How to Sew Hexies On-the-Go | English Paper Piecing Tutorial

I have to share with you my new crafting project LOVE, hexies. Yes, I’ve made them before and have even hand pieced a hand quilted hexie flower garden quilt. (That was years ago). For some reason, the smaller one-inch version has caught my eye I love making them. We recently went on a road trip and I NEEDED some handwork to do while riding in the car. I figured while I was in the car I would show you how to sew hexies on-the-go. 

One thing I get excited about going on vacation is not only time away, but some time to work on projects like these. Unless I need something to do while watching a movie, or I know I’ll be waiting somewhere for long periods, projects like these get put on the back burner. But WHY? Little sewing projects like these bring me joy, help me chill and relax, and are very rewarding. I guess I’ll have to go on more trips!

So I made sure I had some projects to take with me. (I had three small bins of things to DO: a little sewing, a little crochet, some beading, and my travel watercolor kit). I never get to them all, but at least I have them with me. Is anyone this crazy?


Fabric hexagons (which are affectionately referred to as hexies) are made using a process called English paper piecing. Each hexagon is made individually by wrapping the fabric around a paper shape, then securing it in place using either stitch basting or glue basting. (The paper will eventually be pulled out).

These hexagon shapes can be used alone or stitched together to form other fun shapes or patterns like flowers. There really are so many fun ways to put them together. You can applique them on pillows, quilts, or make a wall hanging. Of course, Pinterest has a few ideas.


I made a little HEXIE TRAVEL KIT. Let me show you what‘s in it. 

Hexagons are measured by the length of their sides. The hexies I show in this tutorial were made using a 1-inch template and is a good size to start with.


  • Pre-cut fabric scraps (cut to 2 ½ inch – 63 mm squares). Use a variety of colors and prints. 
  • Pre-cut hexagon papers you can buy them already made in bulk, or you can make them yourselves. I like to make them using lightweight cardstock. Cutting them by hand can be a little time-consuming, so I made a template on my Silhouette and let the machine cut them out for me. It’s very important that they are cut out accurately and that they are uniform. I have the SVG file available HERE.
  • You can also cut them out manually. I have a great PDF file that was designed so you can easily cut out a bunch at a time using a rotary cutter/ruler, paper cutter, or scissors. You can get the file here. 
  • I like to get a little tin or zip lock bag to put the papers in for easy access.
  • Needle and Thread Some people use a glue stick, but I prefer the simple needle and thread method. Use a milliner type needle size 9-11. (However, any embroidery needle will work just fine). Throw in a spool of white or neutral color thread for basting.
  • Scissors I take my fabric scissors because I like to trim the fabric before sewing. A smaller pair of embroidery scissors are nice if you have a pair.
  • Upcycled Altoid tins to keep single already made hexies, and spare needles.
  • Acrylic template (optional)


Double thread a needle and knot the end. (Don’t get your thread too long, or it will get tangled, about 16 inches after doubled.

Place your hexagon paper on the wrong side of your fabric and centered on the square. Hold the paper in place while you trim the corners to make a 3/8 seam allowance. 

Fold the fabric firmly over the paper on one side and then fold the adjacent side over to form a mitered corner. Take two small stitches over the mitered corner to tack in place. Stitch about ¼ inch from the edge.

Fold the next side over and hold in place while you tack that corner in place.

Repeat until all sides are folded over and sewn in place. Knot and cut the thread.

Store your made hexies in the tin until you are ready to sew them together. If you are home, it’s nice to press the hexies before sewing them together. However, if you are on-the-road, you can still sew them together and press later.


Decide how you want to sew them together. You can make hexie flowers for a Grandma’s Flower Garden quilt, (as shown above) or just start randomly sewing them together if you don’t want a specific pattern. I’ve done it both ways.

Double thread the needle and knot the end.

Place two hexies right sides together (RST). Using a WHIP STITCH, sew along one side from point to point. Sew small stitches that are about 1/8 inch apart. Catch the top folded edge of fabric only. DO NOT SEW THROUGH PAPER. Small, closely spaced stitches that are sewn straight across the fabric top are best.

When one edge is sewn, secure your stitching with a couple of stitches repeated in the same place, at the end of your hexagon side. This keeps the stitches tight and the seams (for each side of the hexagon) neatly intact. Next, fold the hexagons out flat and decide which hexie you want to add next.

