In this tutorial you'll learn time saving tips for English Paper Piecing (EPP). Anna shows us how to make this whimsy curtain in half the time with double the beauty. You can use this technique on any EPP project you have.
I have been thinking about how to make this hexagon window drape ever since I discovered Yoshiko Jinzenji’s book Quilting: Line and Color. I LOVE this book! The Traditional method of hexagon piecing is English Paper Piecing (or EPP) which is really fun except for all the cutting, wrapping, basting and slip stitching all those little pieces together, and then taking out the basting…that’s a lot of work! Therein lies the reason this method is more often admired than implemented! The white linen and delicate fabrics were hand pieced without this traditional EPP method, something that I found impossible before I discovered Terial Magic.
Intro: A beautiful challenge
This tutorial is going to concentrate on the more challenging techniques used to make this project. For our purposes we are going to make a small curtain.
This piece is essentially a small quilt without the quilt patten. It also has a narrow sleeve at the top and bottom and is backed with a sheer fabric so that the light comes through the fabrics to emphasizes the beautiful geometry of the hexagons.
Step one: Simplify with Terial Magic
Treat all fabrics with Terial Magic by following the easy instructions 1) Saturate 2) Hang until damp 3) Iron to dry and smooth.
Once treated the fabric becomes smooth and paper-like. Once treated I cut my hexagons and arranged them like a puzzle. The center medallion uses a small size hexagon but I would suggest starting with a larger size. (one inch finished sides or larger).
Great News! Terial Magic treats your fabrics so you can cut out your Hexxies using a die cut machine like Sizzix die cut machine. Mine is on order so I cut mine using a rotary cutter and mat. I then VERY carefully, pencil a line that is the actual finish size of your hexagon, using a precut template or a paper piece that is precision cut.
Step two: A few thread counts at a time
Your pencil line is your sewing line and the trick to getting your work to lie flat without any puckers is to sew precisely on your pencil lines by lining up both pieces with pins that match each corner exactly!
You will get this technique down with practice, it is just a matter of moving the pin a few thread counts either way sometimes but it will save you lots of headaches.
Keep adding all the hexagons in a row before moving on.
Sewing the completed rows together saves lots of time as you do much less tying off and restarting or re-threading your needle.
I use a quilters piecing stitch which is a running stitch combined with a back stitch every two to three stitches.
Step three: Sewing rows together
The next step is sewing the rows together. Lay out your completed rows and re-check the line up.
Each row is offset from the next by one half hexagon so that the “puzzle” fits together. It is easy to misalign your rows and have to pick out stitches and start over. (Tears and tears may result if this happens, breath, your final product will make you smile!)
When you get to the “corners” of the Hexagons you have three pieces that meet. In order to negotiate this you must line up all three corner points and take your needle from one joined hexagon to the EXACT point on the other side of the seam and then into the corner of the row that is being joined. We’ll call this the pivot point.
Take the thread through the pivot point and then continue sewing the next hexagon in the row to the second half of the hexagon of the new row, the one with the pivot point. It sounds confusing but is much more obvious when you are piecing. Practice is key.
Step four: Press the rows as you go
Press the rows as you go. This is more important than you may think. Terial Magic helps the seams retain their pressed position and alleviates the mess of frayed, wonky seams. Look how beautiful the back of your work can be!
Step five: Step outside your comfort zone
Don’t be afraid to cut up your pieced hexagons to join borders and other background fabrics.
This is a labor intensive technique so it may be more approachable if you use hexagons as a feature in a larger project or a small feature such as the bag above.
I hope this inspires you to step outside your comfort zone and experiment with different fabrics and methods. Hand piecing is relaxing and portable and so very beautiful, and so much easier with Terial Magic, it saves so much time and makes for very clean crisp hexi’s. Have Fun!