English Paper Piecing Tutorial by Posyp




This is a small sample to demonstrate how I do English Paper Piecing and to show that there is more to the technique than just hexagons.  I first had my eyes opened to the flexibility of the technique when I went to the exhibition held at the V&A museum the other year, and also by seeing the 1718 quilt now in the possession of the Quilter Guild of Great Britain. 

This was made using a variety of batiks, printed cottons and Oakshott shot cottons. It was sewn entirely with cream coloured Bottom Line thread by Superior Threads.  I used 120gms weight paper for this piece, but used 80 gms weight lined paper for the first piece, which is the date '2003'.  I found that an 8" square was rather awkward to handle with this weight of paper and in future will probably try to use smaller - say 4" - 6" squares and/or lighter paper.  That said there are older museum pieces that are much larger.

I also have to admit that I used 'Fray-check' on a number of the inside corners, so that the threads wouldn't fray on me as I stitched into the corners.  I think that trying to use starch instead could be an interesting experiment.


English Paper Piecing Tutorial - Beyond the Hexagon
1. Draw design onto paper
2. Put in registration marks, or you could used lined paper.
3. Cut out the pieces using a sharp knife, then remove a sliver of paper from the edges to make space for the fabric.
4. Tack the fabrics onto the papers, snipping into inside corners as necessary.
5. Holding the leaves for sewing.
6. Using the registration marks to line the pieces up.
7. One leaf compleated
8. Stitching in an acorn.
9. Adding the cup.
10. The first acorn in, from the front.
11. Stitching over the start end of thread. There are no knots used in this piece.
12. Continuing around the cup, holding the pieces at an angle to one another.
13. Side on view of holding the pieces together.
14. All the pieces sewn in, from the front.
15. .... and from the back.
16. Papers removed.
17. Finished piece.
18. Finished piece, from an angle, note the flatness compared to applique.
19. Close-up of acorns.
20. Close-up of leaves.
21. Close-up of leaf tip.





Wow what an intricate process with amazing results!


Just amazing- love all the detail!


This is how nearly all patchwork was usually done in UK until the late 70's, when the American method of piecing & strip piecing without papers was introduced.


Was it the Quilts 1700 - 2010 exhibition you saw? I have the book and it looks like it would have been fabulous.


Sewnsew Yes, it was the Quilts 1700-2012 exhibition, and yes it was fabulous. It revealed a great richness of ideas and designs that had existed in British piecing and patchwork before the hexagon was given it's dominant place as 'the shape to be done' between the wars and subsequently up to the 70's.


Wow wow wow. I have to try this. It's amazing!


This is amazing. Was this sort of piecing, rather than appliqué, a way to save fabric, be more precise, have less bulk? It's fascinating. Thank you for sharing. I also like paper pieced apple cores, which are only slightly less common than hexes, but still a favorite.


Amyde The earliest dated piece made in this technique is here http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/heritage/all/1718-1720/1718-coverlet.html also in their collection is this piece http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/heritage/all/1718-1800/octagons-and-squares-fragment.html They also have the alternative technique of Broiderie Perse, a form of applique here http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/heritage/all/1718-1800/tree-of-life-coverlet.html They are quite different looking items, depending on what style/fashion the maker liked; even though they are all coverlets - the tops & a lining, they are not quilted, if you have a look around the rest of the collection you will be able to see examples of quilts as well. It could be that the piecing over papers has the advantage of a way of using dressmaking scraps of many different types & weights of fabrics - but that is only my supposition.


Nice tutorial and wonderful results.

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