English Paper Piecing Tutorials

English Paper Piecing tutorials. The English Paper Piecing tutorials are not meant to be exhaustive tutorials, but a taster of tips, tricks and possibilities when fussy cutting. The hope is that these tutorials will give you the tools to inspire you to play and continue on your creative journey!

These videos can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLu3yBqH4hGgXnuj4hcKrjT4u-Msi7ZUpk

Thread basting non-curved English Paper Piecing shapes

The basting photos may show different shapes to those that you have but I use the same basting principle for most (non-curved) English Paper Piecing shapes from hexagons to diamonds, from tumblers to houses etc. The templates in these pictures have numbers on because they are for a specific design that I was making so just ignore the numbers on the paper pieces template!

Place the paper piece template on to the wrong side of your fabric. I like to use wonder clips to hold this into place (as I find it doesn’t wiggle as much as when I use pins) but you can use pins, wonder clips (or another gadget) to hold the template in place. I use enough wonder clips to hold the template onto the fabric without it sliding around.

Working either clockwise or anticlockwise (this is dependent on your preference, just try make sure that you maintain whatever direction you choose throughout all of your basting), fold the fabric over the edges of the paper template and use your thumb to press it into place flat against the edge of the template.

To thread baste, begin by tying a knot in your basting thread (I just use the cheapest thread I can get my hands on!) and, starting from the back/wrong side, push your needle down through the paper/fabric on a straight edge and come back up ¼” along to the left. Then take your needle and thread back down through the paper/fabric through the corner – this will hold your folded corners down in place

Continue this process of working your way around the shape by:

  • Bringing the needle through the fabric/paper piece (from the front/right side to the back/wrong side) at around the mid-point of each edge.
  • Taking the needle back through the fabric/paper piece (from the back/wrong side to the front/right side) at each corner to hold that fabric fold into place.

Keep repeating this process until you return to the point where you started. You can add more basting stitches along each length if the shape is larger/you want to. Finish your basting by tying a knot in your basting thread before cutting. Repeat this process for all of the EPP shapes making sure that you work in the same direction (whether clockwise or anticlockwise) for each shape.

Whip stitch for sewing together non-curved English Paper Piecing shapes

I prefer to join my pieces using a tight whip stitch but you can use whichever sewing method you prefer to use. Make sure you have a sharp needle. The whip stitch photos may show different shapes to those that you have but I use the same whip stitch method for sewing most (non-curved) English Paper Piecing shapes from hexagons to diamonds, from tumblers to houses etc. I like to use Gutermann sew-all (polyester) thread as I find it stronger than cotton thread for English Paper Piecing.

Cut a piece of thread no longer than arm’s length and tie three or four knots (one on top of the other) towards the end of your thread where you have just cut it (cutting at this point helps to minimise thread tangles when hand sewing).

Choose the 2 basted English Paper Piecing shapes that you’ll be joining (don’t worry if your shapes are different from those in this photo, the principle is the same for sewing together most non-curved EPP shapes).

Place these 2 pieces right sides together making sure you match up the points on the edges which you’ll be joining. I sew from left to right because that’s the direction I write in but if you prefer to sew the other way then do what feels comfortable for you. With this in mind, place a wonder clip holding together the 2 points on the far right of the edges that you’re sewing together (fig. 5). You’ll see that I have folded the tail out of the way to help with visibility when sewing (if your EPP shape doesn’t have a tail, like hexagons don’t, then this bit doesn’t matter).

You’re going to start by securing your thread. I would recommend doing this ¼” in from where you’ll start sewing (this helps to make sure your knot isn’t at a weak point eg. the corner). So, starting ¼” in from the left point, make two stitches (one on top of the other). Do this by guiding your needle through the very 2 edges of the fabrics taking 1 or 2 fibres from each fabric and taking care not to go through the paper pieces themselves .

Next, you’re going to just begin stitching from that far left point (don’t cut the thread, it is only 1/4″ so you can just move your needle over to that starting point on the far left).

To whip stitch, continue to guide your needle through the fibres from the edges of the 2 EPP shapes that you’re joining. I try to take a stitch approx. every 1/16”. Make sure you’re going through the fibres from the 2 EPP shapes and that you’re not going through the papers themselves.

You’ll start to find your own rhythm and strength as you sew. Try to make sure that the thread isn’t pulled so tight that the thread snaps but also try to make sure that the thread is not so loose than they can pull apart. Continue to sew along the edges that you’re joining and remove the binding clip once you have reached it so that you can continue sewing right up to the corner on the far right.

Once you’ve reached the corner on the right, you’re going to take an extra stitch through the 2 pieces at the corner (as we did right at the start) but leave a loop of thread.

Guide your needle through the thread loop twice to create the knot and then pull the thread to close that loop. You should be able to feel a small bump which is the knot.

Finally, because we don’t want that knot to be on a potential weak point which is right on the corner, you’re going to do what we did at the start of sewing and take your needle and thread back ¼” to the left of where you’ve just created the thread loop knot and repeat this process of taking a second stitch, leaving a loop and then passing your needle through the loop twice before pulling it to secure the knot.

Then, cut your thread and ta-da! You’ve joined your EPP shapes!