Here's how WE stitch paper-pieced hexagons.
You baste or glue the fabric edges over paper.
Put the hexagons good sides together and stitch on the sides by
barely catching the fabric.
But I've been thinking about it and I'm beginning to
believe that we are doing it all wrong.
I read some 19th century how-to's and they do not mention placing the hexagons face sides together.
In particular, American Jane Cunningham Croly's 1886 book Ladies' Fancy Work.
She gives instructions for a mosaic patchwork window shade.
After turning over and basting the silk on the wrong side of the hexagons...
"The two are then exactly fitted and sewn together, according to the design."
Well, that's a little vague but the illustration is excellent, showing the whip stitching or over-and-over stitch in progress.
The stitching is about 60% done and it is done from the back with the pieces placed side by side.
In The Lady's Manual of Needlework, 1859.
"If you are going to do a large piece of work, it is well worth procuring a die for stamping out a pattern of each of the sections, as you thus attain an accuracy hardly otherwise procurable. With this you stamp out a number of pieces of stout writing paper; and then cover one side of each with the material, turning over the edges, and tacking them round. They are sewed together, on the wrong side, in their proper places, and the papers are generally, but not always, afterwards withdrawn."No how-to illustration.
She also co-authored Treasures in Needlework with Eliza Warren in 1855 showing this well-copied illustration of mosaic patchwork ideas.
Instructions were more austere:
"The pattern should be placed before the person...several pieces arranged so as to form the design and the edges then neatly sewing under."
Most references I found do not tell the reader exactly how to stitch these.
Englishwomen's Sophia Caulfeild and Blanche Saward's 1882 Dictionary of Needlework:
"Take a dark coloured patch and sew round it six light patches."
Eliza Leslie's 1857 "American Girl's Book"
explains more about shading than technique.
"Sew together neatly over the edge, six of these patches, so as to form a ring."
I guess everybody knew how to do it.
Their grandmothers showed them.
Instructions were not worth the type.
Little Wide Awake Magazine in 1881 told you to lay the diamonds out "before you with the point towards you and then sew on to the right hand...another of darker color."
Are we supposed to join them on the front? Illustrations would help.
So why do we do it this way?
I'm going to credit Averil Colby
She wrote the book on English Patchwork in 1958
And was quite a devotee of hexagon patchwork herself.
These scraps by her are from the Quilt Museum in the U.K.
And this is how she told you to do it.
Well, you can do it any way you want but I have been doing it the way Jane Croly showed it
Placing the pieces side by side and stitching from the back.
Stitches don't show and it goes faster.
I learned this method from Karen Tripp in her video on the "flat backstitch" method of joining
paper pieced shapes.
And a P.S.
Here's one of the patterns Matilda Pullan thought you might prefer to hexagons.
And this Mrs. Pullan pattern has always puzzled me.
Just how would you sew this with the good sides together?
Complex designs would work much better if you laid out the pieces adjacent to each other in pairs and flipped the pair over to sew.