There are some sweet quilts with English Paper Piecing (EPP) in the Spring Issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited coming out this month! A pillow “Gardener’s Prize” by the Wheel Block in Emily Herrick’s Block-of-the-Month Sampler Quilt feature EPP both use this fun way to piece.
English paper piecing is the technique that uses paper cut the exact size of the finished shapes in a block, with the fabric wrapped and basted to the papers and then stitched along the folds at the paper’s edge. It is a useful technique for making blocks that have odd shapes that would be a bit of a pain to piece using a sewing machine. Inset shapes are easy with this technique, but can be time consuming (and that’s not a bad thing, either, with the growing interest in mindful stitching). As the interest in EPP grows, I’d like to share with you some great resources and a few tips and techniques.
One of my favorite places to browse for paper pieces is Paper Pieces, which offers a large variety of papers, either as individual shapes or combined together in kits (they kitted the paper pieces for my quilt “Strawberry Moon” in the Spring 2015 issue). There is also a very informative series on how to baste straight lines and curves, and how to remove paper pieces that you can find here. Definitely check out through the wide selection, because there is something for every interest and skill level. In addition, if you can draw it (typically using a drawing program), they can cut it for you in the quantities you need, which saves much time and provides a great degree of accuracy.
If you want to design your own paper pieces, you can do it a number of ways, either using a computer program such as EQ7 or Illustrator or simply using graph paper and a ruler. If you’re using graph paper and a ruler, you can make multiple copies. In all cases, whether printing or copying your designs, make sure that you maintain the same scale or you’ll be in trouble! If you’re just itching to make hexagons, consider finding a hand-held die cutter or a die cutter for a machine in the size you want and which are available at most craft supply stores and crank out what you need.
If I’m making my own paper pieces, I like to use a paper that will stand up to being manipulated a fair, which is typically card stock. I use a small hole punch to make one or two holes in the very center, which make it easy to pick the pieces out at the end, or to pin to the paper while I’m basting or sewing the fabric. I’ve also played with using a washable glue stick from my kids’ school supplies as a basting tool rather than basting with needle and thread, and while this works OK for a while, if there is much folding and movement, this can release from the card stock, which is a pain.
For more paper piecing designs, make sure to check out the Spring Issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited, which you can order here.