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English Paper Piecing and I don’t have a very deep relationship, although I wish we did. So when Carolina Moore asked if I’d like to be part of the blog book tour for her new book Learn How to English Paper Piece, I gave a big “yes”. I was happy for the push to revisit this method of hand sewing and enjoyed reading the digital version of the book provided to me.
Carolina’s book is for beginners and was perfect for me. I have a couple of small projects under my belt, so I was keen to read up on the techniques and tips suggested in the book.
For those not in the know, English Paper Piecing involves wrapping small pieces of fabric around paper templates. The fabric is held in place around the template either with hand basting stitches or with glue. These individual pieces are then sewn together to create a larger patchwork piece, after which the paper templates are removed. (They can usually be reused after that.)
Why would you want to English Paper Piece?
English Paper Piecing is great for creating intricate designs that would be too tricky for machine sewing. Any geometric design you can think of, you can pretty much create via English Paper Piecing. (You’ll look at Moroccan tiles in a whole new light once you learn to EPP :) )
You can also easily fussy cut fabric to create symmetry and/or repetition in your work which can be beautiful/whimsical/a lot of fun. (The easiest way to fussy cut is to use a transparent acrylic template.)
Behold my fussy cut bees.
And then there’s the mindful benefits that slow sewing can bring. It’s relaxing to sit, unwind and enjoy creating something with your own hands. Not to forget the added benefits of occupying your conscious brain with something so your unconscious brain can frolic and come up with new ideas or percolate solutions to current problems. Wins all around, really. :)
How to get started with English Paper Piecing.
Well, buy Carolina’s book! It’s affordable and is a great reference to have at hand when creating your first projects. All the projects are very achievable – so don’t be worried that she’ll have you sewing several hundred shapes. You can start with small items such as coasters and various pouches, and build up to a cushion or quilt.
As far as tools – I always believe it’s best to use what you have on hand when you first start. If you find English Paper Piecing agrees with you then you might like to upgrade to a few of these to make the experience even more enjoyable.
Milliner’s needles are great for EPP – most people like to use size 9, but this pack is handy as it lets you find the size that suits you best.
Thin thread will give you more delicate stitches, which is always nice with handwork. Plenty of folks swear by this thread weight, but I actually prefer this one as I like to use a doubled-over length of thread (to avoid starting knots). In most cases, a light silver or dove grey colour thread works well to blend in with multiple colour fabrics.
You can cut your own English Paper Piecing templates, but if you’d like to buy some ready made you can find a wonderful selection in Jodi’s shop, called Tales of Cloth (Australian, but she ships internationally). I’ve tried her papers and an acrylic template – both top notch. And of course, Amazon might have something suitable.
My Learn to English Paper Piece project
I was tempted by many of the smaller projects in the book (I like how the projects are all items that I’d actually use or would make thoughtful gifts). But I settled on the zipper pouch because I knew my daughter needed a new pencil case.
I have a ton of yellow scraps from all the yellow quilts I’ve made her, so I had plenty of fabric to choose from. If you don’t have a well developed scrap collection yet, here are some very pretty, colour-coordinated scrap options.
I very much enjoyed hand sewing it all together while listening to the lessons of an online course I’d purchased. I find EPP is the perfect “something to occupy my hands” that doesn’t take away my capacity to listen well.
Once I had my pouch panels finished, I quilted the hell out of them because I wanted them to be nice and sturdy. (Having just quilted a large quilt it was so nice to quilt something so small.)
The zipper pouch sewing part went very quickly once the hand sewing was complete.
My daughter chose the lining (a solid forest green) as she loved the contrast. I would never have thought of that, so it was fun to put those two colours together (although hard to photograph).
I’m really happy with my little EPP project and so is my girl!
More English Paper Piecing Goodness
This post is part of a book tour – why not check out the other participants’ projects too? You can find them all here:
Friday, January 25th: Carolina from Always Expect Moore
Wednesday, January 30th: Melody from Two Maker Chicks
Friday, February 1st: Bobbie from the Geeky Bobbin
Sunday, February 3rd: Kirsty from Bonjour Quilts (You’re here!) and Simone from Charmed Life Quilting
Ready to EPP?
So what do you think – are you up for some EPP? If you’re already a seasoned English Paper Piecer, please do pass on your favourite tips. I’m all ears!