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ENGLISH PAPER PIECING has always been of interest to me, but I have never actually done it.

Now that a lot of customers have asked about it, I thought I would try it and then put instructions down here.

I did a lot of research before I dove in to see this technique and found several websites regarding the technique.

I took a little from each and put together my thoughts and some techniques here with pictures to help anyone intersted.

The first thing I found out is that this is strictly a hand sewing technique. . .and I can see why! It doesn't lend itself to any method of sewing on the machine.

It is a very old technique dating way back into the 1800's. This technique helps the sewer with accuracy in the points where diamond, hexagons, triangles and such join.

The first thing you need to do is cut hundreds or so pieces of paper into the shapes that you will be using. If you use regular bond paper, you will have to pin each one to the fabric to keep it stable while you cut the shape out of the fabric.

To me, it is easier to use a freezer paper shape that is precisely cut, which we sell here. FREEZER PAPER SHAPES INDEX The ease of use of freezer paper is that there is no pinning.

After ironing the freezer paper shape onto your selected fabric, cut the fabric about 1/8 to 1/4 inch away from the edge of the freezer paper. That fabric allowance is what will be folded over the freezer paper as a seam allowance.

When you cut your selected fabric into the freezer paper shape, do not remove the freezer paper yet. Cut several of these shapes with the freezer paper still ironed on the wrong side of the fabric, and lay aside for later.

When cutting the fabric into the shapes you need, take into account the pattern that you will be making. For instance, if you are making hexagon shapes for Grandma's Flower Garden, you will need to cut one yellow for the center of the flower and 6 like colored fabric for the shape of the flower that goes around the yellow center.

You can see the fabric with the freezer paper shape ironed onto the wrong side in picture 1 below

Picture no. 1
Picture no. 2
This picture is from the Pennsylvania State Museum.
It gave no details about the piece, other than the quilt in progress still had the papers in the back.
After you cut out your fabric piece, you are ready to start folding down the edges and tacking them in place.

I have found there are two ways to accomplish this.
One method can be seen in the picture from the Penssylvania State Museum.

That is a running stitch through all three layers. This includes the folded down edge, the paper, and the bottom fabric which will be the top of the quilt.

Later, all this stitching will need to be removed.

The second way is to tack down only the fabric corner edges that are folded on top of each other. This way, there really is no need to remove the stitching and when removing the freezer paper, it won't tear where it has been sewn. See picture no. 3 below for this method.
Picture no. 3

In this method, you only place a small stitch in the corners and only through the two overlapping layers.

In this picture, the lavender is the wrong side of the fabric and the dark purple is the right side of the fabric folded over the edges of the freezer paper which is white.

The hexagon above looks misshapen because all sides are not folded over the freezer paper.

Later when all the pieces are sewed together, removing the freezer paper will be much easier because it hasn't been stitched through.

When tacking down the corners, carry the thread along loosely from corner to corner. This eliminates the constant cutting and knotting at each corner. If this thread breaks later after the pieces are all sewn together, it doesn't matter because this small stitch is just to hold the flaps in place while it is being sewn.

Now is the time to sew the edges of two pieces together.
Take two pieces that you have finished tacking the folded flaps, place them right sides together (freezer paper still on the shape) and with a matching thread, stitch small whip stitches along the edge of the two pieces (being careful not to catch the freezer paper). If you do catch the paper, don't panic! The only thing it will do when removing the paper is tear it along the edges where you caught it.

With the freezer paper in place, you will find that the edges are crisp and the corners match exactly. The removal of the paper will be easier in this method because they are not sewn with the fabric as with the project in the Pennsylvania State Museum.

You do not have to remove the paper until you are further along with your project and all sides of the shape are sewn together with other pieces. Remove some a little at a time and reuse the freezer paper shapes, or remove them all when the project is finished.

This is a great project to carry along where ever you will be sitting for extended periods of time as in doctor's appointments and such.

Remember, with Freezer Paper Shapes, you don't have to use pins to keep them secured to the fabric ... and ... they can be used over several times.

Our packages come in 25 and 50 piece packages. There is a 100 piece package in the works that will probably be available next week.

Let us know if you need the 100 piece package right away and we will get it for you.

I hope these instructions have been helpful. If you have any questions, Please email us.

Freezer Paper Shapes to use in English Paper Piecing

The following link will help with the designing of your quilt.

This link is for hexagons, but they also have other shapes to help you design your quilt.

You will click on the design you want to use, then adjust the measurements and download. The download is a page of your design in the measurement you specified in Adobe Acrobat format. After you download the page, you just print as many pages as you need.

Make sure you bookmark this page because I am sure you will want to use it over and over again for different shapes and projects.

Pages of Different Shapes to print

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Aveli's Quilts & General Store
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