From across the pond…

England.  Great Britain.  The UK.

English Paper Piecing.

EPP Sweetgirlstudio - sweetwatercottonshoppe

I love this picture from the Sweetwater Cotton Shop on Instagram – @sweetgirlstudio.  They’re Aussies – they love EPP. 

The first thing most of us probably think of with English Paper Piecing is hexagons – a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt.  Hexagon-based patterns became popular in England in the 1830s and when Godey’s Lady’s Book published the first hexagon quilt pattern in 1835, it became very popular in “the Colonies”.  It was often called “English Paper Piecing” because anything British was deemed very elegant.

Even though it’s remained popular, it has become very “hip” to EPP.  I think there are several reasons for that, not the least of which is the portability of it.  (Says someone with a sewing machine that weighs 38 lbs. in it’s case.)

Do you EPP?  I do… or I have.  I really enjoyed it and I’m trying to get back to doing more of it.

Tammy helped.  She’s been working on this the past month or so, it’s one of three she’s making for her grandkids.  (If I wasn’t the same age, I’d probably see if I could get on that list…)


Linzee helped too.  At Quilt Market, she told me about a Schoolhouse presentation she’d been to by Diane Gilleland for her new book, All Points Patchwork.

CT All Points Patchwork

Of course I had to get it and it’s one of the best “quilt books” I’ve bought in years.  What I love most about it is that on the second page of the book, Diane states that this is an “idea book” and not a project book.  Her goal is to share tricks, tips, ideas and methods, the kind of information we need to create our own designs.  By explaining how to draft the pieces and create patterns, she’s giving us the freedom to incorporate EPP into designs we already like and use.

I also love that she takes the time to talk about tools – what she uses, what she recommends, and lots of options.  Of course I took that as an excuse to raid search the warehouse look through my workroom in search of tools.


Some of the basics – from top left in a roughly clockwise order:

  • Good, fine thread.  I like Aurifil 50 wt.  Neutral thread for stitching pieces together and a brightly contrasting thread for basting is you’ll be removing your thread after joining pieces.  The bright contrasting color makes it easier to see the thread while removing it.
  • Thimbles – hand-sewing with a fine needle… some fingertip protection is in order.  Right?  Any thimble will do but this Nimble Thimble is my current favorite.
  • A seam ripper because yes, pieces do still get sewn together incorrectly.  This Clover white seam ripper is my all-time favorite.
  • Needles.  Diane recommends Sharps for basting and Quilting/Betweens for joining pieces.  She also suggests trying different sizes to find the one that works best for you.
  • Applique pins – used to secure the paper to the fabric while basting or to pin to pieces together for stitching.
  • Wonder Clips – very popular to keep two pieces together while stitching adjoining pieces.

And that’s why I love this book – it presents options instead of “this is what you will use and you will love it”.  I like straw needles – quilting/betweens are too short for my clumsy fingers.  Thimbles?  I’m trying – really.  The Nimble Thimble shown above is nice and I’m getting used to it – slowly.  But because I don’t like stitching through the paper, I usually do fine with Thimble Pads.  (They’re always in any stitching kit/bag I have.)


More options:

  • Templates.  If you like them, use them.  I use them because I love being able to cut an entire mini charm pack into hexagons in a minute or two.  Then it’s just a matter of basting them to the pre-cut papers.
  • Hole punch and crochet hook – they make removing the papers a lot easier.  I knew about the hole punch but not about the crochet hook.  Genius!
  • Glue sticks.  Even if you’d never glue-baste the edges, a glue stick can be very, very helpful while  basting.  The Sewline Glue Pens are my favorite but I always have a few Elmer’s School Glue Sticks on hand.
  • Pre-cut papers.  While Diane shows you how to draft your own pieces, she also discusses how to use and combine pre-cut papers to make original designs.  Many of the projects in the book were made with Paper Pieces templates and papers.


This is one of my favorite things about English Paper Piecing, the back of the quilt is almost better than the front.

Okay, now that I have the tools, I’m going to make this…


Lucy Boston – the Patchwork of the Crosses by Linda Franz.


