Friday, November 23, 2012

English Paper Piecing

When Jess from Quilty Habit approached me to join her blog series "Sewing Confrontations" I decided to use it as an excuse to try English Paper Piecing (EPP). I have seen some wonderful things made in blogland using EPP including this sewing machine cover made by Jess herself. The only reason I had not tried it so far is because it involved hand sewing and seemed like a very time consuming process.

Recently I have seen Anna use adorable little hexies to make a little doll quilt and Elizabeth make this amazing pillow. I knew I had to give it a try. 

I started by creating the right size template. This required graph paper and bit of math. I printed the graph paper from here. The hexagon template measures 1 1/8" inch on each side. You can totally skip this step by buying some precut paper pieces or templates from Paper Pieces or similar store. I decided to make my own since it is a learning process and I did not want to take any short cuts.

Image courtesy of

I cut the initial template from thicker card paper. Dark colored card paper works better than white. It makes the edges easier to see when cutting hexies from lighter colored paper. You can use an acrylic sheet to make the template too. Then I used this template to cut hexies from regular paper. I used junk mail lying around the house. Preferably pick white or light colored paper. This will ensure that the paper print does not show through the fabric. Cut squares just large enough for the hexagon template, in this case 2 1/4" x 2", place the template on this square and snip off the edges. It's a tedious process but not too bad once you assembly line it. You can use freezer paper too and iron the fabric over it to hold it in place.

Next cut out squares of fabric 2 1/2" x 2 1/4". You may or may not trim off the edges. I prefer to. Pin the paper hexies to the wrong side of the fabric and begin creating hexies.

There are two ways to do create a hexagon piece. As shown in this tutorial and as shown here. In the first tutorial you can reuse the paper hexagons but I found that I needed to iron some of the pieces to prevent the hexies from unravelling. Using the second tutorial you may damage some of the paper pieces but no ironing needed and the fabric stays put in place. You can pick your preferred method.

I used the second tutorial to create hexies as I wanted to avoid the iron. 

To my surprise they go real fast. In no time I had a whole stack of them. Plus they are convenient to make while watching TV, in the park, in the backyard or wherever. I even found this clear plastic box to carry them around in.

When sewing the pieces together, for two adjacent pieces use thread that matches the darker fabric.

I used this color palette to make my hexies. 

Played around with some configurations and finally settled on this. I think this will make a great pillow cover.

A lot more to come so stay tuned.

Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 2: Jess at Quilty Habit - Accurate Cutting
Nov. 9: Rebecca at Sew Festive Handmade - The 1/4 Inch Seam
Nov. 16: Val at PinkPlease! - Ruffles
Nov. 23: Rachel at Let's Begin Sewing... - English Paper Piecing
                  Nov. 30: DOUBLE POST: Katie at Swim, Bike, Quilt - Sewing with Knits
Kristina at Ornamental Confectionary - Making Pants
*AND link up at Quilty Habit!


  1. Love it, Rachel! You put some real work into it and it looks fantastic! Seriously. Love the colors, too :)

  2. These look great - some day I'm going to make some hexies. Nice palette you chose, and I like your blog! Found you via Jess at Quilty Habit.


Thanks for visiting!