When sewing more than one side together, you’ll have to flip the hexie as you sew. Sew the first side right up to the corner end. Align the next side by folding the other hexie next to it in half (without creasing). This allows you to line up the edges more easily. Sew that side and repeat the flip. 

While on the road, you can just make up a bunch of single hexies, or if you’re like me, you won’t be able to wait and you’ll want to arrange a flower and sew one together right away. 

Play Video

Seriously, once you make a few hexies you’re going to be hooked! 

I hope this inspires you to make a little travel kit and get sewing, EVEN ON-THE-GO!

Have fun sewing!




Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More

DIY Face Mask Filter Insert-Reusable and Washable

Do you want a little more protective coverage with your face masks? This DIY face mask filter insert will give you the added protection without a lot of bulk and cost. These filters are EASY TO MAKE, REUSABLE, and WASHABLE. 

I guess we’re not going to get away from the “FACE MASK WEARING SAGA” anytime soon, so we might as well embrace it and make wearing a mask the best experience as possible. Most of the masks that people are making and that are floating around these days are simple, basic two-layer masks. Which are fine for those quick trips in and out of the store. However, what if you need a little more protection and you want comfort as well?

There are so many folks out there who are required to wear a mask for 8 plus hours at a time. Wearing some of these masks with filters feel like you’re going to suffocate, is anyone with me? 

What if your face mask doesn’t have a filter pocket?

No worries! I designed these little filters to fit almost every type of mask. (Pleated MaskCinched MasKNo-Sew Mask, Contour Mask). The pleated design allows the filter to open up like a cup and be able to fit comfortably even with a contour mask. (I am working on the finishing touches of my CONTOUR FACE MASK PATTERN right now).

If your face mask does have a filter pocket, you can simply just open up the filter and slide it inside.

Play Video


You’ll want to use a high quality 100% cotton fabric. Upcycled high percale cotton sheets and pillowcases work well. Use at least a 400-600 percale. A high-quality cotton quilting fabric will work as well. I like to cut out and make several at a time. They sew up real quick.  

Materials & Items Needed

Download and print the pattern. Cut out using PAPER SCISSORS. 

Make the pleat template by tracing the dimensions onto a piece of heavy cardstock paper or an upcycled cereal box. This template will make the pleating process so much easier! MAKE SURE POINTS ARE ACCURATELY DRAWN ON TEMPLATE, to save any pleat making frustration. 


To cut out two filters at a time, fold the fabric in half twice. (You’ll need to cut out 2 of the pattern piece on the fold).

Place pattern on the fold where indicated and clip in place.

If you don’t have sewing clips, and you don’t want to use pins, simply tape the pattern in place with MASKING TAPE. Yep, I love this stuff. Masking tape comes in real handy for a lot of sewing projects.

Cut out using a rotary cutter or scissors. (If you plan on making a lot of these, I recommend making a template with heavy cardstock or oak tag paper. (recycled cereal box). If using a rotary cutter, GO SLOW AND KEEP YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THE WAY!.

Open the fabric up and take two layers and place them right sides facing out. Line up the edges.


Take the pleat template and mark the folding points using the tip of a pencil. Just make a tiny dot on the fabric. If using a dark color fabric, you can use a chalk pen

Take the template and flip it horizontally with the fold line at the top. Line the top of the template with the bottom set of folding points. Fold the fabric over the template and press in place.

Fold the fabric up until the bottom edge is aligned with the “folding line”. Press in place.

Remove the template and place the top edged of the template on the next set of folding points. Repeat the process until you’ve made all three pleats.

Accuracy is very important, or you will end up with the wrong size of the filter.


Once the pleats are made, clip in place.

Now all you have to do is finish the edges using a serger or sewing machine. If you have a serger, use it. If not, you can use a combination of a straight stitch first, and then finish the edges with a wide and short zigzag stitch. (Width 4-5 and 1.5 in length).

Serger method: watch the video and I will show you how to serge around the corners.

Sewing machine method: Using a regular straight stitch, sew all the way around with a ¼ inch seam allowance. Change the setting to a zigzag stitch and sew all the way around. Have the zigzag go all the way to the edge of the fabric. 

Clip threads and you’re finished. 

How do you care for the face mask filter insert? 

It’s easy. Just wash them the same way you do your cloth face masks. (It’s important that you’re washing the face masks frequently). I recommend washing the masks on a regular wash cycle with the rest of your clothing or towels). 

I put my face masks and filters all in a little mesh laundry bag. This keeps them all together and from getting tangled with everything else. These bags also make a nice ‘COLLECTING FACE MASK STATION’. Hang a bag by the door to collect USED MASKS.

