Pink Castle Blog

English Paper Piecing Pattern: La Passacaglia

Posted by Katie Remski on Jun 24, 2017 9:45:00 AM

Welcome to the last day of EPP Week! today, we're talking about  maybe one of the most impressive examples of English Paper Piecing-- the La Passacaglia quilt. The pattern is from Millefiori Quilts by Willyne Hammerstein, and has a corresponding pack of paper pieces. Here, I've rounded up some La Passacaglia quilts in progress from Instagram so you can see how amazing they look at each stage. 

La Passacaglia made by Karen Pabst (Instagram: @kpabst) While the quilt may seem intimidating, it's made up from simple shapes-- triangles, pentagons, diamonds, etc. The La Passacaglia growns just like any other quilt, one piece at a time-- granted, in this case, the individual pieces reach a count of almost 3,000. Yes, you definitely want the precut paper pieces. 

The quilt is made up of individual medallions that have a "bite" taken out of them where they attach to each other, as seen in the image on the left. Each piece is a prime target for fussy cutting, and the shapes make the prints look even more interesting and dynamic. 

A Halloween-inspired La Passacaglia Medallion from Karen Pabst Instagram @kpabst



With the medallions varying in size, the quilt has a rich, busy(in a good way!) feel, and lets you use scraps or small cuts of fabric. You could probably make a good dent in your stash with this pattern! That said, if you plan on fussy cutting a certain motif, remember you might need 9 or 10+ of the same one in order to complete the medallion, so having enough of those prints is essential.

La Passacaglia in progress by @michellesmakings on Instagram
@michellesmakings on Instagram


@crafterbynight on Instagram Really, this quilt is a labor of love, a project to be worked on when you feel like you need a little handstitching. Sometimes the best projects are the ones that take a while to complete, that you have fun picking up from time to time. Even if it takes a few years, you'll only love the finished product even more. 


@crafterbynight Instagram

Cotton+Steel Wonderland medallion and La Passacaglia Quilt in progress, both by Ashley, Instagram @crafterbynight

Buy the La Passacaglia Kit Now! 

Well, that's all for EPP Week- I hope you feel confident and excited to start English Paper Piecing! 

All posts for EPP Week:

1. Supplies

2. Basic Hexagons

3. Fussy Cut Hexagons

4. Tula Nova

5. La Passacaglia 

Get English Paper Piecing Supplies!


Topics: English Paper Piecing, Paper Piecing, Techniques, Quilting

English Paper Piecing Pattern: Tula Nova Quilt

Posted by Katie Remski on Jun 23, 2017 9:59:25 AM

EPP Week

For this chapter of EPP week, we have an introduction to a brand-new pattern: the Tula Nova quilt by Tula Pink! 

Tula Nova Quilt

Image: Instagram @tulapink 

Tula Nova is the latest quilt pattern from Tula Pink and Free Spirit Fabrics, featuring Tula's upcoming line Spirit Animal. After its debut at Spring 2017 Quilt Market in St. Louis, we couldn't wait to get our hands on the pattern! A single round medallion centered on a plain background finishing at about 56" square size, Tula Nova is undoubtedly impressive but still achieveable. 

Up close of the Tula Nova quilt

Tula Nova is composed of 7 shapes, none of them difficult or unusual-- triangles, pentagons, and rhombuses. These shapes combine to make bold stars that stand out beautifully.

The pattern includes all 520 paper pieces (yay!) and optional transparent, hot pink acrylic templates can be bought seperately for easy fussy cutting. The templates even come in a sturdy snap-to-close plastic box so you can stay organized. Use along with your other favorite EPP supplies-- glue pen for basting, applique needles, Aurifil 50wt thread, etc. 


Tula Nova Templates templates           


The Tula Nova pattern and acrylic templates are now available in store and online. If you're planning on making one of these beauties, make sure to tag us @pinkcastlefabrics with #tulanova so we can see your makes! 

 Click here to buy Tula Nova 


Previous posts for EPP Week:

Day 1: Supplies for EPP

Day 2: Hexagons Tutorial

Day 3: Fussy Cut Hexagons

 Get English Paper Piecing Supplies!


Topics: English Paper Piecing, quilt patterns, Paper Piecing, epp, tula pink, tula nova, free spirit, Techniques, Quilting

English Paper Piecing Tutorial: Fussy Cut Hexagons

Posted by Katie Remski on Jun 22, 2017 9:51:16 AM


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! 

English Paper Piecing Tutorial: Fussy Cut Hexagons

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. 


supplies for fussy cutting hexagons

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.  

