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English Paper Piecing Tutorial: Fussy Cut Hexagons

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

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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

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 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

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

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

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

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