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How to English Paper Piece to Create a Heart

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If you’re like me, you love to sew. And if you’re like me, you also love a challenge. That’s why I decided to take on the English Paper Piecing technique – to create a heart patchwork design.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – this is going to be hard. But trust me, it’s not as difficult as it looks. And once you get the hang of it, it’s quite fun! So read on for my step-by-step guide to English Paper Piecing… and let’s get started!

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Download your Jewel EPP Template

Download your Jewel English paper piecing templates here and follow along with this quilting tutorial.

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What is English paper piecing (EPP)?

English Paper Piecing has been around since the 1700s, which is well before anyone dreamed of pressing a button to stitch two pieces of fabric together! English Paper Piecing is no ordinary craft—it requires true skill and careful attention to detail. Basically, it involves manipulating tiny fabric-wrapped paper pieces into intricate shapes and designs. After constructing the shapes, they are joined using hand stitching. English Paper Piecing is a time-consuming craft that requires patience, but the final result is worth it—a unique and beautiful piece of art!

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How to create a heart using EPP

English paper piecing (EPP) is a beautiful yet whimsical quilting technique that creates intricate designs from geometric shapes. It may look difficult but crafting a heart shape with EPP is surprisingly easy. All you need are some fabric scraps, cardstock (leftover Christmas cards are great to re-purpose), fabric starch (or Best Press), and a needle and thread. Pick out several colors for the heart and get creative! Start by cutting small jewels from the template, then baste them over the form using glue or thread basting. You can mix different colors or find an interesting pattern – it’s all up to you! In just a few steps you can have a stunning heart that will stand out in any quilt or make a sweet DIY gift for someone special. Now that’s what we call heart-y goodness! Here are the exact step by step processes to guide you if you have never done English paper Piecing before.

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1.1   Print and cut out the EPP pieces from card stock or the Pellon Print-Stitch-Dissolve paper.

1.2 Fussy cut (select a particular design on the fabric) the jewel pieces, leaving a 1/4” seam allowance around the paper.

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TOP TIP: You can purchase acrylic templates in standard sizes that have the 1/4” seam allowances built in, making cutting much faster.

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Step 2.  Basting


2.1 This is the traditional method for EPP. To make it a lot easier on you, we suggest painting the edges of the fabric with liquid starch (or starch alternative such as Best Press) to really hold it’s shape after pressing. Be sure to ONLY get the starch on the fabric and not on the card stock pieces as this will affect how crisp your edges press if the card stock gets wet.

2.2 Begin by pressing the top of the jewel shape down with the iron against the card stock shape. Next, moving in a clockwise fashion, press each side down.

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2.3 Using a hand needle and a single layer of thread with a knot on the end, flip the EPP form to the back side (where you can see the paper). Place the needle and thread into the fabric and make a stitch joining two sides together (working in the same way you pressed the fabric down).
2.4 Move to the next corner and make a single stitch between those two corners. Repeat this process until you reach the final corner.
2.5 On the final corner, make a second stitch in the same place (back stitch) to secure your thread. Clip the thread.

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2.6 This is the modern form of basting (and goes MUCH faster). You can use a regular white glue stick, or the speciality glue sticks for EPP which are much narrower (making for a less messy process but more expensive than buying the cheaper, thicker glue sticks).

2.7 No prep needed for this, just place the glue (only on the fabric NOT on the cardstock) along the perimeter of the fabric starting at the top and pressing that side down and then moving on to the next side (just as we did when pressing for the thread basting).

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TOP TIP: You can leave it basted just with the glue or give it a press as you fold for an extra crisp edge and the heat acts to set the glue.

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Step 3.  Piecing

3.1 Arrange how you would like your jewel hearts to be arranged and where you are adding in the diamond pieces.

3.2 Place the two pieces that you are piecing together right sides together (RST) along the seam that you need to stitch. Hold together tightly (or use SewTites to hold them together). Barry your thread knot in one of the side seams (within the seam allowance) and make your first stitch at the corner of the seam. You want to just barely catch a few threads on either side of the fabric and DO NOT stitch through the paper.

