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Thread: Beginner Blocks #4 English Paper Piecing

  1. #1
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Hi and welcome to this months tutorial :D . This month I am going to try and give an overview of the English Paper Piecing method. This is a big subject so I will only be able to touch briefly on what you can do with it, but hopefully will give you some ideas to get you started.

    English Paper Piecing (EPP) like any other method has advantages and disadvantages. I am personally very fond of using this method, it has many nostalgic memories for me as it was how my grandmother first taught me to piece. I also really like that this method requires so little in the way of quilting gears, you donít even need a sewing machine, so this makes the art of quilting available to people just starting out or for someone who has little in the way of resources. All you need is scissors, paper, needle and thread, a reliable shape and some fabric scraps. I have always been fortunate enough to own a sewing machine but there are many people in the world who are not so lucky.

    This is very portable, toss a few pieces in a bag in your purse and you can achieve quite a bit in those times that are often wasted, waiting at the Doctors, commuting to work etc. You donít need to worry about measuring and cutting accurate seam allowances. Basically if you get your paper shapes accurate, your pieces will fit. The whip stitch is a simple sewing stitch easily taught to the young ones. Itís great for piecing the more complex blocks like Carpenterís Star and Fannieís Star, that I would normally balk at piecing on the sewing machine. Y-seams become a non issue (Always a good thing :lol: ) A couple of disadvantages would be the basting required and that it is hand sewing so will be slower.

  2. #2
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Probably the worlds best known pattern that EPP is used for would be Grandmothers Flower Garden. Yes thatís right, the ever present hexagon lol. Most of us have or know of someone who has a few of these stashed away some where. So It just wouldn't be right to do a EPP tutorial without covering the Grandmothers Garden pattern :wink:

    Making the Grandmotherís Garden Rosette

    The Paper Pieces
    I have attached a sheet of hexagons for you to print out, please check that these measure 1 1/4Ē on each side and 2 1/2Ē from point to point before you use them (See Diagram) If they donít, buy or make a template that you can use to draw your paper shapes. Itís ok if your template measures a little smaller than this as long as the measurement of each side is equal and the measurement from point to point is double the side measurement. Template can not be any bigger though as your rosette will not fit on a 12Ē finished block. The paper shapes do not include seam allowances as these are added when you cut your fabrics.

    I use ordinary printer paper to make my paper shapes as I find this a good weight. Freezer paper can also be used. I find freezer paper excellent for EPP but donít use it a lot myself as freezer paper is not as readily available here and a lot more expensive so I tend to save my freezer paper for appliquť work. You can also print directly onto the freezer paper, which is also a big time saver

    To make the rosette that I am showing you will need to make 19 paper hexagons.

    Cut out your paper shapes as accurately as you can, accuracy with the paper is vital to the success of your block. (Pic 1)



    Measurment diagram for hexagons
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    Pic 1: Cut paper pieces
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    Hexagon Templates in PDF 2 1/2"

  3. #3
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Cutting Your Pieces

    Use a small amount of water soluble glue stick to hold your paper in place on the reverse side of your fabrics, (Pic 2) or if using freezer paper simply iron on (the No.1 reason I like freezer paper for this job) . You can use pins to hold the papers in place but these donít give as good a hold as the other alternatives. Place the papers on the reverse side of the fabric in such a way so that you will be able to cut them out with a seam allowance all the way around the shape. Ie.. At least 1/2Ē apart. You will need to cut 1 hexagon for your center, 6 hexagons for your 1st round and 12 hexagons for your 2nd round. (Pic 3)

    Cut out all you pieces so that there is approx 1/4 seam allowance all the around. You donít have to 100% accurate here, eyeballing the cut will be fine (pic4)

    NB: Be very light handed with the glue stick otherwise you are gonna have to soak those babies out.



    Pic 3; Papers attached to fabrics
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    Pic 2: apply a small amount of glue stick to paper
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    Pic 4: Cut Pieces
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  4. #4
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    The Basting

    Use a thread colour that shows up easily against your fabric, (makes it easier to take out basting later.) Make a reasonably large knot in your thread so that it wonít pull thru the paper when you are basting. Fold the fabric over the paper so that it is firm against the edge of the paper (Pic 4a)

    Start basting about half way down one of the sides, ensuring that your knot is on the front of your work (Pic 4b)

    Baste to the corner. Turn and fold the next side of the fabric over the paper, forming a nice tidy hospital fold at the corner (Pic 4c)

    Bring the needle up thru your work rear the outside corner of the hexagon (Pic 4d) and then back down again near the bottom of the fold, to anchor the fold (Pic 4e)

    Continue basting and folding the corners in this manner until you get back round to the start. Bring the needle thru to the right side of your work and make 3 - 4 large stitches to anchor the thread. (For ease of removal later on ). Cut you thread (Pic 4f)



    Pic 4: Basting the hexagons
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  5. #5
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    The finished Basting, front and back. (Pic5a,b)

    Baste the rest of your hexagons in the same way



    Pic 5: The basted hexagon
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  6. #6
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    Joining Your Pieces

    I prefer to use a good quality poly thread for the piecing as I find a regular cotton thread frays very quickly with constantly being pulled through the fabric, but the choice as always is up to you.

    To avoid tangling donít cut your threads too long and occasionally during piecing hold your work up and let the needle hang to unwind the thread. I choose a thread that matches one of the fabrics I am piecing together and take reasonably small stitches (Pic 6) but donít worry too much your stitches will show a little and after all if you go to the trouble of hand piecing something itís not such a bad thing that people know it
    :wink:



    Pic 6: My selection of threads
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  7. #7
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    First Join

    Make a small knot and anchor it with a couple of small stitches in the seam allowance of your center hexagon, bring the needle up through the corner of the hexagon (Pic 7a)

    Place one of your hexagons from the 1st round against the center hexagon (right sides together) Pic 7b)

    Whip stitch the two pieces together, taking only small bites of the fabric, holding the two hexagons together so they keep a good match Ie. Donít let the action of sewing distort the placement of the hexagons. (Pic 7c,d)

    When you reach the end of the seam fasten off the thread in the seam allowance, being careful not to catch the basting thread.

    Finished first join, front & back (Pic 8a,b)



    Pic 7: Sewing first piece
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    Pic 8: Completed first join
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  8. #8
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    First Round

    Start another thread in the corner of a floral hexagon. Place this against the previous floral hexagon, whip stitch this seam together (Pic 9a)

    Open the work out and fold the floral hexagon over onto the center hexagon, folding work where necessary for ease of handling, whip stitch this seam (Pic9b,c) then fasten off thread as previously

    You should now have a piece of work that looks like this (Pic 10a,b)

    Continue adding hexagons in this manner until you have completed the first round (Pic 11a,b) final hexagon will require three seams to be sewn to complete the round



    Pic 9: Adding next hexagon to round
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    Pic 11: Completed first round
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    Pic 10: Second hexagon added to round
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  9. #9
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    Final Round

    Start a thread in the corner of a hexagon for the final Round. Place against a hexagon in the previous round, right sides together, as shown (Pic 12a) Whip stitch this seam.

    Fold hexagon over until it meets the next seam to be sewn, folding work as necessary (Pic 12b) Whip stitch seam, fasten off thread
    First hexagon of round attached (Pic 12c)



    Pic 12: Start addiing hexagons for final round
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  10. #10
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    Continue adding hexagons to the final round in this manner until you have attached all the hexagons (Pic 13a,b)



    Pic 13:continue adding hexagons for final round
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