24 January 2014

Tutorial for Sewing Hexagons by Machine

It's a Friday finished quilt top!  Modern Flower Garden - finished at 53.5" x 55".

Whole Hexagon Quilt

Below, you will find a tutorial for sewing whole hexagons by machine.
This is also part 2 of the Oblongagonalong Quilt Along instructions.

Week 2 - Quilt Along Update:
Last week we covered planning your design and cutting the blocks.  Those instructions can be found here and all the instructions are linked up to the QAL 2014 page found just under the blog header.

This week we will be working on trimming those blocks and sewing your quilt top together.  Mine turned into hexagons!  Surprise! Turns out the best use of my 18" x 21" fat quarters being cut into 5.25" x 6" pieces, has resulted in near perfect hexagons.  Who knew?

Step 1:
Trim your squares into oblongagons (or rectangles into hexagons).  Fold your fabric in half.  If using rectangles, the fold is the longest side.  Using your acrylic ruler, place the 60 degree line on the fold with the side of the ruler at the edge of the fabric.  Use your rotary cutter to slice off the triangular pieces.  The cut will be toward the top center of fabric's raw edges.

Place the 60 degree line on the fold with the side of the ruler at the edge of the fabric

Use your rotary cutter to slice off the triangular pieces.

The cut will be toward the top center of fabric's raw edges.

Unfold and admire your piece!

Step 2:
Marking the 1/4" mark.  You will need to know where to start and stop stitching.  Using a plastic template, trace your cut out fabric onto the plastic.  Draw 1/4" seam lines on the template.  Use a nail to poke a hole through the plastic to mark your corners.  Then, using a non permanent fabric marker or pencil, mark the four corners as shown.

Trace your cut out fabric onto the plastic.  Draw 1/4" seam lines on the template. 

Use a nail to poke a hole in the template for the 1/4" points.

Using a non permanent fabric marker or pencil, mark the four corners.

Step 3: 
Plan your design.  Using a design wall or floor space, arrange your pieces into the desired pattern.  You will need to cut some of your pieces in half, to make the straight edges, and may need to cut some into quarters, to make the corners.  It all depends on how many rows and columns your plan has.

Step 4:
Sewing the blocks into columns.
With presser foot down, insert needle at 1/4" mark, begin sewing and backstitch to the 1/4" mark, then continue sewing until you reach the other 1/4" mark and backstitch.  I changed to my 1/4" presser foot with guide after taking these photos.  I had also placed masking tape, intending to use this as a guide instead of marking all the pieces for the 1/4" mark, but found it was too inaccurate to use this method.

Insert needle at 1/4" mark, begin sewing and backstitch to the 1/4" mark, then continue sewing.

Sewing until you reach the other 1/4" mark and backstitch to secure the thread ends.

  • Backstitching at EACH end of the seam must be performed to secure the thread ends.

  • Do not sew from edge to edge. I tried this for my first quilt and it became a source of frustration.

  • Chain piecing can be done providing each new pair of pieces is started on the 1/4 mark.

  • Sew into pairs.  Then continue sewing the pairs together until your column is completed.

  • No PRESSING of SEAMS required until entire quilt top is finished.

  • Label the top of each column using a slip of paper and straight pin.

Step 5:
Sewing the columns together.
Double check that all your pieces in the columns are in their correct placement.  Sew the first two columns together, backstitching at the beginning and end of each seam.  Make sure you never have more than two layers of fabric under the needle, sweeping all seams out of the way.

Line up the raw edges to begin sewing the columns together.  The point will NOT extend past the whole hexagon.

Spread the seam open and notice last stitch.  This is where you will stop sewing and backstitch.

Begin sewing at the edge of the fabric, backstitch and then continue sewing.

Stop sewing when you reach the seam junction and backstitch.

No need to cut the threads at the end of your seam.

Sweep all the seam allowances back out of the way and insert needle into the last hole at the end of the seam.

The pin shows where this seam will end, just before the junction, at the point.

My three best friends: Pointy Tweezers, Seam Ripper & Small Scissors

  • It may help to put the needle down into the last hole where the seams were used to join the pieces into columns, before lowering the presser foot.

  • Sew from this junction to the next and try to get as close to the seam as possible without going over it.  It is better to stop just shy of the intersecting seam than going past, which causes puckers to form at those points.

  • Do not cut the threads as you continue down the column.  Just sweep the seams under and restart at the next junction.

  • Pointy tweezers help me to line up the fabrics and adjust them.  Maybe it's just my fat fingers, but I find those tweezers to be an invaluable tool.  Thank you, Mom!
  • Work from left to right, always adding only a single column at a time.  This allows the bulk of your work to always be on the bottom and makes it easier to manipulate the single column you are adding.
  • Use your 1/4" presser foot with guide if you have one.
Step 6:
Press all the seams of your completed top.
From the back of your quilt top, press the seams all one way.  I pressed all my seams to the left and down.  Then press the quilt top from the front.

