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All Points Patchwork is like an extensive technique manual, a resource to help you dream up thousands of different English paper pieced projects! You probably know all about English paper piecing (EPP) in terms of “hexies,” but Diane’s book teaches you how to do this technique with diamonds, triangles, octagons, pentagons, curved-edge shapes and more. The book features nearly thirty project inspirations, 84 pattern diagrams and over 300 detailed images.
From the publisher:
- The key to perfect patchwork is getting all of the points to match up– which is no easy feat! Thanks to the rediscovery of a traditional technique known as English paper piecing, success is now possible for quilters of all levels. By cutting the desired shapes from paper, basting the paper to the back of your fabric, and then hand-sewing the pieces together, you’ll ensure perfectly matched points every time. This complete course in English paper piecing takes you far beyond traditional hexagons with step-by-step photos showing you how to connect triangles, octagons, diamonds, jewels, triangles, tumblers, pentagons, and curved shapes. It even provides dozens of ideas for incorporating the pattern designs into clothing, pillows, quilts, and home decor items!
To kick of a month of blog hops, reviews and events Diane has a Scrappy Flower Coaster project for you, including a PDF excerpt from All Points Patchwork about basic EPP sewing techniques. There’s also a giveaway! Comment below for a chance to win a “hot off the presses” copy of All Points Patchwork. (US + Canada addresses only, please.) Fill us in on your thoughts about or experiences with EPP. You could also share some love for Diane Gilleland! Diane has joined us before with her Hexie Diamond Pillow. We also have a project inspired by her Quilting Happiness: Projects, Inspiration, and Ideas to Make Quilting More Joyful, a book she co-authored with Christina Lane.
You may have seen English paper piecing in the form of hexagons, but you can actually make all kinds of shapes with this technique. That’s why I wrote All Points Patchwork— to show just how easy it is to EPP with triangles, diamonds, octagons, curved shapes and more.
This coaster project is an excellent way to explore EPP beyond the hexie. It’s a surprisingly quick project and, depending on how you arrange your fabrics, the design possibilities are endless. (That center section takes beautifully to fussy-cutting.) Even better: it’s a project you can carry with you and work on anywhere!
For more on basic EPP sewing techniques, be sure to download the PDF excerpt from All Points Patchwork, generously provided by Storey Publishing.
Finished Size: 5″ x 5 3/4″
You’ll Need (per coaster):
- Scrappy Flower English Paper Piecing PDF Templates
- Scraps of 3-4 quilting cottons
- 5″ x 5″ piece of low-loft cotton batting
- 5″ x 5″ piece of wool felt
- Scissors for paper
- Scissors for fabric
- Washable glue stick
- Sharp or quilting needle in a size you like
- Polyester thread (grey or beige blends with different-colored fabrics)
- Removable fabric marking pen
- Walking presser foot
Planning Your Fabric Placement:
Download the Scrappy Flower Coaster PDF Template and print it onto lightweight cardstock. This design has some directional pieces, so I recommend planning your design ahead and marking the templates; it’s the simplest way to keep all the pieces facing the right direction. So, first cut along the outer edge of one coaster form. Then decide which of your fabrics will go where in the design. Use a pencil to lightly write the fabric color (or print, or whatever makes sense to you) on each template.
* Note: I’ve written pretty firmly on my templates here so it shows up in the photo. But don’t write this dark in real life; you’ll end up transferring pencil marks to your fabrics.
Cutting the Templates + Fabric:
Usually, you’d cut out all your EPP templates at once and then start cutting fabrics and basting. But with directional pieces like these, I recommend working in stages. To begin, carefully cut the center hexagon shape out along the printed lines. Leave the outer petal sections intact and set them aside for now. Cut the hexagon along the lines to form six triangle templates.
Take the first triangle template and the fabric you’ve chosen to go with it. Lightly pass a glue stick over the side of the template you’ve written on. Then press the glued side to the wrong side of the fabric. (Don’t use much glue here; all you’re doing is tacking the fabric and paper lightly together.)
