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English paper piecing has become my favorite on the go craft. It’s perfect because it’s portable and can easily be picked up and put down (which is key for me trying to stitch with small children around). I always have a pouch full of hexagons in my bag that I can stitch at the library or if I end up stuck in the car with a sleeping toddler.
Hexagons are my favorite shape for EPP and I think it’s a great one for getting started. Here is a quick tutorial on how to baste and join them. Once you have this down you can apply the same principle to any shape. If you want to pick up a book about it, Diane Gilleland’s All Points Patchwork: English Paper Piecing beyond the Hexagon for Quilts & Small Projects* is an absolutely amazing resource.
For the hexagon templates you can print them and cut them out yourself, but I think it’s absolutely worth investing in the Fiskars Hexagon Squeeze Punch, Extra Large*. 1″ hexies are the most common and this punch is perfect for them. I get a pack of index cards and cut them out of those. You want something a little heavier than printer paper, cardstock works too,
Using a washable glue stick, apply a small amount of glue onto the hexagon and affix to the wrong side of the fabric. These templates will eventually come out, so you just want to use enough glue to keep the fabric from moving around.
Cut around the edges leaving a 1/4” seam around the hexagon. What I love about english paper piecing is that you don’t have to be exact, there’s no need to measure or use a ruler, just eyeball it.
Fold one edge of the fabric over the hexagon template and finger crease it. Fold the next edge and overlap the two sides, creating a sharp corner.
Thread a needle and knot at one end and insert the needle under the fabric, catching both folds of fabric but not going through the paper of the template. Pull the thread through to the knot and insert the needle again in the same place, repeating this several times until there are several stitches securing the corner.
Repeat this step for all sides, folding an edge over and stitching down the corner. When you come to the last corner, insert your needle again and loop the thread over to create a knot. Tighten and clip the thread.
To join the hexagons, thread a needle and knot at the end. Hold two basted hexagons together, right sides facing, and insert the needle into the fabric, being careful not to sew through the paper templates. Whip stitch the two hexagons together using tiny stitches.
To ensure the stitches are hidden as much as possible, try to match a thread to your fabric. If you are unable to do this, a medium grey or a medium beige thread blends well with most fabrics.
Once you have whip stitched from one corner along the entire edge to the next corner. Join the other hexagons in the same manner, right sides together, attaching along the edge.
Once you have joined enough hexagons, remove the paper templates. You should be able to just reach under the folded edge of fabric and pull it out, if you are having trouble, a crochet hook might make it easier to get the templates out.
Have you tried EPP?