Anemone quilt: how to do hexies

It’s this quilt again.

Pauline said she couldn’t get her head around how I made the hexie flowers, and could I explain? It’s not at all hard to do, but a bit tricky to explain in words, so there will be lots of pictures. You can click and zoom on any of them. This isn’t going to be interesting or new for everyone, but if it demystifies the process for even a couple of you, I’ll be happy.

Let’s get started. For each flower you need a centre and six petals. In this quilt all the centres, or hearts, are black. To save time, I just cut squares that will accommodate the 2″ hexie papers*, rather than laboriously trace and trim out hexie shapes in the fabric. You can fold and hold the fabric in place if there’s a bit extra, but with the trimmed shapes, you might need clips, pins or tape to hold it in place while you stitch. Most of my hexie quilts use much smaller papers, but I liked the big ones to showcase the fabrics.

Then start wrapping each hexie paper with the fabric and stitching it in place. This is called ‘basting’. Fold a corner of the fabric over the paper, stitch down until the next corner, where you fold the fabric over again and stitch down to secure the fold. I start with a good knot, which at the end of the process I use to help me pull out the basting at the end.

At the end, simply do a double stitch to secure, and snip the thread. Now repeat that six more times with the petal fabric.

Once you have all 7 hexies done, arrange them around the heart so that the pattern is pleasing, if appropriate. You can obviously use all different fabrics, or two, or three or just one.

Take the heart hexie, and one of the petals, laying them face to face. Knot the end of your thread. Start stitching along the edge where they meet. The stitches should pick up just a few threads at the edge of the hexies, and not pass through the paper at all. Work on the basis of at least 10 stitches per inch.

When you reach the end, pick up the next petal in the layout, lay it on the front of the heart, face to face, and continue with the thread from attaching the previous petal. Carry on all the way round until you reach your start point. Do not knot off and cut the thread.

Put the edges of the two adjacent petals together, and using the same thread, stitch these two edges together. Knot off and cut the thread. Work around the flower to attach all the petals to each other.

You will end up with a neat, crisp flower on the front.

At this point you have a choice. If you have used lightweight fabrics, quilting cotton, shirting, etc, you can leave the corners of the fabric on the back, as they won’t make an enormous difference when quilting. If you have used firmer or heavier fabrics, it would be a good idea to trim them off to leave a ¼ to ½ inch seam allowance, depending on how close to the edge you have basted. This will reduce the thickness and weight of the final quilt.

Use a pair of sharp scissors and snip away the excess fabric. You don’t need to get an immaculate result, just tidy it up a bit.

So there you are, a pretty, tidy hexie flower. There’s an endless variety of ways to join these. As you can see from the photo at the beginning, I’m separating the flowers with polka dot hexies. You can also surround them with a border and then a separator, or you can create diamonds using extra hexies, and so on. A quick search on Pinterest for ‘EPP’ or ‘Hexie Quilts,’ or a simple Google search will show a huge choice. One of my all-time favourites is a baby quilt using white petals, yellow hearts and green borders and separators, like a field of daisies. All the fabrics were different, which gave it a visual richness that flat, same fabrics would have lacked in this simple design.

Once you’ve joined flowers together, you can pull out the basting from all the hexies except the ones around the edge. Press well first, then unpick the basting, starting with the end stitches and pulling on the knot once you have one or two stitches left. Slide the paper out. You can use it again. It may need a bit of an iron to flatten out; papers get creased when you fold your work up between sessions.

I’m sometimes asked why I stitch through the papers instead of stitching only through the fabrics. It’s because I’ve tried both ways, and I prefer this one. It gives a crisper edge and sharper corners, as the fabric is tensioned over the paper more than using the other method. You may find the fact that you don’t need to unpick the basting is worth the lack of precision. Alternatively, you can buy little glue sticks you can run along the back edge of each paper and stick the fabric down. I don’t like this method as sometimes my papers stay in for years on a long term project, and by the time I remove them, the glue has stuck tight and shreds of paper remain, which is a Bad Thing, and ruins your papers for future use.

