Mini Hexagon FAQ

Mal | Handmade,Media,Quilting,Resources,Sewing,Works in Progress | Wednesday, April 1st, 2009


Nothing on my list of projects seems to interest people more than the miniature hexagons. Lots of questions have resulted from my posts about this strange, antiquated process. Between blog comments, scuttle over on flickr, and personal emails, there are a lot of good questions going around.

Today I’ll answer some of those questions and hope to help those of you who may be considering this undertaking. Don’t forget, I posted a bunch of tutorials on a previous entry and they are a good place to start.


Several people, including Ralph RSC, have asked:

whats the scale? real size of the cells?

As you can see above, the hexes are just a hair larger in diameter than a US penny coin. I used this awesome graph-paper-generating website to create my paper hexes.

Scroll down a bit to find the hexagon graph. I set mine for .5″ hexes and a .5″ border. If you can’t get the generator to work, I’ve uploaded the resultant page so that you can download it yourself:  Half-inch Hexagon PDF

Also, please note that I am not in a contest to create the smallest mini-hexagons known to man. I just picked a size that “felt right” to me and will look nice in its completed project (someday!). That said, if you want to see some other really mini hexagons, check out Christine’s work here and here (website plays music). Fiesta’s seem to be about the same size as mine. Mini-Mum is into it, too. (Click here to see the tiniest hexagons yet!) And who could forget duniris’s unbelievably amazing hexagon pincushion?

I’m sorry. I think the mini-hexes thing is an illness. Unfortunately, it is contagious!

Leslie commented that:

 Hey! I have just about all of those same prints. That’s *way* cool.

Well, shoot! That is cool, and a little creepy, since most of these fabrics were gifted to me as scrap-bags and cast-offs from 3 different friends and family members. I’ve been combing through those bags for the smallest pieces. I’ve finally found the scrap size that I can throw away — anything too small to be a penny hex.

Melissa asked:

The one thing I’m confused about: do you pull out the papers before you stitch the hexes together or after you’ve basted the hexes? What I mean is, do you need enough paper pieces for an entire project at once or can you just reuse the same 10 or so over and over again for the same project?

You can absolutely re-use the paper hexagons and many quilters do. I haven’t, yet, because I am still unclear about the layout of my hexies and you remove the papers once you start stitching them together. 

Hexagons: Removing Papers

The trick is to only remove the papers from the hexagons that are attached on all sides. That is, as long as you don’t intend to sew the hex to any other hex, or all 6 of the sides are stitched to others, you can remove both the paper template and the temporary basting. (I’ve seen that some people don’t remove the basting, either. I probably will.)

Lots of people use heavier weight papers — cereal boxes, cardstock, even plastic templates — to form their shapes. In fact, one of my favorite hexagon stories to date comes from Sue of mousenotebook. She writes about her Great Work, which included:

Hundreds of hexagons carefully cut from birthday cards, magazines, old drawing paper, the scripts of my ex-husband’s novel and my Mum’s book of prayers. . . The last fifteen years of my life are bound up in the making of that quilt, and the history of my family is in the fabric.

I used regular copy paper for my hexes. It’s worked fine, but if I were to do it over again, I would use a heavier paper — even just a finer quality of copy paper. I think it’d keep the hexes more uniform and less likely to warp (as my upper-right hex did in the first photo above — need to go fix that one).

Happy to answer any more questions, if you think of them! In the near future, I’ll post photos of my process, including step-by-step on my basting process, and images from other crafters at various stages of their projects.


  1. These look amazing!

    Comment by Sarah — 1 April 2009 @ 7:37 am

  2. Hey! We might be related in some cosmic fabric way. In the photo of your brown hexies, I have 3 out of the 5 fabrics. What are the odds? This has always fascinated me, but I also know my limits! Then again, I inherited some 1930′s pastel partly-pieced flowerettes, that are just aging gracefully in a hatbox. They were poorly pieced with eighth of an inch seam allowances and no papers. I tried reverse engineering them once… but it was too much even for me.
    This comment started out to say I know my limits, and I won’t be joining you, but I’ve just identified why I abandoned the idea. Maybe this needs a second look!

    Comment by Leslie — 1 April 2009 @ 8:19 am

  3. And I *love* your photos! So FUN. :-D

    Comment by Leslie — 1 April 2009 @ 8:21 am

  4. And I *meant* to say… LOVE what Sue said about cutting the hexies from personal papers from throughout her life. Our patchwork *is* a diary of our lives, there’s just something so essential about it, stitching our thoughts and memories into place, to be look at and remembered later. Thank you so much for this post and for the muse. :)

    Comment by Leslie — 1 April 2009 @ 11:37 am

  5. I just had to tell you how hard your comment made me laugh……a 4 yard skirt-granola Mom is exactly what came to mind when I think of handmade clothes..Thanks for stopping by and making me smile!!! -Allison

    Comment by Allison — 1 April 2009 @ 6:59 pm

  6. Wow! hexagon love, this just gets more and more addictive. Looking forward to your step by steps. I’m always intrigued how different people go about their projects, I didn’t use any paper piecing at all with my hexy’s!!!

    Comment by aneela — 2 April 2009 @ 12:50 am

  7. Aha! Thanks for answering my question :) I haven’t started my project yet, but I will take your advice and use heavy weight printing paper when I make my hexes.


    Comment by Melissa — 2 April 2009 @ 4:55 am

  8. Thanks for your explanation.

    Happy Easter holidays.


    Comment by Elizabeth — 2 April 2009 @ 5:34 am

  9. Mal- your blog is so inspiring! There’s something about those hexies that make me want to sew, and sew and sew some more. Keep up the good work

    Comment by Liz — 3 April 2009 @ 10:26 am

  10. [...] But is it something a beginner like me could do? So I had a read of some blogs and came across this FAQ from turning*turning. She’s in the process of making a mini-hexagon quilt and will be blogging about it further. I [...]

    Pingback by Mini hexagons « what kt made next — 16 August 2009 @ 9:16 am

  11. Hello there! Just found your website today! Very nice. :-) I too am making a hexagon quilt using the english paper piecing method. I too use copy paper but after printing up the hexagon templates I iron freezer paper to the backside which gives the copy paper more stability. At the moment I’m making up 7/8 inch hexagons….large enough for a beginner hexagon quilt, but not too big. Today I got brave and printed up .5 inch hexagon templates…don’t know if I’m using them in the same quilt or not, I’d really have to do some figuring if I do. :-) I’ve got 130 hexies sewn so far and my quilt will be scrappy with a light tan background. Happy piecing everyone! :-)

    Comment by Lynette Kleve — 9 March 2012 @ 6:48 am

  12. Les Gamins Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog post.Thanks Over. Save writing….

    Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog post.Thanks Over. Save writing….

    Trackback by Les Gamins — 26 May 2013 @ 7:11 am

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