HOW TO ENGLISH PAPER PIECE

I have no idea who showed me how to English paper piece hexagons and diamonds. But the years have slid by and I really enjoy this technique. It is portable, easy, and looks great when completed.

What research I have done on this technique is that it started in England (well that certainly is obvious) in the 1700’s. The technique showed up in America in the early 1800’s. I have not done enough research that may or may not show this technique in other countries.

Gather supplies:

Paper (I use scrap paper that is on hand, such as discarded mail)

Fabric

Pattern in shape and size desired

Thread

Scissors

Easy directions:

I found this slide show about English paper piecing to be very easy to follow and the photos much better than anything I had in my own personal collection for directions.

If you prefer YouTube, this is a nice presentation.

This previous post has a PDF pattern for the hexagon I use in most of my quilts using this technique.

How To English Paper Piece
Flowers & Tumblers Quilt

This is not a hard technique, but it is time consuming.

Here are my steps and tips FOR HOW TO DO ENGLISH PAPER PIECING:

  • Get my supplies together.
  • Make the template from something sturdy (I cut up the plastic lids from ice cream containers for this). Draw around it on the paper for the amount of hexagons (or diamonds) you want to do. Personally, I start with 2 or 3 sheets of paper and cut more as needed. I find I can use the same paper shapes 3 times before they are no longer stiff. Cut carefully and accurately.
Papers used for English paper pieced hexagons
  • I do not cut out hexagon (or diamond) shapes from fabric. I do cut squares or rectangles big enough to cover the shape plus be folded over to the back. My reasoning is that I can trim off the extra fabric from the back of each shape – I cannot make extra if I don’t allow enough room. I learned the hard way that not centering already cut fabric means there is not enough fabric on back to prevent fraying or just flat out not enough fabric.
  • Take one paper shape and one fabric piece. Pin the paper to the wrong side of the fabric. Baste all around the shape. You will want the fabric to fit snug and the edges sharp. Do not bend the paper shape or have the fabric sag away from the paper.
  • Starting with the center and one petal, whip stitch along one side. Add another petal and sew the two seams. Do this all the way around until you have one complete “flower”.

One completed English paper pieced flower.

AND FINALLY:

  • Do not remove the paper yet. When you remove the paper will depend on what you do with the sewn shapes. The basted edge holds the raw edges firmly so they can be sewn together to the next row of hexagons. Or sewn down to a fabric block by applique.
  • When you decide to remove the paper, simply take out the basting stitches and pull out the paper. As long as it is still stiff and the edges untorn, it can be reused in another “petal”.
More English paper pieced flowers.

Other places for information:

I found several other links about English Paper Piecing. We all learn differently, so these might be helpful too.

The History of English Paper Piecing | MQG Community (themodernquiltguild.com)

My Summer English Paper Piecing project | Diary of a Quilter – a quilt blog

Discover Vintage America | Covering Quilts (discoverypub.com)

Dear Readers,

Have fun exploring the world of English paper piecing. You may be one of those quilters who becomes “addicted” to this technique. Even if you are not one who becomes “addicted”, at least you will have learned how to do English Paper Piecing. Happy Quilting.

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Author: IndianaQuilter40

Made first quilt by myself in mid teens. Addicted to quilting. Love using simple quilt patterns and giving them a twist so they are my own....Live in central Indiana. Raised in Montana. Have traveled and worked all over US and in Germany. Certified medical coder, HIM manager, and medical record auditor. Married for 30+ years to a wonderful guy who likes my quilts. We have grown children and starting on grand-kids.

4 thoughts on “HOW TO ENGLISH PAPER PIECE”

  1. I have been thinking about doing a quilt using English paper piecing, but it seemed beyond my skill level. After reading this post and looking at the various links, I can do this, even at a beginner level. Thank you for sharing your skills, quilts, and passion with the rest of us. I really enjoy your blog because you are passionate about quilting, and want others to know that they can quilt too.

    1. You can certainly do English paper piecing as a beginner quilter. This technique takes time, but is easy to do.

      Thank you for the kind words about the blog. I believe that anyone with an interest in quilting can make quilts if they want. I have read many quilt blogs over the years and found many of them did not make quilting sound do-able for the average quilter – due to skills or budget. I want people to know that beautiful quilts are possible for any skill level, and try to share hints, designs, and ideas that promote that thought.

      Happy quilting.

  2. I love this technique and use it a lot because it is easy and portable.

    Thanks for sharing the wonderful links so everyone can find a way to learn this quilting technique.

    As always, your blog is wonderful. Keep up the great work here. You are an inspiring quilter.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words about the blog. English paper piecing is fun, and it is an easy way to make beautiful quilts. Happy quilting.

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