Did you know that hexagons are one of the oldest and most enduring quilt patterns? My Hexagon Quilts Roundup will show how beloved they are.
After hundreds of years, we can’t get enough of hexagon quilt patterns. Modern quilters are using hexagon blocks because they are capital-V Versatile. They blend traditional hexagons with a modern design and other shapes. There is a hexagon quilt for everyone to make. Read on to learn about many ways to make quilts with hexagons.
- Types of hexagon quilt patterns
- Learn popular ways to make a hexagon quilt pattern.
- Equip yourself with helpful tools to make hexagons.
The Basics of Hexagon Quilting
Hexagon quilting boasts a historical lineage dating back to the late 18th century. The earliest known hexagon quilts can be traced back to the British Isles and the United States, with examples dating as early as 1770.
From Traditional to Modern: The Evolution of Hexagon Quilts
Hexagon quilts have evolved over time, with the first published hexagon quilt pattern appearing in The Godey’s Ladies Book in 1830, making it a popular choice among quiltmakers. Flower and star shapes were common along with super scrappy small hexie quilts.
Hexagons dramatically changed how and what I design, from construction methods (NO Y-SEAMS ALLOWED!) to complex-looking designs with freezer paper piecing. I use hexagons as primary, secondary and background design blocks.
Also known as Hexies, Honeycomb, Mosaic and Garden Flower quilts, quilters use their versatility to make stunning quilts. When you’re crafting a hexagon quilt, you’re creating a beautiful quilt while part of a centuries-old tradition.
Hexagons can be any size, measured by the distance from point to point, which is equal to 2 times the length of the finished sides. As a quilter, you’re not bound by any specific size of hexagons or multiple sizes in a quilt.
Popular hexagon quilt pattern styles includes hexies forming stars, flowers, abstract art and showing off fussy cuts.
Hexagon quilt patterns made with a simple hexagon block cut from one fabric are striking. Make a bold statement with a large scale hexagon quilt pattern.
And then there’s the multi-tasker half hexagon. My block bestie. Best makin’ hexies mantra. My heroine for the cause ‘NO Y-SEAMS ALLOWED’ in quilt designs!
Can you see them now?
And what about now?
The half hexie is heavy lifter for piecing rows together because it’s faster and easier than stitching y-seams. Hexagons form as the rows are pieced and joined. It’s fun to see them pop out of the design. Did I do that?!
Hexagon quilts my way are enjoyable piecing sessions. Seriously, say y-seams to a room of quilters and groans rock the rafters.
Intricate hexagon quilt patterns use y-seams, strip piecing, applique, freezer paper piecing, foundation piecing and smaller shapes to form triangles.
I made this skirt! I HAD to make it.
Then I made a selvedge quilt with hexies, of course.
Biased About Triangles
First, you should know I’m biased about using triangle combinations to make hexagons – they are a dynamic duo.
Join six triangles and that’s a cool-looking hexagon. Then repeat the hexagons with different triangle designs inside. Fireworks!
Not only does this quilt form a giant hexagon, there are loads of hexagons throughout (can you see them?) I left the center a blank so members could design their own. Look at that pop!
My quilt designs changed dramatically when I used the dynamic duo recipe. I WAS SMITTEN. Whenever I’ve made a hexagon quilt, a dozen more modern triangle/hexagon quilt ideas pop out. Which makes me exhausted and excited at the same time.
Solstice is a good example. It has a variety of triangles that make form hexagons.
A Hexagon Quilt Pattern for Everyone
Have you found that hexagons aren’t touted as a beginner project? I’m here to tell you, it ain’t so! Hexagons are used for beginner to advanced quilting projects. Different techniques and quilt designs make it possible.
Some hexagon quilt patterns are focused on technique while others play with repeated hexagons. Sure, some ARE more difficult but that’s a quilt for another day!
Hexagon quilt patterns come in many flavors:
- Scrappy and fussy cutting
- Hexagons made by combining shapes.
- Traditional diamond pattern mixed with hexagons, making stars and flowers.
- Bold, modern designs with positive and negative space.
- Cute accessories
Next, I’ll show you a roundup of techniques used for hexagon quilt patterns.
English Paper Piecing Essentials for Hexagon QUILTS
English Paper Piecing (EPP) is a fundamental technique for hexagon quilting. EPP involves stabilizing fabric pieces with paper or freezer paper before sewing them into intricate designs. EPP uses shapes of card stock to keep the fabric pieces in place while sewing, and you guessed a slow stitch, time-consuming method. I think that is partly why they are popular. Slow down and stitch.
The earliest hexagon patterns in the 18th century focused on a technique called English Paper Piecing (EPP). Paper templates were used to form and stabilize the shape while stitching together many hexagons (hexies!)
