One of the most fun things about working with small pieces like 1″ hexagons is they are perfect for featuring just one motif from your favorite fabrics. Where large cuts allows you to see “the whole picture,” a little fussy cut allows one element to shine and really lets you appreciate the artistry of the fabric. Who knew one little bunny could have so much detail? Doesn’t the ship look ready to sail right out of the quilt? The best part is, fussy cutting only takes a little extra time and care, and the payoff is so worth it. This English paper piecing tutorial will walk you through the steps so you can start #workingyourstashoff and savor each print!
First things first: what is fussy cutting? Fussy cutting is the selection of a single motif (a flower, a bird, evenly centered plaid, a single polka dot) and arranging/cutting it to be centered in a particular way on the quilt block or other desired piece.
Which fabrics work best for fussy cutting? Quilting cottons work best because they won’t stretch or shift. Stretching can cause motifs to become un-centered while working.
English paper piecing does not require a lot of supplies, but there are things that make it much easier. Pre-cut 1″ hexagon paper pieces are absolutely essential for a consistent shape that will sew together just right. The 1″ hexagon fussy cut finder allows you to perfectly find and center the exact motif you want on the fabric in the same size as the hexagon, and the template ensures a generous 3/8″ seam allowance for easy basting. You’ll also need a marking tool for tracing the templates onto the fabric, and our favorite is the Sewline Styla. It’s a water-soluble fabric pen with a roller tip and light blue ink that glides over fabric easily and washes out with just a little water. It’s not in the picture, but a fabric pencil would be a great option too.
As always, you’ll also need fabric scissors, and depending on your preferred basting method, needle and thread or a fabric glue pen.
Iron your fabric so it’s nice and flat (if it’s really wrinkly, try a little Flatter or Best Press.) After pressing, lay your fabric flat and right side up on a work surface. Now for the fun part– use the fussy cut finder to find your favorite design! Center it as best you can– the goal is to create a focal point.
Use your preferred marking tool to trace all around the inside perimeter of the fussy cut finder. Don’t worry about the line being visible– if you’re using a fabric pen or pencil (test it on your fabric first!) the line should disappear when you wash the project.
Place the 1″ hexagon template so the inner line of the template is directly over the traced lines on the fabric. Using the same marking tool, trace around the outside of the template.
Cut around the hexagon on the outermost traced line.
Flip cut hexagon over the right side is face down on the work surface. Carefully center hexagon paper piece on the back of fabric. Using either basting stitches or glue pen, baste hexagon around paper piece, shifting fabric as needed to re-center the design.
Now you’re done! In our experience here at Pink Castle, English paper piecing is addictive, especially when you get to showcase a pretty print with fussy cutting!
If you find yourself taking photos of your hexies, make sure to tag us on Instagram @pinkcastlefabrics and make sure to hashtag #englishpaperpiecing so everyone can see your makes!
Previously from EPP Week: