My mum taught me to English Paper Piece (EPP) when I was a little girl. I was very keen to learn how to sew and commandeered her sewing machine on numerous occasions. Introducing me to EPP was no doubt her way of getting me off her sewing machine for five minutes! One of the undoubted benefits of EPP is that it is so portable, no sewing machine required, making it the perfect sewing craft for taking on weekends away or for enjoying sunny days in the garden.
I popped over to Madrid for the Easter break and took with me some fabric scraps and some hexagon templates and came back with an almost finished pin cushion. I cannot convey how much love I have for hexagons, they are possibly the prettiest of all patchwork. If you have never English Paper Pieced before this is the perfect bite size project to get you going, it wont be long before hexis are taking over your life. If you fancy giving it a go here is the how to:
Fabric Scraps – I used fabrics from Dashwood Studios Prairie Collection
Essex Linen in Grey by Robert Kaufman
Thread – Coats Cotton 1716
DMC Perle Cotton – I used 604
Quilting and Basting Needles for the piecing and Cross Stitch & Embroidery Needles for the embroidery
Hexagon template from Incompetech I used hexagon size 0.6
Toy stuffing for filling
1. Decide on the size of your hexagons and print them out. I wanted to make a pin cushion approximately 4 inches square so after printing out a couple of sheet of hexagons ranging from 0.5 inches to 1 inch I settled on a 0.6 inch hexie. I recommend printing your hexis on card to provide a solid base for your paper piecing.
2. Cut out your hexagons.
3. Baste your hexagons
- Attach your fabric to the card hexagon piece using a pin (note. your pin should be on the other side of your fabric, so it doesn’t interfere with your basting like mine, blame the holiday vino!).
- Cut the fabric around the hexi leaving half an inch or so.
- Starting at one corner of your hexi fold over each piece of fabric and use your nail to create a sharp crease where the fabric folds over onto the card. Sew a couple of small stitches ensuring the fabric stays together. Once the corner is secure move onto the next corner and repeat.
- Continue stitching each corner until you reach the start corner, finish the basting by securing your thread by stitching again over the first corner.
- Note: some people sew through their paper to the front of their hexis, thats fine for some projects as you will be removing the basting stitches, for this project we will be leaving the basting in place, if you stitch through your paper it will make it difficult to remove later on.
Repeat until you have a pile of hexis, you will need seven for the flower for the front of your pin cushion and if you intend to create a hexi back to your pin cushion you will need about another 33 hexis.
4. Join your hexis to create your flower. Take your central hexi and first outside piece, with the pieces right side together whip stitch along one side. Use tiny little stitches and be sure not to sew too far down the hexi they should just pick up a few strands of the fabric thread.
Take a second piece and right sides down, whip stitch it to the centre piece. Now join the two sides together using whip stitch. Continue adding hexis to your centre piece until you have sewn 7 pieces together and formed a flower.
5. Take out your paper (or card) hexagon pieces, but keep the basting in place.
6. Take your piece of linen and pin your flower in the centre. Sew around the outside of the flower using tiny whip stitch. You want to keep your stitches small, frequent and as hidden as possible.
7. Next comes the quilting, I quilted my flower using DMC Perle Cotton, Perle Cotton is the equivalent to 3 strands of embroidery thread and since its in one thread its great for hand quilting as the strands don’t come apart. I stitched around the centre hexi and then for decoration I followed the flower shape and hand stitched onto the linen.
8. For the backing hexagon patchwork piece, join your hexis together using whip stitch to form a piece of patchwork fabric approximately 5 inches by 5 inches. I used 6 by 6 hexis to achieve this.
9. Remove the paper hexis but again keep the basting stitches. Using a quilting ruler cut your hexi patchwork so that it measures 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches.
10. Cut your linen to measure 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches ensuring your flower is centred in the middle.
11. Pin your front piece and back piece, right sides together. Sew around the square using a ¼ inch seam allowance and leave a two inch gap on one side. Backstitch at the start and end of your sewing so that when you turn it out the delicate hexi patchwork doesnt start to fray.
12. Turn right sides out and fill with toy stuffing, use a pen or your finger to push it into the corners.
13. Stitch your gap shut using ladder stitch which will give you an invisible finish (there is a great how to video on youtube here). Thats it your finished hexi pin cushion.