What is English Paper Piecing?

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A few weeks ago I showed you how to glue baste some diamonds for a stocking I was making for my four year old. This was the first time I had ever glue basted, and it was much quicker than basting my templates with thread. (I am still working on some fun scrappy hexagons that I’m basting with thread by hand.)

I don’t have enough to experience to know all the pros and cons yet of each method, but the glue basting worked well this time.

What is English Paper Piecing? Sewing with Diamonds. Christmas Stocking.

My dear younger sister read my post about glue basting and called me on the phone to ask why on earth I was gluing a whole bunch of fabric to a lot of little pieces of paper. I realized my post had fallen short of displaying the beauty (and end result) of English paper piecing.

English paper piecing is using paper (or card stock) as a template for your fabric pieces. This is often done with more difficult or complex shapes that are hard to sew together using a sewing machine. English paper piecing almost always ensures accuracy, but it is obviously a much slower process than piecing with a sewing machine.

(It may be a slow process, but EPP is very enjoyable with its repeated nature. It’s a slow and steady process that can be done from the comfort of a chair in your living room.)

Let me show you how I finished my first English Paper Piecing project.

1. As you may have seen in my other post, I began this process by fussy cutting lots of Christmas fabric for some stockings. (All these fabrics are Cotton + Steel fabrics…most from their Noel and Garland lines.) Many of these fabrics can be found at Sojo fabrics.

What is Glue Basting? English Paper Piecing. EPP project.

2. Then I glue basted the fabric to the diamond templates.

What is Glue Basting? English Paper Piecing. EPP project.

3. I started sewing one diamond to another using a basic whip stitch. Don’t sew through the card stock. Catch just the first few threads of the fabric.

What is English Paper Piecing? Sewing with Diamonds. Christmas Stocking.

What is English Paper Piecing? Sewing with Diamonds. Christmas Stocking.

4. Continue sewing one diamond to another diamond. This is what the back of my panel looks like after sewing together a handful of diamonds.

What is English Paper Piecing? Sewing with Diamonds. Christmas Stocking.
This is what the front of my panel looks like as I continue sewing diamonds.

What is English Paper Piecing? Sewing with Diamonds. Christmas Stocking.

5. Once all of your diamonds are sewn together, carefully remove the templates from the back. Since I used only thin layers of glue my papers came out quite easily. Begin slowly pushing or scraping the fabrics back. You’ll find a rhythm and process that works well as you work your way around each diamond.

I always recommend punching a hole in your templates prior to using them. During this process of removing the card stock, it’s handy to have a pair of tweezers close by for grabbing through the hole.

What is English Paper Piecing? Sewing with Diamonds. Christmas Stocking.

Below is the front of my stocking before beginning the hand quilting. The greatest thing about English paper piecing these diamonds are the perfect points. I had never sewn with diamonds before, and I wasn’t up for the challenge of learning to do them well with my machine. Since this was a small project, it worked out perfectly for paper piecing.

What is English Paper Piecing? Sewing with Diamonds. Christmas Stocking.

If you look closely at the above picture, you’ll see some of the threads peeking through where I whip stitched them on the back. I believe I’ve read somewhere that there are techniques and ways to avoid the threads showing through to the front. Obviously I haven’t learned that skill yet.

I’ll have to do a bit more research to see what I can do better.

Despite my threads showing through from the back, I am so pleased with this project. I always have so many quilts in progress, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it felt to finish such a small project.

What is English Paper Piecing? Sewing with Diamonds. Christmas Stocking.

I made some diamond templates you can feel free to download. I also used the stocking template and instructions from Sunny Day Supply.

My goal is to finish two more stockings by Christmas!

What is English Paper Piecing? Sewing with Diamonds. Christmas Stocking.

What is English Paper Piecing? Sewing with Diamonds. Christmas Stocking.

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