Tuesday, 14 July 2015

English Paper Piecing Tutorial

I have really got into hand sewing in general over the past few years, and now I am totally in love with English Paper piecing.

A traditional type of quilting that is certainly making a come back - EPP is often a starting point for new stitchers because it is simple and extremely portable. A pile of hexagons or diamonds stuffed in a plastic folder take up no space at all in a travel bag - and is my holiday project of choice! In fact - it makes me a far more sociable stitcher even at home because I can stitch in front of the TV instead of tucked away in my sewing room.

This is a tutorial to make a small block which you can then turn into a pin cushion. You can omit the last stage and simply applique it onto a background and use it as a block!


It is a fabulous way of using up all those scraps - and this little lot is all made with left over Tilda bits and pieces. Why waste a single inch???

Requirements
  • 19 paper hexagons
  • 6 inch square of fabric for pin cushion backing
  • Scraps of coordinating fabric (4 x 5 inch squares from Spring Lake Tilda Charm pack were used for this sample)
  • Handful of stuffing
  • Threads – contrasting for basting and a matching thread for sewing together
  • Needle
  • Small sharp scissors
  • Paperclip


Make the hexagons

You can buy precut paper pieces or cut your own from recycled paper. Cut your fabric pieces at least ¼ inch larger on all sides than the paper piece. This extra fabric will be folded over the paper pieces to make a hexagon exactly the same size (see Fig 1).



 Next, baste your fabric around the paper. Use a paperclip to keep the first fold in place and then gently fold the fabric edge over the paper template. (fig 2)



Tie a big knot in the end of a contrasting thread (so you can easily see to remove it later) and place a stitch on the fold. Keep the thread taut as you stitch the corners – you want to keep the fabric tight to the template. (See fig 3). You can buy fabric glue sticks that remove the need for stitching but I don't really have any experience of these.





 Continue folding and stitching all the way around your hexagon until all the sides are secured. Fig 4


  Baste 19 hexagons in total and lay them out as shown in figure 5




 Now you are ready to begin sewing the shapes together. Take two hexagons and put them right sides together. Then, using a small whip-stitch in a matching thread, sew the pieces together. Be careful to just catch the very edge of each fabric piece with your needle. You don’t want to sew through the paper templates.


Continue sewing all the hexagons together, one seam at a time. The stitches should not be visible from the front (fig 7).


 Once you have sewn all the hexagons together, press the blocks to set them in place. Carefully remove the basting stitches and take out the papers to use again. 

Pin Cushion

To turn your block into a pin cushion, place the block and the backing fabric right sides together. Do not trim the backing fabric yet. Sew all the way round the block (a sewing machine will stitch a good strong seam).  The trim the backing to be slightly larger than the hexagon block (fig 8).
Cut a small hole in the centre of the backing fabric and turn the whole thing through the hole. Poke out the corners and press again. Stuff, and stitch the hole up. Now add pins!

EPP as blocks

These are all hexagon and 60 degree diamond templates appliqued onto a backing fabric so that they can be used on a variety of different projects. They would make stunning quilt blocks or bordered to make larger cushions.


Start now and you will have a fine stash of them to give away for Christmas presents - all made with the little bits we would normally throw away!



Friday, 3 July 2015

Quilters Tape - what do I need it for?

There are lots of products on the market set out to trap us unwary quilters into parting with our hard earned cash, only to sit in our sewing box for ever! After a while we get a little savy and begin to ask the question - What do I need it for? Quilters tape is one of those items! So you may ask, why do I need 1/4 wide masking tape? As a question I am often asked - I thought I would just tell you one reason why I use it!

I find it perfect for marking out quilting lines when I don't have a marker handy, or I am afraid to mark the fabric. Here I have used it to make a 1/2 inch 'echo' line around the inside of the block (where you echo an existing line - in this case, the seam). I have also marked a diagonal line from one side of the square to the other. While I am confident to 'eyeball' 1/2 inch from a seam, a large diagonal space can be tricky - so I take no chances.


This is low tack tape so it wont distort your fabric when you remove it. You can even sew over it a little bit and it still safely puts away (though don't get too carried away :) )

This is what it looks like once the tape is removed. So easy and so effective!



So next time someone asks you what you can do with quilters tape - you have at least 1 answer :)