Or not.  I love the quilt, it’s an “eventually” project.  I know I’m going to be tempted though, a friend has half of her blocks done and it’s quite wonderful.  While the quilt and book have been popular since it was published a few years ago, it seems like more and more quilters are diving in every day.

The variety of fabrics being used is amazing – it’s not just for Reproduction fabrics.  Bonnie & Camille?

Lucy Boston B&C ThreeHoneyBees - Kylie Seldon

This is by Kylie Seldon – @ThreeHoneyBees on Instagram.

The best thing about designs that work well for English Paper Piecing is that they can be found anywhere.  A book I’ve had on my work table for a few weeks is Hexagons, Diamonds, Triangles and More by Kelly Ashton.


It’s billed as a skill-builder with techniques for 60-degree patchwork by hand or machine, and all of the designs could be done with English Paper Piecing.  Paper Pieces has the pre-cut papers in the shapes required to make all three of these blocks.

The funniest part of all this is that this all comes back to geometry.  Another one of those subjects I avoided in school because I was never ever going to need it or use it in my lifetime.  Given what I do for my work and hobby, I find that just a wee bit ironic.

So do you do English Paper Piecing?  Do you have any tips or tricks to suggest?

Have a terrific weekend!

Jump to Leave us a Comment

48 thoughts on “From across the pond…

  1. I tried EPP but find it awkward to hold onto to sew neatly because of the stiffness as the project grows – I do mine Linda Franz’s way – Inklingo – print the templates directly onto fabric – stack the pieces in your project box and sew on the lines with a hand stitch. Nice and neat, easy to hold onto and gets done quickly – I did my Patchwork of the Crosses like that, hexies too and hand quilting a queen size right now all done with Inklingo. I think I have done about 5 quilts that method

    1. I also like Inklingo. I’m really fussy about my threads showing on the front and this tech takes care of that. I also find it way faster, no messing with basting or glueing

    2. Inklingo was my salvation. EPP is too much stuff to hang on to and drop. Love the lines (which wash out) for sewing while traveling! Less to pack, more actual sewing. Get er Donnee.

  2. I tried EPP for the first time this summer when we were traveling. I was able to make 2 rosettes before other projects became a priority. I like that it is portable if you prepare all the pieces before you start sewing.

  3. I find the concept of EPP daunting…which translates into “probably stressful, so will not be trying it anytime in the near future…” That being said, I love the look of so many of the EPP projects, and wholeheartedly admire anyone with the skills and courage to tackle it.

    If a great quilter, (like say) Carrie Nelson, were ever teaching a class that had an EPP element to it, I’d sign up!!!! (hint, hint). Have a feeling this technique is easier learned “hands-on” in a classroom setting (followed by adult beverages!)

    Another great post, that has left me with a new technique to add to my quilting bucket list!

  4. sounds very stressful to me I do mostly applique and some piecing.
    Missie Carpenter uses liquid starch for hex shapes and I tried that
    on small scale.

  5. What has really piqued my interest is the use of Bonnie and Camille fabric. I have never seen that used for EPP, and I just love the look.

  6. Great info shared in a wonderful way! I loev that you can send email links to friends at the3 bottom of your posts. I just wish Moda Bake Shop operated the same way so you could email yourself a project and have it on your phone to use as a diagram and instructions instead of having to print it out.
    Some people don’t live where all the signals hit, but if it’s filed on your phone, you have access to it 24/7 x 365 days.
    Think of all the money saved (to buy more fabric) and the environment protection possibilities realised.

  7. I have done some EPP, but as Karen said in her post, things get very stiff, quite rapidly. The larger the project becomes, the more impossible it becomes to try to fold up and travel with.

    I use Inklingo, which is made by Linda Franz. You just print on fabric with NO paper that you have to glue or hand baste on, which translates into not having to buy (or make) paper templates, and don’t have to remove them at some point, from your project.

    From my experience, Inklingo is easier and quicker to use, making the project much more portable. There are MANY shapes of Inklingo, so you have MANY different designs and sizes to choose from.

  8. I’m definitely not a happy thimble user either but have come to terms with Clover Flexible Rubber Protect and Grip thimbles (I believe they’re actually silicone) after trying many many others. More comfortable and user friendly because of the flexibility.

