English Paper Piecing

I’m hungover. I also had to go to the dentist this morning. These two states of being do not go. But at least I could console myself with a visit to my favourite fabric shop, B&M Fabric in Leeds Kirkgate Market. It also occurred to me as I sit here on my sofa gradually feeling the soft tissues of the right-hand side of my face returning, that this is a good opportunity to proffer a little bit of an explanation of how I do English paper piecing. I started the new tapestry yesterday, but hope you can forgive the delay caused by this little interlude.

hexagon patchwork, english paper piecingI painted my bedroom white the other week, and got white bedding and curtains. The plan is to spice it all up with a pretty dramatic patchwork bedspread. I have lusted after one for a long time, I loved them since seeing them in museums, like Beamish and the Black Country Museum. One of my prize possessions is an original Victorian iron bed, and there is nothing more appropriate for it. I’ve been doing it off-and-on for a goodly while, building up my little stash of hexies, and I’m about half way through. But now the bedroom is done, it is time to get this cover finished.

I have a rather large fabric stash, but strangely found all of them totally unsuitable forcing me, very sadly, to buy lots more. 🙂 Personally I avoid fat quarters, I just buy half-yards of printed cotton; far, far cheaper. I made sure all my colours work together, I didn’t want anything that stood out too much from the crowd. Mine are all also quite muted. I decided to use all patterned cottons, but one could also add plain fabrics too. For my bedspread I have focused on small florals. I avoided any fabric that had too big a pattern on it, as it would just get lost once it was cut up.

hexagon patchwork, english paper piecing I used blank wallpaper for my templates as it is relatively cheap and also quite stiff. You can make or buy an original template, but I use a Fiskars squeeze punch – it is super fast and means all my templates are the same size.. I use their extra-large punch, it gives me hexies with an inch each side.

hexagon patchwork, english paper piecingI cut the fabric into squares, often the size will be dictated by the size of the fabric scraps, but I do like a good margin.

hexagon patchwork, english paper piecingI place the template on the reverse side of the fabric and fold over an edge. With a wide stitch I secure the sides and corners through the fabric and paper, there is usually just the one stitch each side. You don’t want to knot at the beginning or the end as you will pull this thread out later on.

IMG_6894You will soon find yourself making a goodly pile. And then you will have a basketful which you can just look at, and occasionally, you are allowed to stroke it. Also, you can mix them all up and put them back in order again. If that’s your thing.

IMG_6907When I’m ready to join the hexies together, I put them right sides together.

First, fabric. I have a rather large stash, but strangely found all of them totally unsuitable forcing me, very sadly, to buy lots more. :) Personally I avoid fat quarters, I just buy half-yards of printed cotton – far, far cheaper. Make sure your colours work together, you don’t want anything that stands out too much from the crowd. Mine are all quite muted. Don’t be afraid of whites and blacks and decide if you just want patterned cottons or if you would like some plain fabric in there too. For my bedspread I have focused on small florals. I avoided any fabric that had too big a pattern on it, as it would just get lost once it was cut up. hexagon patchwork, english paper piecingI whip stitch at the top edges., just catching the fabric, trying to avoid sewing into the paper if I can.

First, fabric. I have a rather large stash, but strangely found all of them totally unsuitable forcing me, very sadly, to buy lots more. :) Personally I avoid fat quarters, I just buy half-yards of printed cotton – far, far cheaper. Make sure your colours work together, you don’t want anything that stands out too much from the crowd. Mine are all quite muted. Don’t be afraid of whites and blacks and decide if you just want patterned cottons or if you would like some plain fabric in there too. For my bedspread I have focused on small florals. I avoided any fabric that had too big a pattern on it, as it would just get lost once it was cut up. hexagon patchwork, english paper piecingOnce a hexagon has been completely surrounded on all sides by another hexagon, I remove the paper template. I simply snip or pull out the running stitch which frees up the oaoer which can now be eased out from the back. In the old days sometimes they kept them in for extra insulation. Once the paper is removed, the shape of the hexagon will stay in place. The paper hexagons can be reused.

First, fabric. I have a rather large stash, but strangely found all of them totally unsuitable forcing me, very sadly, to buy lots more. :) Personally I avoid fat quarters, I just buy half-yards of printed cotton – far, far cheaper. Make sure your colours work together, you don’t want anything that stands out too much from the crowd. Mine are all quite muted. Don’t be afraid of whites and blacks and decide if you just want patterned cottons or if you would like some plain fabric in there too. For my bedspread I have focused on small florals. I avoided any fabric that had too big a pattern on it, as it would just get lost once it was cut up. hexagon patchwork, english paper piecingSimple. As. That.

You may want to think how you want to put the hexies together. You can do them randomly like mine, although I say random, I do try to make sure hexies of the same fabric aren’t too close together. You can also make your hexies into little hexie flowers and join those together, or perhaps surround the hexie flowers with another colour. The possibilities are endless. I have a Pinterest board with some of my favourite hexagon patchwork, but there are plenty of others too.

IMG_6916

This is one of the few things I do for fun, to relax, in my pjs, on the sofa, watching crap on the iPlayer. Hopefully I will have a lovely traditional quilt at the end of it. It is also very transportable for train journeys, I just pop cotton and needle, some templates and precut fabric into a tin or little plastic tub and stick it in my bag.

I reckon I’m going to need about 2000 hexies to do my bedspread but my bed is really high off the ground though. Don’t let this put you off, you will be surprised how quickly it builds. Although I do often have to remind myself how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time.

 

 

 

 

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