Introduction: Hand Sewing Hexagons
Hexagons are often used for applique purposes, but you can also sew a whole mess of them together and create something. I started making these hexagons with the plan to turn them into an iPad sleeve, which I'll finish at some point :) Hexagons are also a great way to use up scrap fabric, as well as to cover over unsightly stains/holes, etc. on something you want to keep using.
Hexagons can be a pain, but paper templates and the ladder stitch to reduce puckering, makes them so much easier and you can produce a lot of them in no time.
Step 1: BoM
Paper Hexagons (I use a template I found online for cutting out hexagons or you can make your own)
Paper (a lot of people use freezer paper, I tend to grip things harder than I should so I use cardstock)
Thread (several colors)
Step 2: Hexagon Pieces
I print my hexagons on regular or cardstock paper and then glue (around the edges) a couple additional pages to the original printout and use my paper cutter to cut the hexagons in large quantities. I like cardstock over regular or freezer paper because it's sturdier and the corners don't bend as easily. Some people hole punch the middle to make pinning easier.
Step 3: Baste
Basting is using long and loose thread to temporarily hold fabric together. For sewing hexagons, it helps keep your fabric shape down around the pattern. Normally with basting you don't have to tie off the ends because you'll be taking the thread out later anyway. When basting around a pattern I've found it ends up being worth the extra few seconds to not have your pattern piece lose it's shape halfway into being sewn to other hexagons. I also will add extra stitches around the corners to make sure the fabric stays in place and each corner has a sharp point.
1. To baste your hexagon, pin your pattern to your fabric.
2. Starting at one corner, fold the fabric over the edge of the pattern (counter clockwise).
3. Take the piece edge of the fabric above your currently folded piece and fold it over the original corner (clockwise).
4. Baste the edge together, counterclockwise. Do not pierce the paper, do not sew through the front of your fabric. Depending on how much or how little fabric you have, add a second stitch.
5. Move on to the next corner, following steps 3 and 4. Repeat until all the edges are folded and stitched together.
Step 4: Basting Video
In case my directions are not clear enough (please let me know), here is a brief clip.
Step 5: Ladder Stitch
I've tried a few different hand stitches for attaching hexagons and the ladder stitch seems to be the best. It's easy and doesn't have much if any puckering.
1. Hold two hexagons together, wrong side out.
2. Starting at one corner edge, bring your needle up through the fabric on one side.
3. Pull the thread through the fabric, leaving about 1-1 1/2" untied tail.
4. Bring the needle down the second hexagon piece, directly across from where the thread came out on the first piece.
5. Instead of plunging the needle straight down, you're going to make a right (if you're right handed) and stitch horizontally (keep the stitch small).
6. Bring the needle back up on the same side of the hexagon you're working with and then cross back over to the original hexagon.
7. Repeat steps 4-6 until the entire side is stitched. Don't worry about pulling the thread to tighten.
8. When the edge is finished, cut off about 2" (enough to grip and tie off).
9. Pull the loose threads from either ends to tighten the stitches and bring the hexagons together.
If you see puckering, you've pulled too tight. If you still see the stitches in-between the hexagon sides, you haven't tightened enough.
Step 6: Ladder Stitch Video
Ladder stitches are often used for invisible seams and it's quite handy to know how to do.
Some things to remember:
1. You want your needle to go in directly across from where it emerges.
2. Keep your stitches small and as even as possible.
3. Securely tie off each end after you've tightened your stitches.