Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Hexie Update, for the Curious!


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After many requests for an update on my hexie project, I figured it’s about time to ‘fess up on where things stand with those thousands of little fabric hexagons just begging to be stitched up!

For those who are just making your acquaintance with this particular project, I’ll give you a brief background. Last year, I began a hand-pieced hexagon quilt made up of 3/4″ hexies. The quilt requires some 5,200-ish hexies for a full-sized quilt (sans border).

My purpose in undertaking this particular adventure was to have something ongoing that I can turn to whenever I want to do something with my hands that isn’t embroidery, and that’s portable, so that I can take it anywhere and have something to work on.

At the end of today’s update, I’ll link to previous articles on the project.

Let’s look at where things stand and chat about another organizational discovery that I’ve implemented.

Hand pieced hexie quilt with 3/4

There is no way on God’s Good Earth that this thing will be finished this year… or probably next! It is a Big Project made up of many Small Pieces, and it is a Slow Project.

And that’s exactly what I wanted.

I have to admit, though, I feel a little pressure to get it done within a three year time frame, because I suspect that’s about the longevity of a color scheme these days. I don’t really want the colors to look dated before I’ve even finished the thing.

On the other hand, if I like the colors, does it matter if the colors are seemingly dated by the time it’s finished?

I think about color trends a lot.

I’ve been sewing many strips of hexies together. All of them are completely and utterly random. I don’t plan the color placement on this thing at all. I prepare my hexies, line them up in boxes in no particular order, and when I’m ready to piece some together, I just pick them out of the box as I piece them.

Occasionally, if I notice that I’ve reached for a particular color family repeatedly, I will purposely make sure I pick up a different color family hexagon, but that’s as far as it goes in planning.

Hand pieced hexie quilt with 3/4

I don’t know if that photo helps to put things in perspective, but that’s the size of the hexagons. They are 3/4″ long on each edge. In the scheme of hexagons, they aren’t the tiniest they could be (I’ve seen 1/2″ ones), but they are pretty small.

I think they’re the perfect size, though. And I’ll show you why…

Hand pieced hexie quilt with 3/4

It’s these boxes!

Now, when I started this quilt, I had no idea these boxes existed. So really, they had nothing to do with my choice of size for the hexagons.

But when I was visiting my sister in Pennsylvania earlier this year, I came across two of these boxes in a craft store. I bought them, thinking they might be a good way to organize my hexies. It looked like they’d fit well in these boxes.

When I took the boxes home and introduced the hexies to the boxes, it was love at first sight. It was an organizational score! And from there, I became obsessed with finding more of the same boxes.

Hand pieced hexie quilt with 3/4

You see, exactly 250 hexies – basted and ready to piece together – fit in each box. The box is the perfect height to accommodate them, and 5 rows of hexies fit the width of the box perfectly.

Hand pieced hexie quilt with 3/4

The boxes are relatively small, as you can see. They would make very nice pencil boxes, in fact, and I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re sold for.

The lids clip on using the side handles, which fold up over the edge of the lid, so they are nice and secure if you happen to drop a box or knock it off the table. They don’t pop open and spew their contents.

Hand pieced hexie quilt with 3/4

Serendipitously, if you turn the box over, the base is a pattern of hexagons!

I think this was just meant to be. Oh me. Be still, my ever-loving, organizing heart!

Hand pieced hexie quilt with 3/4

Look! Is that not glorious?!

That’s 1,000 hexies, basted and ready to piece together. All neatly nestled into perfectly-fitting boxes!

For some reason, that picture makes me happy.

What I love most about these boxes – aside from the fact that 250 hexies fit perfectly in them and that the lids lock – is that they are small enough to tote easily, too. I can take one of these boxes with 250 hexies in it and my pouch (mentioned below), and have enough handwork for hours. And the pouch and the hexie box can fit in my purse.

So, as far as progress goes, I’ve prepared lots of hexies by basting them around their little papers, and I’ve got them neatly counted and stored in these boxes, ready to piece.

Pretty much, I go on a basting kick and fill as many boxes as I can. Then, I go on a piecing kick, and I deplete the contents of the boxes. I haven’t actually depleted my basted ones just yet. At one point, I had 1,750 in the boxes, though.

