I made this hexagon crib quilt for a sweet friend's baby girl earlier this year. It was one of those projects that got started and then put aside and then finished and then put aside before making it's way to this space. It's similar to the one I made Elsie and Jeremy for their wedding but on a smaller scale and made from vintage sheets I had in my stash. I think it's also one of my favorites!
I knew the basic colors she was looking for and mixed in stripes to help balance out all the florals. I stayed within the pink, peach, yellow colorway and used an organic cotton batting and another vintage sheet for the back. Since machine-quilting a hexagon design would be really tricky to manage on my machine I just hand-tied it together in the center of each flower with embroidery thread. I don't remember the specific measurements but I was going for crib-sized which is about 45" x 60".
I'd suggest this project to anyone who feels mildly comfortable with sewing but it may be a bit much for a beginner. The key to any sewing project with lots of pieces you need to align is to stay consistent in everything - your measuring, your cutting, and your seam allowance. The more consistent everything is, the better it's going to look. However, I'm of the opinion that imperfections in quilts only add to their charm!
1. Supplies: Gather cotton fabrics in 5-8 coordinating prints or colors. Vintage sheets are great because they usually don't cost much but you can always use solids or prints from your local fabric store. The amount of fabric you'll need depends on the size of your quilt. I used about 1/2 yard of seven different fabrics plus half a full-sized sheet for my backing. This turned out to make a 45" x 60" crib quilt. You'll also need low loft batting, straight pins, painter's tape, rotary cutter, acrylic ruler, cutting mat, iron, ironing board, sheers, three skeins of embroidery thread (or more), cereal box. 2. Print out the hexagon shape or source your own. You can enlarge or shrink it according to your taste. I traced mine onto chipboard (cereal box) to use as a template. Then I placed that template directly onto fabric I'd folded four times, and using my acrylic ruler to mimic the edges, cut around it with my rotary knife. 3. Each flower will have six of the same fabric for the petals and a different fabric for the center. 4. Place one of the petals face down on top of the center petal and align the edges you're going to stitch together on the left side. Pin in place.
5. Place those two hexagons under your machine and stitch from about 1/4" in from the edge starting about 1/4 from the top of the left side all the way to about 1/4" from the bottom of the left side. I started and ended my stitching with just enough room to bend my hexagons to stitch the next petal to the center. Fold it back and iron flat. 6. Instead of placing the next petal below it on the center petal, I'm placing it face down on the petal I just stitched. Stitch those two together at the edge where they'll meet being sure to mimic the 1/4" starting and stopping points and stitching 1/4 from the edge (seam allowance). 7. Then fold that same petal so that it's facing down on top of the center petal and align the edges where they meet. Pin. 8. This is a close up to see how to make sure your corners are meeting up as best they can. This will give you the crispest folds when you iron it flat.
9. Go ahead and stitch that edge. You can see I'm leaving a tiny bit of space between the stitching from the last hexagon and the stitching on this one. This helps the fabric have some folding room. 10. Lay those three pieces flat and iron your seams. I tend to iron all of the connecting petal edges in the same direction but then iron the center petal seams flat. 11. Repeat with the next petal by folding it on top of the last petal you just added. 12. Repeat until you have added all of the petals to form a complete flower. 13. Iron the front and back flat. 14. This is a close up of my corners. Some are great and some are a bit wrinkled but don't fret. 15. This is how the back seams should look. 16. Continue making flowers until you're happy with your amount.
17. Once you've laid out all of your flowers, pin two together by folding one flower carefully over where you want your petals to meet. Starting on that petal, stitch your edges together where they should meet. You'll have to do some flower wrestling as you go to keep lining the right edges up. Unfold after a few petals to see where you're going and to make sure you're not sewing the wrong edges together. After you do it once you'll figure it out. 18. Iron everything flat. You'll have some blank spots along your edges that you'll need to add filler hexagons to. Continue with your color pattern to give it a seamless look. This part might feel tedious but it's necessary. Once you're done, trim your edges so they're straight.
19. Next is the quilting. I stitched mine together and folded it right side out and stitched up the hole by hand so I layered my batting and then my sheet backing face up before placing my quilt top face down. If you're going to be doing a sandwich quilt and adding binding you'll want to put the backing down face down and then the batting and the quilt top face up. For a smooth fit I taped my cotton batting to the floor so that it was stretched flat but not taut. It'll shrink in the wash anyway. Then I put my large vintage sheet over it face up and then finally put my quilt top face down. I aligned my edges with about 2"-3" of extra backing fabric and batting around the perimeter of the quilt top. 20. Next I pinned my three pieces together with straight pins. I added them in all of the full corners, in the center of each flower, along the edges, etc. I over did it because I didn't want any bunching. I suggest starting from the center and smoothing your way out to opposing sides.
21. Then I stitched all around the perimeter of the quilt top edge with about 1/2" seam allowance starting from almost the center of one side. I stopped stitching when I got to about 8" from where I started. This is necessary for turning the whole thing right side out. 22. I trimmed the excess from my edges and turned it right side out and then ironed the edges flat all the way around. 23. I got busy hand-tying next making sure to stitch through from the top twice before double-knotting my embroidery thread and trimming to about 1" of thread. 24. Lastly I hand-stitched my opening shut with an invisible stitch and trimmed all the excess loose threads. Your final step would be to wash and hang dry for a cozy look. I recommend washing in cold water and hanging to dry to keep your quilt in good shape much longer.
I was thrilled with how it turned out! Finishing a quilt always feels like such an accomplishment because there is a lot of work that goes into each one but it's such a therapeutic experience for me, too. It usually means a few movies on Netflix, enjoying Ruby working along side me with her own project, and chats with Sebastian about whether lightning can strike you while you're taking a bath, etc. Those peripheral experiences while making a quilt always stay with me longer because I'm so focused while I'm sewing. They seem to embed themselves in a shared memory.
I know this quilt is being appreciated by it's family and I'm happy to share my process with machine sewing hexagons. I tried the traditional paper piecing long ago and realized I just didn't have the patience for it yet and knew it could surely be done with the right amount of give and take on a machine.
There are so many ways color patterns could be manipulated using hexagons to make something completely different. This turned out to look more traditionally like a Grandma's Garden pattern but using a random mix of solids or stripes could look much more modern and geometric.
As with any quilting project my best advice is to just get started. You may not finish it in a weekend but each time you try you learn something new and gain confidence in your sewing skills.
If you're not feeling up to hexagons I have a much more simple quilt tutorial for beginners using large squares. You can pair it down to a smaller size and it can easily be finished in one sitting.
Feel free to link up to this tutorial if you make your own and be sure to send photos!