English Paper Piecing - The Basics

Do You Get Down with EPP? Yeah You Know Me!

I love summer because of the warmth and sunshine but it can sometimes tank my creativity. Partly because my sewing space doesn't have any A/C and it can get in the hundreds here. I prefer not to sweat all over my projects! 

I love the outdoors and I love to sew.  So what's the best way to combine the best of both worlds? Why English Paper Piecing of course! (also known as EPP)

If you haven't done EPP before I would start with a simple hexagon.  Start with the 2" as they work great with mini charms!  A mini charm is a 2.5" square of fabric and can often be found in a pre cut pack. Or if you have a ton of scrap fabric you can use that too.  Cut a bunch of 2.5" squares and you will be ready for some EPP.  

You will also need some embroidery scissors, a needle, and thread. I prefer to use silk thread as it is stronger and finer. (You will see why that is important in a minute).

NOTE: I use the thread basting method but there is also a gluing method as well.  You would need some fabric glue and then you would just put the glue on the paper and fold over the edges of the fabric to glue in place.  

To get started you will take a hexagon, place it on the back side of the 2.5" square of fabric and fold two of the edges down so they over lap each other.  I always start my basting where the two edges meet to keep it folded down. 

Baste along the hexagon, folding down the edges of the fabric as you go.   A basting stitch is meant to hold the fabric in place. You will take it out later so it doesn't need to be some super amazing and tight stitching.  You just need it to hold the fabric down and in place.  And yes, you will go through the paper AND the fabric. 

Once you have two hexagons completely basted, we will use a whip stitch to sew them together. 

Place the two hexagons, right sides facing each other, and start the whip stitch in the corner where the two hexagons meet.  DO NOT go through the paper; fabric only in this stitch. You are going to poke the needle through on one side, going through as little fabric as possible, and then poking through that same side again.  Your needle will only go through one side the whole way down. 

When you get to the other end, tie it off and voila!  You have begun an EPP project!

Typically what I will do is I will sit and make up a TON of hexagons and store them for later.  That way once I have enough made I will then sew them together to make either a Grandmother's Flower Garden or something else depending on where my creativity takes me.  

Making hexies is super fun and addicting!  And it's a great activity to do while enjoying the beach, watching a baseball game, or simply sitting in the park.  I was even able to do some on an airplane once but a lot of airlines frown on embroidery scissors so make sure you have some super small ones or the ones that fold into itself would be good too. 

Here are some ideas for storing and carrying your EPP projects with you:

The black cherry tote I got from Joanne's with one of their coupons.  I keep all my papers and 2.5" squares in there. The plastic bin I bought from Harbor Freight for $3.  Once I make a hexie it goes in here until I sew it together. It has adjustable compartments so it's perfect for EPP.  And the little purse/pouch was a freebie from the makeup counter.  Most people would use it to store makeup, but I use it for my EPP.  

Those are just some of the basics for EPP.  I will go into more details and show you the next steps in later blog posts.  Stay tuned!

If you are ready to get started on some hexies, we have some 2" hexagons available in the shop HERE.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at customerservice@hummingbirdlanefabrics.com or post a comment below.