Last fall when Jenna and I began designing graphics for Vicki Bellino’s newest book Tiny Obsessions, I was completely unaware of the world of English Paper Piecing. To be honest, just the sound of it made me think it was far too difficult for me. As I started doing some research, I stumbled upon some really fascinating EPP projects and knew then I wanted to learn how to tackle this technique! Luckily, Vicki is a great teacher and happened to have some wonderful tutorials on English Paper Piecing right on our website so I didn’t have to go too far to learn.
Around that time, I was still on the lookout for fun and easy projects that I could make as Christmas gifts for friends and relatives. I came across Elizabeth Hartman’s “hexie pillow” project inspired by Tacha Bruecher's Hexa-go-go book and knew I had to make one as well. Now that Vicki unknowingly taught me how to EPP and I had a project in mind, I was ready to get started. I already had a pillow form, so I gathered the necessary measurements and started planning out my project on the computer. By doing this, I was able to figure out how many hexagons I would need from the start. I made my own hexagon templates and printed out a bunch on regular printer paper (I’m sure something stiffer like cardstock would have been nice, but I managed just fine with the text weight paper) and spent some time cutting all of them out. You can also purchase pre-made paper pieces which would expedite the process and get you straight to the fun part.
I had a Bookish stack that was aching to be turned into hexagons and some Christmas movies that needed to be watched. I spent quite a while assembling the hexagons, but it was rather simple and a great “in front of the TV” project. I made my first attempts at fussy-cutting and found the Bookish focal to have countless options. Once I reached the point of having enough hexagons for my pillow, I laid them all out on the floor to arrange them in an order I liked. This proved to be much more challenging than I expected, mainly because my cat insisted on "helping." It went a lot smoother once I was able to arrange in a cat-free area. I noticed that a lot of people make the hexagon “flowers” when they’re doing a project, but I found it easier to keep track of them if I did them in rows (and then labeled them so I didn’t have to redo this part 5 times!).
Because I had so many colors going on throughout the hexagons, I went ahead and used invisible nylon thread so it wouldn’t show up on any of my seams later on. In the beginning I was very slow at whipstitching and putting together the rows, but eventually got a lot faster. After I finished, I left the assembled top on my sewing table for a few days because I was really nervous about trimming it up and moving on to sewing it to the backing fabric. Eventually I bit the bullet and was really glad I did; the final results were so great to see after working on this for so long.
It might be a few months after Christmas, but I am happy to be done with it and really like the end product. I’m sure my aunt will enjoy getting a surprise gift in the mail now just as much as she would have in December… I hope at least! In the meantime, I've got my eye out for a new English Paper Piecing project to start!
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