Aunt Elna

I would like to take a moment to introduce my Aunt Elna.  Up until now, all my sewing and quilting was performed on my Lil' Janome 2030 QDC, with only 6.5" between needle and base.

Lil' Janome

Looking forward to experiencing what it will be like to quilt with this Elna Excellence 760.
But don't get me wrong... I still love my little Janome!

Tune in next week for the backing and binding instructions.
Until then...

Keep On Quilting On!



Michelle Bartholomew said...

Lovely! Someday when I'm brave enough to try to machine piece hexagons, I'll be back. Very clear tutorial!

Michelle Bartholomew said...

Lovely! Someday when I'm brave enough to try to machine piece hexagons, I'll be back. Very clear tutorial!

Jessica said...

Thank you thank you thank you for this tutorial! I have a pack of 6 inch hexies that I've been wondering about piecing!

Angie in SoCal said...

Great tutorial. Although I am doing mine by hand, have always wanted to try it with the machine. Now I have no excuse. I invite you to Hexie Weekend and share your great post with other hexie lovers.

Vera said...

Not my usual color combo but I love the dots. Your Elna looks like really powerful girl :-) Have fun with it!

Paula@TheSassyQuilter said...

Can't wait to get started! Once you get that bigger throat space...it is painful to go back. Even looking at the pic was hard, lol:) You are going to have so much fun with your new auntie.

Samscrazycrafts said...

This quilt is amazing!

Linda from Talkinglunchboxquilts.com said...

Hi Lorna - love your hexagons!! Totally love the colors, they're so bright and cheery! Plus I am so impressed at how well your tutorial is written! You have clearly sewn quite a few hexagons!!

Jayne said...

What is better than this?! Love the bright colors and if I wasn't such a chicken...I would give it a go!

Val's Quilting Studio said...

I can do this!

Laura B said...

Thanks. I bookmarked this for future reference.

Cynthia Brunz Designs said...

What a bright playful quilt. Thanks for sharing such a great tutorial!

Vicki said...

Ooo..a peek at your new machine! She's a beaut! What a beautiful quilt. How in the world did you get all of your corners to match so perfectly?

Overcoming heart disease with loved one with dementia said...

I love that pattern ! i want to do this one sometime this year! please email me i have some questions for u :)

Glinda ♥ said...

A lovely quilt and a super tutorial, Lorna. A little advanced for me, I think, but I'm tempted as your instructions are very clear ... might have to put it on my ever-growing list - is it really still only January?!

Dominique said...

Ahhhh.... One day...

Sara said...

Lorna, Everything about this quilt is fun!! Love,love all the dot prints,the colors and your excellent tute!

Pam @Threading My Way said...

Thanks for the tutorial, Lorna. I need more time. Pinning for future reference.

Unknown said...

Grandmother's Flower Garden with out the paper piecing and hand stitching! And I love how you cut out the hexagons.

Cheryl said...

What a wonderful tutorial, your instructions and pictures are so clear! And the finished quilt is just too cute :)

Sarah @ Berry Barn Designs said...

That looks so fast and easy the way you've explained it. I think a full size would scare me to begin, but maybe I'll have to try these machined hexies as a mini to get the hang of it! Great tutorial!

Heidi said...

WOW Lorna, what a great tutorial! And omg, Aunt Elna looks like a beast!! Congrats!

Sue Daurio said...

Oh my, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!! I want one!

Sew Surprising said...

This is amazing, and the colours pop perfectly :)

Georgi said...

Lorna, you make this look so easy! I guess I'll have to try it at some point :) Gorgeous!

Mary Huey said...

Cute quilt! Do you know about Marti Michell's Deluxe Corner Trimmer? It has the perfect hole for making dots on hexies no matter what size they are.

Dee said...

Happy spring colors! Very clear tute! Beautiful quilt!

Sweet Woodruff said...

Love this great tutorial. I didn't even know or think about sewing hexi's on a machine. Your fabrics make me think of when I was little...back in the early 70's. :)

Connie Kresin Campbell said...

Fantastic tutorial Lorna and my gosh have you been busy!! Great photos! Thanks for sharing.
Freemotion by the River Linky Party Tuesday

LA Paylor said...

you are so busy! Thanks for a hexie tutorial on machine. I love to do hand hexie's
LeeAnna Paylor

MalinisQuilts said...

Lovely tutorial and very colorful quilt! I still haven't pieced hexagons on the machine. Have been wanting to do it for a while now. I might give this a try soon. Thanks for sharing!

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