  9. I vote for inklingo as well for many reasons. One is the ease and speed of printing accurate shapes directly onto your fabric using an ordinary home printer. And also the stitching line which makes accurate stitching so easy by either hand or machine.
    Love the Lucy Boston book. It is nice to have a historical context to our work!

  10. I am also a happy Inklingoist. EPP gives me sore fingers. I also find it either expensive, or too time consuming, depending upon if you purchase the paper pieces, or make your own. It just adds too many steps to the process.

  11. Love the designs….Inklingo makes them doable with less effort and perfect accuracy. There are not enough adjectives to describe how Inklingo has revolutionized my quilt making!!

  12. Ugh, just the thought of all the extra work to do EPP makes me shudder. So much faster to print the cutting and sewing lines on the back of your fabric with Inklingo, cut the pieces apart and stitch with a running stitch. Much more portable, lighter in weight (no paper), and once the seams are stitched, you’re done, no paper to have to remove.

  13. The Bonnie and Camille fabrics look amazing with the Patchwork of the Crosses pattern! I love EPP. It was well worth learning just for the added strength a quilt gets from pieces that are whip-stitched rather than running-stitched together.

    For those who are dismayed by the stiffness of an EPP quilt in progress: you can remove the card stock templates from the interior patches on the quilt in progress. Just leave the card stock in the pieces around the border of the section you’re working on so you can easily stitch sections together. Much less bulky!

    I have Diane Gilleland’s book and it is a great resource for illustrated instructions on piecing, especially for curved pieces that can be challenging. My only small quibble is that she seems to disapprove of stitching that is visible on the right side of the quilt. There are EPPers who use hand quilting thread to stitch patches together because they intend for stitches to show. It’s not wrong for your EPP quilt to look hand-stitched (in fact, for some of us, that’s a big part of its charm).

  14. Inklingo is the only way to go! EPP is like making the quilt twice…first with paper and glue, and then, finally, the sewing. With Inklingo, just print, cut, and sew! “Love the lines”, not the templates and glue!

  15. I’m another Inklingo fan. I tried EPP in the past. and wasn’t very pleased with the end result, not to mention not enjoying dealing with fabric that was stiff from having the papers basted in. No matter how carefully I matched thread to my fabrics, no matter how tiny my stitches were – I could still see my stitches on the front and that was not what I wanted. I think Inklingo has saved many EPP Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilts that had been started but relegated to the back of closets. And it has encouraged people to start new ones.

    Inklingo makes it easy to print perfect templates on the back of fabric, templates that have both cutting and stitching lines and matching points. And the shapes are always perfect. One can sew by machine or with a simple running stitch by hand or a mixture of both – whatever works for a particular block/quilt.

    Some stunning Patchwork of the Crosses quilts have been made using Inklingo. Fussy cutting/printing is also easy as can be with Inklingo which meant some absolutely spectacular effects were achieved.

  16. I finished a fully had sewn hexagon quilt for a co-worker last year. Her daughter in law was cleaning out her mom’s house and found it. All ready to go, with even hexies sewn to the back as “binding”. All I had to do was put batting and a backing on, tie it (did buttons in the centre of each flower) and sew the edges down. I was trying to save them some money and I’m not much of a hand quilter, hence the button tying. Everyone I told about this quilt heard about how it was completely hand sewn and even fussy cut on several of the flowers. I couldn’t imagine at the time ever doing something like it, but now an EPP quilt is on my list of long term projects…once I get my yarn stash and 5 huge cross stitch projects going/done.

  17. I am an Inklingo fan too. Also, if you don’t want to buy the paper pieces all the time, Linda has an option on the programs to print without the seam allowances so that you could print onto cardstock if you would like.
    The instructions are very well laid out for you with videos also.

  18. I have Lucy Boston’s Patchwork of Crosses on the top of my list of to do quilts. I am very excited to start it but am currently working on a 6 pointed English Paper Pieced that I must finish first. I do think that I will be using Inklingo to piece it though.. I thoroughly enjoy English Paper Piecing. I do it in Doctors offices, waiting for kids at school, long drives (hubby drives) guild meeting etc. I need to have something in my hands at all times.

