English paper-pieced hexagons are the perfect on-the-go summer stitching project.
fireworks pillow
Download this Project

Designer: Diane Gilleland


  • 1/2 yard solid blue (hexagon unit, pillow top, covered button)
  • 1/4 yard each of multicolor stripe, solid white, and red zigzag print (hexagon unit)
  • 1/2 yard red-and-white print (hexagon unit, backing)
  • 17" square muslin (lining)
  • Polyester fiberfill
  • 7/8"-diameter covered button kit
  • Water-soluble glue stick (optional)

Finished pillow: 15" diameter

Yardages and cutting instructions are based on 42" of usable fabric width. Measurements include 1/4" seam allowances unless otherwise indicated. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.

Cut Fabrics

Cut pieces in the following order.

Click on "Download this Project" above for patterns. Cut out Pattern A fabric pieces on outer lines following pattern directions for placing fabric on the folds.

From solid blue, cut:

  • 1 of Pattern A
  • 7—2-1/2" squares
  • 1—1-1/2" square

From multicolor stripe, cut:

  • 6—2-1/2" squares

From solid white, cut:

  • 12—2-1/2" squares

From red zigzag print, cut:

  • 6—2-1/2" squares

From red-and-white print, cut:

  • 1 of Pattern A
  •  6—2-1/2" squares

From muslin, cut:

  • 1 of Pattern A

Make Basted Hexagons

You will need a paper template for each hexagon (37 paper hexagons total). Precut paper templates for English paper piecing are available at quilt shops and by mail order; for this project, purchase hexagon-shape templates that have 1"-long edges.

If you wish to make your own templates, trace Pattern B onto sturdy paper 37 times. Cut out paper templates on traced lines carefully and accurately.

1) Pin a paper hexagon template to wrong side of a solid blue 2-1/2" square (Diagram 1). Cut out fabric hexagon, adding a 3/8" seam allowance to all edges. (Your seam allowance does not have to be exact because the paper hexagon will be an accurate guide.)

fireworks pillow diagram 1

2) Fold seam allowance over one template edge. Hand-baste or use a water-soluble fabric glue stick to baste fabric in place. To hand-baste, hand-stitch through fabric (but not the paper) with a long stitch (Diagram 2). Finger-press basted edge.

fireworks pillow diagram 2

3) As you approach a corner, fold next seam allowance over template and take a stitch or two to tack the corner in place (Diagram 3). Repeat folding and basting process with remaining seam allowances to make a solid blue basted hexagon. Remove pin; do not remove paper.

fireworks pillow diagram 3

4) Repeat steps 1–3 to make seven solid blue basted hexagons total.

5) Repeat steps 1–3 to make six multicolor stripe, 12 solid white, six red zigzag print, and six red-and-white print basted hexagons.

Assemble Hexagon Unit

For English paper piecing, the quiltmaker decides the order of construction because the paper stabilizes the fabric, making it possible to work in any direction. The instructions that follow are for starting at the center and working outward.

1) With right sides together, layer a solid blue and a multicolor stripe basted hexagon, aligning edges to be stitched. Hold pieces together with your fingers or a clip.

2) Thread a hand-sewing needle with matching thread. Begin stitching at one corner using tiny whipstitches and catching a few threads of both fabric folds (Diagram 4). You'll feel the templates with your needle, but do not stitch through them. Backstitch to secure seam and stitch to opposite corner.

fireworks pillow diagram 4

3) When you reach opposite corner, take a backstitch, then knot thread by making a tiny backstitch in fabric and passing needle through thread loop.

4) Lightly press open the joined pieces and check seam from right side; stitches should not show. If they do, take smaller whipstitches through fabric folds as you sew.

5) Referring to Diagram 5, continue in the same manner to join six multicolor stripe basted hexagons total to solid blue center hexagon, setting in seams as necessary.

fireworks pillow diagram 5

    To set in a piece, pin and sew seam on one side of hexagon. Reposition stitched pieces so next seam is aligned and continue sewing.

6) Referring to Diagram 6, add solid white and solid blue basted hexagons to Step 5 unit.

fireworks pillow diagram 6

7) Referring to Diagram 7, add solid white, red zigzag print, and red-and-white print basted hexagons to Step 6 unit. Press, then remove paper templates. Press again to make hexagon unit.

fireworks pillow diagram 7

Assemble Lined Pillow Top

1) Center hexagon unit on solid blue A pillow top circle; pin in place.

2) Stitching 1/8" from hexagon unit edges, topstitch hexagon unit to solid blue A circle to make appliquéd pillow top.

3) With right side up, layer appliquéd pillow top atop muslin A lining circle; pin. Using a 1/8" seam allowance, baste pieces together to make lined pillow top.

Finish Pillow

1) With right sides together, layer lined pillow top and red print A backing circle.

2) Sew pieces together around curved edges, leaving a 4" opening for turning. Turn right side out through opening to make pillow cover; press.

3) Stuff pillow cover with fiberfill and hand-stitch opening closed.

4) Using solid blue 1-1/2" square and button kit, follow instructions on button kit to make a covered button.

5) Thread a needle with heavy thread. Sew covered button to the solid blue hexagon at center of pillow top, making several stitches through all layers and pulling thread taut as you sew. Knot and trim thread to make a tufted center and complete pillow.