English Paper Pieced Quilt English Paper Pieced Quilt Courtesy of Cheryl See

English Paper Piecing

English Paper Piecing, sometimes refered to as EPP, is a form of quilt-making that uses a variety of fabrics and templates, to create a mosaic-style design. Fabrics are cut larger than the finished size, and placed around templates that are cut to the finished size. Fabrics may be stitched, glued or ironed around the template, with the seam allowances turned to the back of the template. Depending on the technique used the templates may be paper or made from template plastic. The prepared fabric pieces are then stitched to each other to create the design. They may be whip-stitched or stitched from the back--in either case, each piece is stitched to those around it. When paper templates are used they are removed along with any basting stitches.

Benefits of English Paper Piecing

  • English Paper Piecing uses small pieces of fabric, allowing the maker to use leftover fabrics on hand. As it is handwork, once prepared, the pieces can be stitched together in small amounts of time. When used as a "travel project", the maker can take the prepared pieces, needle and thread, and work on the project while away from home.
  • Mosaic designs have ancient connections and quilts made from them can be reminiscent of tile floors and other such designs. A variety of quilts are made with English Paper Piecing, most familiar is Grandmothers Flower Garden which is made from hexigons. Millefiori quilts use a variety of shapes and fussycut fabrics to create their more sophistocated designs.
  • Because the fabrics are prepared by being attached to templates, most often made of paper, difficult fabrics can be used, like silk.
  • There is no need to draw sewing lines, as the edges of the prepared piece creates the seam to be sewn. 
  • There are a variety of techniques to streamline the cutting and piecing of EPP patterns from reusable templates to printing the shape needed on the back of the fabric.
  • Fussy cutting the fabric creates more elaborate designs.

Supplies and Tools for English Paper Piecing

  • Templates are often made from paper, usually cardstock or postcards or similar weight paper. Many companies sell pre-cut pieces, eliminating the time and skill needed to cut many paper templates all the exact same size.
  • Needle and Thread, or Fabric Glue is used to hold the seam allowance to the back of the template. The fabric can be stitched to the paper or stitched in the corners or held with fabric glue. 
  • Fine thread, like Quilter's Select, Aurifil, Wonderfil, or other strong, fine threads are used for stitching the pieces together. A neutral color is often used with these small stitches to secure the variety of fabrics without having to change thread colors for each seam.
  • A variety of quilts are made with English Paper Piecing, Grandmothers Flower Garden made from hexigons being the most familiar. Millefiori quilts use a variety of shapes and fussycut fabrics to create their more sophistocated designs.
What I Wished I Knew When I Started English Paper Piecing

If I can draw it with straight lines, I can stitch it precisely with ENGLISH PAPER PIECING. It is not hard to sew the pieces together by machine, with the paper up and the fabric underneath the paper, it just takes a little practice. Some complex patterns are easier to make with this method than other, more traditional methods.

Hexigons are the most common shapes used.  Now we see diamonds and triangles added with different sized hexigons to create the Millefiori quilts giving the quilter a wide variety of options for English Paper Pieced Quilts.

English Paper Piecing Resources