Hello dear friend, I have a really fun post for you this week! I’m going to show you how to make a super cute hexie flower with the easy English paper piecing method.
What is English Paper Piecing (EPP)?
English Paper Piecing (or EPP) is a way to create and assemble various shapes using fabric and paper. Often done entirely by hand, EPP allows you to arrange shapes one by one to create different designs. The method is often used for quilting, but the possibilities with EPP crafts are nearly endless. The most famous shape to make is the hexagon, and that’s what we’ll be working with today!
I discovered EPP earlier this year and instantly loved it. It’s absolutely perfect for using pretty fabric scraps and the hand-stitching involved is simple and relaxing. I was utterly amazed at how neat and pretty seams look when joined with EPP! So much less aggravating than trying to sew tiny pieces of fabric at the sewing machine. (I do have to say that the sewing machine and I don’t get along very well when I try to sew small things.)
If you follow me over on Instagram, you might have seen that I’ve been making a new hexie flower in EPP style each month. I love embroidering Mollie Johanson’s designs (which you can find on her blog Wild Olive, and also on her Etsy shop) and she’s been releasing the cutest little house patterns every month. Those patterns are completely free to download, and she even offers matching wallpapers and a cross-stitch chart for free as well!
It’s been tons of fun to turn these adorable houses into hexie flowers every month, so today I’m going to share my process with you! I will be turning the October Corn Shock House pattern into a decorative hexie flower. EPP is very addictive though, be warned, and so are Mollie’s patterns!
Materials to Make Your Hexie Flower
- Wild Olive Kawaii Crossing embroidery pattern (I linked the one for October, which is the one I’m using for this tutorial, but feel free to use any other one! Her website is full of them.)
- Embroidery floss (DMC colours are listed on each Kawaii Crossing pattern)
- Scrap fabric in white/off-white colour for the embroidery
- Small embroidery hoop (3”)
- Needles: 1 embroidery needle, 1 hand-sewing needle
- Scissors: embroidery snips, sewing shears, and paper scissors
- Cardstock paper (enough to cut 7 hexagons 1 ¼” long)
- A pencil and ruler
- Fabric scraps to match your embroidery (I like to use 2 different fabrics)
- Sewing thread to match your fabric
Optional: A piece of felt for backing
1. First, let’s print the pattern! When you download the Kawaii Crossing house pattern of your choice, you will notice that they include 3 pages. We only need the first page since we are making a really small embroidery. Scale the page to 75% using your printer’s settings and print.
2. Transfer the pattern onto a piece of off-white fabric (I normally use scraps of cotton muslin). If you’re not sure how to transfer the pattern, you can check out this post.
3. Embroider the pattern following the DMC recommendations, or change up some colours to suit your fabric choice. For this October pattern for example, I made the scarecrow orange instead of the original purple. I like to embroider these patterns with the satin stitch as much as possible, and add the little details with straight stitches, or a backstitch. To see how to embroider the faces, Mollie put out a really helpful YouTube tutorial on how to do it!
Preparing the Hexagons
Next, we will cut out some cardstock to make our hexagons. I like to use 1 ¼” size hexagons (2.8″ wide). You can use a template to trace these out or make your own with graph paper.
4. Trace and cut out 7 hexagons for one hexie flower (I’m making more here in preparation for my next project).
5. Gather up your pretty fabrics, and turning them to the wrong side, pin the hexagon shapes in place. Make sure they are centered however you want if using patterned fabric. Cut around the hexagon, leaving a good ¼” seam allowance. I like to use 2 different fabrics to make 3 hexagons of each. Since the shapes are big enough, I prefer to use pins to hold the paper onto the fabric and avoid using glue, but there’s a glue pen you can use for EPP if you find that easier.
6. Do the same with your piece of embroidery. Center a cardstock hexagon on the wrong side of the fabric, and pin in place. This one usually takes a bit more fiddling to get well-centered. Cut around the hexagon with a ¼” SA. Don’t take the pins out yet!
You should now have 7 cut out hexagons looking like this:
7. The next step is to baste each hexagon around its cardstock shape. Working from the wrong side (cardstock facing you), fold down one side of the hexagon’s seam allowance around the cardstock. Hold it in place with one hand while you fold the next side to create a nice sharp corner.
8. Thread a hand-sewing needle with matching thread and stitch this corner in place, going through the fabric only. I usually take 2-3 small stitches just to anchor the fold in place.
9. Once your corner is secure, drag your thread to the next corner and fold the seam allowances in the same way. Stitch in place, again just taking 2-3 stitches to secure the fold. Continue this way until all the seam allowances are folded and secured to the wrong side. Remove the pin.
10. Repeat these steps for the remaining hexagons, until you have 7 happy little hexies looking like this:
Making the Hexie Flower
Now we are ready to assemble our hexagons into a flower shape!
The embroidered hexagon will be the center, and then you can arrange the remaining ones in the order that you prefer. I like to alternate between my two different colours.
11. To assemble them together, I like to start by attaching the top hexagon to the center one. Place them good side together and grab your needle and thread. This is where the really fun part comes in! Instead of sewing along one side with a seam allowance, you will sew the hexagons by whipstitching them together at the very edge.
12. Start at one corner and anchor your thread (use a knot if you like), then run a whipstitch along the edge, again going only through the fabric. You should be going through the fold on either side without catching the cardstock. The whipstitch is my favourite stitch for this, but you could also use the ladder stitch or the slipstitch.
Unfold the two hexies and tada, they’re attached and the stitching is barely visible! (I’m using white thread for all my hexagons because I’ve used the same thread for all the hexie flowers in this collection, but I do recommend using matching thread).
I find this method of handstitching so much more calming and easier than the traditional way! The cardstock makes everything nice and sturdy, the stitches run smoothly and aaaahhh it just looks so neat! It’s longer than machine-sewing, but it’s so pleasant to do.
13. Attach the remaining 5 hexagons to the center one in the same way, good sides together, stitching along the edge through the fabric folds.
14. Then, all we have to do is attach the remaining hexagon sides.
To do this, you will have to fold your hexie flower a little, and pinch the corner closest to the center to be able to get your two hexies good sides together.
And that’s it! You just made a hexie flower! 😊 It might need a little pressing after all that folding to get it nice and flat.
Since I’ve been making these just for myself as wall decorations, I leave the back unfinished and I also leave the cardstock paper in for some extra sturdiness. If you want to use your hexie flower on a quilt or as an appliqué on something else, you can remove each piece of cardstock and it will keep its shape! If you also want to use it as a decoration but would prefer to finish the back, I recommend cutting out a piece of felt of the same size and shape, and whipstiching it all around. That way the back is all nice and neat, and felt doesn’t fray so you don’t need to worry about enclosing seams or leaving seam allowance.
I sincerely hope that you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and that you’ll want to give EPP and hexie-flower making a try! It’s been so therapeutic to do this year and I’ve been really excited to share the many joys of it with you all.
Happy English Paper Piecing!