How to Machine Piece Hexagons: A Beatrix Bag Hack

Now, I am all for hand stitching English Paper Piecing.  In fact, that tends to be one of my favourite hobbies.  I love to take them travelling me on long car rides or planes and often work on them at night before bed.  That being said, they do take quite a bit of time to complete by hand.  Which is why I wanted to share my guide on how to machine piece them perfectly every time.  

As, I cannot just do a tutorial with out offering you all a finished item to sew along with me, I decided to hack our most recent sewing pattern release, the #BeatrixBag. 

Materials.

  • We used quilting cotton from the 'Bee Kind' collection designed by Jade Mosinski for Northcott fabrics.  Find the collection HERE.
bee kind northcott fabric bumble bee fabric
For this bag we used:
    • Bee Kind Fabric Panel 1 panel - Bee Kind (23783-99)
    • Bee Kind Fabric Northcott 1 FQ of 23790-42 
    • Bee Kind Fabric 23785-11 Northcott Fabrics 1 FQ of 23785-11
    • Bee Kind Fabric 23790-53 Northcott Fabric 1 FQ of 23790-53
    • Bee Kind Fabric  23786-74 Northcott Fabrics 1 FQ of 23786-74
    • Bee Kind Fabric 23787-22 Northcott Fabrics Quilting cotton pink fabric 1 FQ of 23787-22
    • Bee Kind Fabric 23789-11 border print fabric northcott fabrics 0.5m of 23789-11
    • Bee Kind Fabric 23791-11 Northcott Fabric words fabric text fabric 0.5m of 23791-11
  • Cotton quilt batting (or Soft and Stable Fusible Fleece) & Interfacing 
  • 4 x 1" D or O rings
  • Matching thread
  • 15" Zipper
  • Download the Hexie template guide (which is FREE when you sign up for our newsletter, and if you are already subscribed to the newsletter, you have this guide).  DOWNLOAD HERE
  • The Beatrix Bag Pattern, check it out HERE.

The Exterior Panels.

We need to create a panel that is the same size as the pattern piece for the Beatrix Bag.  I decided to use two of the panels from the Bee Kind collection.  One larger one for the front and a smaller one for the back of the tote bag.

Bee Kind Large Panel Exterior of #BeatrixbagHack nothcott fabrics

As the larger panel is still not wide enough for the pattern piece we need to piece a border on either side of the panel.  I chose to go with the bee strip, as it matches nicely with the black panel and will keep this side of the bag mostly.

First we need to trim down a small portion of the main panel, so that it fits nicely onto the pattern.  I ended up removing 3/4" (2cm) on either side of the panel to accommodate the boarder.  That being said, depending on which boarder strip you select, you may need to shave off more or less to make it fit.  You will need two strips (WOF), one for each end of the panel.

hacking bag patterns beatrix bag pattern hack bee kind fabric from northcott fabrics

 Then with right side together (RST) place the boarder strips on either side and stitch together using a 1/4" (0.6cm) seam allowance.  Press the seams towards the boarder (out to either side).  

Then, placing the Beatrix bag Main panel piece on top of this panel, trim down the top and bottom of the panel to fit the pattern piece.

Trim down the top and bottom of the bag panel to match up to the Beatrix bag pattern piece

The front panel is now completed (for now).

For the back panel, we will be doing some machine pieced 1" hexagons (hexies) with one of the smaller panels in the middle.

I decided to create a boarder on all four sides of this smaller panel.  The yellow strip really stood out for me.  You will need two strips to create all four boarder pieces.

Just as you did with the front panel, match up the two side strips right sides together and stitch in place.  Press towards the boarder.

Next, measure out two strips the length of the entire top and bottom of the panel, including the two side strips you added.  Place these right sides together on the top and bottom and stitch in place using your 1/4" seam allowance.

Adding boarders onto quilts and panels bee kind northcott fabrics

 1" Hexie Piecing by Machines.

Using your template downloaded for FREE here (or an acrylic template) fussy cut out the designs you would like for your hexies.  

I used the 1" hexie templates for this #BeatrixBagHack.

1" hexie templates acrylic free hexie templates

After you have all your hexagons cut out of fabric, transfer the markings on the templates (the dots) 1/4" away from each of the corners.  This will be your start and stop lines for stitching.

how to machine piece hexagons for a quilt

Now determine the pattern you would like to create for your panel and match up two hexies (right sides together) and stitch between each dot (ensuring you back stitch at both the start and the end).  

How to machine stitch hexagons for a quilt pattern fast English paper piecing tutorial

quilting tutorial hexagon quilt machine stitch hexies

Continue to sew the top row of hexagons together in this manner. Once the row is completed, you can begin to add the columns.  You match up the hexies the same way you would for English Paper Piecing, but using your machine stitch them together between the dots on the templates.

Creating the columns on hexagon quilt machine piecing method

how to machine piece hexagons for a quilt sewing tutorial

I made a row of nine half hexies on top, then eight full sized 1" hexagons, then two full sided hexies - five half hexies - 2 full sized hexies, to create the top panel.