Step 1 

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. 

fussy cut finder


Step 2

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. 

tracing with the fussy cut finder

All traced!

Step 3

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. 

1" hexagon template

1" hexagon template tracing

Step 4

Cut around the hexagon on the outermost traced line. 

cutting out the hexagon

Step 5

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. 

Placing the paper pieceFinished fussy cut hexagon

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:

Day 1: Supplies

Day 2: Hexagon Tutorial

Get English Paper Piecing Supplies!


Topics: English Paper Piecing, Paper Piecing, hexagons, hand sewing, sewline, fussy cutting, Techniques, Quilting

English Paper Piecing Hexagons Tutorial

Posted by Katie Remski on Jun 21, 2017 12:15:36 PM
EPP Week at Pink Castle Fabrics


For EPP Week day 2, we have an English Paper Piecing hexagons tutorial! Hexagons are the most popular shape for English Paper Piecing, so let's start by talking about what a hexagon is.

What is a hexagon? 

1" Hexagon

 A hexagon is a polygon with 6 sides that are all equal in length. Hexagons are measured by how long each side is-- a 1" hexagon, for example, has 1" sides. The radius of a hexagon is always twice the length of the side-- a hexagon with 1" sides has a 2" radius, measured from point to point. 


Hexagons fit together to make a honeycomb-like pattern, which requires using "Y" shaped seams. This is part of the reason hexagons are usually English paper pieced instead of sewn on a machine-- it's much easier to be precise and sew neat intersections by hand. 

Hexagon Diagram


English Paper Piecing Hexagons 

You'll need:

To see a complete list of supplies and accessories for EPP, click here for yesterday's post

step 1: tracing and cutting 

Hexie Template Cut Hexagon


Start with flat, ironed fabric. Lay template over fabric and trace all around the outside edge with a fabric pen or pencil. Whether you trace the lines onto the right or wrong side of the fabric is up to you-- sometimes the ink shows up better on the paler reverse side, or you want to fussy cut a motif (more on that coming later this week) so either side is fine based on your preference. Cut out hexagon on the traced line. 


Step 2: Basting 

This is the key step in EPP-- forming the fabric around the paper shape. There are 2 different ways people baste EPP shapes togther, one being with stitches and the other being with glue. There are pros and cons to both technique, and it all boils down to your personal preference which one you use. Here, we'll discuss the first method, thread basting. 

Thread Basting Method: 

Thread Basting Hexagons Thread Basting Hexagons


Lay paper piece down in the center of the cut hexagon, right side of fabric down. Thread needle; you can use the thread doubled or single strand. Knot one end. Fold fabric down on 2 sides of the hexagon and use Wonder Clip to hold the corner in place. Make two small stitches right on the corner, going only through the fabric (don't sew through the paper.) Pull snugly; fold down the next corner of fabric and move Wonder Clip to hold it in place, then make a small stitch in this corner. Keep going like this until you've come back to the first stitch where you began. Slip needle under the first stitch you made and secure with a small knot. Cut thread, and you're done!

Thread Basting Hexagons Thread Basting Hexagons


Glue Basting Method: 

Glue basting hexagons Glue basting hexagons

Lightly dab glue onto corners of fabric, then fold down. Repeat all the way around the hexagon, gluing at each corner, until all edges are flatly secured around the perimeter. Add more dabs of glue as needed to secure. It's totally ok if glue sticks to both paper and fabric--it will remove easily later. 

Glue basting hexagons Glue basting hexagons


Once you've got all your hexagons basted, it's time to sew them together!

Step 3: Sewing 2 Hexagons Together 

sewing 2 hexagons together sewing 2 hexagons together

Grab 2 basted hexagons. With right sides together and wrong sides (the side with the paper showing) facing out and papers still in place, use a clip to hold hexagons together, lining up sides. Thread needle and knot one end, but don't double the thread-- it would make it too thick and more likely to show. Use a whip stitch to sew the edges of one side together, being careful to sew only the fabric edges and not through the paper. At the end of the edge, tie off thread and snip it, leaving a very short tail. Remove clip and open piece to see your hexies!

You can add a third hexagon by sewing a basted one onto one of the 2 hexagons, then folding the piece so you can sew the other side to the second hexagon. 

Check back tomorrow for another great post in our English Paper piecing series!

Get English Paper Piecing Supplies!


