Because I enjoy hand work, I enjoy English Paper Piecing.
This traditional technique for piecing quilts uses paper templates to create precise shapes. Your fabrics are cut into shapes that are approximately the same size as the papers (maybe I like this because you don’t have to be perfect – the papers make it all turn out right). You may also choose to trim the fabrics closer to the paper shape to reduce bulk when quilting. Then, using a sharp needle and thread, you fold the edges of the fabric over the paper and secure it to the paper using a running stitch.
Once your paper pieces are all covered, you begin stitching them together. You don’t have to choose a thread that is an exact match, because you don’t really see these stitches very much. Choose something that blends with your fabric.
Hold two covered pieces right sides together, with edges matching. Using as small a stitch as you can manage, sew the two pieces together. With a little planning (and experience,) you can stitch in the direction that will lead to the next piece you want to join, saving you from stopping and starting as often.
As you stitch, try not to catch the papers in your sewing; go through just the fabric edges. When you have all of your pieces sewn together, remove the papers – undo the running stitches and pull the thread out, then pull the papers out.
We’ve put together small kits so you can try out this relaxing piecing method. Each of these kits includes a mini lesson in how to do English Paper Piecing as well as plenty of extra papers and a mini charm fabric pack for you to use. We’ve even included a needle, thread and project ideas!
You’ll have perfectly joined shapes, without having to work so hard to accomplish this – no need for exact cutting, prefect seam allowances or precise sewing – the papers provide stability and control. Your shapes line up beautifully, points match and the pieces go together easily. You can create a quilt top of pieces or applique your pieces onto a background.
Papers come in a variety of shapes and are reusable. They come in large or small packages, so you can get enough pieces to complete your project. Books and patterns offer designs and arrangements for the pieces, or you can play with shapes and come up with your own design. Work with scraps or purchase particular prints that can be combined in creative ways for your project.
This technique is great for working in front of the television or while traveling – cut fabric pieces ahead of time and everything you need can be carried in a small bag! It’s nice to be able to work on a project while you wait for the kids, have time before an appointment, or take a lunch break.