  19. I use Inklingo exclusively for projects that call for EPP and general piecing of all shapes both by hand and machine. A friend passed on an EPP project to me because she did not like the amount of tools necessary for her “portable” project. I gave it a try but set it aside as well. When Inklingo came out, I finished the project that was started with EPP. I have to say that because of Inklingo, the quilting projects I do now are more complicated, complex but much more gratifying. Inklingo definitely was the reason I was able to advance to a higher level in my quilting journey. It is easy to use and the support from Linda Franz and other users of Inklingo is invaluable.

  20. I have been doing some EPP–took Mickey Dupree’s Craftsy class on Pieced Hexies. But I’m really interested in trying the Inklingo hand piecing method!

    1. Do it! I just started using inklingo about 2 months ago when I was considering doing a hexagon quilt. Inklingo made more sense to me. I actually chose to start on a Willyne Hammerstein project, Ballet, and plan to do her Passacaglia pattern too using Inklingo. Then perhaps Lucy’s POTC blocks, then…

      I loved it so much I did apply to Linda’s affiliate program because I want to share this with everyone since I am enjoying it so much!

      Linda does have a free file you can try before buying, so you can see how it works. You can see it at her
      website. I do hope you give it a try!

  21. Great info.I haven´t tried the Inklingo hand piecing method,I stil been traditional.Print templates and cut .
    I`m fan of EPP, it`s relaxing while watiching tv or music, while you are in a car, train ,,traveling, is a easy project to do.My tip is to iron the EPP before to beging joining them.

  22. Another Inklingo fan coming out of the woodwork. Much faster than EPP and more accurate. It also allows beautiful pressing so the back looks almost as good as the front..

  23. Once you have tried Inklingo you will never ever ever EPP again! so much faster, and both the front and the back look so much better!

  24. Another Inklingo fan here, but you can sew by machine as well as by hand with this technique. I am currenfly working on La Pas and I’m doing it on my machine and it is coming along nicely.

  25. EPP is too cumbersome. I love to hand piece and using Inklingo makes it such a pleasure. Using Inklingo, I was able to make a miniature POTC easily and in most enjoyable relaxing way.

  26. As soon as I read about Lucy Boston in Patchwork of the Crosses by Linda Franz, I started it immediately. I am using both inklingo and epp as she describes in her excellent instructions. I prefer Inklingo, but use epp when my fabric pieces are too small to go through my printer. If you haven’t tried inklingo, go to her website and download the free tutorial. You won’t be disappointed when you can finish a project in half the time!!

  27. If you’ve got the Patchwork of the Crosses, by Linda Franz, then you know that using Inklingo for either hexagons or POTC facilitates the sewing. A running stitch seam is much faster than overcasting the edges of paper pieces. Also the printed sewing lines AND cutting lines ensure accuracy.. If you insist on “fussy cutting” pieces, you can print the templates on freezer paper, Iron to the back of the fabric (centering the design), add the sewing line with a fine pencil and proceed as normally with the running stitch.

  28. I am making the La Passacaglia quilt and I never would be able to do it without Inklingo. Your hands are much more relaxed when sewing a running stitch. I can get 4 or 5 stitches every time I insert and pull the needle, rather than one stitch with overcasting on EPP. That reduces the amount of time I am pinching down on the needle. I also cut the tips off of the smallest fingers of disposable latex gloves and put them over my thumb and finger so I can grip the needle better

  29. I am presently making a one inch hexie quilt by hand and using Inklingo instead of EPP. It is my designated portable project. I love the fact that I can literally take what I need in a zip lock bag when I go to my appointments or travel. Those items are a needle, thread, cut preprinted fabric and small scissors. I have had people watch me as I quietly sit and quilt. When they ask, I show them how simple it is. They are amazed there is such an easy method to make a quilt like their mother or grandmother made. Most everyone has a computer and a printer. They see how precise the blocks are both front and back. What they once thought was hard to do, they now see is simple to do and only with a few necessary items. Everyone can follow a simple printed line. Carrie thank you for sharing your post. Quilting and sewing is about sharing and caring for each other no matter which method we use.