Creating half hexagons for a quilt

Once you have the top panel completed we need to figure out how much pace to leave for the small panel we created.  Based on the panel used, we needed to create two and three columns on either side (alternating 2 hexies and 3 hexies going down).

Creating a design using hexagons hexies quilting patterns

We continued these two columns for 7 rows (including the top and bottom half hexie rows).  Then continued to add the same half hexie - full hexie - half hexie rows as we did on the top.

panel for the Beatrix Bag pattern hack by Sheer Stitchery

The final piecing worked out to be 9 columns and 11 rows with a "square" cut out  of the middle.  The diagram below shows you how to piece them together.

How to add a panel between hexies

Once this panel is completed, using a starch alternative (Best press) you can press you panel, ensuring the seams are all pointing in the same direction.

NOTE Do not press the hexies before you have completed your panel, as the angles of the hexagon are cut on the bias they will distort the share of your hexie if you press prior to having completed your panel.

hexie quilt pressing your seams all in one direction

Attaching the Panel.

Next we need to add in the small panel.  Mark 1/4" (0.6cm) from each corner.  This will be your stitching start and stop lines.

Attaching the panel to the hexie quilt bee kind northcott fabrics sewing tutorial

Place the panel right together matching the raw edge of the top of the panel with the raw edge of the top of the opening left by the hexagons.  

Attaching a panel to a hexagon quilt tutorial sewing by machine easy quilt tutorials

Stitch this seam with the same 1/4" seam allowance.  

 Then match up the bottom of the panel with the bottom of the hole you left, being careful not to twist the hexie panel.  (this is best explained in the video).

attaching the fabric panel to the epp hexies bee kind fabric collection from northcott fabrics tutorial on how to machine sew hexagons

Then stitch the seam at 1/4" starting and stopping between each dot your drew.  Ensure you back stitch at the start and end of each seam.

Northcott Fabric Bee kind attaching a panel to hexie background by machine

Once you are done, the front of your panel should be stitched on the top and bottom with the sides left open.

how to sew hexagons by machine bee kind fabric bumble bee fabric northcott fabric

In order to stitch the sides of the panel, we need to first create some ease for the fabric to turn properly.  To do this, turn your panel so that the wrong side is face up.  Then clip on a diagonal up to the start of the stitching lines in all four corners.

Clip up to the stitching line on a diagonal to create ease to stitch the panel in place

This allows you to place the side of the panel and the hexie panel right sides together without any puckering in the fabric.

place fabric right sides together bee kind fabric collection

Pin (one side at a time) in place and stitch, starting and stopping on the dots where the top and bottom seams start and finish.  Do not go past these dots and ensure you back stitch at the start and end of these seams.

attaching a panel to a quilt how to sew hexagons on by machine

Repeat for the other side.

Trim away the excess hexagons so that the seam allowance is 1/4" on both sides.
trim the excess fabric away so that the seam allowance is 1/4"

Press the seams towards the centre (the inner panel).  Then true up the edges of this back panel to match the pattern piece on the Beatrix Bag pattern.

Putting it all Together.

Next, I decided to use 100% cotton quilt batting for my exterior panels (unlike the fusible fleece and heavyweight interfacing called for in the bag pattern).  As quilt batting does not fuse to the fabric, I used 505 Spray adhesive to hold my layers together.  (Though you could also pin baste this in place).

Basting your quilt with 505 Spray adhesive

Next, you can quilt your panels however you like.

I decided to quilt around the perimeter of the boarder (both inner and outer) for the hexagon panel.  For the front panel, I outlined the vertical strips we added.  I also quilted the bottom in a 1" grid and the sides of the bag in 1" vertical lines.

Quilting the exterior panels of your bag Beatrix bag pattern

You complete the rest of the bag according to the pattern instructions.

Two Toned Straps.

Now, if you want some extra finesse for the bag straps, I wanted to show you how you can create a two toned strap using the boarder strips.

After you select the strip you would like to use (you are going to have to piece two strips together to get the correct length required in the pattern), cut two more strips 1/4" narrower than the patterned strip in a contrasting fabric.  

With right sides together, place the contrasting fabric strips on the patterned strip and sew together along the length of the strap.

How to make two toned straps for bags sewing tutorial

Press the seams towards the contrast fabric.  

Press the contrast fabric towards the centre of the strip (on the wrong side), as you would when creating bias tape.  Leave the 1/4" seam allowance as the guide for where to fold, achieving the two toned straps for your bag.

 how to create two toned straps - just like creating bias tape

 Next, pin this strap piece to the main strap (created using the pattern piece from the Beatrix bag).

How to create straps for your bag

I decided to zig-zag this in place to create a decorative element for the straps.

Two toned straps for bags Bag Making DIYs

Now all that is left to do is complete the bag, as per the pattern.

 

The Beatrix Bag Quilted Hack

 

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How to machine piece hexagons and hack the Beatrix Bag sewing pattern quilting tutorials

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