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English Paper Piecing (EPP) Explained

Why I love EPP!

The answer to this is easy. Because it’s sewing on the go! Let me explain. EPP is a quilting technique using hand sewing to piece together intricate fabric shapes that fit together to form a larger piece. The paper templates are used for stability and are removed later. Its also perfect for using up small scraps of fabric or Fat Quarters. Because its hand sewn it means you can take it with you where-ever you go. eg. waiting rooms, long journeys or just sitting in front of the TV watching your favourite program. You don’t need constant access to a sewing machine, cutting table or pressing board. You can cut all your templates and fabric shapes in advance.

How it works?

Let’s break this down into 6 basic steps.

  1. Make or buy your paper shapes. Buying your paper templates can be easier and save a lot of time but if you enjoy cutting shapes out like me, then part of the fun of EPP can be this stage. I use plastic templates (available from our online store). These can be used for the paper templates and the fabric shapes. Simply choose the size of hexigon you want for your paper template, then select the next size up for your fabric pieces.2. Make your Fabric shapes. Again, using plastic templates make this jobs so much easier. Make your fabric shapes at least a quarter inch larger than your paper templates to allow for your seam allowance.3. Wrap your fabric around your paper template making sure that you’ve got an even seam allowance on each edge.4. Secure your fabric to the paper template. This can be done using a few different techniques. As you can see, the picture above shows where i have sewn the shape using a few tacking stitches. This way is very good for paper templates as the stitches are easy to undo and the paper template slips out easily. Some people like to use fabric glue which is a faster way of attaching but sometimes can be difficult to remove the paper after. Glueing is excellent if you are using water soluble papers.5. Sew your fabric shapes together. I always use a whip stitch for this process as the stitches stay small and can hardly be seen from the front. There are a few other techniques but if you are a bit of a novice this is probably the best way. Thread your needle and knot the end. With right sides facing, place two pieces together and starting from one end, whip stitch to the other end.Don’t forget your thimble. I use an ergonomic thimble (pictured below) available in our shop.6. Remove the paper templates. This is done by snipping the tacking stitches, pulling the thread out and then the paper should come away easily. Only remove the paper template after each edge of your fabric shape has been attached to another. This is always my go to sewing project, it can be picked up and put down whenever I need to. So now it’s over to you. Why not give it a try. I’d love to see some of your projects that you’ve done and any techniques that you use. This is mine so far.Happy sewing!