English Paper Piecing

As you all know now the Whaley Historic House Museum will be working with Flint Handmade to run a Quilting Bee workshop. Now, there are many methods of quilting that we could choose, but the crafty gurus have settled on English Paper Piecing and I must say, that I completely support this decision.


English Paper Pieced (EPP) quilts are made up of a design of smaller shapes, often hexagons, to make what is often referred to as a honeycomb design. Think of the geometric pattern of a honeycomb…well that’s exactly what you get here. It’s a bunch of small shapes fit perfectly together.

This method of quilting is by no means new. There are quilts dating back to the early 1800s that exhibit this style. Click here to find information on some very early EPP quilts. This method did not disappear and one design, known as Grandmother’s Flower Garden became very popular in the 1920s and into the Great Depression. You can see an example here.

So, what exactly is EPP, you ask? Well that’s a good question. I’ll briefly describe it to you and link you to a great tutorial that can probably do a better job than I can. While I have made a few quilted items in my life, I have yet to dip my toe into the world of EPP!

star hexagon

This method uses paper shapes (in our case hexagons) as the template for the fabric. Once you have precise hexagons cut out of your paper, you must do the same with your desired fabric, but each side should extend 1/4″ over the edge of the paper hexagon. So, you’ll end up with a hexagon slightly larger than your paper, so you can fold it over the paper.

Once secured there, you must baste the fabric to the paper and do this for each hexagon in your whole design. Then you’ll whip stitch corresponding hexagons together. Once one hexagon is completely surrounded by others, you can remove that piece of paper. And you continue.

Now I know that was a very very brief overview of the process. If you look at this website you can read all about the process. And here you can see how another person used EPP for a project. And this site has some pictures which may help to illuminate the other tutorial. I’m very visual with this stuff, in large part because I’m not terribly familiar with the vocabulary. And I guess I’m just more of a visual learner when it comes to tutorials.

This more like what we'll be making. They are hexagon flowers that will make up a full quilt in the end.

This more like what we’ll be making. They are hexagon flowers that will make up a full quilt in the end.

Well, I hope this has inspired you to consider learning with us! Having been a college student for a very long time (graduate school, man), I find doing things with my hands that result in a tangible finished product is incredibly rewarding and its a great way to connect to our heritage!



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