hexagon quilt – the makings of a hexagon quilt, part one …

In light of the fact that I am really enjoying sewing my ‘grandma’s garden’ hexagon quilt, I thought I would share the process with you this morning, as there may be some of you who would like to start your own quilt …everyone except Cassie, that is!

Cassie left a comment on a post a few days back telling me that it would probably be too dangerous for her to hand sew a quilt. To quote Cassie … ‘Unfortunately I would probably stab myself many more times with the needle… my family now have a running tally of all the activities I undertake and get injured …’

Well, Cassie, I smiled (somewhat smugly) to myself when I read your comment, then proceeded to stab myself over and over again with the super fine sharp needle I was using. I almost ended up with an infected thumb in the process, and finally had to put a band-aid over my thumb to protect it as I sewed!!! It made sewing a little awkward, but oh my, the pain every time I jabbed my sore thumb again with the needle. It was taking all the fun out of sewing!!!

Anyhoo … this is a mini-tutorial covering the process of hand sewing a little hexagon quilt. You can grab a PDF of the tutorial here

THE TUTORIAL

Step 1 … choose the size of your hexagons and some fabric. I chose to go with 1 inch hexagons, and two packs of charm squares, as you can cut each charm square into quarters which is the perfect size (2.5 x 2.5 inches) to cover a 1 inch hexagon.

You can print off/cut out your own hexagons, or you can purchase packets of pre-cut paper or card hexagons online, or purchase them from your local quilting/patchwork shop. Some quilters use plastic templates, but I prefer to use card templates.


I purchased my card 1 inch hexagons from an Etsy shop called Possum Blossom Patchwork … the product is super easy to work with, and the service very quick.

I purchased my two charm packs from an Etsy shop called DreamPatch … again, beautiful charm pack, and quick service. If you live in Australia, it is postage free.

Step 2 … cut each charm square into quarters. I purchased two charm packs because you need six identical  ‘quarters’ to make a hexagon flower, with a centre of a different colour, if you choose to make your flowers this way. I am using cream centres for my ‘flowers’.

If you want to mix all the ‘quarters’ up and make multi-coloured flowers, then you don’t need to keep your ‘quarters’ together from two identical charm squares; you can happily mix them up.

I made one flower from each two identical charm squares, then made up ‘random’ flowers from the extra two ‘quarters’ from each set of two charm squares.

Step 3 … take a hexagon and pin it in the middle of a quarter of a charm square. Trim the edges to about ¼ of an inch from the edge of the hexagon.

Step 4 … there are two ways you can proceed from here. Method one is as follows … fold fabric over edge of hexagon and tack through card and fabric. Continue folding and tacking around the hexagon.

I began using this method, then changed to this second method after I thought about what would happen when I had this quilt top quilted. After the card is removed, I became aware that the edges of each hexagon wouldn’t stay as flat as I wanted them to. I went hunting online for some help, and quickly realized that there was a way around this problem.

Method two is where the fabric is folded over the hexagon card, and rather than tacking through the fabric and card, just the corners of the fabric are caught in the stitching. When the card is removed, the tacking stitches remain, and the folded-over hem stays flat. This will make quilting so much easier.

Step 5 … repeat this step for all ‘quarters’ and hexagons.

Step 6 … decide how to put your ‘flowers’ together. I lay my six hexagons petals and centre hexagon out in the shape of the ‘flower’ and played with the positions of the hexagons until it looked right.

Starting with the centre hexagon, knot the thread, and sew a ‘petal’ to the centre hexagon. Begin with a couple of knots to secure the thread to the hexagons. Then sew tiny slip stitches, taking care to grab just a couple of stitches from the fabric on each hexagon. Don’t sew too ‘deeply’ into the hexagon, and obviously don’t sew into the card, as you will be removing the card at the end of the quilt-making process.

Step 7 … grab the next hexagon ‘petal’ and sew it onto the centre hexagon, next to the first ‘petal’ you have sewn to the centre hexagon.

When all ‘petals’ are sewn to the centre hexagon, you can sewn between each ‘petal’. You will need to fold the centre hexagon in half to do this. Always secure your thread with a couple of stitches and knots to make sure your hexagon doesn’t unravel.

Repeat this process until all flowers are sewn together.

Step 8 … now the fun begins! There are many different ways to put the ‘flowers’ together. Some quilters use ‘filler’ hexagons around the ‘flowers’, but I have chosen to ‘butt’ my ‘flowers’ up against each other. I have a ‘filler’ cream hexagon every now and then, which you will see in later photos.

