Thursday 5 April 2012

basic english paper piecing tutorial

 Thought it was about time I did a basic tutorial on English paper piecing.
I'm sure most of you know by now how to do it,
so this tutorial is for those who are unsure and unaware
 just how simple the technique is.
 I'm using hexagons as they are the most common shape for epp
(english paper piecing)
Firstly you need to either make a template out of card to draw around or
find a multiple hexagon printout online.
A hexagon with 1 inch sides is a nice size to work with.
(or if these are a can buy ready cut hexagons online)
 Pin your paper template to your chosen fabric and cut leaving approx 1/4 inch allowance.
 There are two ways to tack your fabric to your template.
The above is the correct way according to the 'quilt police'.
Never punching through the paper with the needle.
I find this way time consuming and not secure enough
especially with larger pieces.
 I tack my fabric onto the paper by passing my needle through the fabric and the paper.
 Like so.

 Make a few hexagons so you can begin sewing them together.
 Take two hexagons good sides together,
starting at one corner 
stitch over the ends
(whip stitch)
taking care not to catch the paper.

 To join the next one repeat the same as before.

 To finish sewing these three together start a new thread,
and sew from the centre out, 
I find it helpful to bend or fold the piece to the right.

So there are the three sewn together.
When you are sewing multiple hexagons
 make a longer thread and sew as many as you can in one go.

Things I have learnt.

I always tack in a coloured thread,
so when you come to cut out the papers the knots are easier to spot,
and therefore you are not likely to cut the wrong ones!

You can remove the papers as you go as long as you leave the leading edge intact.

paper piecing is flexible,
you may find that some sides don't quite match up,
don't worry,
with a little coaxing you can adjust as you sew.

I prefer to use a long fine quilters needle, 
but any needle will be okay to practice with.

I will update with answers to any of your questions.

I am currently working on a large hexagon piece.
If you would like to join in then hop over to my flickr group
The hexagons I'm using are 2 inches per side,
which is a really speedy way to see your creation grow.
If you are feeling even braver then join my patchwork planet flickr group,
to show where you do it...


  1. Very good info. Gotta please those "quilt police".

  2. Thank you so much for this!! I have some paper hexies to use but I've been looking for some straightforward directions like these!

  3. Thank you for the tutorial, I've been curious about how to do this and now I know!

  4. Fantastic Tute!!! You are the English Paper Piecing Queen {at least in my book}....I also prefer punching through the papers! Thank you Clare :)

  5. hahaha! Quilt police. I'm all for punching holes in the paper.

  6. This is on my to-do list for today, though I'm not sure I'll get to it. We're going out of town and I have to pack still!

  7. I sew through the papers too! It was the way I learnt before the quilt police formed or before they changed their policy!

    I love paper piecing while waiting for whatever - have made three quilt tops that way...

  8. I like that you mentioned using colored thread for the tacking and white thread for piecing together. I have never read that suggestion but it just came to me recently on my 23rd Rose Star block. I'm gonna wish I had used different colors, I thought, when it comes time to take out all these papers.

  9. Huh! Here I thought the quilt police were the ones punching through the paper, and that I was the rebellious one! I like using card stock templates (which I mass produce at work via the big heavy duty paper cutter) and it's super easy for me to not punch through the paper... Plus that way I don't have to remove basting stitches! I think your way is more complicated... Haha! I love that we all do things differently. Someone wanted to know why we would be hand stitching such big hexies instead of machine piecing since that would be easier/quicker (I've done both and I'm not convinced it is, I think both methods have their advantages and disadvantages) and I was like, just because!! I love hand stitching. So travel friendly :D

  10. Hi Clare,

    Thanks for showing us how to do that. Im interested to have a look at the 2" ones.
    Sounds great.

    Guess what!!!!!!!!
    Yep. My parcel arrived yesterday!

    And I cant believe it, but I have resisted opening it, cos I want to get my camera and photograph it as I open it, so I can put all the photos on my blog.
    But, being Easter, and we had a thing on this weekend at our church, it has to wait till Monday.
    I cant believe how patient I am being... I usually rip things apart in seconds!


  11. thanks for the tute, you always make sych beautiful EPP projects. Inspiring

  12. Thanks!!! Again!!! I have had focus on family visit and finishing a baby crochet blanket lately but now I am all up for opening up my little hexagon tin jar and continue my project. Questions:
    - How do you make the knots? No matter how hard I try my knots end up in a row next to each other or when I try to do that quilting knot thingy it doesn't happen at all :(.
    - Can I draw my own hexagon template and how would I do that? Wish I had a hexagon shape on my Pages software but it only has a diamond... Other wise I would probably become a hexagon template maniac.

    So lets, see where is my hexagon tin...??? Maybe a little bit of tidy up is requested to find it in my creative mess here. :D See ya!

  13. thanx for the tutorial showing us the hexagons, having some paper ones just sit-ing around, viewing your blog showing us is great so maybe i will retry again. renee by

  14. I saw on the first blog I read about how to make hexies,or a YouTube video where she didn't go through the papers that she just tacked two stitches per corner and that is what I am doing. So far it seems to be going well.

  15. if you remove the paper after sewing,what is the point of using it,i really want to know.thankyou

    1. The paper templates hold the shapes together whilst you sew them together.
      If you don't remove them you will have a rustley stiff quilt that you cannot wash x

  16. I see others gluing the edges down after putting a spot of gluestick in the center under the fabric, your way makes much more sense and so much simpler! Thank you!


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Clare x