I know it has been a while since my last blog post. Life, of course, has changed a lot in the last year and a half (has it been so long?), but one thing that hasn’t changed is my love of crafting, fabric, and sewing!
Because of a lot of life changes in the last six months, this is a season where I want to work on hand sewing. I have made several quilts, but I have never hand pieced anything. But I have been curious about English Paper Piecing ever since I heard of it!
What is English Paper Piecing? It’s a method of hand sewing a quilt top or project using pieces of paper as templates for your fabric. Basically, you have a lot of pieces of paper in a particular shape (like hexagon or diamond), then you cut fabric slightly larger than that shape and wrap your fabric around that piece of paper so that you have that exact shape, plus a little on the back for seam allowances. Then you hand sew (traditionally a whip stitch) all your pieces together to make a quilt top. You can combine different shapes and sizes to make different designs, so the possibilities are really endless!
My introduction to English Paper Piecing (or EPP) was when I worked at a quilting store in college. There were so many wonderful ladies that came in, many of whom would show us the projects they were working on. One such project was a hexie quilt using EPP. I loved the look of it, and of course my math brain loved how different shapes could be combined to create countless beautiful designs.
But I never tried it out!
I tend to be an impatient person, so I love fast projects! Now, many of my quilts were not fast projects, but using a sewing machine was far faster than hand piecing them would have been!
Things have changed, though. While I still love getting projects cranked out quickly, I don’t get to do that much anymore. In fact, I spend very little time sewing nowadays. It’s hard to find the time and space to sit down at a sewing machine (especially with the confidence that my kids aren’t getting into things they aren’t supposed to while my attention is solely focused on what I’m making).
But when I saw an EPP quilt recently, I knew that was the next project for me! Not only is hand piecing something I can pick up and put down as needed while parenting my kids, but it’s something I can work on sitting next to them while they build or play with their animals or build forts in the living room. Hand piecing just seemed exactly right for my season of life right now.
So I’m getting started!
I talked to my mom about trying this out, and she decided to join me in this project. She is the main reason for this post series, as I’m trying to compile all the most helpful tutorials and necessary information into one place in case she wants to refer to them, too (Hi, Mom!). My mom is the one who got me into sewing in the first place. However, neither of us has done any English Paper Piecing, so it’s a fun new adventure to embark upon together! (Even when we live apart and can’t actually be together!)
This quilt from A Bright Corner is the one I’m using as inspiration for my own mini quilt. A small project seemed like a good choice to start out this new EPP journey.
I decided to raid my stash of precuts and settled on a Christmas Charm Pack (Jingle by Kate Spain) to use for my diamonds. All my Christmas decorations are in storage and likely won’t be accessible before December, so I thought a little Christmas cheer in the form of a mini quilt would be a good thing!
I’m not using a pattern for this quilt. I’m pretty much just looking at the above quilt, watching EPP tutorials, and going for it!
I am so thankful for all the quilters who make tutorial videos, because they have been so helpful for learning this new skill on my own! (This is the one that I keep watching for help with my diamonds.)
Here are all the supplies I’ve purchased (or pulled from my stash) so far (these are not affiliate links, just for reference):
- Diamond Ruler (for quickly cutting fabric larger than the paper pieces)
- Rotating Cutting Mat (not necessary, but it was super helpful when cutting the fabric using the diamond template!)
- 1 Charm Pack (I only used 36 pieces, and even then only needed half of each one, so I could definitely make another small project from what’s left over! You could also just use scraps from your stash, 2 1/2″ strips, or any other fabric you have on hand!)
- Rotary Cutter
- 2″ 60 Degree Diamond Paper Templates (I chose 60 degree because I like the look of the six point star. Just be sure you choose the same 60 or 45 degrees for BOTH your diamond ruler and your paper templates)
- Fabric glue (some people prefer glue basting while others just sew a basting stitch. It’s up to you!)
Doing the math
I decided to make 36 diamonds to start out. Why 36?
Based on what I’ve seen from EPP six point stars, the center has 6 diamonds and each layer you add around it has six more than the one before. So as you go out from the center, this is how many each layer has:
- 6 diamonds
- 12 diamonds (18 total)
- 18 diamonds (36 total)
- 24 diamonds (60 total)
- 30 diamonds (90 total)
As I said, I’m starting with 36 for this quilt. I want this mini quilt to stay that way–mini. If I decide I want it to be bigger, I’ll just use some of the leftover pieces from my charm pack or raid more of my fabric stash!
Get to work!
As I mentioned before, this is the tutorial that was the most helpful for me when figuring out how to get started with EPP diamonds.
So far this project really has been a fun way to get back into sewing without having to tackle a huge project.
I’ll post an update soon, once I get everything glued and start actually piecing my diamonds together!