Lay out the ‘flowers’ in rows and columns. For example, my finished quilt will be 8 rows across by 7 rows down, which will use my 56 completed ‘flowers’. There will also be a few cream ‘filler’ hexagons every now and then.

When I am happy with the way the ‘flowers’ are set out, I stack each row into a pile, and put them somewhere out of harm, where they won’t be accidentally ‘rearranged’ for me!

Step 9 …  take the first pile of flowers, and using the first two ‘flowers’, lay them down and place them together, so that they butt up against each other. Note where they touch on the far right hand side; this is where you will begin sewing them together.

Step 10 … as you sew the two ‘flowers’ together, you will need to fold some of the card hexagons in half.

Step 11 … sew flowers’ together to make row 1 of your quilt. You can choose to sew all your rows first, then join the rows together, or just add flowers individually as I have chosen to do. This second method is like working on a jigsaw puzzle, I have discovered; it is a lot of fun!

Every now and then, you will need to add a ‘filler’ hexagon, so stitch up a handful of ‘fillers’ (mine are cream, like the centres of the flowers) and sew them in as needed. You can see the flowers/centres and the ‘fillers’ below …

Step 12 … carefully remove the card hexagons after the quilt top is finished.

Step 13 … how you finish off your hexagon quilt is up to you. I plan to send it off to my quilter, then trim the edges of my quilt back with a rotary blade, and bind it.

Please note … as this is my first hexagon quilt, and I basically Googled and made it up as I went along, there are things I will change the next time around. I would punch holes in the middle of my hexagons, as I think this will make the card hexagons easier to remove at the end of the sewing process.

I am now starting my next hexagon quilt using a layer cake of the very beautiful Modern Vintage collection by Bonnie & Camille for Moda fabrics. This will make 112 ‘flowers’, which will make this second hexagon quilt twice the size of the quilt above! Lots and lots of hand-sewing!

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8 Comments

  1. Leonie -Australia
    Posted August 21, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Your quilt is looking so pretty Sharon, gee they are a lot of work but the results will be worth it, thanks for sharing the info though I am not sure I would have the patience to do one, perhaps I could start with a cushion LOL.

  2. Posted August 28, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Wow Sharon!! I can’t believe I cursed you like that, so sorry :(( But was it ever worth all the pain – your quilt looks absolutely incredible! I love finding all the little details in it. It’s especially cool how the ornate flower blossoms actually seem to join up around the centre. Nicely done! Can’t wait to see it all done and quilted. But you’re starting another one already? You’re amazing.

  3. Posted September 2, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    No wonder these quilts are heirloom quilts, all that work! You have the patience of a saint Miss Sharon.

  4. Betty
    Posted May 16, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I just want to thank you so much for all the information and helpful hints on making the hexagons. I’m just starting my first one and I was having trouble getting the hang of it…but I think your info will do the trick…I will keep your website on my favorites so I can refer to it again and I know it will be again, and again!! Any chance you will post a “how to” video? Many thanks, Betty

  5. Karen
    Posted June 29, 2015 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Hi, what was your method for cutting the layer cake? I am about to start my first hexagon quilt (1 3/4″ hexagons) and want the best yield possible. Thank you!

    • ksharonk
      Posted June 29, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Hi Karen, I use 1 inch card templates, and cut my fabric to 2 1/2 inch squares, so I would lose a little fabric when cutting up a layer cake. I don’t currently use 1 3/4 inch hexagons, so I would suggest that you take some card templates and lay them out on a layer cake, and visually work out how to cut the fabric. Sorry I can’t be of any more help … enjoy your hexagon adventure!!!

  6. Catherine
    Posted June 30, 2015 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I am new at hand piecing and have always wanted to make a Grandmothers Flower Garden Quilt. I have been on so so many websites looking for information about how to do this and the more I researched the more confused I got, until I happened upon your website and blog. Your tutorials and the way you show and explain step by step is better than the books I have purchased and all the time I’ve spent trying to learn not only how to start but also I wanted to be able to have a go pack for traveling. You have explained everything I wanted to know, all I can say is Thank you so much yet that doesn’t seem enough. I have saved your site and will be returning often.
    Thank You for taking all that time and effort to help others like me, my progress will be because of you,
    Truly, Catherine

    • ksharonk
      Posted June 30, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Catherine, you’re very welcome!

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