How To: English Paper Piecing Projectcomments (17) September 5th, 2008
The most common quilt patterns that employ English paper piecing are Grandmother’s Flower Garden (I love this sweet example at Pink Lemonade Boutique) and Tumbling Blocks (which was often pieced with silk and velvet scraps). Each is a one-patch quilt made up of one shape, a hexagon and diamond, respectively. Other shapes, like triangles, can be pieced this way, too, as long as they fit side by side. The pieces are small, so it’s a great way to use scraps and sew them randomly together. But, of course, you can build a design into the quilt by using three or four different fabrics in a repetitive pattern.
I must admit, hand piecing has never been my favorite thing to do—I love my sewing machine. But, because this method is so much a part of the history of quilting and still popular today, I thought I should at least show how it’s done even though it’s been a long time since I learned it myself. Well, once I started cutting and sewing these little shapes together, I was hooked! It’s a great take-along project. Today’s fabulous fabrics give it a modern twist, and you don’t have to do a whole quilt—you can create smaller items like the Flower Garden table mat I made to show the step-by-step process.
To make this mat, you’ll need:
• Three different fabrics (some scraps or a fat quarter each will do for the hexagons, plus a 13-inch x 13-inch square for the backing)
• Printed paper shapes (you can download a sheet of hexagons here and print them out; my hexagons are 1.25 inches)
• 3/8 yard of firm fusible interfacing like Pellon’s Decor Bond
• Needle and thread
• Scissors, pins, and an iron
1. Cut out the paper shapes and pin to the wrong side of each fabric. You’ll need seven of one shape and six each of the other two.
2. Cut out the fabric using the paper as a guide, adding a 1/4-inch seam allowance all around.
3. Fold the seam allowance over the paper and baste in place, through the fabric and the paper.
4. Arrange the finished hexagons into a pattern.
5. Start at the center and begin sewing the hexagons together. Place two patches right sides together, matching the edges, and whipstitch along the fold, catching a slight amount of the fabric and leaving the paper free. Connect all the shapes in the same way.
6. Place the completed top on the interfacing and trace around the outer edges.
7. Cut out the interfacing and fuse to the backing piece. Cut out fabric using the interfacing shape as a guide and allowing a 1/4-inch seam allowance all around.
8. Clip the seam allowance of the backing fabric at each vee. Press the seam allowances to the inside over the interfacing.
9. Turn the pieced top to the wrong side, gently pull out the basting stitches, and remove the paper templates.
10. Pin the top to the backing, wrong sides together, and blindstitch together along the outer edges.
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery
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