English Paper Piecing (otherwise known as EPP): The technique of folding fabric over paper templates and hand sewing together. The paper template makes sure that the blocks are accurate and makes it easier for angled pieces to fit together.
This is not to be confused with Foundation Paper Piecing.
Foundation Paper Piecing:This is where the pattern is printed onto ‘foundation’ and then completed by sewing the fabric to the paper and the fabric is stiched onto the paper using the stitch and flip method. It’s generally machine sewn.
Let’s get back to the English Paper Piecing. This is one of the earliest known techniques has been around since the 1770s, it became really popular around the 1800s in the UK. I think the most recognisable shape for most people is the hexagon, however, if you’ve been watching my updates on Facebook, you’ll have seen I’m using lozenges and squares in the current project I’m working on. (The project is the Patchwork of the Crosses BOM from a couple of years ago).
Although the technique was first popular in the UK, as people began travelling, the technique travelled with them. In 1835 the first pattern for a Honeycombe Quilt was published in a US magazine. If you would like to find out more, you’ll find an interesting article here.The most well known of the English Paper Piecing Patterns is the hexagon based pattern, Grandmother’s Flower Garden. I think most of us who have tried EPP have done at least one of these.
The templates can be made from paper or, these days you can buy them precut on card. Going back to 1700 and 1800s, paper was really expensive, so magazines and letters would have been recycled to create the templates. Now, we generally remove our templates, but in times gone by, those paper templates were left in and provided an extra layer of insulation. Through use and washing, the paper would have softened so wouldn’t have caused any discomfort.
In English Paper Piecing, we generally work with small templates. That means it’s a great way to use up the smaller fabric scraps we tend to collect. Being small, it’s easily transportable and can easily be packed to work on when you are out and about. I’ve been known to work with hexagons whilst waiting for sports lessons for the kids were taking place and even waiting for appointments. My EPP project went with me when I travelled to Canada and helped to pass the time on a long flight. (Please check your airlines guidlines before you try this)
Is English Paper Piecing a technique you enjoy? Or is it a technique you would like to learn more about? If so, come and join me for my next Let’s Sew Event that starts on 25th January, 2021. (Sign up for it here). During the course of 5 days, I’ll will be sharing video tutorials and holding daily Q&A session so you can create a hexagon shaped candle mat. You can make it entirely by hand stitching, or you could combine hand and machine sewing. Watch the video to find out a bit more and see how I attach fabric to a card template.
If you have any questions at all on the technique, then please let me know. I’ll be answering them throughout the week. Make sure you sign up to join us here