Thank you.

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  6. Thank you so much for the tutorial. I have been looking for weeks for a good, clear hexagon quilt tutorial. This is perfect and I can't wait to try it out!

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  7. I agree with kathmce, "you always make it look so easy." I might just feel confident enough to give this a try. Thanks so much.

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  8. Thanks. I started hand piecing hexies (my first EPP project) over the Christmas break (I'm sure a long term project) and am very grateful that you have shared how to machine piece. And I must agree with others - you make it all look so easy :)

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  9. This is beautiful. I never planned to attempt a true hexagon quilt since I don't like hands piecing, but I think I might be able to do this. I do have one question - where do you get your background fabric (story)? I'm having a hard time finding it.

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    1. Thanks Debbie - That backing fabric is becoming more difficult to find. It looks like Pink Castle Fabrics has just about sold out - they've had it in stock for quite some time. You'll find yardage available at Kiwi Fabrics: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KiwiFabric

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  10. what a great explanation, i think i'll really try it, [and maybe be successful!!!]
    thanks so much

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  11. Fantastic!! Thank you so very much, Rita.

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  12. Great tutorial! I'm making Glitter by Jen Kingwell, it has those Y-seams too. What kind of marking tool do you use? I've been using a dark pencil, but thinking there must be something else out there.

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  13. I love all your quilts, but something about this one really sticks with me! Thank you for the tutorial, I hope I can create something as neat and tidy as yours!

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  14. Rita, I know you had a very good time making this beautiful quilt. Thank you dear for sharing your massive skills.

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  15. Hi Rita! This quilt is beautiful with such a nice soft palette! I was wondering if you use the 44" wide newspaper print on the back or the 108" wide? I ordered some of each and have noticed that the 108" seems to be a lot more greyish in color. The 108" wide would be easier to use for a back but it doesn't seem to be as crisp. Have you found this to be the case too?

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    1. Thank you for stopping by! I have purchased the wide newsprint fabric and agree with you; the print is not as clear/clean as the original, nor is the quality of the base fabric the same. The base fabric is coarser. The yardage that I purchased felt tacky (sticky) and had an unpleasant smell. In an effort to make it usable I have washed it and tumble dried it, which made the fabric softer and removed the smell. However I don't think the quality is that of quilting cotton and have no plans to use the wide back fabic for my quilts.

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  16. Love it! Thanks for the idea. I'm not a fan of hand stitching!

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  17. Where did you get your template? Not all that are available have the holes so I thought I'd check and maybe save myself a little web searching time. Thanks for the great tutorial!

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  18. Glad I found this. My mothers favorite quilt was the hexagon. I have never made one myself. Thank you for the tutorial.

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  19. Glad I found this. My mothers favorite quilt was the hexagon. I have never made one myself. Thank you for the tutorial.

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  20. Thanks for the great tutorial! I plan to use charm packs, is there a way to tell the direction of the grain on these? How important is it to cut with the grain? Thanks for the help!

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