Wednesday, March 7, 2012

English Paper Piecing

A couple of weeks ago I took a class in English paper piecing.  I didn't know what it was when I signed up,  but I'm always game for something new.

The "course materials" consisted of a small plastic bag filled with diamond shapes made of stiff paper and some instructions.  There were about 28 paper pieces, 24 to use for a large pincushion, plus a few extras (almost all of us ended up using at least one!)

We used two fabrics of our choice -- scraps work fine, as long as the two colors are sufficiently different in value.  We cut 12 diamonds out of each color, cutting around the paper pieces 1/4" from the edge.  We then used a special glue stick to tack the seam allowances to the paper.

I found the glue unreliable -- the fabric kept coming unstuck, and trying to keep things together with my fingers caused the paper to soften.  I finally ended up basting the seam allowances down with thread, which is the way this was traditionally done anyway.  The paper can't be reused if you baste through it, not exactly a huge loss.

We hand-sewed six pieces of one color together, then sewed the remaining six pieces around the outside to make one side of the pincushion.  Repeated to make the other side.

At this point I added a button in the center of each side.  The directions say to do this after the pincushion itself is done, but I thought it would be easier to work with the flat fabric pieces.

 Sew the two sides, right sides together, until there's only a small opening remaining.  Remove the paper, stuff with crushed walnuts or fiber fill, and slip stitch closed.

Some people use this technique with 1/4" hexagons to make very elaborate wall quilts.  I don't think I'll use it again, though.  I enjoyed more the chicken pincushion that I made in my very first quilting class.  I'll post those pics tomorrow.

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