19 August 2016

A little happy Tutorial ~ English Paper Piecing ~ How I Baste and Sew EPP Hexie's

As promised yesterday in my introduction post to my 'A Hexie a Day' project, I'm sharing today the two different methods that I use for basting and sewing my hexie flowers.

Before I do so I thought I would just mention how I cut out my fabric.  Generally I sit down to do my English Paper Piecing (EPP) on an evening, once everyone is fed and watered and as a way of relaxing.  9 times out of 10, I simply cut out my fabric by holding the EPP hexie paper on top of the fabric with my left hand (I'm right handed) and using scissors cut out eye balling a generous 1/4" seam allowance.  Possibly the biggest enjoyment of the whole process for me is choosing my fabrics for each flower, this way I get to cherry pick what I want in comfort!

You can of course if you prefer cut out using a rotary cutter and ruler.  On that rare occasion I'm organised ahead of time, this is how I like to do that, the benefit being that you can cut out multiple layers in one go, ideal if you require multiples of hexies in one colour, for example if you're planing to add paths around your flowers.

First off, I cut strips of fabric slightly larger than I need.  Then I place my hexie paper on top of the fabric and place my quilting ruler along one of the edges, allowing a 3/8" seam allowance.  I then cut the excess away.

I then move on to the next edge and repeat the process and finally work my way around all 6 edges.

Moving on to basting, first up is my preferred method for thread basting hexies up to 1".  For hexies larger than 1" I thread baste through the papers like this

I find that whilst this means that you have the extra job of removing the basting stitches, it holds the papers firmly in place whilst you're stitching.

For hexies 1" and under I use the following method.  For the purpose of this tutorial, I have used black thread, so that it showed up clearly in the photographs.  Ordinarily I choose a thread colour that blends with with my chosen fabrics as the basting stitches are not removed.  I'm in the 'I'm using cotton fabric so use cotton thread camp' and my thread of choice for both my basting stitches and for sewing my EPP is 50wt Aurifil.

Hopefully the pictures pretty self explanatory but  just to clarify, I thread my needle with a piece of thread measuring from my elbow to my finger tips, just as my nan taught to me and knot the end.  Then I firmly fold the two sides of the fabric over the edges of the hexies.  The key to accurate EPP is to have accurately cut papers and then for the fabric to be be basted accurately, that way your shapes will join together neatly.  Starting from the corner inbetween the two folds, stitch a little loop to secure the fold in place, then move on to the next corner, fold the fabric, sew a loop over the corner and move repeating the process until you have secured all 6 corners, then knot off.  In my haste to share this tutorial, I forgot to hole punch the papers before basting.  The addition of a hole allows you to remove your papers more easily.

Now glue basting....

As before, I think the pictures speak a thousand words, but my top tips for glue basting would be not to over do the glue, too much and getting the papers out is a devil.  I tend to use one swipe of glue, don't panic, it goes on blue and dries clear.  Fold the fabric with intent, so that it wraps tightly around the paper, but not distorting the shape of the paper.  I have a small tray and I find it really useful to have it on my lap and glue baste on an evening (whilst watching tv!)

When it comes to stitching the hexies together, the process is exactly the same as I did for my EPP Dresdens, which you can see HERE.  Just as reminder, my top tips would be, to start stitching a smidge in from the end (can you see my starting knot on the left hand side of the hexie below) and then work to the edge and back again and use lots and lots of tiny little stitches, which just nip the fabric.

EDITED I have received lots of questions regarding the best needles and thread to use...,my favourite combination is Clover Black Gold needles and Aurifil 50wt thread....take a look at THIS POST which has more information about this.

 can you see that even this example where I used black thread, the stitches are hardly visible.

So which method is best.  As with all patchwork and quilting I truly believe there isn't a right or wrong, it's down to your personal preference and what works for you.  In my opinion for what it is worth, I would say

Glue Basting
Pro's ~ Its super quick and easy
Con's ~ There is the additional cost of a glue pen and refills.  The papers do not last as long.  

Thread Basting
Pro's ~ The papers last ages and ages and ages and........
Con's ~ It takes a lot longer to do

The decision is yours.

Finally I thought I would share the order I stitch the hexies together to form the flower

I stitch 1 to 2, then add 3, then 4 and so on.  You will find that you will need to gently bend/fold the hexies the more that you add to the flower, as you stitch the corner Y seams, that's fine don't worry.  I also like to give the hexie flower a good press after, before joining them all together.

I hope that all this has been helpful, please do feel free to email me with any questions or leave a comment and I'll reply as soon as I can.

Finally don't forget to use the hashtags

#prettyfabricsandtrims   and    #ahexieaday

for your projects.


  1. Thanks a lot for the tutorial.

  2. great tutorial. thank you! can you please tell me how to calculate approximately how many flowers will be needed for a full size quilt. great hand project on the go. thank you again.

  3. AnonymousJuly 19, 2017



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