Hand pieced hexie quilt with 3/4

When I tote part of the project with me to have something to work on elsewhere, I use this particular pencil case. I wrote about using pencil cases and pouches for needlework-toting a while ago. This particular case is my favorite.

Hand pieced hexie quilt with 3/4

It’s roomy, it holds lots of little tools, extra needles, thimbles, magnets, glue pens, and so forth – plus my little travel pincushion, a spool of thread, and tiny scissors.

It’s also sturdy, and I prefer the fact that it’s made from canvas instead of nylon, as many of these pencil cases are.

Hand pieced hexie quilt with 3/4

I can stuff all my immediately needed tools therein, plus back-up supplies, and a good-size hexie strip (this one is three wide and 48 long) into the capacious little case, and toss the whole case in my purse.

Hand pieced hexie quilt with 3/4

This has become my standard kit, and it’s always in my purse when I have to go anywhere.

Not that I’ve been going that many places, mind you – but even between work and home, I tote this case with me.

Hand pieced hexie quilt with 3/4

I use some decorative boxes that I had on hand (these are Punch Paper Studio boxes, with magnetic lids) to store other components of the quilt.

In one box, I’ve got 2″ fabric squares. In the other box are hexies that are ready to baste with thread. They’ve been glued on two sides. I prefer thread-basted hexies rather than glue prepped, but I’ve found that glueing two sides temporarily in place before basting with thread helps keep the placement of the paper more stable and keeps things even.

As far as actual sewing progress on the whole quilt, I have several strips that are 3 and 4 hexies deep sewn and ready to attach to each other, and I’ve got one larger chunk of fabric – probably 16 hexies deep by the width (which is 62 hexies). Altogether, a rough estimate would be about 1500 hexies sewn at least in strips.

I have about 1200 hexies currently basted and ready to piece.

And many, many hexies still to go!

Where to Find Stuff

If you’re looking for the canvas pouch that I mentioned above, you’ll find it listed under “Tools & Accessories” on my Amazon Recommendations page here.

The storage boxes are made by Really Useful Boxes (out of the UK). The one I’m using is the 0.55 litre pencil / craft box. I’ve not had the best of luck finding them in stores, though I did come across one or two here and there at different craft stores. You can buy them from the Really Useful Boxes US distributor website here. Quite a while ago, I was able to pick up a package of ten of the boxes for $30 with free shipping from the UK (on Amazon), but they’re not available there anymore in that quantity, and individuals are being sold for $8+ each, which is crazy. The originals that I picked up at a craft store were $4-something, but organizational boxes were on sale, so I got them for 30 or 40% off.

More on This Project

If you want to read more of the backstory on this project, here are the previous articles I’ve written about it, in chronological order.

The Beginning of the Project

Initial Project Organization – the first boxes I set up to store the hexies as I prepared them

Preparing to Travel with Hexies – I went into more detail about the pouch in this article. As you can see, my organization for this project keeps morphing and refining.

Home with my Hexies & a quick Tutorial – here, I give a quick tutorial on how I prepare my paper-pieced hexies (glue & baste).

This article contains an affiliate link to my Amazon Recommendations page, which means Needle ‘n Thread receives a small commission for purchases made through that link. Every little bit helps! Thanks!


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(31) Comments

  1. I bought four of these at Target 2-3 years ago for my current needlepoint projects. I just love them! I think I paid around $3 each for them on sale. Right now my local Target doesn’t have them but it’s worth checking when you are there for other things. The ones I bought were in their boxes and organizational baskets area.

  2. Funny how I was just thinking about these hexies last week! I was making a card with a bee theme and the honeycomb pattern reminded me of your quilt.

    Love your work, love your posts- thank you!

  3. Thanks so much for the update!

    I’ve taken the quilting plunge too, but haven’t yet done any hexies.

    I’m glad you talk about color trends, it’s helped me be REALLY careful about the color selections I make. Needlework is a great hobby, but since it takes forever I’d hate to wind up creating something that just won’t coordinate with anything else in the house.

