Have you ever wanted to try English Paper Piecing (EPP), but you're not sure you want to commit to a whole quilt? This adorable pincushion is a perfect introduction to the addicting world of EPP. Don't say we didn't warn you - hexie addiction is real.
How to make your pincushion:
First, you will need to print out the hexagon templates onto paper - we recommend using card stock. You can find free templates here. We recommend using the 1 or 1.25" template size. You'll need 8 hexies. We like to use a circle paper punch to cut holes in the center of our templates to make removable of the papers at the end easier.
Pin your cut hexagon shapes to a scrap of fabric that is at least 1/4" larger on each side. (We find it's easiest to pin through the center hole, not through the paper itself.) Using the template as a guide, roughly cut around the paper, making sure to leave 1/4" - 1/2" extra fabric around each edge of the hexagon.
Thread baste the fabric around each template: (fold seam allowance over the edge of template, with needle and thread backstitch at each corner to secure as you go around the hexagon, folding and stitching as you go) do not stitch through the card stock. The templates can be re-used!
Once each fabric is secured to it's hexagon, you can play with the layout/design of your pincushion.
When you find a design that you like, you are ready to stitch them together. Using a whip stitch, stitch the hexagons together, into a flower shape (one center, and 6 around the center). At this point, you will have stitched all the way around the center hexagon, and you can now remove it’s paper - a chopstick works great for this. Insert chopstick in the hole and pop out the paper. You can stitch the 8th hexagon to any of the 6 hexagons available now, or save the 8th until the end. In the photo below, we have stitched it on at this stage.
After you stitch a petal to each side of the center hexagon (see photo above), you can stitch the hexagons to each other at their sides (right sides together). See photo below.
Next, bend the outer hexagons in half so that you can stitch the remaining sides together. It is normal to have to bend the paper - this step gets a little unruly, but you can do it. You can see the bending in the photo below.
Now you have a hexagon space to fill with the last hexagon. Attach one side of the last hexagon (or maybe you already stitched it on as we described earlier). Remove all the papers, finger press down any seam allowances that have not been stitched together yet and turn right side out. Fill with walnut shell or rice to give it some heft. Walnut shell can have a tendency to "leak" so we also like to make a muslin pouch of it before stuffing it. A tiny bit of poly fiber stuffing in the corners helps define the points. Once stuffed to your satisfaction, whipstitch or ladder stitch the opening closed. Voila, you are done!
Need a little more help or something clarified? We have a talented teacher, Carolyn Weil, who helps at our Handwork Meetup. She LOVES English paper piecing, and can also help you finish your project. The meetup is only $5 or free for members, every First Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30pm. Join us, it's always a fun time!
We also occasionally have EPP and other hand quilting classes at the studio, so make sure to check our class listings for more advanced methods!
*The book in the first photo is Diane Gilleland's fabulous book, All Point Patchwork.