INSTRUCTIONS FOR ENGLISH PAPER PIECING
English Paper piecing is a time-honored technique dating back to at
least 1813. It's a wonderfully simple method for constructing
intricate quilts with lots of perfectly matched points. Usually a one-patch,
most commonly using hexagons, it might also be done using triangles,
diamonds, squares or a combination. It's completely done by
hand and can be assembled in modular units so you can take it with you
wherever you go, and make use of those idle moments.
here for a printable page of hexagons in Adobe
Reader format. If you don't have Adobe Reader, or if you don't care
format, you can click here for
a different version. If you play around with your printer settings,
you should be able to size them to your preference.
- Print out the paper shapes for your project.
If you've never tried this technique before, keep in mind that a finished
quilt will require a lot of these,
and they need to be identical, so it's a good idea to print them
all on the same printer or copy machine.
- Cut out the paper shapes, taking
care to be very precise in your cutting. A little
at this stage will go a long
the success of your finished project.
- Cut out your fabric pieces, using the paper shapes as a guide. Leave
approximately 1/4" allowance on all sides--you'll be
folding the edges of these fabric pieces over the paper shapes in the
following steps. If you prefer, you
cutting template to assist you, but freehand will probably be close
- Pin a paper shape to the center of one of your fabric pieces (see
Figure 1). Then carefully fold the edges of the fabric around the
paper shape, basting at each
as you go (see Figures 2 through 7). Keep the folded edges clean and
the corners crisp and take care not to sew the fabric to the paper.
OK to just carry the
knot and start again.
- Set the finished piece aside and make a zillion more.
- To assemble: With the paper still inside and right sides facing,
whip-stitch the pieces together along one edge (see Figure 8). Stay
as close to the edge as possible (within a couple of threads), and
again, make sure you don't accidentally sew the fabric to the paper.
pieces, whip-stitching them together along adjacent edges as you
- After a piece is securely sewn to all the surrounding pieces, you
can easily remove the paper. Since you haven't sewn through the paper,
you don't need to remove the basting stitches.
I found a great site recently where you can generate .pdf versions of
graph paper in all sorts of shapes and sizes for designing your own quilts. Click
here to go to the page (opens a new window), then scroll about 2/3
of the way down to the "Hexagonal" section. I like the "5-ish
hexes per linear inch" size because they're nice and small.
You'll need Adobe Reader in order to view and print the images. Most
likely it's already on your computer, but if not, you can download it here.