So, whether you’re creating a traditional hexagon quilt or adding a twist with hexagon triangle quilts, EPP is an fun technique to master.
Small is the key word here – sometimes the blocks are only two inches across. Small blocks can grow into very large quilts with thousands of pieces.
In fact, the world’s biggest hexagon quilt was verified by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010.
How big? 119.2 yards by 86 inches wide. The quilt contains 152,636 hexagons! The Australian organizers of the quilt challenge expected 1500 blocks and received hexagon blocks from all over the world.
Smallness is a big part of their appeal:
- Little hexie projects are perfectly portable – they go where you go (or where you go to wait!)
- Easy, repetitive and relaxing.
- Just plain cute. When I see a tiny hexie, I say “Aw”.
Templates and Rulers For Hexagon Quilts
Hexagon fabric shapes are made with templates, rulers and die-cutting machines:
- Pre-cut cardstock hexagons,
- Cut with a rotary cutter around an acrylic hexagon, available in multi-sized sets. These are especially helpful when you’re not sure which size hexagon to use for the quilt size.
- Specialty ruler to cut different sizes from fabric – You Hexie Thing ruler from June Tailor.
- Die-cutting machine such as Accuquilt with hexagon dies
- Sissix Bigz cutting machine hexagon dies that work with fabric
- Order a set to download and print on Etsy here. You will have to cut the papers out individually though. Argh.
Colors and Fabrics
First, decide what and where to place the focus on the quilt. For example, a traditional flower garden design focuses on hexagons forming flowers. Make the flowers stand out with medium, bright or dark colors – use neutrals for the background.
Use gradients from light to dark to create movement. Choose fabrics with contrasting values, colors or both to make it work. Sometimes you see the hexagons and sometimes you don’t!
Creating a Color Palette FOR HEXAGON QUILTS
Use charm packs, layer cakes and jelly rolls for quick, fail-proof palettes. They offer a designer’s mix of values and colors that work together.
I like using solids but love a great print bundle, too. Use a color wheel if shopping your stash or pulling together solid fabrics. A color wheel helps you see the shades, tints and contrasts between colors as well as the color harmonies.
In my experience, using smaller prints that read as one color work better than large-scale prints, especially if the hexies are smaller than 2 inches across.
Calculating Fabric Yardage for Hexagon Quilts
After you choose the hexagon size, choose the easiest way to calculate yardage for a hexagon quilt by using a hexagon yardage calculator. Enter the quilt dimensions and hexagon size and it will calculate the following:
- number of hexagons
- number of columns and rows
- number of half hexagons
- exact quilt size – this could differ slightly than your dimensions
Cutting and Piecing your Hexagons Together
There are two ways that most quilters use to piece hexagons together – by machine or by hand stitching.
First, a quick overview of EPP, a hand piecing technique:
- Cut out paper shape templates or use pre-cut paper shapes to create the hexagons.
- Trim fabric squares to a hexagon shape using the templates.
- Mark ¼ inch seam allowances on the fabric.
- Fold seam allowances to the back and baste.
- Remove the paper and sew the hexagons together to create the quilt.
See this simple tutorial for making hexies from handmadediya.com – perfect for a beginner hexagon quilt pattern. Check out the tutorial here.
See this simple tutorial for piecing hexagons together on your machine. This technique uses set-in or y-seams to attach the hexagons in rows. Y-seams require precision sewing and practice. When you make a hexagon quilt with y-seams, you’ll get plenty of practice!
Use freezer paper to form hexies
The technique is almost the same as using paper templates. Place the waxy (shiny) side of the freezer paper to wrong side of the fabric piece and press with a medium iron to adhere. Then continue folding and stitching the edges like the paper templates.
Modern Hexagon Quilts Made with Triangles
Hexagon Quilts with A New Twist
Modern hexagon quilts crafted with triangles are an exciting interpretation of classic hexagon patterns. By playing with triangles for hexagon quilts, you’ll create unique designs and patterns by sharing common triangles across blocks and sections.
My Scrappy Whirligig Triangle block makes a bold hexagon quilt. The block has been interpreted by so many quilters – wish I could show you all of them. Elfriede created movement with the value changes and fantastic contrast. I like how the hexagons appear, then disappear depending on where you look.
Technique: Freezer Paper Piecing
I use the freezer paper piecing technique for all of my triangle quilts designs, which often include hexagon shapes. Similar to foundation paper piecing – but without ripping papers off the backside – freezer paper piecing is an easy method for complex-looking designs.
Learn how to use this technique in my free class and Outshine hexagon block pattern.
