Monday, May 18, 2020

English Paper Piecing Week, Day One

Welcome to English Paper Piecing Week. EPP for short. Here is my model showing off a Grandmother's Flower Garden (GFG) block made with 1" hexagons. The block is made with 7 hexagons: one center (green) and 6 "orbits" (pink print).

3 Sizes of Hexagons
The large green single hexagon is a whopping 3" and is a perfect backdrop for the orange and brown GFG made with 3/4" hexagons.

I like to show my students how size really matters. The center blue/yellow GFG block is 3/4". The pink one is made from 1" hexagons. The red daisy print is made from 1-1/2" hexagons (I'm missing one made with 1-1/4" hexagons). The blue and black is 1-3/4" and the one on the bottom is made from 2" hexagons.

Stack of increasing size Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks
It all depends on the size of the papers.

What do I mean by "papers"? This is a sample of my various papers. The little ones at the bottom without a ring are 1". The size is based on the measurement along one side from point to point. You can also see some 1-1/2" papers (marked on the left) and the tinier ones at the top which are 3/4". And there are diamonds and jewels, too. I will talk about those this later in the week.

Various sizes of papers. Hole is punched in center for pinning and easy removal. Also, those rings keep them together!
I do NOT stitch through the papers (which is the traditional way). I stitch through the fabric folds on each corner. Then, my basting remains and also I can easily remove the papers. What does that look like?

GFG block with papers removed. See how everything stays nice and neat!

My students get discouraged when their work isn't as neat as mine. (That's why you take a class, right? To learn?). I love to show them some of my very first blocks. They relax after seeing these! Irregular, big chicken stitches!

First stitches up close
And here I've appliquéd it to a background square. Now all those wonky stitches are hidden! This is a fun way to showcase a single block.

Large GFG block using 1" hexagon papers
This is another block made using the same fabrics, but this time I centered it in a Fair Play block (vintage name). Yes, I pieced those curves. I have been working on these blocks for about 10 years. It's time for me to finish them, right? They measure 15" and I have 9 of them!

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I used to cut squares/rectangles for easy fabric prep. Then I pinned, folded and trimmed. Now I precut hexagons using my triangle ruler. I've shown that before, but if you're a beginner, this is the quickest (and easiest way to start). I make sure I have NOT 1/4" but 3/8" all around. It makes for less struggling to wrap the fabric around the paper.

3 easy steps
Last year I shared how to cut fabric into hexagons using a 60 degree triangle ruler. Go check it out! There are some formulas there and I think you'll like what you see. Here's a teaser:

Two cuts and it's a fabric hexagon that doesn't need trimming after it's stitched!
This is a triple round using 3/4" hexagons. Note that I haven't trimmed the hexagons yet. (Too bad I didn't use my method above!)

All stitched and ready to trim
Trimmed. Ready to remove the papers. I wish I had punched holes in ALL the papers. It makes it so easy to take them out. I use the tip of a retracted pen or pencil.
Trimmed, leaving seam allowance. Now it's time to remove the papers.
Paper removed. Getting ready to appliqué to background hexagon.
Here is a set of blocks using some sweet printed fabrics. They are on their way to a quilt. They will be appliquéd to hexagon backgrounds. 
More lovely GFG blocks on their way to a sweet quilt.
Here are several from another coordinating fabric collection with some gold flecks:

Several GFG blocks
And the quilt I put them into. I appliquéd the GFG blocks to the hexagons and then alternated them with colored triangles. No y-seams. This is my new "go to" way to use my GFG blocks.
Blocks on background hexagons with alternating triangles. All straight seam sewing
I set some other blocks on point in Spring Bloomers. This was published in 2008. You can find the pattern in my Etsy store.
Spring Bloomers, 2008
 I put the first blocks I ever made into this and it was published in my first book. Both of these use squares for their background. Very easy!
Mini Grandma's Garden, from Bold, Black and Beautiful, 2004
I also put a few of the blocks on the front of little CD bags. Do you remember what a CD is? This was  LONG TIME ago! The pattern for these bags is BUNDLED with the Mini Garden quilt above.

Little bags (which I've given to my granddaughter)
 Ha! Does anyone remember what a CD is?

I also took a single block and made it into a Needle Case. You can see a variety of shots of the inside "pages" if you click that link. If you do a lot of hand work, this type of carry-along is a must. Pockets, pages of batting, and the block on the front is the twin of the block at the top of this page.

Single GFG block on the front of a needle case
OK. I'm sure your eyes have rolled into the back of your head by now. And I bet you're thinking: there is no way she has MORE projects. Think again! Remember, I've been a quilting teacher for a few decades and I love having samples for my students to check out. This is just the beginning of HEXAGONS. I still have triangles, diamonds, pentagons, jewels . . .

See you tomorrow for Day Two of EPP week. I'm giving a teaser EPP block and then sharing a new awesome fabric line by Amanda Murphy.


  1. Thanks great instructions and fabrics...very inspirational.

  2. I remember CDs. I still have a lot of them. Logically, I understand the size increases in the hexagons. However, visually seeing the comparisons makes a world of difference. Thanks for showing us the difference.


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