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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
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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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
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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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
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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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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  11. #11
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Completed Rosette

    I will appliquť this rosette to a background square, I havenít done this yet so am leaving the basting stitches and papers in until this is done (Pic 14)

    This will keep the seam allowances tidy and in good shape until the edge of the rosette is stabilized in some way, either by appliquťing as I plan or by being whipped stitched to another rosette to make an allover pattern.



    Pic 14: completed Rosette
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  12. #12
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    Wow, Shelly - this is a great tutorial! I definitely want to try this.
    I'd love to see another paper piecing tutorial for machine pieced blocks.

    THANKS!!!

  13. #13
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Layouts

    The hexagon has been used in many designs and layouts, it is a very versatile shape and you can discover your own designs by colouring in graph sheets . Here is a great site for downloading free graph paper in PDF format to colour in, it was listed in Links and Resources on here I while back. Iím sorry I forget who by, but thank you to that thoughtful person
    http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/

    Below are just a few examples of possible uses



    The traditional Grandmother's Garden layout
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    And let's not forget the Hexagon Star
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    Diamond Layout
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  14. #14
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Now that we've covered the basics of English Paper Piecing (EPP) Iíd like to show you how to use this method to make more complicated blocks. I am going to make a Carpenters Star using EPP. This block is not a beginners block, but using this method, makes these type of block less tricky. I for one, wouldnít dream of making this block by machine. I just know what would happen lol, another addition to the scrap bin. I know there are people out there who are able to make these type of blocks by machine, but I'm not one of them :?

    Actually Iím not too sure of the name for this traditional block, it probably has several, so if someone could help me out there, it would be much appreciated :thumbup:

    Below I have included a down load of the templates for Carpenterís Star, please check the accuracy of your printout. Here is a measurement guide for your templates, there are no seam allowances included in the templates.

    Pieces B & C are the same square, so I only included one of these. EQ does some funny things sometimes. Also below is a download of four pages with all the shapes you need for this star, again please check measurements

    If you make templates for drawing around to make your paper shapes, please remember to cut your paper shapes just inside the drawn line. That width of a pencil line can add quite a bit to the finished size of your block. I forgot to do this and my block measures 12 1/8Ē (finished size) :lol: , Itís not a big deal I can easily ease that amount in, but itís not a very good example, is it :?: Ok itís a good example of how not to do things :lol:




    Measurment guide for pieces for Carpenters Star
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    Templates for Carpenters Star 12" in PDF

    4 Pages of Paper shapes for Carpenters Star 12" in PDF

  15. #15
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Anyway you should have three different shapes, a square, diamond and a trapezoid, choice word aye, I had to look it up on Wikipedia to find out what to call that shape :lol: (Pic 1a) you will need to cut 8 of each shape out of your chosen paper

    Because I am going to be using this block with other blocks that I want to machine piece together, I donít want to be basting the outside edge of the block so I make a mark on this edge of the papers just to remind myself not to baste this edge (Pic 1b)



    Pic 1: Paper pieces for Carpenter's Star
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  16. #16
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Glue stick or iron your paper to your fabric (depending on your paper choice) leaving at least a half inch gap between your paper shapes as previously described for hexagon piecing. Allow for a larger seam allowance around the outside edge of your block. Ie. The marked edge of your trapezoid.

    You will need to cut 4 each of two different colours for your diamond shape (Pic 2) Cut out your fabric shapes, eyeballing a 1/4Ē seam. Leave a little bigger seam allowance for trimming on the pieces that go around the outside edge of your block



    Pic 2: Paper pieces on fabric ready for cutting
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  17. #17
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    Basting: The Trapezoid

    Baste the fabric over the paper as we did for the hexagon, remembering not to baste the marked edge (Pic 3a - f)

    The Diamond

    You will get dog ears on the sharp points of these, donít worry about them and donít trim them yet, the dog ears need to be folded out of the way while piecing and are easier to handle if not trimmed. These can be trimmed after youíve finished piecing your block. Anchor the folds firmly at the points with a basting stitch so fabric doesnít shift (Pic 4a - f)

