English Paper Piecing (EPP) is a construction technique that uses paper templates. Fabric is folded over the template, basted, and whip stitched together, usually by hand. EPP is a little bit magic; you can create blocks and motifs from most any shape with ease and it’s easy to take EPP projects along with you on trips and errands.
This month, explore EPP with us. Start at the beginning, play with different techniques, and add a new skill to your piecing arsenal.
Basic English Paper Piecing
English Paper Piecing allows perfect corner matching. Paper templates wrapped in fabric, fit together with precision allowing for the creation of designs not easily pieced using traditional methods. Here are the basic steps for getting started with EPP.
Cut the template from paper, a heavy crisp paper is preferred. Cut the template carefully for accurate piecing.
Cut a piece of fabric 1/4″ – 3/8″ larger than the paper shape.
Place the paper shape on the fabric.
Hand baste the seam allowances in place, starting with the knot on top of the fabric and ending with only a small backstitch. Fold seam allowances snugly as you baste.
Use Wonder Clips to secure the fabric if necessary as you work your way around the piece.
On some small shapes, you will not have to stitch through the paper—taking a basting stitch across the fabric in each corner will secure the fabric snugly. Longer sides will require stitches through the paper piece.
If you prefer, use a fabric glue pen to baste the seam allowances. Only a small line of glue is necessary, keeping it away from the seam’s fold.
Make sure the fabric fold and corners are taut.
Holding the two pieces together with the edges and ends matching exactly, whipstitch the pieces together according to the pattern.
To whipstitch, pull the knotted thread up through the seam allowance and bring the thread over, around, and back through, catching only a couple of threads at the edge of the fabric fold as you continue across the piece. Do not catch the paper in the whipstitch, and use a thin thread. The goal is a nearly invisible stitch.
When three corners meet, make an extra stitch or two to pull the three corners snugly together.
Remove the basting or slide a stylus under the seam allowance to separate the fabric from the paper releasing the glue.
Remove papers and press.
If this process remains unclear, click here to visit Ann Hammel’s visual tutorial.
So that’s the process and will get you started. Next week, we’ll talk about assembly guidelines for working with different shapes.
Click here to access several patterns we have available for free. Explore the different types of shapes commonly used in EPP and play with different ways to combine them.