Hand Piecing Hexagons: No Papers Needed

QuiltNotes Learning Center

Last Updated March 02, 2018

Hand piecing a quilt and making a quilt out of hexagons are two things on my quilting bucket list. I tried the English Paper Piecing method but didn’t like working with those tiny scraps of paper. And because my whip stitch has lots of room for improvement, I chose hand piecing hexagons instead.

A few weeks ago I purchased a Scan and Cut by Brother. I wanted to cut applique and maybe some paper projects down the line. I discovered that in addition to cutting fabric, the Scan and Cut can draw seam lines as well. The light bulb went off when I realized I could cut hexagons and draw the sewing lines in two passes of the Scan and Cut. In my article, Marking and Cutting 1″ Hexagons with the Scan and Cut, I showed my process of testing out this method.

Hand Piecing Hexagons & Planning the Design

I cut out some pieces and started piecing the diamond units. I got three of them done and started auditioning background fabrics.

hand piecing hexagons background fabric 1
You can barely see in this picture the natural color fabric I tried first. It practically blends in with the design wall fabric. I decided this was to bland

hand piecing hexagons shirting background
I had this shirting fabric that’s blue diamonds on a white background. This is much more interesting and it brightens up the diamond units.

Start Piecing the Background

Next I started piecing the background hexagons.

hand piecing hexagons corner
Using trial and error, I figured out how many hexagons I needed in the corners and the side triangles.

hand piecing hexagons top
Next I had to figure out where to put the connecting hexagons on the diamond units.

hand piecing hexagons connector
Sew background hexagons to the bottom half of the diamond unit.


When you are hand piecing, you don’t press the seams as you go.  Press the seams when the diamond unit is finished. This makes piecing easier. Here is a diamond unit before pressing.

hand piecing hexagons - before pressing
It looks a little like a sea creature or a plant with all the curvy lines. Here is the same diamond unit after pressing.

after pressing hexagons
I start at the center and press outward. The great thing about hand piecing is the seams can be pressed in either direction. It really is very easy to do.

hexagon diamond close up
Here is a close-up of a diamond unit. I didn’t fussy cut the center round of hexagons but I did pay attention to how I positioned them.

adding the hexagon diamond units
The diamond units with connectors added to the quilt top. Instead of adding diamonds across, I will start working on the diagonal from upper right to lower left. It is easier to add the diamonds along one side at a time.

Well this is my progress in the first several weeks. It’s amazing how fast these go together. I’m able to work on these in the evening when watching television. I can literally stop mid-stitch if there are any interruptions.

Lessons Learned So Far

This is the first time I have tried hand piecing hexagons and I’m pleased with the results. Here are some tips if you choose to hand piece your hexagons:

  • If you use the Scan and Cut by Brother or if you use hexagon templates to cut your fabric, use the Faultless Maxx Spray Starch. The stiffness helps give greater accuracy in cutting and marking.
  • Don’t use the spray starch when pressing the seams unless all the seams in the hexagon are stitched. If you use starch, the seams will stay pressed to one side. You will not be able to easily hold the seam allowance out of the way when attaching the next hexagon.
  • If you want to learn hand piecing, I recommend Quiltmaking by Hand by Jinny Beyer. Beautiful pictures and easy instructions. This is the book that taught me how to hand piece.


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