    My rule for stitching so far is that I always pick projects I’m drawn to that I’d want to have around me when they’re done. If I want to give it away, that’s fine, but if not, it fits right in. Makes selecting projects a good bit slower, though.

    In terms of quilting fabric, the color trends drive me crazy. I don’t like muted colors and definitely don’t want them in a quilt. So many of the collections are just so drab! And I can’t wear warm/earthy tones in clothing, so I don’t decorate my home that way either. On the plus side, this slows me down in accumulating any fabric stash.

  4. I think you’re having as much fun organizing the hexies as you are sewing them. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    No, it doesn’t matter if the color scheme is “outdated” if you love it. You’ll have the quilt for decades, so being on trend one year or another is totally irrelevant.

  5. Mary, this leaves me breathless! You are amazing to be so modest about a Titanic project. I do EPP But the scale (not meant as a pun) of such a project and your organization and achievement are such an example of a true needlewoman and a skilled artist. Thank you for all your inspiration to us.

  6. Morning Mary – You’re making fantastic progress with your hexies, makes me want to get my Grandma’s Flower Garden out and work on it some more. I’ve reached the stage of making the 1,000’s of background hexies, solid white and very boring. Then it’s put it all together, layer, baste and ‘quilt as desired’ which I think I’ll let a long-arm-quilter do.
    With paper and a pencil beside me I’ve found that this mindless stitching is a great time to think things through whether planning the most effect sequence of chores in the garden, designing a new project or cogitating a problem that needs resolution. Or maybe just let the mind wander where it may, who needs t.v. I love quiet times like this.
    Enjoy the peace and tranquility that something like this gives you.
    Happy stitching – Brenda

  7. You are so right about colors, even combinations of colors, becoming dated. So do fabric patterns. Have you considered buying your border fabric sooner than later? Of course, with internet it seems like quite a few fabrics from older lines are still available somewhere.

    1. Hi, Gail – I’ve bought yardage already for backing and for borders. I bought all the fabric the same time, with a little to spare, to make sure I wouldn’t come up short. 🙂

    1. Excellent! And if you have an Office Depot or Office Max locally, you can order them online for in-store or curbside pickup. Good to know! Thanks!

  8. Boy, you really hit a “divided storage” jackpot! I totally understand how SATISFYING this must have been!! Nice going!! I’m impressed with how well you have the whole project organized and progressing! Go Mary!!

  9. I am thinking of getting into paper piecing. How many different fabric designs does one need to get a visually pleasing layout?

    1. Hi, Eve – I think this is a personal choice. I’m not really quilter, though, so maybe there is a “magic formula” – but I think with a random quilt like the one I’m doing, there’s really no specific number.

    2. The easiest way is to use a Jelly roll. That usually gives you a nice selection of an entire or most of a fabric line. The Jelly rolls are 2.5 inches wide, which just happens the be the PERFECT size to wrap a 1″ hexagon (the 1″ is the size of the flat side). Each hex needs a 2.5×2.5 piece of fabric (just wrap the extra under & you are good to go!). A layer cake is 10″squares (or 5 x 25 each piece) & charm packs are already 2.5 squares. Mine is a queen sized one & it took 2 jelly rolls & some extra charm packs for unique centers. Mary inspired me to do this & I gotta tell ya it was the easiest project I have ever had to set up. Some thread, a glue pen, some precut-hexies & a jelly roll & I was ready to go. My way of buying precut fabrics & hexies is more expensive BUT I really wanted to do hand work NOW! and I could. Sooo much fun!

    3. The jelly rolls are too wide for the hexies I’m using (which are 3/4”). That’s why I use the layer cakes (10” squares” cut down into 2” squares (for 25 per 10” square)

    4. oops under the layer cake that should be 4 x 2.5 squares per piece. not 5×25 – fat fingers.

  10. After reading your articles on the hexie quilt I decided that I had to make one, too. I’m using dark red and cream as I’ve wanted a red/white(cream) quilt for a long time. I’ve been digging through my stash and using fabrics I’ve found, but have bought some mixed red/cream prints for “connecting” fabrics. I forgot to mention, I’m making a Grandmother’s flower garden quilt with a large medallion in the center. And I’m using 1 inch hexies, which makes it go a bit faster. I love that pencil box and I think I’ll get it, using your link of course. Also, I’ve figured out how to sew them together by machine. I put them right sides together, and sew with a 1.2 mm zig zag, with the zig on the very edge of the fabric and the zag in air. I’m using nylon filament thread in the needle and size 60 cotton in the bobbin with a size 70 or 75 needle. It works really well! Thanks for all your posts, it’s fun to see yours coming together.

