Sunday, May 31, 2020

Masked Hexagons, Socially Distanced: An English Paper Pieced Mystery Scrap Quilt

If you are one of the thousands of quilters giving time and fabric to make lifesaving masks, thank you. For me, making masks is not only a good deed, but a powerful way to reduce anxiety in a tragic  time. 

You may also be putting mask scraps aside, to someday make a  quilt. Here’s one idea that you can work on as you continue to make masks: 

And here's what it would have looked like on white:

It's not finished - it's just a top - because as I continue to make masks, I will grow it. The mystery, of course, is how all this will turn out - not just this quilt, but our lives.

UPDATE, 7/2 - I've grown this quilt significantly, and written up new, simpler directions. Find the blog post with lots of photos, hereThe free revised pattern includes full-size templates. Download it from Dropbox, here  (Version 3b, July 2, 2020). If you have any trouble downloading it, email me at, and I'll email it to you. Your suggestions, comments, and feedback are welcomed. 

Here's one fabrics I used in lots of masks - a purple batik featuring lots of birds: 

...And the hexagon I made from a scrap:
Button eyes are optional. Next, masks I made for border collie parents:
 And its hexagon: 

A different purple batik mask:

The hexagon
A stylish saw-blade fabric mask:
The condensed version, with button eyes, appears sweet but startled:
After making a pile of masked hexagons (most without button eyes) I decided to to socially distance them. I was heavily influenced by lines marked on store floors, and social media photos of kooky/brilliant people wearing hula hoops, pool noodle hats, inner tubes, and even wildly-oversized Burger King crowns, to keep their distance. So I gave some of my hexagon rows protuberances.  
No need for big decisions yet about the ultimate size of the quilt - you can grow it as you make more masks and hexagons. 

Solid colors on the upper portion of each hexagon represent faces; the prints on bottom are cut from my mask scraps. Button eyes are a good choice if you’re making an anxiety-reducing quilt for a youngster. We've all heard of Sunbonnet Sue - how about Pandemic Pat? 

Below are the materials you'll need to get started.
Of course, I have hexagons and English Paper Piecing on my mind because my new book was just published, Hexagon Star Quilts: 113 English Paper Pieced Star Patterns to Piece and Applique, available from Amazon (here) and wherever fine quilting books are sold! 


HEXAGON FABRICS - Scraps of print fabrics - one side should be at least 4” - plus similar-size scraps of assorted solids for the “faces.”

BAR AND EMBELLISHMENT FABRICS  A variety of scraps, especially in shades of grey and black-and-white for the bars. Assorted colors for star points and squares that surround hexagons.

BACKGROUND FABRIC Black: 2 yards. White: 2 yards or, if you don’t mind a seam, 1 yard cut in half vertically, with one half stitched above the other.

BORDER FABRIC: 1 yard if you don’t mind a seam and the print doesn’t have to be accurately matched. Buy 2 yards if it’s a print with a motif that needs to be matched and/or you don’t want a seam. Top and bottom borders are cut about 4.5” x 67” wide; the two side borders are cut about 3” x 69” long.

SEWING THREAD For hand or machine sewing.

GLUE STICK or PEN To “baste” fabric around cardstock or interfacing templates. Any washable non-permanent glue, like Elmer’s purple stuff in the photo, is fine. Glue pens - far right - cost more, but their narrow tip creates less mess. Alternatively, stitch-baste.

CARDSTOCK The kind that goes through a printer; or, scraps like file folders.

BATTING and BACKING Slightly bigger than your top. This finished quilt is 67” x 76”.

Hand stitchers only:

HAND-SEWING NEEDLES  EPPers favor Hemmings Size 11 Milliners, but you can start out with any slender, long small-eyed needle.

THREAD CONDITIONER Option, to reduce spontaneous thread knotting.

Machine stitchers only:

DÉCOR BOND PELLON INTERFACING 809 Option. I love it for machine EPP. This inexpensive medium-weight interfacing has fusible glue on one side. It’s easy to fold fabric accurately around it. It stays in place permanently - after machine stitching, you won’t face problems that ripping out cardstock can cause. If you cut 8.5” x 11” pieces, you can even print the template pages directly onto it. (If you don’t have Décor Bond, use cardstock templates instead.)

INVISIBLE MONOFILAMENT THREAD Option, for joining pieces, machine appliqué, and/or machine quilting.

Again, the complete and newly revised pattern is a free download, here  (Version 3b, July 2, 2020). Contact me with any questions or comments at 

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