Michael Miller Monday with Hexagons

Some people groan when they hear the word "Monday." But, if you have beautiful fabrics in your hand, you can hand-le anything!

I'm going to show you not one, but TWO fabric collections today and how they work so nicely together. Gingham Play and Cotton Couture are new fabrics by Michael Miller.

Here are just the Gingham Play fabrics. I am partial to bright colors!

Gingham Play
And the newest colors in Cotton Couture. They are NOT bright colors, so I had to use my quilter's smarts to combine them with the brights above.

Cotton Couture
I pulled several ginghams and solids that were as close in color as I could. I have a plan (yes, I do!)

Ginghams and Solids playing nicely together
I decided to make some large English Paper Pieced (EPP) blocks based on a pattern I created for my first book (Bold, Black and Beautiful, AQS 2004). I pulled out my 2" paper hexagons and selected my first two colors.

As you may know, hexagons used in EPP are measured from POINT TO POINT along the sides. In this case, a 2" hexagon measures 2" from point to point! But my cutting of the fabric takes its cues from how I cut hexagons for machine stitching.

Here you have a 2" hexagon paper which measures almost 3-1/2" in height. If I was rotary cutting for machine piecing (to allow 1/4" seams all around) I would cut a 4" strip: this is the MAGIC number. (1/4" seams allowed for each side). But, because I do NOT like only 1/4" fold-over seams in EPP (I like 3/8"), I added 1", for a 4-1/4" strip of fabric.

Measuring the HEIGHT of my hexagon
My fabric hexagon will finish to that 3-1/2" height. I cut a strip 3-1/2" plus seams (two x 3/8" = 3/4"). That means 4-1/4". But I want to work with a "normal" number; I bump it up to 4-1/2".

Now the real magic happens! Fold the 4-1/2" strip in half lengthwise, with the fold at the bottom and the raw edges at the top. Align your 60 degree, multi-sized ruler as shown (you have one, right?). This needs to be a blunt tipped ruler, because the markings are different. I'm looking for the 2" horizontal line on the ruler which represents half the finished height of 4-1/2". Cut on both sides as shown below.

Cut on both sides of the ruler
Here is the folded hexagon:

Open up and you have a perfect hexagon using only TWO cuts (and not 6)

Yes, this gives me a bit more seam allowance on the back, but better more than less.

Pinned paper hexagon with fabric hexagon
And stitched:
Pinned, stitched and ready for the next one.
I have 5 sets of these hexies cut out from Gingham Play and Cotton Couture and ready to stitch. I pulled threads to match.
Auditioning thread
All my greens ready for the next step. 

Gingham Play and Cotton Couture hexagons
Now, can we see the back? As you can see from the picture below, I do NOT use glue and I do NOT stitch thru the paper (as in the traditional method of EPP). I capture the corner folds. The basting stitches stay in and keep the seams from "flapping" around when I pull out the papers. Not stitching through the papers does NOT weaken the integrity of the papers so I can reuse them multiple times. But, whatever your method, go for it!

Two hexies stitched
And even more stitching from the wrong side. Yes, I have tiny stitches. But you should see my first hexies 20 years ago! Yikes!
More stitching up close
Let's talk a little about how to figure out cutting fabric for other sizes of hexagons. This is not an exact science. Here is a little chart for some of the most popular sizes. I always suggest practicing on construction or scrap paper before committing to fabric!

For 1" hexagons:

  • The height is 1-3/4"
  • I add 3/4" for seams (two x 3/8")
  • Cut a strip 2-1/2" x wof
  • Use the 1" ruler line at the top of the folded fabric (at the raw edges)
  • Cut on both sides and you have a fabric hexie with enough fabric for fold over

For 1-1/2" hexagons:

  • The height is a little more than 2" (let's call it 2-1/4")
  • I add for seams
  • Cut a strip 3-1/2" x wof
  • Use the 1-1/2" ruler line at the top of the folded fabric (at the raw edges)
  • Cut on both sides and you have a fabric hexie with enough fabric for fold over
Now let's see my progress!

Grandmother's Flower Garden variation
And from the back before taking out the papers (which I will reuse):

Back of GFG
Then I went on to the lovely lavender.

Lavender Gingham Play and Cotton Couture
And my finished block:
Lavender GFG block
As you can see, I couldn't get to all the blocks. The yellow one is almost finished. This was a great take along project as I was teaching 5 classes for the Sewing Expo Thursday thru Saturday and I stitched a lot in my hotel room (yes, you can see that hotel bedspread and desk!)

I'll keep you posted on my progress, but to not keep you in suspense, here are the two quilts I've made using this pattern, so you know where I'm going.

Grandma's Night Garden from my 2004 book
And one I made from all my class samples from a few years. This is how I will stitch the blocks to a background rectangle:

And I put four blocks together and didn't like the negative space in the middle. So, I appliquéd one more block over that center. This is why I am making 5 blocks!

This is my plan for the five blocks using Gingham Play and Cotton Couture
Take a visit to the Michael Miller website to see these lovely collections. And go do some experimenting with construction paper and your multi-sized 60 degree ruler to simplify the cutting of
your fabric hexagons. This is really only a GUIDE. You may tweak this a bit to work for you.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Thank you for the hexi tutorial on easily cutting the correct size. I will try it out.

  2. Hi Debby! I was just thinking about you yesterday. I remember you shared shot cotton information a while ago, and was going to try to search for some. Anyway, these gingham fabrics and matching solids are SOOOO cute. I love gingham. I remember trying to find a cute pink or yellow gingham not that long ago (maybe 2 years now!) and it was difficult to find. I'm glad it is coming back as I think it should be a staple. AND such pretty colors. The scale is just perfect for the hexies you share as well. ~smile~ Roseanne

  3. This cutting information is brilliant! I can't wait to try it out because I hate cutting fabric for hexies.

  4. Love those fabrics and thanks for the tutorial on easily cutting the correct size. It is very helpful.

  5. Awesome Debby! I love the way you cut your hexies and I will definitely be using this method. Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Love those ginghams and the creative way to cut hexies without a specialty ruler.

  7. I to love the fabric choices!! Thanks for sharing. Great Tutorial.

  8. I love GFG!! Thank you so much for the tips and instructions. Cant wait to try this method and these larger sizes!!


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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