    Take care.

  30. I use inklingo as well as epp. I’d like to point out to all the inklingoists that some people LIKE epp. I know Linda asked you all to comment on this blog post about how wonderful inklingo is and how much better it is than epp, but some people prefer epp over inklingo.

  31. I have one EPP project (unfinished) that i found yesterday. My Inklingo projects are finished! I love this method of printing the pieces on the reverse side of the fabric with the sewing lines visible. It is also very portable! Linda Franz has design collection that does Lucy Boston’s Patchwork of the Crosses. It makes it so easy!

  32. Another Inklingo fan here. I have tried EPP and although it is surely a good method, Inklingo is faster by far and very precise. Moda and Inklingo! What a combination………….Love them both.

  33. There are many reasons for wanting a portable project.
    The idea is that there are quilters who would not consider POTC or the designs and ideas in the other two books if they had to do it with EPP, or who call it an “eventually” project because EPP looks like so much work.
    Quilters feel excluded from some projects if they don’t like EPP but the designs in all three books are not just for quilters who like EPP anymore! Isn’t it wonderful that there is an alternative that includes more quilters! There are quilters who print templates for EPP with Inklingo and quilters who print and sew with a running stitch or by machine with Inklingo. There is room for everyone. Inklingo is all about making quilting more accessible, not excluding anyone or dividing quilters into groups, so that is not the impression we want to leave. We have more in common than we have differences.

  34. I, too, am using Inklingo to sew my POTC blocks. I am mostly a machine sewer, but now with Inklingo, am doing some hand sewing as well. I agree with Pati Phillips…Moda and Inklingo make a great combination!!

  35. On Inklingo,com you will find a free download to get you away from those papers Start stitching instead of basting

  36. Inklingo for me every time. I love that I can decide say on Sunday morning that I want to make a pattern, I can pay online and can be sewing before lunch! No papers or glue needed. I live in new Zealand.

  37. What a shame that instead of appreciating the publicity for her book, the author had to post to her Facebook page asking people to leave comments saying how great her Inklingo product is.

    I’ve tried Inklingo and didn’t like it. It doesn’t allow me to use my scraps and worse, the process creates lots of generic pieces. The best examples of the Lucy Boston quilt, any of the EPP quilts from the Millefiore books, and the quilts from Karen Styles of Somerset Patchwork require fussy-cutting that Inklingo can’t provide. Inklingo might be fine for some quilters but it’s not for everybody – it couldn’t even be used to make the I Spy quilt shown in this blog post.

    1. Hi Dorothy,
      I agree with you that no one method is perfect for everyone. I’m afraid someone gave you incorrect information about Inklingo because quilters do print on tiny scraps with Inklingo and there are examples of I Spy quilts made with Inklingo on the All About Inklingo blog. I am not sure what you mean by generic pieces. If you would like to know how to fussy cut with Inklingo or how to print on tiny scraps, charms and strips, there are videos on the website and on the blog too. It sounds as if you are very happy with the methods you know already, but if you have any questions, I would be pleased to help. linda at lindafranz dot com Happy quilting!

    2. Saying that you can’t use small pieces means you haven’t tried it. I recently ‘rescued” about 100 1 inch hexagons that I had cut years before Inklingo came out. They got put aside, because it was just too much work to draw the sewing lines on them. I since restarted the quilt using Inklingo, but I still had all those precut hexies, since I wasn’t going to use a pencil to draw the lines. What I did was send a piece of freezer paper through the printer upside down, so that it printed the lines on the shiny side. Then I ironed the hexies in place, and send them through the printer. Bingo….lines printed, easier to sew, and it was fast. Did all 100 of them in less than 1 hour, while drawing around a template would have taken at least 5 minutes per piece, and sore fingers.

  38. I used to paper piece and then discovered Inklingo. It completely transformed my sewing life – faster, better, more accurate, and less sore fingers and hands. I have managed so much more sewing, plus quilts that I could only dream about through inklingo!

Comments are closed.