New obsession ahead! English paper piecing (+ fabric giveaway)

Cabin Flowers quilt from English Paper Piecing

Just how easy IS English paper piecing?

It’s easy. Really easy. And fun. Really fun. And portable. And pretty. Really pretty!

Vicki Bellino and Karen JohnsonDon’t tell me you dislike hand piecing if you haven’t tried English paper piecing (EPP), because it’s tons more fun than regular hand piecing.

I was a skeptic too, until I became friends with Vicki Bellino (yes, I’m a name dropper). Here we are together in front of a row-robin quilt we worked on together (that’s Vicki on the left). She’s the author of English Paper Piecing, a fabulous book filled with, you guessed it, English paper piecing quilt patterns! I blame Vicki for my EPP obsession, because she taught me everything I know. So I offered my coworkers the chance to become as obsessed as I am.

EPP in the conference room!
We gathered in our conference room recently, and I shared the basics. We even had offsite editors Ursula and Jenny via video conference!

EPP fabric and pattern pieces
Vicki sent us a care package full of fabric and precut papers. The precut papers make all the difference!

English paper piecing in action
Within minutes, everyone was basting and stitching.

English paper piecing--joining hexagons
A few more minutes went by and we had joined hexagons!

Giveaway alert! Our friends at Marcus Fabrics have generously donated TWO fat-quarter bundles to give away to you—the very same fabric that Vicki used to create several of the quilts in English Paper Piecing! Find out more about the fabric (and how you can win it) at the bottom of this post.

So, what are the basic steps of EPP? There are very few, really. We learned how to baste the fabric to the papers, join the basted pieces with whipstitches, and remove the basting when a segment is complete. Simple, right? If you’d like further proof, you can see Vicki herself demonstrating this fun technique in this video:

Video linked with permission from our friends at Connecting Threads.

English Paper Piecing: Fresh New Quilts from Bloom CreekThere is something so endearing about hexagon quilts! The beauty of Vicki’s patterns is that she makes small units first and then appliqués them onto her quilts. So you don’t have to tackle a giant Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt to enjoy the fun of EPP. You can see all the projects from English Paper Piecing at the bottom of this post.

I’m happy to report many of my coworkers are now nearly as obsessed as I am. Many of them came back the next week with new works in progress, and not long after that, some even completed a project!

Durby's EPP mug rug
Durby made an adorable mug rug from her classroom sample.

Cathy's framed EPP
Cathy completed a block and framed it. She’s got lots more started to make something else.

Jenny's English paper-pieced jacket
Jenny was inspired to do some hexagon quilting on the back of her denim jacket. Isn’t that the coolest?

Karen S's English paper-pieced flowers
Karen S. pulled out some of her beautiful Daiwabo Japanese fabrics, and before she knew it, had a ton of flowers made!

Mary G's EPP stash
Mary G. also got started with some beautiful fabrics and couldn’t stop. She doesn’t yet know what this will be when it grows up, but she thinks it might become a table runner.

Mary B's framed EPP
And Mary B., our very own overachiever, actually completed a project from Vicki’s book! Here’s her version of Vicki’s “Starflowers” quilt, all hand quilted and framed.

I’d say I was successful in passing on the obsession, wouldn’t you?

Giveaway Details

Judie Rothermel's Holiday '12 collection--Marcus FabricsHave you tried English paper piecing? Tell us your hand-piecing story in the comments and you’ll be entered for a chance to win the eBook version of English Paper Piecing AND one of two fat-quarter bundles, generously donated by our friends at Marcus Fabrics. We’ll announce two winners one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won. Or, purchase Vicki’s book now, download the eBook for free, and try your hand at EPP today.

About the fabric: Judie Rothermel revisits the archives of Old Sturbridge Village to gather the inspiration for her Holiday ’12 collection. It features deep shades of green, red, and golden tan in a richly detailed wallpaper stripe, large floral, and an array of smaller allover reproduction prints.

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Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The randomly chosen winners are Judith and Fran.

Judith said: “I am going to try it next month when I visit my granddaughter… she’s almost 9. I thought it might be a fun way to inspire her into the sewing world. She loves soccer, so I am thinking pentagons. I would love to have a book she could look at for inspiration. Thanks for the giveaway.”

Fran said:  “I have been working on some hexagons since last spring and enjoy having a portable project to carry around. I think we’re blessed to have precut papers available to us; I’ve seen some older quilts with the hexagons cut from newspaper!  I love the idea of appliqueing ‘flower’ hexies onto quilts.  This book is very timely.”

Judith and Fran, we’ll email you about your free eBook and fabrics. Congratulations!

40% off--books on sale this week only

Black and Red and Gold All Over

“Black and Red and Gold All Over”

Cabin Flowers

“Cabin Flowers”

Dresdens Defined

“Dresdens Defined”

Just Judie

“Just Judie”

Pentarings for Baby

“Pentarings for Baby”

Simply Stated

“Simply Stated”





Suitable for Framing

“Suitable for Framing”

Dresdens on the Vine

“Dresdens on the Vine”

Diamonds and Sapphires

“Diamonds and Sapphires”

A Dresden Delight

“A Dresden Delight”


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