Sunday, August 4, 2019

Cutting Hexagons for English Paper Piecing

I have been English Paper Piecing (EPP) for almost 20 years. I have used all sizes of hexagon papers (3/4" to as large as 3").


I was taught by the owner of Paper Pieces, who simplified the technique by showing me that it's not necessary to cut fabric hexagons; just cut rectangles and trim later.

Maybe you can join me August 23 in Arlington, Texas, for an exciting class on English Paper Piecing with the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo! You can see all 5 of my classes HERE.

This is a 3-round GFG block. I thread basted NOT through the papers but in each of the folds. No need to take out the basting; the folds remain nice and crisp. But I used fabric rectangles and it's time for me to trim each of those hexagons to reduce the bulk (and to get to the papers!)

Grandmother's Flower Garden with fabric about to be trimmed
Here's what it looks like after trimming. You can see more steps in my April post.

Block trimmed
I should have punched a hole in ALL of those papers, because that makes it easier to pop out the hexagon papers.

I could have saved myself a big step by cutting fabric hexagons at the beginning. But the thought of cutting all those hexagons (4-6 cuts per hexagon) was too depressing - until I remembered my own trick of how to cut hexagons from strips (not my original idea, but I love to pass it on!)

1. I always use a 3/8" seam allowance for my EPP hexagons. I calculated the approximate height of my FINISHED hexagon (1-3/4") and then added 3/8" twice (3/4"). For a 1" EPP hexagon, that's approximately 2-1/2" FOR THE FABRIC. I cut a 2-1/2" x wof strip of my blue floral as shown below.

Cutting a long strip
2. I will be using a standard 60 degree triangle to cut my fabric hexagons. I fold my 2-1/2" fabric strip in half along the LENGTH as shown, wrong sides together. Now, a little more math. This math is NOW based on the finished height of the FABRIC. We all know that a hexagon for EPP is measured along a side, from point to point. Just suspend that thought for right now!

The formula for cutting hexagons this way is: 
  • What is half the finished height of the hexagon? (because you are cutting the fabric folded in half). 1-3/4"
  • Add those seam allowances (3/8" twice) and we get 2-1/2" for the fabric cut. A 2-1/2" strip of fabric will finish to 2", so we need to find HALF OF THAT. 1" is half of 2".
  • Find that horizontal line on your ruler (in this case, "1")
  • Align the 1" horizontal line with the RAW EDGES of your folded strip
  • Note the fold of the strip is at the bottom (this does make a difference!)
Aligning the 1" horizontal ruler line with raw edges
3. Cut along both sides as shown below:
Cut fabric on both sides of ruler
4. Open up fabric, and - MAGIC!
Quick cut fabric hexagon for EPP
5. Several hexagons. Do NOT flip-flop the ruler. Always have the fold of the fabric at the bottom. There are little waste triangles of fabric from cutting.

Keep cutting along the strip
6. Now attach your papers. I like to punch a hole in the center of my papers for ease of removal.

Hexagon paper centered with 3/8" seam allowance around all edges
 Punched holes allow for pinning to secure in place for stitching.

Pin through punched holes
And several from one strip. Remember, instead of guessing, you are able to use a ruler and with only two cuts get all sides of that hexagon cut! No sloppy, random cutting with scissors.

I got all of these from one 2-1/2" strip!
If you are nervous, PRACTICE on construction paper or other waste paper. Then when you get your numbers right, go for the fabric!

I cut kits for my students of various sized hexagons, diamonds, and jewels. If you're in the Dallas/Arlington, Texas area in the 3rd week of August, come join me in my EPP Class: English Paper Piecing with Hexagons and Diamonds. August 23, 8:30 am to 11:30 am.

6 comments:

  1. Wow! That’s brilliant! Thanks so much for sharing this.

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  2. This is genius!! Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Thanks for explaining how to cut fabric for hexagons!

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  4. I sure hope you are invited back to teach at Quilt Odyssey and EPP is the class. I seem to have a new "aha" moment with each of your posts. Thanks for the education.

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  5. I am going to give this a try. Sounds and looks far easier than what I did the only time I made a grandmother's flower garden block. Thanks for the explanation.

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  6. on measuring finished hexie, is that from point to point or flat side to flat side?
    alternatively, what is Paper hexie size from PP for 2.5"strip

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Thanks for stopping by Debby Kratovil Quilts! If you had a question and don't get an answer from me, please feel free to email me at: kratovil@his.com