Embroidered Hexies and a Needle Book Tutorial

embroidered hexie needle book tutorial

It’s Pinterest challenge time! Yay! I love this time in the month when I join a group of fellow craft bloggers and we all rummage through our Pinterest boards and find a pin that we actually want to try out.

This month my inspiration came from the talented Audrey from Studio Paars, who embroidered over EPP hexies to make this lovely bit of art. As soon as I saw it I wanted to have a go.

EPP or English Paper Piecing Patchwork

EPP is English Paper Piecing, when you tack fabric to thin card shapes and the sew them together by hand. When they are all sewn together you remove the tacking and card and have yourself a pretty bit of patchwork fabric. It’s a very traditional patchwork technique, it’s the one I learnt growing up and as I didn’t know there were other options up we just called this ‘patchwork’. I made a couple of cushions for my bedroom when I was about 12 using this technique but honestly I’d not done much since then!


If you have done some EPP in the past you might well have a few loose hexies floating about at the bottom of a project bag and this is a great way to use them up. This is a good chance to do a bit of fabric scrap busting too. Tiny little hexies are an easy way to use small fabric scraps and save them from the bin.

To make an embroidered hexie motif you will need:

  • Scraps of fabric

  • A 20cm (8”) square of plain fabric

  • 7 1” Hexagons printed on thin card

  • Tacking thread, sewing thread, sewing needle, iron, scissors

  • embroidery thread

I didn’t take any ‘steps as I went along’ photos of the hexie making, sewing or embroidery. I think I was just enjoying the process so much I wasn’t thinking about sharing it with you later. I’ve dug out a few photos of some other patchwork hexie and I’ll explain what I did. I have a more comprehensive guide to stitching hexagon EPP patchwork here if you need more help.

  • Cut fabric hexagons 1/4” larger all round than your card hexagons.

  • Tack the fabric to the card

  • Right sides together; oversew the hexagons together to form the round motif

  • When your hexies are all sewn together you need to press them with the iron. Then you can remove the tacking and the papers

  • Position your patchwork motif centrally on the piece of plain fabric. Pin then tack all around the edge

Embroidering your EPP hexagon design

Now you are ready to embroidery - do whatever takes your fancy. I did french knots, running stitch, feather stitch, blanket stitch, some lazy daisy etc. Just have fun and make sure your embroidery is near enough to all the edges to hold the patchwork motif down securely. When it’s finished you can remove the tacking stitches. I’ve got a guide to some basic embroidery stitches if you need a little help or just a reminder.

embroidered hexies patchwork
embroidery over patchwork
remove tacking

Now your embroidered hexies are finished you can use this lovely motif to decorate something. You could applique it to a bag, make it into a little drawstring bag (you could use this tutorial as a guide and just size it differently), turn it into a pincushion or even put it in an embroidery hoop or frame and turn it into art. You can see where I’ve added a hexagon motif like this one to a bag in this contrast handle bag tutorial to give you an idea of ways to use your patchwork.

I made my embroidered hexagon motif into a pretty needle book, here’s how:

how to make a pretty needle book

To make a patchwork needle book you will need:

  • An embroidery patchwork motif (as above) trimmed to a 15cm (6”) square

  • 1 x 15cm (6”) square patterned fabric (for the back)

  • 1 x 15cm by 4cm (6” by 1.5”) strip of fabric (for the spine)

  • 1 x 15cm by 31cm (6” by 12.5”) piece of fabric (for the lining)

  • 1 x 12.5cm by 8cm (5'‘ by 3”) piece of fabric for the pocket.

  • 1 x 15cm by 31cm (6” by 12.5”) piece of light wadding or batting

  • A 10cm (4”) length of ribbon

  • a button

Join the front patchwork piece and the back piece to the spine using a 1/4” seam allowance. Press the seams to the spine.

how to make a needle book
what you need.jpg

Press a tiny single fold hem all around the pocket piece. Top stitch the top edge.

Place the pocket on the right side of the lining as shown and stitch round 3 sides leaving the top edge open. Stitch down the centre to make 2 sections if you want to, you can have just one bigger pocket if you prefer.

attach a pocket

(You might notice that the pocket is not sewn on very straight in this photo. Sadly I didn’t notice so my needle book has a wonky pocket - You, of course, will have a straight pocket!)

Now you are ready to layer things up.

Lay the lining first, right side up and place the ribbon, folded in half on the right edge, next to the pocket. Hold it in place with 2 pins as shown.

add ribbon

Place the outside piece on top, right side down. The motif (ie the front) will be on the left.

Now place the wadding layer on top. Pin all the layers and then stitch all round the edge leaving a gap for turning.


I added the extra yellow pins so I’d know where to stop, I’ve been known to get carried away and whizz round the whole thing and forget to leave the gap so extra pins really help!


Trim the corners, then turn out through the gap. Turn out really carefully as the pins will still be in the ribbon on the inside.

Slip stitch the gap closed.

For this needle book I used a wadding that was a little thicker than I would normally use for a needle book. If you use a thinner wadding or batting then you could top stitch all around the edge.

Lay the felt ‘pages’ centrally in the centre needle book. You could stitch them in place using the sewing machine or using a couple of lines of running stitch with embroidery thread. I opted for a hand stitched look.

insert pages.jpg

You’ll find it easier to get an even look on both sides if you stab the needle straight through the fabric layers rather than doing traditional ‘in and out’ stitches.

join pages.jpg

Sew a button on the front of the needle book, lined up with the ribbon loop.

To sew the button securely I like to go through all the layers of the needle book but this does leave a few stitches on the inside. You could use a thread that matches the lining and not worry about it but I covered my stitches with a little flower cut from a left over scrap of felt.


You could easily add more felt pages to your needle book if you’d like to.

You could also add more embroidery or embellishments to the pages as takes your fancy. (Blimey! The wonky pocket really notices in these photos doesn’t it? I make these mistakes so you don’t have to!)

inside patchwork needlebook
inside a handmade needlebook
how to make a needle book
embroidery on patchwork
How to make a pretty needle book with patchwork and embroidery

This was such a fun project to make, I’m really happy that I saw Audrey’s beautiful original inspiration and found time to have a go myself.


I’ll be sharing this project at these link ups