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3.3 After the first stitch, make another stitch in the exact same spot, but this time, pull your thread through the loop before pulling the thread tight, securing a knot at the start of your seam.

3.4 Place your next stitch about 2mm away from the first and continue to stitch through both pieces along the edge until you reach the end of the seam.

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3.5 Once at the end of the seam, stitch your final stitch. Then, just as you did for the start of the seam, make a second stitch in the same place pulling the thread through the loop to create a knot. Do this at every STOP and START of every seam.

You can make wonderful designs, such as this pretty heart applique (included in the pattern download).

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Download your FREE jewel templates (.PDF to print then cut and .SVG for your Cricut) and the tutorial by signing up for our newsletter and receive the coupon code for free to download.


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Tips for successful EPP

If you’re wondering how to make your EPP (English paper piecing) projects successful, here are a few tips to get you through. Firstly, patience is key! Whether you’re hand sewing or using a machine, time and effort has to be taken in order for the project to be done correctly. You don’t have to rush and thus, mistakes can be avoided. Secondly, how-to tutorials can help those who are new in hand sewing or the EPP technique itself (we have a video here). A little research will take you far! Lastly, practice makes perfect: use scrap fabric or old clothing items when practising skills like how to hand sew. The more you do it, the better you get at it! See how these tips will propel your project into success and craftiness!

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Materials needed for EPP

Crafting with sewing materials has never been more fun that with English Paper Piecing (EPP). To get you started on your own EPP projects, here are some basic items you’ll need: fabric, sewing needles, needle threaders, sewing thread, rotary cutters/mat & rulers, glue, and a thimble, and of course, the papers (which is the quintessential tool for paper piecing and where it got its name). There are myriad tools available to choose from when embarking on an EPP adventure – so go wild (from skinny specialty glue sticks to magnetic clips to hold your pieces together while you sew, though both of these are not required – it just helps things along the way)! Make sure to pick enough of each item depending on the size and scale of the project you’re planning. With the sewing basics you have, it won’t be too long before stitches appear, and your masterpiece is finished. So, grab some sewing materials for EPP today, and start enjoying the incredible art form that is English Paper Piecing!

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Patterns for other shapes besides a heart

English Paper Piecing has been popular for centuries, but have you ever thought to use English Paper Piecing to create patterns for shapes other than hearts? Well, the hexagon (or hexies, as they are commonly referred to) have been the original shape for EPP. Nowadays, English Paper Piecing tutorials can help you to create patchwork quilts using a wide variety of shapes – from diamonds, hexies, squares, triangles, to Dresdens. With English Paper Piecing, there is literally no limit to the creative possibilities that you can explore! Imagine being able to make quilts for your own home or special gifts for friends and family featuring a stunning array of vibrant colors and intricate shapes. English Paper Piecing truly opens a world of wonderful projects you never realized were possible.

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Where to find more information about EPP

Looking for EPP templates? You’ve come to the right place we offer a number of free templates here at Sheer Stitchery! EPP has made it easy to access all the information you need, whether you’re a first-time English Paper Piecing student or a seasoned expert in the art of EPP. With detailed instructions. YouTube and TikTok are great places to check out detailed instruction on English paper Piecing and Instagram and Pinterest are great for seeing what a finished block or quilt might look like. Plus, with dozens of EPP templates available, it’s easier than ever to find the perfect template for your project. Start exploring EPP today and make your project dreams a reality! #EPP

Now that you know all about English paper piecing, it’s time to try it out for yourself! I’ve created a free jewel EPP template for you to download and get started. Once you create your first heart, you can move on to trying other shapes like diamonds, triangles, Hexagons, and more. EPP is a fun and addicting way to sew, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. If you have any questions or need more inspiration, there are lots of great resources out there including books, blogs, YouTube tutorials, and more on our socials and if you get stuck feel free to message us. Happy sewing!

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