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.
Paper (I use scrap paper that is on hand, such as discarded mail)
Pattern in shape and size desired
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.
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.
- 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”.
- 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”.
Other places for information:
I found several other links about English Paper Piecing. We all learn differently, so these might be helpful too.
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.
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.