English Paper Piecing or EPP is a process of hand sewing together fabrics that have been stabilized by paper. By doing this you are able to create unique designs or designs that are not easily sewn together by using a machine and simple blocks. It is more than hexagrams and triangles. With some easy manipulation we can do curves and weird shapes! This is the perfect project to do by the fireplace while watching Netflix holiday movies.
So let's jump in!
Milliners needle, size 9-11. I use John James needles. They're affordable, strong and don't break easily.
Thread: I use Aurifil 40 wt in cream. Aurifil 50 wt or 80 wt will also work. You want something that is high quality, cotton, and with minimal shedding and fraying.
Paper: I use 110 lb. Anything from 80wt to card stock junk mail that would work!
Fabric: I used 7 different fabrics for this block. You can keep it as simple or as vibrant and you'd like. The key here is to use high quality fabrics, cotton, voile and cotton lawn are all great to use. 1/4 or less is needed. EPP is a great time to use those precious scraps since theres not a lot of fabric waste.
The fabrics I used in the this block are from Art Gallery fabrics.
Items that are not necessary but useful:
Binder Clips. These can be useful when basting, especially if basting with thread.
Glue stick: I use Elmers purple glue stick for basting. It vanishes when dry and is easy to wash off! Quilting glue pens are also a good option, however if basting a lot of pieces this option and get quite expensive.
So now we've got our pattern printed and cut out, we are ready to start sewing!
Trim fabric to paper template size. Leaving 1/4” seam allowance around paper template. The seam allowance does not need to be exact as the paper template will be an accurate guide. Place paper pieces onto WRONG side of fabric with printed side down.
Next we will baste out pieces.
Basting is securing the fabric to the paper pieces. Theres two options, using a glue stick where you put the glue on the fabric and fold it over the paper. Or thread basting where you go through the paper and fabric with thread to secure it.
I'll go over glue basting as its what I prefer and was used in this pattern. The important part of glue basting is to not over use the glue. Over gluing makes it harder to sew through the fabric and to remove the papers at the end, especially if the papers are small.
First let's handle those curves. This pattern has both convex curves (curves in) and concave (curves out).
To baste the concave curve, snip or notch the curves. Take care not to snip beyond the seam allowance.
Add glue to one side at a time. Using your fingers to press, you’ll be able to feel if a fold is heading towards the edge of the paper. If a fold in the fabric happens gently lift the fabric and re press flat. Correcting the fold is easier to do while the glue is still wet.
Continue basting all of your pieces. Using the coloring sheet in the pattern as our guide, set up the pieces like a puzzle so you can visually see which piece goes where and not mix up triangle pieces.
Working in small sections, stitch pieces together using whip stitch or flat back stitch. Sewing edge to edge, you'll want your stitches to be tight and secure enough to hold the pieces together when you take the papers out. I usually aim for 15-20 stitches per inch. Take care not to pull the thread too tight though or it will break.
Pressing flat after each section will help reduce tension.
Once the block is finished take the paper pieces out. If you used too much glue, (it happens to all of us :) ) give your stuck area a good press with a warm iron to warm the glue up and pull the paper out. Using tweezers also helps with those smaller areas. Leaving your block prepared to be used with the rest of the blocks in the Christmas spectacular.
Hope you made through! This was a challenge but the results are super fun and unique! Be sure to tag your work with #QuiltmassSpectacular and #RetroOrnamentsEPP on Instagram!
This block was so cute I made two! The fabrics I used in this one are from FIGO Fabrics. So festive!