First Time English Paper Piecing

All Points Patchwork English Paper Piecing

I've been quilting for 18 years. I know this because the first quilt I ever made was for my nephew and he turned 18 last week. In all that time I have never, not even once, tried English Paper Piecing. Long a technique I've admired but never touched. Part of the reason is that the time, the perceived tedium, the end result of the projects made from it.

Until the last few years I was not down with slowing down when it came to sewing. Any kind of handwork is not fast. That's rather the point. And the reason I turned and walked in the opposite direction of anything but hand finishing a binding. Now that I've converted to hand work - applique and stitching - I am ready to face the time it takes to tackle an EPP project.

It's a good thing I can face that now because it is tedious. Well, the prep is. Once you have your pattern pieces and your fabric cut it moves swiftly. That is, it feels like you make progress swiftly. It took me longer to prep 4 blocks than it did to make 1.

And frankly, I had never come across an EPP project I was dying to make. There are absolutely gorgeous projects out there. Stunning examples of workmanship, fabric love, and detail. I am happy to look at those quilts all day long. It doesn't mean I want to make them though. I was waiting until the right quilt idea grabbed me. 

Then it did.

Euroa Tile Floor Inspiration

It is a bit of a cliche to be inspired by a tile floor when you are a quilter, but there it is. On the threshold of a tiny natural foods cafe in a tiny Australian country town. The second I saw it I fell in love. Snapped a pic, and yes, posted it to IG. As we sat - three quilters - for breakfast and debated whether this would be better as an EPP, a foundation paper pieced, or even just a pieced with templates pattern a beautiful crafter back home felt so inspired and made an EPP block. By the time I'd found WiFi again she'd already posted it! That answered the debate for me. 

Fast forward a few months and I decided to tackle it for myself. The idea had never left my head, constantly egging me on. Try it, I double dog dare you! It appealed, beyond the graphic nature, because it wasn't the predictable. I felt like I could improvise with the fabric, having fun while still slowing down. 

So I pulled out Diane Gilleland's incredible book, All Points Patchwork. It is the ultimate resource on EPP. She focuses on technique, answering why you do something a certain way, and setting you up to really do any kind of EPP pattern. I'd read it before and remembered most of the advice, but it was a great resource to pull out to help me prep.

Euroa English Paper Piecing blocks

Two blocks down. I've made some mistakes, for sure. The obvious one is that I didn't reverse the pattern. I drew it out in Illustrator so I could print out the pieces on scrap paper (leftover turkey crafts in this case). Somewhere in Diane's book, because it is there, I missed the note about reversing the pattern. In this case that isn't a big deal, but still. Although, I will probably reverse it if I decide to make an actual quilt. That's just the way I see it in my head.

My first block is quite loose in the whip stitch. Now I know. 

It also won't lay all that flat. I wonder if I stretched things out or if that is normal?

Finally, these are 3'' finished blocks. I chose this size to maximize the number I could fit on a sheet. But oy, that's a bit small. It is going to take a lot to get to where I probably want to go. So I think I will size them up to 4''. Just enough to make a bit of a difference.

Now, I just wonder how I will fit this in to the handwork rotation between needleturn applique and stitching?