I hope you have fun making these little filters and that they bring you a little more comfort knowing you’re getting some more protection. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns when making these.

Have fun sewing, and remember to KEEP IT SIMPLE!





Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix Copycat – No MSG

Italian Dressing Mix

Do you want the yummy goodness of a tasty Italian Salad Dressing, but don’t want the MSG or added sugar? You’re going to love this copycat Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix recipe.

This mix will not only make a delicious salad dressing, but you can also use it in marinades, dips, casseroles, and whatever recipe you have that calls for an Italian Dressing mix packet.

With only TEN simple ingredients, of which you most likely have already in your pantry, you’ll save money and enjoy a flavorful dressing without the MSG that’s in the store-bought mix.

As far as the sugar goes, I list it in the ingredients with a limited amount. I omit it completely when I make it without any loss in flavor. (Totally up to you). 

But as you can see in the photo above, sugar is the number one ingredient in the Good Seasons Italian dressing mix. Not cool, if you’re avoiding sugar. MSG is not listed in the ingredients. However, in most cases, when “spice” is listed, it usually means MSG. You can read more about the issues with MSG HERE.

Most of you already know that any kind of processed food is going to have some downsides. Obviously, the more we can eat unprocessed food, the better. I’m not perfect in this arena, but I do try to eat more whole foods, plant-based diet and I do feel better when I do.

This dressing mix recipe has simple, straight forward ingredients that I think you’ll like. You can use the mix in other recipes and it also makes a good marinade for chicken and a really good meat rub.

How much does this recipe make?

The mix includes enough for THREE batches of dressing, or THREE store-bought dressing packets. 

If you prefer to make up only enough for one batch of dressing, you can half the recipe. However, I recommend making the full batch. Why do all that measuring over and over if you think you’ll be making more?

Italian Dressing Mix Ingredients 

  • DRIED BASIL – 2 teaspoons
  • DRIED OREGANO – 2 Tablespoons
  • GARLIC POWDER – 2 Tablespoons
  • CELERY SALT – 1/2 teaspoon
  • DRIED PARSLEY – 2 Tablespoons
  • SALT – ½-1 Tablespoon
  • BLACK PEPPER – 2 teaspoons
  • DRIED THYME – ½ teaspoon
  • SUGAR (optional) – ½-1 Tablespoon

*2 Tablespoons of mix equals one store-bought packet.

Italian Dressing Mix Instructions

Place all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk together. *(If you want a finer and smoother consistency dressing, you can grind the herbs in a coffee grinder or herb grinder).

I like to make up a bulk batch so I don’t have to get out all the herbs and measure every time that I want to make the dressing. 

How To Store The Mix

I recommend storing the mix in an airtight glass container. A simple glass pint jar works great, and I love these little plastic mason jar lids. I use them a ton!!!! Make sure you label the jar. If you’re like me, you’ll forget what that lovely mix of herbs is or what to do with it. I’ve simply used a strip of painters tape and a sharpie to label this jar. 

This dressing is not only good over a pile of lettuce and greens, but it is also so yummy used in a pasta salad. The flavor in the dressing goes so well with fresh basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, and pasta. YUMMY!

Italian Salad Dressing Recipe

  • 2 Tablespoons of Italian mix (Listed above)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 3 TB water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or canola oil
  • Shake before using it.

*Makes 1 cup dressing

Pour in a glass jar and refrigerate. Shake well before pouring. The dressing will separate quickly as there are NO emulsifiers. (Which is a good thing)?

The dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

I found and love these little mason jar salad dressing lids

This salad dressing is also really good over leftover quinoa with some cucumbers, cut up tomatoes, chopped black olives, feta cheese, and whatever else you want to throw in. 

Italian Dressing Dip

  • 1-2 Tablespoons mix
  • 16 oz. plain yogurt or sour cream

Mix well and serve.

You may also like my 





Enjoy a simple salad!


Italian Dressing Mix

Do you want the yummy goodness of a tasty Italian Salad Dressing, but don’t want the MSG or added sugar? You’re going to love this copycat Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix recipe.

Use this mix for salad dressing, marinades, dips, casseroles, and whatever recipe you have that calls for an Italian Dressing mix packet.

  • Prep Time5 min
  • Total Time5 min
  • Yield3 Salad Dressing Packets

INGREDIENTS (*2 Tablespoons of mix equals one store-bought packet.)

