I was going on a cruise (a quilting cruise, no less, with Quilt Seminars at Sea) and had been asked to demonstrate English Paper Piecing to the group. I like to travel with a portable hand-stitching project anyway, so I started this traditional Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern with modern fabrics. The bright, happy colors and the scrappy look make a cheerful project for travel. And hexagons are a good introduction for first-time English Paper Piecers. There is 60-degree corners are easy to handle.
What is English Paper Piecing?
English Paper Piecing is an old technique used to stabilize and stitch two pieces of fabric together. Modern stitchers have picked up the technique because of its ease and endless design possibilities. The uniform paper templates allow precision piecing, even for beginners. You wrap fabric over the paper template edges, providing a clean edge for stitching two pieces of fabric together – even if your fabric cutting skills are “relaxed”. Keep adding pieces (like a puzzle) until finished, then remove the papers, leaving precisely pieced fabric shapes. Hexagons and diamonds are the most-used shapes, but the design possibilities with various shapes are endless. You can re-use the papers several times to expand your project or start a new one.
Here is how I made my English Paper Piecing Hexagon Flower Garden Table Topper.
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Supplies: Assorted two-inch fabric strips. (I used a yellow print for the flower centers, warm prints for the flowers, and green prints for the leaves, but you can pick other colors.) ¾-inch Hexagon Paper Pieces, Fabric Adhesive Stick, neutral thread.
Tools: Sharp sewing needles, needle threader (if you need one), scissors.
This photo (above) shows all the steps to make a hexagon flower. Step-by-step details follow!
1. With your fabric glue stick, lightly glue-baste paper hexagons to the back of your fabric strips.
2. Cut around the hexagons, leaving about a ¼-inch seam allowance. No worries if your cuts aren’t perfect because the die-cut paper hexagons guarantee perfect piecing!
3. For each hexagon, start with one side of the hexagon and apply fabric glue to the edge. Then fold the seam allowance to the back of the piece. Continue to glue-baste until you have all six sides turned under. You’ll need one center and six petals for each flower.
4. Place two of your hexagons right sides together, then whipstitch along one side. Then continue adding hexagons to complete your flower, whip stitching along each shared side. I like to start with the center, then add the petals, but you can stitch the pieces in any order.
5. Arrange your flower garden while you place leaf hexagons in the spaces.
6. Then whip stitch all the flowers and leaves together.
7. This is the BEST part: Gently coax the seam allowances from the paper, then remove the templates. Some glue remains, so the seams will remain open without pressing. Since there are no basting threads to remove, it’s faster – and the paper pieces can be used again and again!
My English Paper Piecing Hexagon Flower Garden Table Topper is bright and cheerful in the middle of my table. Love it with a tall vase with fresh colorful flowers to cheer up the room!
For a refresher, watch this great video that shows you some tricks to whip stitching your EPPs (English Paper Piecing) together.
Browse through more English Paper Piecing projects and inspiration on Create Whimsy.