I hope this has clarified the process for you (looking at you, Pauline!), and that you might be tempted to give it a try. Who knows, being in lockdown might actually provide the impetus of boredom needed!

If you do, I’d love to hear about it.


Note: hexie papers are sized according to the length of each side, not by diameter. You can buy them from any quilt shop in packs of 50 or 100, and in a variety of sizes. 2 inches is a fun size to start with, as you get results quickly, but isn’t such a great way to bust your scraps if that’s what you want to do.

37 thoughts on “Anemone quilt: how to do hexies

  1. tialys says:

    I’m out of ‘in front of box set’ crochet projects now so I’m going to dig my hexies out from – ooh, some years ago – and get working on them again. I was using some sweet 1940s style child friendly fabric with teensy flowers and the odd tiny puppy or chick. I did buy the first lot pre-cut, along with the pre-cut hexie cards but I have a jelly roll of almost identical fabrics which I will use if – no, I’m going to say ‘when’ – I run out of the pre-cuts.
    Thank you for reminding me of the method and I think, if I can get a few of the hexies I’ve already covered joined into flowers it will encourage me to continue.

    • katechiconi says:

      I look at the posts of people who proudly display boxes and boxes of covered hexies but not a jot of assembly into flowers. Putting them together is much more satisfying, the thing starts to grow. I’d actually recommend mixing up the precuts and the jelly roll fabrics so you don’t get a sort of visible line where one set of fabric stops and another starts. And of course, the best thing about EPP is that it’s binge-TV-watching-friendly!

  2. Now, this was something I already knew about – but how?! none of my family have ever quilted, and although I own a lovely quilt, made for me by a friend, back in 1992 (used daily, washed regularly and so now threadbare and needing some tlc) I don’t recall ever seeing one being made. Must be crafting osmosis 🙂 Thanks very mich for making the time to show us how you do it. That was really clear. x

    • katechiconi says:

      I think you must have watched someone do it at some point. And of course, you can use this process to repair your lovely heirloom, ideally with some well-used and washed fabric so it doesn’t pull too hard on the older fabrics and damage them still further. Wish I could pop round and fix it up for you!

  3. I love my hexies … I’ve finished my first place mat … and started on my second.. & yes it’s perfect with TV 😊

  4. Going Batty in Wales says:

    I always cut my own papers using a set of metal templates. I had no idea you could buy them! My first lot were from the notes I took in university lectures – after I had got my degree I hasten to add! When my new heating system was installed I was given the owners manuals in umpteen different languages all printed on 100gsm paper – they will be enough to see me out!

    • katechiconi says:

      I used to cut my own, but then decided that if there was going to be wear and tear on my wrists it was going to be from sewing, not cutting. But I cut my first set from old manilla folders my boss was throwing out. Perfect weight! I must say, the bought ones are lovely, and they last longer than the home made ones.

  5. Steph says:

    Very interesting, thankyou! I’m sure I will never do this, but if self-isolation lasts long enough for me to finish my million other projects, who knows?!

  6. This is an eye-opener post…thank you! You should consider this a ‘tutorial’!!!!

    • katechiconi says:

      The hope is to demystify it a bit. A lot of people think it’s a lot more complicated than it truly is. I taught a friend to do it on holiday, and now she’s going bonkers, turning out table runners and placemats as fast as she can. Now she has the bit between her teeth, I predict a quilt fairly soon!

  7. claire93 says:

    there’s something so therapeutic about EPP

  8. Sharon says:

    Great tutorial ~ this was my first look at the construction process for this pattern. Easy to follow an understand. You crushed it again! great post 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      There are other ways to do it, but to me, this is still my favourite and achieves the best results. It doesn’t need any special skills or equipment, and is easy to carry around with you. The perfect handcraft!

  9. Kate, I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I’ve often wondered how the paper part worked. I didn’t realize you stitched through it, then later removed it. Thank you.