    The Square

    When basting the folds at the corners on this piece ensure you do not place your basing stitch too close to the edge of the piece as this fold may need to be tucked out of the way during piecing (Pic 5a - e)



    Pic 5: Basting the square
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    Pic 3: Basting the trapeziod
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    Pic 4: Basting the Diamond
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  18. #18
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    As before I select some threads that I think will blend well with the fabric being used



    Selected threads
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  19. #19
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    Piecing the Block

    Start a thread in the oblique angle of a diamond, match this diamond with one in the alternate colour, right sides together (Pic 6a)

    Whip stitch this seam folding the dog ear out of the way as you get towards the end (Pic 6b) Fasten off thread into seam allowance, being careful to catch neither dog ears nor basting stitches

    You should have a pair of diamonds sewn together like this (Pic 6c,d) Make four of these pairs



    Pic 6: Piecing the diamonds
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  20. #20
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    Adding the Square

    Start a thread in the corner of one of your squares, line this up against your diamond unit, right sides together as shown (Pic 7a) Start whip stitching at the ceter of the diamond and work towards the outside edge, fasten off thread

    Restart thread at center of unit. Open out work (Pic 7b) and fold diamond over sguare, linning up the next seam to be sewn (Pic 7c) Whip stitch this seam, folding dog ears out of the way as needed.

    Add a square in the same manner to the rest of the paired diamonds. You should now have four quarter star units that look like this (Pic 7d,e)



    Pic 7: Add squares to make quarter stars
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  21. #21
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Whip stitch two quarter star units together to form halves (Pic 8a) adding more squares in where appropriate (Pic 8b)

    Whip stitch the two halves together, this is the trickiest part of this block as you are sewing where all eight star points meet. Just take your time, get as good as a match in the center as possible, you may have to ease a little to achieve this. Fold all the dog ears out of the way and put some extra stitches in the center to hold everything (Pic 9)

    Your two halves joined (Pic 10a) Add the last two squares to your block (Pic 10b



    Pic 10: Complete Star
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    Pic 9: Close up of center join
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    Pic 8: Join quarters to make half stars
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  22. #22
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Layout you remaining pieces as shown (Pic 11) This is how these will be added to the block



    Pic 11: Layout for adding trapezoids
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  23. #23
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Start a thread in the corner of a trapezoid as shown. Lay this along the edge of a square right sides together as shown (Pic12a)

    Whip stitch this seam, starting at the star point and working outwards along the square (Pic 12b) Fasten off. I have chosen to stitch in this direction as we have to do a little finishing off on the outside edges and this is easier to do if you donít have to start a new thread for just a couple of stitches

    Restart thread back in the same corner of the trapezoid that you just started the previous thread. Turn work and fold, so that the pieces needing to be stitched, line up. Square will be facing you. Whipstitch this seam and fasten off

    Add the next trapezoid in a similar manner (Pic 12c) working so that the last seam that you stitch will bring your thread to the center of the outside edge of the bock, (Pic 12d) where the overlapping trapezoids need to be joined



    Pic 12: Adding the trapezoids
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  24. #24
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Bring your needle and thread through to the front of your work and make 3 - 4 small applique stitches to hold the pieces (Pic 13a)

    This is to prevent a hole at the seamline, which will be where your paper finishes. You need to stitch far enough so that the work will hold but not so far that your hand sewing will get chomped by the rotary cutter when you trim your block (Pic 13b)



    Pic 13: Finishing outside edge of block
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  25. #25
    community benefactor ShellyQ's Avatar
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    Add in your next trapezoid in such a manner so that again on your final seam you are heading towards the outside edge of your block, the corner this time. (Pic 14a)

    Whip stitch a little beyond the edge of the paper, about an 1/8th of an inch (Pic 14b) Fasten off



    Pic 14
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