  • DRIED BASIL – 2 teaspoons
  • DRIED OREGANO – 2 Tablespoons
  • GARLIC POWDER – 2 Tablespoons
  • CELERY SALT – 1/2 teaspoon
  • DRIED PARSLEY – 2 Tablespoons
  • SALT – ½-1 Tablespoon
  • BLACK PEPPER – 2 teaspoons
  • DRIED THYME – ½ teaspoon
  • SUGAR (optional) – ½-1 Tablespoon



Place all ingredients in a small
mixing bowl and whisk together. *(If you want a finer and smoother consistency dressing, you can grind the herbs in a coffee grinder or herb grinder).

I like to make up a bulk batch so I don’t have to get out all the herbs and measure every time that I want to make the dressing.

Notes: *Makes 1 cup dressing




DIY Wool Dryer Balls | Yarn and Upcycled Wool Sweaters

wool dryer balls

Are you looking for a non-toxic alternative to store-bought dryer sheets? Wool dryer balls are your answer! Not only are wool dryer balls all-natural, and non-toxic, they’re so easy to make! In this post, I am going to show you how to make your own wool dryer balls using yarn and upcycled wool sweaters.

What are dryer balls?

Dryer balls have been around for quite some time and people have been using them for years as an eco-friendly and natural alternative to both dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener.

Dryer balls come in a variety of materials and sizes. There are plastic variants and rubber variants, and my favorite, wool dryer balls.

A few years ago I stopped into a cute, quaint little shop of handmade organic items, and they were selling sets of dryer balls. I was intrigued for a few reasons.

  • First, they were made of 100% wool yarn (you know how I love wool stuff).
  • Second, because they had scented the balls with lavender oil (another one of my loves).
  • Third, I love the idea of saving time, money, and avoiding chemicals whenever possible.


I bought a set of four very small balls, which cost me around $24.00. I was excited to go home and do some laundry and give them a spin.

After using the four balls in a load of laundry, I could tell a big difference in drying time, but not much with the static thing. I did a little research and found out that the more balls you have, the faster and more effective they are.

When I used more balls it did help with static cling. I now use 6-10 balls in a large batch of laundry and four in a small batch with good results.

I wanted more dryer balls so I researched how to make them yourself. The directions suggested using wool yarn. So I went out and bought a few skeins of 100% wool yarn and made a few more.

I soon found out that it took a lot of expensive yarn to make these babies. (Now I know why they are not cheap to buy). 

For years I have been suggesting that you save your upcycled wool sweater scraps. These little scraps of felted wool are crafting GOLD. There are so many fun projects you can make with this stuff. I hope you’ve been saving them! Here is a perfect project for even the smallest pieces of wool sweaters.

What are the benefits of using dryer balls?

No chemicals, perfumes, or unnatural additives that are in dryer sheets. (This is just one of the many articles found telling how dangerous these sheets are).

  • Pull the moisture out of your clothes so you don’t have to run your dryer as long, saving you time and money!
  • Reduce static, not totally but do a pretty good job.
  • Soften your clothes by the gentle friction of the felted wool fibers against your clothing fibers.
  • I have heard they are FABULOUS for cloth diapers! 
  • Clean without the harmful chemicals in conventional dryer sheets.
  • Save MONEY with lower energy bills!

Materials & Items Needed

Here is the scoop on how to make these fuzzy little laundry buddies. It is EASY PEASY!

  • skein of 100% wool yarn (NOT wool labeled “superwash” or “machine washable”)
  • Pantyhose
  • Blunt-tipped needle or crochet hook
  • Scissors
  • String or cotton/acrylic yarn (to secure the wool ball in the pantyhose)

Use 100% wool yarnDo not buy yarn that says “machine washable” or “superwash” they will not felt. (Shrink) 

Wool Dryer Balls Instructions

1. Gather up a hand full of 100% wool sweater scraps

2. Scrunch them up into a little tight wad. Take the yarn and start wrapping it tightly around the scraps.

3. wrapping, moving the ball around to get an even wrap.

4. Once the ball is to the size you would like, (I like to make them the size of a tennis ball) cut the yarn.

5. Stick a crochet hook into the ball, attach the yarn, and pull it through. This will keep the ball from unraveling in the felting process.

6. After you have made a few balls, stick them into the toe of a nylon stocking

7. Tie tightly in between each ball with string, or cotton/acrylic yarn. (Don’t use wool yarns or it will felt around the pantyhose.) Tie off the end.

