We all have clothing that is either too plain, lacks individuality or has stains. These pieces are too good to be thrown away but you don´t want to wear them. In this blog post I would like to share how to give that type of clothing new life with a simple hexagon embellishment. The humble hexagon shape comes in a variety of sizes and is perfect for adding a personal and unique touch to new or old cloths. It requires basic EPP and applique skills and is suitable for sewists of any skill level. All you need are just pretty scraps, templates, fine needle and thread and desire to work with your hands.
I might have said this many times, but hexagon is one of my favorite shapes. It is simple to work with even for beginners and comes in various sizes. Free templates can be found online (I have free templates for 1/2", 3/4" and 1" hexagons in my shop). Hexagons can be combined or used as single shapes depending on your preferences, style of clothing and purpose of the embellishment. I am petite, so I prefer small hexagons: 1/2" or smaller for embellishing if I would like to add some color and personalize a plain shirt or dress. But for covering stains, I use a variety of sizes. You can sew a few hexagons together in a flower or just a few shapes together - anything that feels right for you and seems appropriate for your clothing.
You can use paper templates and your preferred basting technique. Since we are planning to applique the shapes, I recommend thread basting through the fabric only for 1/2" - 1 1/4" hexagons. In this case you don´t need to cut basting stitches and after your remove the papers the hexagon holds its shape. Here you can find a video how to do thread basting. Once you basted the shapes, press them with hot iron and remove the templates.
What if you need to use larger hexagons? Then you have to thread baste through the paper in the corners and in the middle of each side. Once you have all shapes ready, press them with hot iron, cut basting stitches from the back, gently remove the thread. Press the shape with hot iron once again, making sure the seam allowances are pressed the same way as with the papers in.
You can also glue baste hexagons. For glue basting, the size of hexagons doesn´t really affect the way you baste, unless you go below 1/2". I highly recommend using the glue specially designed for EPP like Sewline glue stick and moderate amounts of glue. It ensures that removing papers is easy. Guess how I learnt this? In the beginning of my EPP obsession I used just regular fabric glue that was too strong and removing papers was a nightmare.
Another option for small shapes is to use Hexiform templates and glue basting. What is Hexiform? It is a non woven material that you don´t need to remove. It is washable at 40C. Since Hexiform is thicker than paper, it makes your shapes padded and they slightly raise on the surface. It comes in variety of sizes and shapes. Since it is a material you miss the feeling of a crisp edge of paper template and it makes challenging basting the curves especially for sizes 1/2" and below . I use 1/4" and 3/8" Hexiform templates and glue baste them. Here you can find a video how to do that. There is no need to press the shapes with Hexiform templates once you basted them.
Once the shapes are basted, arrange them as you wish.
Personally, I don´t like hexagon flowers on clothing, but if you are into that, just go for it! You are creating something that is unique, original and truly yours, therefore you make the rules.
I just want to show you few examples:
On this sweatshirt I arranged 1/2" hexagons from Liberty fabric in a string.
This shirt was full of bleach stains both in the front and on the sleeves.
So I used 1" and 2" Hexagons to cover the stains.
Sometimes, especially when using larger shapes it looks like something else is needed (or if you don´t have enough hexagons to cover all stains). You can add "sashiko style" stitching (simple running stitch) in Perle cotton 8 on top of the large shapes as well as in the areas with small stains.
I bought this dress from a second hand shop. It was brand new and good quality but so very plain. May be that was the reason why it was unloved and ended up there.
I thought that I would add color to the dark navy blue background with tiny colorful hexagons. So I prepared 60 3/8" hexies and arranged them in a way that the placement is more dense at the top and more spread towards the bottom.
You can use a water/heat erasable pen to draw a pattern for hexagons, first, if needed. For dark fabrics I use a white Clover pencil for marking. Once you are happy with the placement, pin your hexagons in place. I recommend you to put the garment on to see how it looks. Sometimes the hexagon placement needs re-adjustment. This is exacly what happened with the dress. When I put it on, I realized that hexagons should be on the opposite side and dense placement at the top doesn´t look nice.
Applique hexagons in place using thread that matches your background fabric. Use ladder stitch, fine thread and needle.
I ended up using only 40 hexagons. Here I am in the new dress on a glorious summer day in the beautiful Seurasaari island in Helsinki.
Don´t these simple hexies completely change the look of plain clothing? It can also be a quick EPP project that gives you the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction of making something new from old. I am sure you will have lots of complements on how clever you are to do that!
I hope these examples will inspire you to look through your wardrobe and find pieces that can simply shine in a new form by adding a few EPP shapes. Together we can create less waste and use what we have!