Wednesday, May 16, 2012

English Paper Piecing

 Until a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure what paper piecing was. I had read about it somewhere....sometime.... and hadn't paid too much attention. Until I came across a post by Camille at Simplify. This was first time I had seen pictures of the process and it clicked!! Now that I knew what it was all about, I had to try too!
The paper piecing method has been around a long time. There is evidence of it from the early 1800s. It sounds a bit strange at first and the first question that comes up is, what happens to the paper? As you will see below, it is used like a template and does not stay in the finished quilt. The paper helps the hexagons to turn out perfect, with perfect corners. If you have quilted before you will know that is one of the hardest parts of sewing the pieces together. The other reason paper piecing is special is the only way to do is sew it by hand. I know it sounds a bit crazy at first, but it also makes for a very portable project. You would be surprised how fast it goes!
I decided to make Grandmother's Flower Garden, it was popular in the 1920s and 30s and I could use up a bunch of retro scraps!
 Take your fabric hexagon and a paper hexagon. Notice that the paper is 1/4 inch smaller on all sides, this is the seam allowance. More on making the paper templates.
 Stitch around the edges using a large basting stitch or straight stitch. These are just temporary stitches, so the color of thread  and size of stitch doesn't matter.
 Once you are all the way around, cut the thread. I like to start with a knot, but there isn't a need to knot it at the end. It also makes it easier to pull out.
All finished, now just eight more to go!
 Starting with your center piece (yellow) sew a hexagon on each side. I used a mattress stitch but whip stitch would also work.
 All sides are sewn. Now I just need to sew the seams in between.
 Once a block is complete. It is time to remove the paper. Pull out the basting stitches all the way around the block.
And the paper comes free!
Now you are ready to sew another block. And by all means, recycle your paper templates!

I am not sure how big a quilt I am going to make. I thought at first I would just make a small decorative one, just to try out paper piecing. But it is too fun! I will make a bunch and see how many I have at the end of the summer, maybe a lap or twin bed size?


  1. Oh Heide it looks like so much fun! I love the colors they are so you. :)

  2. Oh Heide it looks like so much fun! I love the colors they are so you. :)

    1. Thank you! Lol! They are the scraps from another quilt I made, so now I will have Two quilts the same colors!

  3. Heide, I'm so impressed! This would make me cross-eyed and crabby, but I know you will finish a large quilt and I look forward to seeing it here on your blog. Wonder how long it will take?

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I am wondering how big it is going to be too. I will either run out of fabric or ambition.....

  4. I always wondered how this quilt was made so perfect, now I know. Have fun and please show us when it is all done. I am a quilter, but haven't done one for awhile. To many other things seem to take my time. Big Hugs, Mary

    1. I will definitely share pictures when it is done, maybe an in-between picture too!
      One of the things I really like about paper piecing is it is so portable! I can take it to work, in the car or just have it handy for a odds moments.