8. Throw the yarn ball caterpillar into the wash with a load of towels. Use the hottest setting possible in the washer and dryer.

9. Remove balls from pantyhose. Some types of wool yarn will not felt well on the first try. You may need to repeat the washing and drying cycles up to 3 or 4 times.

You’ll know felting has occurred when you can gently scrape your fingernail over the ball and strands do not separate.

10. I keep my dryer balls in the dryer, or you can store them in a basket or big glass jar on top of your dryer.

How to add aroma to the wool dryer balls

If you want to lightly scent your laundry and make your clothes smell yummy, you can add 1-2 drops of your favorite essential oil to each ball before throwing it in the dryer. You will not have a problem with the oil staining your clothes if you are using high-quality essential oils.

*TIP: If you find you are missing a few balls here and there. Check your fitted BED sheets or sometimes they fall out of the dryer when you are pulling the clothes out.

My dog loves standing by when I am unloading the laundry; he thinks its game time!

A set of these wool dryer balls makes a great gift!

Here are some other laundry posts you may be interested in:







Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More

DIY Printable Fabric Labels | Easy Iron-On Method

heat transfer papers labels

Making your own DIY printable fabric labels is a simple project that can save you a lot of money and give your homemade projects some character and charm! Whether you sell your goods, give them away as gifts, or just create things for yourself, adding a cute label makes them look professional and authentic. I add labels to everything!

When I decided years ago to make tags for the items I sold in my Etsy shop, (buying them can be quite costly) I did a lot of research and through trial and error, found this technique to be the best. Using transfer paper and fabric or ribbon made the labels more durable and looked a lot nicer. 

View Video Tutorial Here

Play Video

I have been getting a lot of inquiries as to how I make my labels, so I thought I would show you how. You can watch my YouTube here. 

There are so many ways that you can add a label, and it’s really easy to make your own. In this tutorial, I will show you how to

  • print your labels 
  • iron them onto a piece of fabric, ribbon or twill tape 
  • show you several ideas of how you can apply them to your homemade projects 

Items & Materials Needed


You can design your labels on any computer program, which is quite easy to do. Or I have a set of EDITABLE LABELS that you can download and print.


Make sure you have the correct type of transfer paper for your printer. The most common transfer paper is for inkjet printers, but they do have it for laser printers as well. Follow the transfer paper printing instructions. 

When you go to print your labels, you must change the settings to print backward. Note that every printer queue is different and you may have to look for this setting. You may have to go to the advanced settings and choose “flip image” or “mirror image”. 

If you don’t change this setting, when you apply the iron-on label, the text will be backward.

I recommend printing them out on regular paper first to make sure it is how you want it. (You don’t want to waste transfer paper)!


There are several types of materials you can use to make your labels. Depending on what look you want will determine what type of material you use. Here are some suggestions:

  • Ribbon of all types (I use a white 5/8 inch ribbon for my “J” labels). The ribbon is nice to use because two of the four sides are finished and won’t fray. 
  • Cotton twill tape works well for a wide horizontal label. 
  • Woven fabric (If using fabric, you may want to stabilize it so it doesn’t fray by applying iron-on interfacing to the back before ironing on the transfer paper).


Once you have printed out the labels, and have decided what to iron them to, it’s time to cut them out.

If you are going to use fabric and want to make a whole sheet of labels, just iron on the whole sheet and cut afterward.

If you are using ribbon, cut the transfer paper into strips the same size as the ribbon. (Anything wider than the ribbon will stick to your ironing board). 


  • Follow the transfer paper instruction. Most likely it will tell you to turn OFF STEAM and use the highest heat setting. 
  • Place the transfer paper with the lettering facing down onto the ribbon. Press in place, making sure to cover the whole label.
  • Let the label cool before peeling off the back paper. You will notice that there is a plasticky like coating now on the label. This makes it more durable and washable. 


There are several ways to apply the label to your project.

  • Sew the label into the seam of the project. Fold the label strip in half and with the raw edges of the ribbon facing out past the seam allowance as shown in the picture above.

Topstitch around the edge of the label using a small zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.

If using a fabric label, you can fold the edges under and either topstitch with a sewing machine or sew by hand using a slip stitch.

*Note: If using ribbon, to keep the cut edges from fraying add a dab of “fray check” to the cut edges. This works well.

Pretty simple, right? Such a fun way to add a little character and charm to your beloved hand made items.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Have fun sewing!