Topics: English Paper Piecing, hand sewing, epp, Techniques, Quilting

English Paper Piecing Supplies to Get Started

Posted by Katie Remski on Jun 19, 2017 4:56:49 PM


EPP Week at Pink Castle Fabrics

Welcome to EPP Week day 1, the begining of a series of posts all about English Paper Piecing! Today, we're going to start with the basics-- the English Paper Piecing supplies you'll need to get started, plus a few extra supplies to make the process more fun.

The Basics 

1" Hexagon Paper Pieces

Precut Paper Pieces

The idea of English Paper Piecing is you are covering a paper shape with fabric, sewing the shapes together, then removing the fabric while the fabric shape stays intact. Hexagons are arguably the most popular shape, but others include diamonds, triangles, squares, pentagons, trapezoids, and other geometric shapes. You can buy packs of precut paper hexies for only a few dollars, and if you're careful, they can be reused once or twice. The benefit of precut packs is each piece will be consistently the same size, making accurate sewing easy. Our favorite are 1" hexagons, which means each of the 6 sides is 1" long. 

1" Hexagon Template

Hexagon Cutting Template

While you can freehand cut fabric roughly larger than your paper piece (or use mini charms,) a template the size of your paper piece with an added seam allowance lets you cut your fabric with the least amount of waste. The added seam allowance also insures your fabric cut will be big enough to fit around your paper piece, with a tidy reverse side that will allow the finished project to lie nice and flat. 

Tula Pink 6" Straight Scissors

Fabric Scissors

While this may seem like a "duh" entry, the kind of scissors you use can make EPP much easier. Thin, pointy-tipped fabric scissors make cutting clean edges on small pieces a breeze, and is easy to pack in a project bag so you'll always have them handy. We love these Tula Pink 6" Straight Scissors for their durability and general beauty! 

Aurifil 50wt Thread


Whether you want to glue baste or thread baste, you'll need thread for stitching your paper pieces together. Aurifil 50 weight is the perfect thread for EPP because it's thin enough to almost disappear into seams but is still strong. It's a good idea to use thread that generally matches most of your fabrics in tone-- white thread for light fabrics, medium shades for medium fabrics, black or dark gray for dark fabrics. Personally, I use a light-medium fleshy pink just because I enjoy looking at it while I stitch and I mostly use light-medium colored fabrics. 

Applique Needles


For sewing EPP shapes together, applique needles work the best. They're slightly thinner and more flexible than the average sewing needle, making it easier to go through only the fabric and not the paper. These Clover needles are a great balance between the flexibility of applique needles and the ease of regular sharps, but you can also use even thinner milliners needles. 

Wonder Clips Wonder Clips for EPP

Wonder Clips 

These endlessly useful little clips are great to have on hand for a variety of sewing projects, but they make sewing EPP shapes together a snap. Neither piece will budge, allowing you to sew a strong, accurate seam that will be virtually invisible on the right side. 

Sewline Glue PenSewline Glue Pen

Fabric Glue Pen

You'll never meet a sweeter, more forgiving glue-- this light colored, tacky pen allows fabric to stick to itself or the paper directly and never allows ripping, tearing, or peeling. Use little dabs from the glue pen to adhere fabric around the paper piece, and if you want to redo or start over, gently pull fabric apart or off paper piece. The glue will keep the paper piece adhered for as long as it needs to (I've had glue-basted unsewn hexies sit in hiberation for months and they're still stuck together just as well as day 1) but always comes apart easily. It's my favorite form of basting because it's quick, easy to redo if you mess up, and requires no removal after sewing. 


Beyond the Basics

1" Hexagon Fussy Cut Finder

Fussy Cut Finder

Fussy cutting is the process of choosing and cutting a selected motif from a fabric, like a single flower or animal. This finder works in conjunction with the 1" Hexagon template and makes fussy cutting fast, easy, and fun. Stay tuned for a post coming soon on how to use this tool! 

Sewline Styla

Fabric Pen

Perfect for use with EPP templates, this fabric pen has light blue ink with a smooth, rolling ceramic tip. It never drags on the fabric and can be used with the lightest touch-- and it disappears with water! 

Smitten Kit

Template Sets and Patterns

If you come to love EPP, there's some amazing patterns out there (such as Smitten, pictured here.) The patterns often have corresponding paper pieces and templates, plus assembly instructions to make gorgeous, impressive quilts and more. 

Be sure to come back soon for our next post on English Paper Piecing! 

Check out all our EPP supplies here

 Get English Paper Piecing Supplies!


Topics: English Paper Piecing, hexagons, hand sewing, sewline, templates, smitten, Techniques, Quilting

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