My latest BOM program features Aurora, a freezer paper pieced foundation quilt. You can “color” the triangle blocks to pop out the hexagons or any shapes, which makes Aurora many quilts in one.
Learn more about freezer paper piecing and modern triangle quilts here.
Versatile Half Hexagon Quilt Pattern
Half hexagons provide lots of options for designing quilts. Beginners and experienced quilters make simple geometric patterns to complex, intricate hexagon quilts.
And the best part? With half hexagons, there’s no need to stress over sewing a “Y” seam in a hexagon quilt. Instead, you can cut half hexagon shapes and sew them together at the sides.
Half hexagon rulers and templates are available in different sizes. They are a good tool if you’re hooked on hexies!
For those who are new to hexagon quilting or looking to expand their skills, there are plenty of half hexagon quilt tutorials for beginners and beyond. These tutorials guide you through the process of creating a half hexagon quilt, from cutting your fabric into half hexagon shapes to sewing the half hexagons together in rows and completing the quilt top.
Other Modern Techniques To TRY
SCRAPPY and improv HExagon quilts
Scrappy and hexies are meant to be together! Here’s a free pattern – Secret Garden – from Tales of Cloth to make a scrappy quilt. Sooooo cute.
Check out 100 Days of Hexagons from The Not So Dramatic Life for amazing scrappy hexagons.
Log cabin hexies
Log cabin hexies are for you if detail is your thing. Besides colorful and dimensional, each one is a little work of art. Here’s a video tutorial for log cabin lovers who met a hexagon and fell in love here.
SWIRLING HEXAGON quilt blocks
Oh, man. I swooned over these. YOU GOTTA MAKE ONE! Find the tutorial here from handmadediya.
Quilting Tools and Accessories for Hexagon Patterns
Gather the right tools for a better quilting experience. They make all the difference.
My list of helpful tools for you:
- Strong, mercerized cotton hand quilting thread.
- Sharp hand sewing needles such as
- Use Beeswax to coat your thread for smoother pulling through fabric layers.
- Good lighting for tiny stitching
- Rotary cutter with a new blade
A quick word about rotary cutters…
- Less stress on your hands, wrists and fingers than scissors
- Efficient and faster than scissors
- Change out dull blades for smoother cutting
- Use an ergonomic rotary cutter. Try the Olfa 45mm Deluxe Rotary Cutter and Quilter’s Select Rotary Cutter are highly recommended for hexagon quilts.
Seamless Stitching by Hand
Stitching precisely is a fundamental skill for piecing a hexagon quilt. Flawless stitching is one of the fundamental elements of a beautifully culminated hexagon quilt. Accurate cutting and pressing affect the quilt’s appearance.
- Stitching the edges of the hexagons together exactly where they should meet
- Using small whip stitches to catch the fabric on both hexagons without catching the paper inside
- Ironing the fabric before sewing to ensure smooth stitching
- Use a ¼ inch seam allowance – larger allowances are tricky to fold and nest.
- Remember to secure the stitch at the start for a uniform hexie.
- Use the vertical straight grain of the fabric to cut out hexies.
- Use pins to hold two hexagons together while stitching. Misaligned seams beg for a seam ripper!
By mastering these techniques, you can avoid common problems like misaligned seams, catching other fabric in the seams, and uneven quilt rows.
Free PAtterns for Hexagon Quilts to Inspire Your Next Project
What can you make with hexagons? Lots of lovely little projects! Try one of 10 EPP lovelies from a Swoodson Says post here. So easy to start a hexie project today.
Large-scale hexagon quilt without y-seams from Sew Very Easy. Get practice cutting and sewing without hexagons without in-set seams. Click here to view the video tutorial.
Try this free half hexagon quilt pattern with excellent instructions from Southern Charm Quilts here.
Hexagon quilting offers a world of creative possibilities, from traditional designs to modern twists. They are versatile and scale well to many sizes. By exploring hexagon quilt patterns, mastering the basics of hexagon quilting, and experimenting with different shapes, techniques, and designs, you can create stunning quilts that are both beautiful and unique. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a new challenge or an experienced quilter seeking fresh inspiration, hexagon quilting offers endless opportunities for creative expression.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are hexagon quilTS?
Hexagon blocks, or Hexies, are the perfect way to show off your creativity with all-over designs using six-sided pieces called hexagons. This tessellating pattern is created through color and fabric placement.
How do you sew a hexagon quilt together?
Hexagon quilts are sewn together by hand stitching and a sewing machine. They are joined at one at a time to one of the six sides. Newer techniques give quilters options to sew them together more quickly.
What are hexagon quilt patterns?
Hexagon quilt patterns use a hexagon as the main shape in all kinds of quilted projects – quilts, bags, accessories and more.