Getting Started with English Paper Piecing Part 3: Stitching Hexagons
It's that time again! Hexie time!
This week we are in part 3 of our Getting Started with EPP series where you'll learn how to stitch your hexagons together and how to applique them onto a background.
In this four-part series, I'm taking you step-by-step through making a small EPP project from start to finish. You'll learn how to make a bookmark entirely by hand and get familiar with the entire English paper piecing process. It's a fast and fun EPP project perfect for beginners!
Last week, we covered how to cut your fabric and baste it to your hexagon templates. In this week's post, you'll learn how to stitch your project together.
I'll cover each step in detail below.
If you'd like to watch as I go through each step, check out this week's video...
I’m so excited! We finally get to start stitching our project together! So let’s begin.
Stitching an EPP Project
Stitching EPP hexies together is super simple and super fun! I'm going to walk you through each step in detail below. But to summarize...
First, you'll gather your EPP supplies. Next, you'll prep your hexagons for stitching. Then, you’ll stitch your hexies together to one another before stitching them all to the background fabric.
Let’s get into the details...
1. Gather Tools & Materials
For this part of our series, you're going to need to grab your fabric pieces, your basted hexagons, your glue stick, needle, thread, and scissors.
If you're just joining, refer to Part 1 of the series for the
tools and supplies you need to get started.
2. Prepare to Sew Your Hexies
Layout your five basted hexagons in the design you want to use for your bookmark. I've got a few examples here for inspiration. You can create any design you want, as long as the five hexies are in a row.
I'll be using the arrangement on the right for my bookmark. Feel free to use any of these ideas or come up with your own.
After you've arranged your hexagons as you want them, thread your needle with the thread you have chosen to use for this project.
3. Stitching Your Hexagons
Now that your hexies are arranged and your needle is threaded, pick up the first hexagon in your row and place it face down on top of the next hexagon.
With those two hexies in your hand, bury your needle under the seam allowance of the hexagon on top. Make sure you don't go through the paper. You only want to catch the fabric seam allowance.
Take one stitch right at the corner. Then take another stitch in the same place but before pulling your thread all the way through on this second stitch, send the needle through the loop to make a knot.
It's very important to knot your thread at the beginning and end of each side of your shape. It helps to prevent the unraveling of your project should your thread break in the future.
After knotting, you can now stitch along that side of the hexagon taking stitches that are about 1/16 inch apart from each other.
Tips for Almost Invisible Stitches:
- Take up just a few threads from each fabric with your needle.
- Sew perpendicular (at 90 degree angle) to the seam.
When you get to the end of the seam, take two stitches, knotting the second one just like you did at the beginning of the seam.
Then repeat these steps for the rest of your hexagons, stitching them together into a row of hexies.
4. Remove the Paper Templates
Starting with the center hexagon, carefully pull back the seam allowance from the paper along each side.
Remove the paper from the fabric by placing your finger under the paper and gently lifting it off the fabric.
Set the hexagon row down on the table and finger-press the seam allowances back in place.
Repeat with the remaining hexies, working out from the center.
5. Appliqueing Hexagons to Background
The last step for this week is to applique your hexagon motif to your background fabric. Here's how...
Basting the Applique
Before you can begin stitching the row of hexies to the background fabric, you must baste it in place so that it doesn't move while you're stitching.
You'll use your glue stick for this step. So grab your glue stick and the piece of background fabric you made the pencil markings on it in Part 2.
While still looking at the back of your hexagon row, dab glue along the row, making sure to put glue at each end, in the middle of each seam, and in the center of each hexagon.
Then, turn the row over and gently place it on top of the background fabric. Before pushing it down, carefully line up the row of hexagons where you want it on the background fabric.
Starting with the center hexie, gently press it down onto the background fabric, working the seam allowances flat as you go. Next press the two seams out from the center hexagon.
Continue finger-pressing each hexagon out from the center, working the seam allowances flat with your fingers, until all of your hexies are secured to the background fabric.
Starting Your Applique
Now let's hand applique the hexagons down to the bookmark background. First, you need to knot your thread.
Thread your needle. Next, hold the needle in your right hand and the end of the thread in your left hand with each pointing at the other.
Then wind the end of the thread around the needle three or four times.
Pinch the windings between your index finger and thumb. Then pull the needle through your pinched fingers with the other hand until the knot forms at the end of the thread.
From the back, behind your row of hexagons, bring your needle through the background fabric and up through the edge of one side of a hexagon.
Take your first stitch by putting the needle right next to the edge of the hexagon, into the background fabric directly next to where you came up.
Bring your needle up through the edge of the hexagon about 1/16 inch away from where you went down.
Continue taking small stitches in this same way - down through the background, up through the edge of the hexagon - all along the side of the hexagon until you get to the first outer corner.
Appliquéing an Outer Hexagon Corner
Come up through the hexagon shape, right at the corner. Then go down into the background fabric only, right next to the corner where you came up.
Come up again through the hexagon, at the corner. Then go down one more time into the background fabric next to the corner where you came up, coming up 1/16 inch away through the next side of the hexagon.
Stitch to the corner, then repeat the corner stitches again at this corner. Continue stitching around your hexagons like this until you reach an inner corner which I'll show you how to do next.
Appliquéing an Inner Hexagon Corner
As you approach the inner corner of your hexagons, come up through the first hexagon right at the corner. Then go down into the background fabric right next to the corner you just came up.
Come up through the corner of the next hexagon. Then go down into the background fabric right next to the corner you just came up -coming up about 1/16 inch away.
Repeat this process at each inner corner you come to.
Finishing Your Appliqué
When you get back to where you started, it's time to finish your applique by tying off your thread.
Go down into the background fabric right next to your last stitch. Turn your work over so that you're looking at the back of the background fabric.
Bury your thread through the background fabric towards the center of the hexagon row. Make sure you don't catch any of the hexagon fabric while doing this. Take a small stitch of a few threads of background fabric.
Pull the thread until you see a small loop. Send your needle through the loop to tie a knot.
Repeat another small stitch and loop to make a second knot. Then cut your thread.
That's it! You have just appliqued your hexagon row onto your bookmark. Congratulations!
You should now have two pieces of background fabric. One with your hexagons appliqued to it and the other without anything on it.
Next week, in the last post of the Getting Started with EPP series, you'll finish your bookmark by sewing these two pieces together using two different hand sewing techniques that I'll show you.
I'd love to see your bookmarks, so far. Please share pictures of your work-in-progress on social media and tag me @MakerJayne.
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