Cut the fabric so it’s a generous 1/4″ larger on all sides. Don’t worry too much about your cuts being straight; they’ll never show in the finished product. Repeat this process with the other five triangles.
Basting the Templates:
I like to baste with templates this size so no stitches show on the right sides of my patches. It’s a secure way to baste smaller templates, and the added bonus is that when I remove the templates later on there’s no need to remove the basting. It sure saves time! You can see this kind of basting in action in this video.
I prefer to baste in a counter-clockwise direction, but you might prefer clockwise. Begin by folding one side of the fabric over the edge of the template. Then fold the adjacent side. The fabric will form a little flag shape at the tip of the triangle as shown above. Take a tack stitch over the point where the two edges meet: pass your needle under both layers of fabric and back up a short distance away. (Don’t pass the needle through the template at all.) Then pass the needle under a second time to form a small stitch, as shown above.
Fold the next edge of the fabric over the template and take another tack stitch at the corner point.
…And, finally, take one last tack stitch at the last corner. Don’t knot your basting thread; you’ll want to be able to remove it easily if you need to. Instead, end the thread by passing your needle through the seam allowance at the back of the patch and trimming the thread to about 1″ long.
Repeat this process to baste the other five triangles.
Sewing the Triangles:
I like to sew my EPP patches together with a whip stitch. First, place two triangles side by side to determine which edges you’ll be sewing together. Then place the patches right sides together, making sure the ends of the patches line up. (You can just fold those little fabric flags out of your way.)
Pass your needle through the very edges of the patches, catching a tiny bit of the fabric from each patch. Stitch through the fabric only, not the edges of the cardstock templates. Your needle will pass through easily if you’re passing through fabric. If you feel resistance, you’re stitching through the template; adjust your needle placement.
Pull the thread through and repeat this process, passing the needle through in the same direction each time. Try to keep your stitches very close together. (Incidentally, if you have trouble with your thread knotting up as you sew, take a look at these helpful tips.)
It’s easiest to get all the triangle points matching up in the center if you first stitch the triangles together to form two units. Then sew these together, starting the seam at center and working outward to both ends.
Making the Outer Petals:
Now we can cut, baste and sew the outer petals. Work with one petal at a time. Cut it into sections along the printed lines. Then lightly glue to your chosen fabrics, cut and baste as you did with the center triangles.
Sew the pieces together with a whip stitch. Then stitch the finished petal to one edge of the hexagon center before moving on to the next one.
As you add each new petal, sew the little side seams between them.
Finishing the Coaster:
With the templates still in place, press the finished coaster with a hot steam iron. Press any bits of fabric that may be sticking out at the edges toward the wrong side, as shown.
Then, place the coaster on a piece of batting and trace around the outer edges with a removable fabric marker. Cut the batting about 1/4″ inside your traced line and then set it aside for a moment.
Carefully pinch out all of the templates. It’s usually easiest to start at center and work your way outward. Some EPP-ers prefer to use a small crochet hook to grab the edge of each template and peel it out. You can see both processes in action in this video.
Now that the templates are all out, give the coaster one more pressing.
Lay out the wool felt. Stack the batting on top, and stack the coaster top over the batting. Place several pins to hold the layers together.
Install a walking presser foot on your sewing machine. Stitch through all layers about 1/8″ from the outer edge.
Carefully trim the felt to match the edges of the coaster top. For a complex shape like this one, I find this sewing-then-trimming method infinitely simpler than trying to keep two complex shapes aligned while I sew them!
Machine or hand-quilt your coaster as desired. I’ve shown you a few ideas, or you can make up your own design. Since we finished the edges of the coaster first, it’s best to keep the quilting minimal; all you need is a little stitching to keep the layers together.
PDF excerpted from All Points Patchwork (c) by Diane Gilleland; interior photography (c) by Harris & Harris Photography; cover photography (c) by Alexandra Grablewski; used with permission from Storey Publishing.