If EPP is your thing, you will love this month’s block.
This is the next-to-last block in our Carolina Sunset quilt block sampler and this month features English Paper Piecing. Those of you who know what EPP is will be delighted – because you already know how fun it is! Those of you who don’t are in for a surprise! The technique of EPP really is addicting. Once you perfect the technique, you’ll find yourself making the paper pieces out of fabric scraps without even having an end game in mind. You can make stacks and stacks of them before you have any idea what you’re actually going to do with them. You’ll make this block using nine hexagon shapes to make a flower design in the block’s center. Dritz® paper piecing shapes and the Omnigrid® rotating mat are the key tools you’ll use.
We’re excited to have Lara Whiting contributing our block of the month series. Lara is going to be teaching you how to make 9 different quilting blocks, which you can use in any combination to make a 9-block quilt. This month’s block is the eighth in the series, and features English Paper Piecing (EPP) with the Dritz paper piecing shapes, plus the Omnigrid® rotating mat and rulers.
English Paper Piecing love.
Like many techniques in the sewing and quilting world, there is more than one way to achieve your goal. This month we’re going to dabble with English paper piecing, or EPP for short.
EPP is the process of cutting out fabric and folding it around your preferred paper shapes. The fabric is temporarily basted to the papers so that you can stitch each piece together. Once all the hand stitching is completed, the papers are removed so that the block is ready to become a quilt.
I recently discovered this addictive quilting technique a few years ago, and even more recently found the Omnigrid rotating mat to be extremely valuable in the cutting process.
The supply lists.
- 60wt cotton thread in a shade that coordinates with your fabric
- Fabric clips
- Iron and pressing surface
The fabric requirements.
- 1 pc: 12.5” square
Miscellaneous scraps from remaining colors:
Choose scrap pieces that are at least 3.5” wide. Use strips leftover from making previous blocks. To confirm that the scrap is large enough, hold one of the hexagon templates over the fabric. Fabric needs to extend ¼” – 3/8” beyond all sides of the hexagon.
Makes a 12.5″ block.
Place fabric on 360° rotating cutting mat. Lay paper hexagon on top fabric. Using 2 ½” x 8” ruler, place edge of ruler 3/8” from paper shape edge. Trim away excess fabric.
Give the mat a spin.
Rotate mat and reposition ruler on next side of hexagon. Trim away excess fabric. Repeat until all sides of hexagon have been trimmed. Rotating the mat without having to move your fabric each time makes this step so easy. Watch this YouTube video to see the rotating mat in action and learn more about its features.
To make a traditional hexagon flower, you’ll need a total of 7 hexagons; one to feature in the center of flower, and 6 for the petals around outside. Cut 2 more hexagons for leaves. Repeat beginning steps until there are enough hexagons in your desired colors. Here is your chance to add your own flair and play with your own special color combinations.
Baste the pieces.
Before stitching the hexagons together, they need to be basted. Place a fabric hexagon on mat, right side down. Center paper hexagon on top, so there is equal amount of fabric on all 6 sides.
Using fabric glue stick, apply a small amount along one edge of paper hexagon. Hold paper shape in place while folding down fabric onto edge with glue. Press down for a few seconds to make sure fabric edge is glued to shape. Repeat this on the opposite edge of hexagon.
Repeat this basting technique along the remaining sides of hexagon. Work on two opposing sides at time. When you fold the fabric over the shape, make sure it sticks to paper but isn’t pulled too tight. If fabric is too snug around paper shape, you may end up stitching through papers in later steps.
Continue to glue baste remaining fabric pieces and paper shapes. Check out this blog post to learn more about basting techniques.
Play with your layout.
Now that I’ve basted enough hexagons, or hexies as they’re affectionately called – time to play with layout! This first option with just 7 hexagon pieces could be this simple two-tone flower.
Or, you could add coral leaves to the flower.
What about this …
Could be a cactus? Or a scorpion? But you get the point – the paper pieces are fun to make, and the design is fun to play around with too.
The EPP flower.
I landed on this design. It’s a six-petal flower with two leaves.
To make the flower, lay out hexagon pieces to form flower and leaves as shown.
Choose your thread color.
Since the fabric colors are so different from each other, a medium gray thread will blend well with all the fabrics.
Start assembling the flower.
Begin by stitching each of the “petal” pieces to one side of the center hexagon. Clip two hexagons together on the side opposite to be stitched. Thread your needle with a single strand of thread. Stitch two hexagons together along edges with the overcast stitch.
At the end of first side, don’t knot thread. Instead, place a second hexagon on the next side of center hexagon and continue stitching around the center.
Repeat this step on all six sides of center hexagon. Rethread needle as needed.
Now stitch the sides of petals to each other. Use a clip to keep the flower loosely folded in half. It helps to keep the edges lined up so you will not need to constantly readjusting the pieces.
Add the “leaves” to the design.
Add leaf hexagons to opposite sides of flower.
Remove paper pieces.
When all hexagons are stitched together, gently remove papers from the fabric. Start by tearing paper at the center hole so you can pull the paper out from under fabric edge.
Press flower to remove any wrinkles and fold edges back to underside.
Center flower design on background fabric.
Fold background fabric in half twice and press to create creases. Use the crease marks to align flower design in center of background square. Pin flower in place on background.
Finish & admire.
Stitch around flower design with applique stitch or topstitch along edge. You’re done!
Review all the blocks.
Be sure to take a look at all of the blocks thus far in the Carolina Sunset series. Remember that this is a sampler, so it doesn’t matter the order you go in, which blocks you choose to make, duplicate or delete – this is your unique 9-block quilt using some combination of what you’re learning here.
Lara Whiting is a passionate quilter whose designs are inspired by a fusion of influences that include traditional quilting, architecture and the natural world. When she’s not quilting, you can find her training for half marathons, tending her garden or hanging out with her rescue dogs. She lives in upstate South Carolina.