  11. Thanks for the update, Mary! I was thinking of your hexie quilt this past week and wondering how it’s going. It’s so fun to see your progress. I stepped away from my hexie quilt for a while too, because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to use the paper-pieced method to baste them, the wash-away applique method (I used this method for hexie place mats once and it was so easy–no need to remove the wash-away applique hexie after basting), or just use the hand-sewing method (drawing around a plastic hexie template and sewing them together; which is what I had originally planned to do, so I have hundreds of hexies ready to go for this method). I think I’ll revisit all three methods before committing to one. I, too, wondered about the length of time it would take to make the quilt and how this would fare vis-à-vis the fabric layout. I finally decided that as long as I kept all the hexies in the French General range, they would somewhat go together (even if I run out of the French General fabric I started with, I could just add in new French General fabrics later on). Your post today about that very point has encouraged me greatly–thank you!!

  12. Love the update! I started a Hexie quilt using 1” hexies after reading your first blogs on traveling with handwork. Because of this project I used ALL the scraps in my stash to make a Grandmother’s Garden with a black background in a lap sized quilt.

    I sketched my quilt with hexagon graft paper and colored the circles with colored pencils. That was fun and made piecing easier.

    Then I made 2000 hexies that were basted with the leftover thread of spools that have been hoarding in my closet for years. Thank you. That has given me much needed extra storage.

    I used all the wasted card stock sent by mail to make my hexagon centers. I put a paper punch hole in the center of the card stock and used a small pin to keep the fabric in place until the Hexi is basted.

    Sam’s has a plastic container that comes with granola that perfectly fits 300 hexies. That’s another good reuse of supplies.

    Now I am pondering how to actually quilt this piece. I am more than half way through piecing the lap throw. In the past but I have always “stitched in the ditch” for quilting. I suspect that I won’t like machine stitching on this completely hand made quilt. Do you have any suggestions for quilting the finished project. What do you plan to do with yours?

    Thank you for a wonderful project that has been enjoyable and fun and ecological.

    1. I haven’t quite gotten that far in the plans, Debbie, but I imagine I will have it quilted by a long-arm quilter somewhere. I can’t see hand quilting it… at this time.

  13. Yay! I’ve been hoping for a hexie update so I was happy to see this. I have succumbed, partially because of your influence. My project isn’t nearly as in-depth as yours because I have the attention span of a gnat so my ‘plan’ (subject to change of course because I am woman and that’s what we do) is to make hexie flowers and scatter them over a kind sized bed sheet to make a somewhat modern interpretation. Kinda. Sorta. Maybe.

  14. You almost make me consider doing a hexie project – maybe a pillow? You see my grandmother made hexie quilts. She owned a ladies wear shop and did the alterations in the back on an old treadle Singer machine. And I am pretty sure that she used the material she cut off when shortening cotton dresses to make hexies which became ‘grandma’s flower garden’ quilts. I have one of the quilts, very worn, but stitched by hand.

  15. I think you colors are beautiful! What a project to take on but it will be a treasure when done. I love your work.

  16. You need your head examined! LOL! It is gorgeous! I just recently got into Hexie making, and I already want to make a forever hexie quilt.

    1. That’s a good name for it – a Forever Hexie Quilt! I haven’t had a chance to work on it for a while – I’m hoping to be all caught up on everything by Thanksgiving weekend, and then I’ll be able to spend some time on it then. Fingers crossed!

  17. Do you think these boxes would hold 1″ hexies? The product description says it is 1 3/16″ high, but it looks like your .75″ hexies barely fit. Thanks for your help! –a fellow hexie organizer

    1. No, they won’t hold the 1″ hexies. But I think the same company makes different sized boxes. If you’re in the US, check Office Depot or Office Max, I think they carry them.

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