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Do you know what English paper piecing is? I have heard of it for a very long time, but admittedly avoided it, thinking it is something slow and clunky and out-of-date and I would never be interested in it. But then, I stumbled across something, I can’t even remember what, and then I was making hexagons. Firstly, I purchased two books for my Kindle reader. One is All Points Patchwork, and the other is Quilting on the Go. These books really helped me get started with EPP.
Here is my brief explanation of what English paper piecing (EPP) is: It is a method of joining shaped pieces of fabric together using shaped paper as a stabilizer into a piece of patchwork that is used as a quilt or other smaller project. So I found a free printable template of hexagons in various sizes, and I printed a page on regular printer paper, carefully cut out the hexies, then cut some fabric larger than the hexie, then using a needle and thread, I shaped the fabric around the hexie and secured it with some stitches. The paper remains in the fabric only until that shape has been joined with other shapes. Then you remove the paper. If you’re careful, you can reuse the paper.
Here is the first thing I made with EPP hexies. It’s a pin cushion! I absolutely love it. These fabrics came from the very first jelly roll I ever purchased. I didn’t know what I’d ever make with it, but I loved the fabrics. The fabric strips in this jelly roll were 2 1/2″ wide, so it definitely limits you as to what size hexagons you can make. But for these, it worked out great.
I also made smaller hexies and made this bag. The bag pattern is a free, wonderful tutorial by The Sewing Chick, found here. I have made a few of her zipper pouches in the past, but this is the first time I’ve ever incorporated EPP into one.
Did I mention I was terrified of zippers? The tutorial helped me realize there really isn’t anything to fear.
Then I started making 60 degree diamonds to make these stars. Oh my stars. I am using a charm pack of fabric called 30’s Playtime by Moda Fabrics that I purchased from a private seller on eBay. Love them! Here is the first star I made.
I am making one star per day. Love them! I hope to incorporate these stars into a large stylish tote bag. I will likely use 60 degree diamonds in a white fabric to offset the stars.
Do you notice how crisp these shapes are? That’s because of the paper. In these stars, I used card stock instead of regular printer paper. I felt that the nature of the diamond needed a bit more substantial paper. Here is the back of a star.
In this photo, you can see my tack stitches. The stitches simply tack the folded fabric down without going through the paper templates. With larger shapes, your basting stitches will go through the fabric and the paper. This means when it’s time to remove the paper, you need to cut and remove your basting stitches. This step can be eliminated with glue basting, which I have yet to try. I have ordered a special glue pen for basting and should receive it soon.
There is something very therapeutic about English paper piecing. I suppose if I told myself I needed to make a queen sized quilt out of 1 1/2″ hexagons, I would be very turned off and not want to continue on. It sounds like it could be very monotonous and boring. I would likely give up, shove everything in a bag, and start something else. But what I love about this craft is the amount of control I have. Sometimes, I attempt to sew fabrics together on my machine, and I mess up. Or I make a quilt block and then look closely at it and all my mistakes I didn’t notice until things don’t line up. I find that very frustrating and discouraging. With EPP, I feel like because I am working by hand, I have so much control over how all these different pieces of fabric some together. Here are some other EPP things I have going on. I may not yet know what I’ll make with these, but I know I will make something because I really love the fabrics.
Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you learned something new today and perhaps this post piqued your interest in English paper piecing. I look forward to stitching more pieces and exploring more complex designs.