How to English Paper Piece

English Paper Piecing (EPP) is a method of hand sewing. The finished piece can be something small like a coaster, table runner, wall quit or a full king size quilt if your really ambitious. This method is not new, it traces back to the late 1700s and was widely popular during the 1800s where cards, letters, any bits of paper were used. They didn't always remove the paper as it is good insulation, I'm not sure how comfortable that would be as a quilt tho... but warm!

The method is pretty simple. Cut shapes from paper, glue or stitch baste the fabric around the paper and sew each piece together. You can use scraps, anything that will cover the paper piece your using plus at least 1/4 inch around all edges so you can fold them over. For really tiny pieces you can get away with less, but more is better. You can also fussy cut - this is finding a image in the fabric and cutting it out.

I glue my papers, it is fast, easy and when your working full time with very little time to create, it saves oodles of time. You can also stitch baste, there are lots of tutorials out there for different methods. 

What you will need:

Glue Pen:
There are ones just for EPP or a simple water based glue stick you can buy at any craft store. For small pieces 1 inch and under, the pens work best.
 You can cut the shapes yourself, however I do recommend getting dye cut ones. They fit together perfectly every time. 
 I like to use Milliners needles. They are long and thin and don't tire or cramp my hands
Quilting cottons are normally used, but you can use anything, including
 washed vintage fabrics 
Optional but handy. You can buy see through plastic ones that match the paper pieces or you can make your own. Simply use card stock and trace your paper shape. Use a ruler to make a 1/4 inch fold line all the way around. Cut it out, than cut the original paper shape in the center.  
Good fabric scissors and some little ones when sewing to cut the threads
Marking Tool:
I use a pencil when tracing the shape onto the fabric. You can use marking pens if you like
All purpose sewing thread in a colour to match your fabric

Prepping The Papers

Put your template on the image you want or just on the fabric. If you do not have a template - put the paper shape on the fabric. 

Trace with a pencil or marking pen around the template, or without a temple: trace a mark that includes 1/4 inch all the way around for a fold line.

Cut the shape out

Lay your paper on the shape. Make sure the fabrics back is facing you.

Place a line of glue just inside from the edge as shown by the pen mark in the picture. 


Repeat for the next edge

Work all the way around


Now to sew!

Thread your needle and make a knot at the end of the thread. Sew into the fold so the knot it hidden.

Place the two pieces together, good sides facing.

Start sewing, I use a simple whip stitch. Make sure to stitch the corners at the beginning and end. I use about 10-12 stitches an inch. 

Row finished!

Fold it open, here is the front all stitched.

This is the back

Place the next pieces where you want it to sit

Fold it over so the two pieces are ready to sew. and sew the seam.


Now to bring the needle back to the bottom so you can sew the bottom seam. Simply bring the needle along on of the seam edges and come out where you want to start sewing.

Sew the bottom seam.

Now keep adding pieces and keep sewing.