Have you ever seen a quilt with beautifully intricate pieces and wondered, “how in the world did this designer create these perfect tiny pieces?” Well, chances are they used English paper piecing.
English paper piecing projects come in a wide variety of complexities, shapes, and sizes.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced quilter, English paper piecing is sure to be a fun and exciting skill to learn.
This post will review what English paper piecing is and look over several examples of patterns that use this specific technique.
What is English Paper Piecing?
English Paper Piecing (EPP) is a traditional technique used to create patchwork blocks. EPP has been around for centuries, and the oldest known coverlet dates back to 1718.
The difference between EPP and traditional patchwork construction is that you use a paper template as a foundation in EPP. You wrap the fabric around this template, turn the edges under, and baste them, concealing the edges under the block.
FAQ about English Paper Piecing:
- How do you make an English paper piecing pattern?
- First, you will choose your template shape.
- Place your fabric over the template.
- Trim it down to the shape of your template with a ¼” seam allowance all the way around.
- Thread or glue baste around the entire template about ⅛” from the edge.
- Create as many blocks as desired.
- Whipstitch the blocks together.
- Remove the templates from each block.
- What can you make with English paper piecing?
Using the EPP technique, you can make a wide variety of different quilt patterns. The most popular shapes you will make using English paper piecing templates are hexagons, diamonds, and squares.
- Is English paper piecing easy?
As with most skills, when you first start, it may seem a bit tricky. With practice and time, it will get much easier and quicker.
If you are going to make your own templates, I would recommend using cardstock paper. Printer paper (thin paper) won’t hold up very well when you sew your blocks together.
11 English Paper Piecing Patterns
I’ve curated some gorgeous examples of EPP and even found several free English paper piecing patterns. EPP is a technique that has been around for centuries, and it’s so exciting that it’s still alive and regularly used by quilters everywhere.
This colorful design is such a unique EPP pattern. With beautiful teardrop shape pieces and sweet barn owl shape, the pattern is for a 20” square mini quilt that is sure to be an attention-grabber. The designer did a fabulous job of creating a modern pattern using a traditional skill.
Here is an excellent FREE tutorial on how to make English paper piecing hexagons. Well written and illustrated with great photos, this tutorial is perfect for a beginner who needs an up-close look at each step in the EPP process.
Wow, this block has a lot going on, but this pattern shows you exactly how to piece the elements together without feeling squirrely. The finished block will be a 16 ½” square and can be used for a pillow front or as a block for a larger quilt.
Here is another FREE tutorial that provides written instructions along with a video tutorial. This pattern mixes hexagons and diamonds to create these gorgeous “Star Blossom” blocks. Can you imagine an entire quilt top made with these blocks? Stunning!
This absolutely gorgeous quilt pattern is FREE! Crazy, right? This pattern shows you how to make an entire quilt top of hexagons to create this beautiful, traditional floral design. The written pattern helps you make a 86”x110” quilt top.
How fun is this quilt pattern? These adorable fruit shapes are made using all EPP skills. With this pattern, you could make individual blocks of each fruit or combine them into one quilt top that measures 48”x 53”. You can even create more blocks and build a larger quilt.
This EPP project features diamonds, triangles, and squares. If you look closely on the left, you can see each block has four diamonds, four triangles, and one square. The overall effect is, well, dazzling.
This kaleidoscope of color is a beautiful example of an English paper piecing technique translated into a modern project. The kit provides all the necessary tools and instructions to create the top of this pillow cover, which brings a pop of color and interest to any home decor environment.
This designer used EPP to create these adorable clamshell blocks. To add to the cuteness, they used beautiful vintage fabrics. In this FREE tutorial, the designer used a clamshell template, but you can easily create the same paper pieces by drawing the shape, so don’t be scared away.
This technique would be beautiful on an entire quilt top or just as the ruffle bottom of a quilt. Use your imagination to create something fun and unique.
Butterfly Effect is a more complex pattern, but once you have the basic techniques down for EPP, you should tackle this fun and whimsical pattern. The pattern designer teaches you how to make a 24” square, but you can easily continue making butterflies and extend this to a larger project.
This unique petal shape is a play on the traditional hexagon flower pattern. Using a more modern shape, this designer has created a gorgeous interlocking design, so using these templates, you can make a quilt as large or as small as you need. This designer has several other flower shapes to choose from as well.
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I don’t know about you, but I feel inspired to start a new EPP project. These patterns are perfect examples of how you can use a traditional technique to create so many different modern designs.
English paper piecing has a rich history, and as far as I can tell, the EPP tradition won’t be fading away any time soon. The innovation of designers worldwide will keep EPP in the mainstream of quilting for years to come.