Wednesday, July 29, 2015

TUTORIAL: Fun with half and half hexagons

Good morning people! I've done several tutorials about how I like to have fun with hexagons, more fun than just using one fabric basted to a paper hexagon. When I made my Stars in the Loft hexagon quilt I didn't have enough fabrics or the right fabrics to cut the kinds of designs that I wanted to create so I developed a technique in which I paper foundation pieced with my sewing machine on my paper hexagon and once that was done I continued in the usual English paper piecing method. The reason I pieced on the paper is that if the seams of two fabrics extend into the corner I wanted to make sure that everything lined up perfectly. This is a great technique but in sewing on the paper it is sacrificed. I have other techniques that I developed for fancy hexagons such as made fabric. So I gave it some thought and figured that there was no reason why I couldn't use the "made fabric" for half and half hexagons.

Stars in the Loft by Karen H

Today I'll to share my simplified method to make the half and half hexagons rosette designs from my quilt. I call the hexagon half and half because one half is made with one fabric and the other a different fabric. This refined technique is faster and easier than my previous method and it is gentle on your hexagon papers.

TIP: You can purchase precut papers or if you are like me you can cut them out yourself. You will find templates with various sizes of hexagons under the tab English Paper Piecing Instructions & Hexagon Fun at the top of this page. If your printer doesn't print them the exact size you may need to enlarger or reduce the template. If you are gentle with the paper you will get many uses out of them. I use regular 20lb bond paper to print my hexagons and I cut them when I don't feel like sewing!

I start out by sewing two strips of fabric together using a 1/4" seam allowance. I shortened my stitch length because I will be cutting up the strip and I don't want the seams to come undone at the end. For a 1" hexagon I used two strips that measure 1 1/2" by 20". When the strip was sewn I pressed the seam allowance open.

I placed my hexagon on the strip being sure to line up the points of the hexagon on the seam. I used my children's washable glue stick to hold the paper template in place. Make sure that there is glue near the points of the hexagon that line up on the seam line.

I cut around the hexagon with my scissors leaving a generous seam allowance. I find that 3/8" works well. You don't have to fuss around with a ruler and rotary cutter - just use your scissors. The seam allowance doesn't have to be the same all the way around because you are going to baste the fabric to the paper and whip stitch your hexagons together unlike traditional patchwork where you must sew your patches together on the 1/4" seam allowance line.

I thread baste my hexagon from the back. To begin I start at one of the corners that is lined up with the seam. I fold over the seam allowance on the right side.

I fold over the seam allowance on the other side making sure I have a nice sharp point.

I turn over the hexagon to make sure that the point is lined up on the seam. If it isn't I lift the seam allowances to make sure the point is lined up and repeat the folds until it is correct.

I then start thread basting from the back and work around the hexagon until I get to the second point that lines up on the seam allowance. I repeat the process described above to line up the point on the seam allowance and continue basting.

This is what the hexagon will look like from the front and the back. Because I've basted from the back there are no holes in my paper and when it is removed it will be in great shape and ready to be used again and again. I use a washable children's glue stick to hold the fabric in place so the bond is very weak which means the paper comes out easily! When do I take the paper out? As soon as a hexagon is completely surrounded by other hexagons I remove the paper.

I fussy cut one hexagon for the centre of my rosette (or flower if you prefer) and then arrange the half and half hexagons around the centre. Following are four arrangements.

Another option that would be interesting would be to alternate three solid hexagons with three half and half hexagons! Play around and see what you can come up with!

For a little more fun here are some close-ups of the half and half hexagon rosettes in my Stars in the Loft hexagon quilt.

This is just one of countless designs that I have. It is fun, it is easy and it is a great way to use up strips of fabric. Although all of the examples above use only two fabrics for the half and half hexagons there is no reason why you couldn't use an variety of colours. Wouldn't it be fun to use the same light colour for all six hexagons but different jelly colours for the other half and then sew them into a pinwheel design like the block show above? It sure would be fun!

For those of you who are interested in the Brinton Hall quilt pattern in Quiltmania (pattern designed by Leigh Lattimore) I have found another quilt maker who is working on it. Kelly of Always Applique hasn't been blogging for several moths but on Monday she posted with oodles of pretty pictures of the projects she is working on including her Brinton Hall quilt which you can see here.

I hope you enjoy this little tutorial. Time for me to do some sewing so until I post again, happy sewing to you!
Karen H


  1. Hello Karen !
    What a great post ! Thank you..... Your quilt is just awesome !
    And you know what, I will take your idea of double hexies for the second part of the Brinton Hall.....I have found another quilter who made it : it's Katy from Katy's quilt on WordPress ! ;)
    I wish you a nice day !!
    Hugs !

  2. Hi Karen! I am definitely going to try this technique. I so enjoyed the few made fabrics in Value Prop. I need to get busy doing some of this. Wonderful post.

  3. very nifty-like this technique-when ever I visit your blog-I always say Wow
    Hugs Kathy

  4. I just found your blog and am so excited to do this. I have close to 175 hexagons made and I can't wait to try this. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. I am so pleased that you liked my tutorial. It is a fun way to use those very precious scraps. I wanted to send you a personal email but you are a no reply blogger so I had no way to contact you! :-(

  5. I love hexies. Nice new fabrics, haha. I like the tutorial. Groetjes, Dientje

  6. Before I go look at the new BH link I want to take the time to thank you for the other links a while back.... I now follow 4 new blogs. Too, thank you for your blog that is so special with what you are doing.

  7. fantastic tutorial Karen! love the countless designs we can make with this's fabulous
    bonne journée

  8. Thank you Karen for this clever tutorial. Love your hexagons, gives me a hole lot more variety for hexagon flowers. You are so talented and creative.

  9. Thank you for this great inspiration! Super hexies.

  10. Wow! I have made hexies using made fabric, but I used 1.5" hexies which were just a little too large and the designs weren't as pleasing to my eye as yours are. So many design possibilities! I think I need to try your version of half and half hexagons!

  11. The quilt is a labor of love. The Center really pops. Like the "made" fabrics in the blocks. Really makes the quilt unique.

  12. I feel so guilty that I haven't been working on my Mrs. Billings for ages, and now I am feeling SO drawn to Brinton Hall--ack! I've loved the center treatment since I saw Kim McLean's version in Quilter's Newsletter way back in 2005.. I love seeing all the options using the half and half hexie--I'll be trying them out for sure! Thanks for the excellent tutorial!

  13. I have done your technique for using strips of fabric to make fabric to cover hexagons. Have you ever used the strip the other way? Instead of going on the points of the hexagon---I have centered the seam over the center of the hexagon. I am sure you have done this, it does create new possibilities!! I have seen Kim's version of Brighton & am excited about it in those colors. Another fun blog to check out---thanks for the info you always willingly share

    1. I came up with this method back in the late 1990s because I wanted to create interesting designs for my Stars in the Loft quilt which was pictured. I've made the half and half blocks vertically as well. I've also split one side so that there are three patches on the hexagon! I've made a wide variety of star blocks, T blocks and many others. The possibilities are endless and it is so much fun to make them!

  14. I learn something new with every post of yours. I am making that leap and I am going to start making hexies. I can't seem to email you a picture of the quilt I saw I want to make. I'll keep trying. Is the quilt you talked about in Quiltmaker the current issue?

  15. What a great post Karen. I love your hexies and the quilt is fabulous! An amazing effort. I would love to see your quilts in person - maybe when I meet up with you? 😄

  16. Another fabulous tutorial, been meaning to try those pieced fabric hexies. still finishing my other QAL but nearing the end... so many scraps to use...

  17. You certainly are 'queen' of the hexie