Have you heard of English Paper Piecing, but not sure exactly what it is? Maybe you’re asking yourself, “How is it different than Foundation Paper Piecing?” Well, English Paper Piecing, also known as EPP, is a traditional quilting technique that has been around for centuries. It involves using paper templates to create precise fabric shapes, which are then sewn together by hand to form a larger design. Despite its time-consuming nature, English paper piecing has remained popular among quilters for its versatility and ability to create intricate designs.
To begin an English Paper Piecing project, a quilter must first create paper templates in the desired shape and size. These templates are often made from lightweight cardstock or thin paper, and they are cut into shapes such as hexagons, diamonds, or triangles. (Hexagons or “Hexies” are the most common.) The fabric is then cut to size, leaving a small margin around the edges to allow for folding and stitching.
Once the fabric is cut, the quilter places a paper template onto the wrong side of the fabric and folds the fabric over the edges of the template. The fabric is then secured in place by basting it onto the paper using a small whip stitch. Many who do EPP skip the basting stitch and use a glue stick. There is glue made specifically for this, although some just use an Elmer’s Glue Stick.
Once you have all of your shapes cut out and basted (either by stitch or glue), you are ready to start hand-sewing your pieces together. The template can be taken out at this time or after each section is sewn together. It is a personal preference.
English Paper Piecing is that it can be done entirely by hand, making it a great portable project for quilters on-the-go. It also allows for greater control and precision in piecing together complex designs, as the templates ensure that each piece is cut to the exact size and shape needed.
English paper piecing can also be a great way to use up scraps of fabric or create a unique look with fussy cutting. By strategically cutting the fabric to showcase certain elements of the print, a quilter can create a cohesive design that highlights the beauty of the fabric.
Organizing your templates and fabrics for an EPP project is not only necessary but can be fun too! Many EPP sewists use a fishing tackle box or an acrylic craft organizing box to sort their shapes and fabric. It also holds their thread and scissors and now they are ready to “tackle” their project wherever they go!
While English paper piecing may be time-consuming, the end result is often a beautiful and intricate quilt that can be treasured for generations. It’s a great technique for quilters of all skill levels, and with a little practice, anyone can create stunning designs using this traditional method.
Want to read about Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP)? Click here!