    • katechiconi says:

      Not everyone does stitch through. It’s the traditional way, but long ago clever people worked out that if you just stitched the folded corners together, the fabric would ‘hold’ around the paper template. If you do it that way, you can use plastic ‘papers’ which will last forever, but I don’t like doing it that way, for the reasons I explained. Glad you enjoyed it!

  10. It was my job as a youngster to cut the hexi papers but it was with newspapers and the card board boxes from soap boxes and detergent boxes.

    • katechiconi says:

      That sounds like hard work for a young ‘un… I found that cornflake boxes were pretty good too, but in the end, I succumbed to the precut cardstock papers, so much nicer and smoother and the perfect weight.

  11. I have indeed been ‘looked’ at. and ’tis all clear thank you so much Kate, over and above and absolutely clear. I’m even tempted to have a go – but must insist I rein myself back until I have made some headway with the seven other projects I found languishing in the great handwork cleanup and out of recent days. Still, there’s no harm in making just one hexie flower, just to have the experience is there? Then, having learned I could come back to it when the other jobs are complete ….. (Did you see what I did there? This is how I move myself from no to maybe to yes when it comes to crafting 🙂 )

    The ‘wrapping’ term that had foxed me made me laugh. My immediate image was of wrapping – you know, like in gift wrap – and that had stuck. As soon as I saw your photo it all fell into place. I am such a visual person!! I always learn best from watching someone do something, failing that, photos work second best and reading usually comes in (in an often angst filled and painful) final place. I’m very impressed with your sharp corners, do you press those ‘wraps’ into place before stitching?

    • katechiconi says:

      Just the one teeny tiny hexie flower….. Uh huh! Be warned, if my friend Chippy is any example it’s addictive! To answer your question, no, I don’t press anything till right at the end, when it’s time to finish the quilt. The folding and stitching through process creates those sharp corners, which is why I love it. Depending on how I decide to finish this quilt when the time comes, I may do another tutorial on options for finishing off hexie quilt edges. There are at least three ways to do it.

  12. thank you for taking the time to write and photograph such clear instructions. Of course I can’t get to a store to buy hexie cards so I will make an attempt to cut some – they may be a little lopsided! I plan to make one flower for a page in “the” book. Hugs 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      In case you didn’t already know, you can download pages of printed hexies from the internet. If you can print on light cardstock, that’s the perfect solution. Otherwise, glue a printed page to card and then cut out. Much less wonky than my hand-drawn and cut out papers…!

  13. Terri says:

    Thank you Kate for this wonderful tutorial. And thank you Pauline for asking the same question that I had. I’ve watched a couple tutorials on YouTube but yours makes a lot more sense. I might even give it a try. 😁

    • katechiconi says:

      I encourage you to try… even if you make only enough to make a place mat or table runner and then have enough of it, you’ll have given it a go. It’s not for everyone, but if you get the bug, it’s quite addictive without the associated health risks!

  14. cedar51 says:

    awesome but it won’t be for me…I can’t even make a straight line with a ruler, let alone cut a start line (& just now that would be the only way I could do those) – people do find it amazing I can “make anything” and I can let you into a secret – there are days when I can’t make anything…”wobbly and crooked” are my trademarks 🙂

    – remember that when you see a blurred photograph on my pages! It’s a specialised method, which according to one silly mentor at art school, I have to take courses to master it. The next mentor, said “wat, you’ve a special talent…”

    But I love looking at how you and others manage the “straight line”

    • katechiconi says:

      Oh, I have my days too. I am an acknowledged klutz, I trip, drop, break, tear, cut crooked, cut myself, burn myself… Well, you get the idea, but post-chemo neuropathy will do that for you. Anyway, I’ll take that ‘special talent’ line to myself with enthusiasm! And I just keep on keeping on trying.

  15. Joanne S says:

    Thank you for the tutorial. I love the look of a scrappy hexie quilt. You certainly have the knack for this!

    • katechiconi says:

      I think the majority of quilters have tried this or something like it at some point. A lot of them get discouraged by how slow it is. For me, that’s part of the pleasure, it’s not all over too quickly!

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