EPP Is Not For Me!

I have tried to like EPP (English Paper Piecing), truly I have!! I’ve given it a go on several occasions, but I’m here to admit – I Really Don’t Like It!! Messing about with glue sticks, all those interminable whip stitches, trying to get the papers out…..I confess, I can’t be bothered with the triple handling and much prefer to hand piece my hexagons as I usually hand piece. However, I do like the finished look of EPP for those pieces that are to be appliquéd into place. This, then, is a dilemma – how to get the finished edge, without doing EPP?

After much mulling and thinking, I do believe I’ve come up with an alternative, which I’m hereby calling MPP – Meredithe’s Piecing Procedure!! So for those of you who also don’t enjoy EPP – and I know you’re out there!! – here’s an option.

You’ll still need to get hold of a packet of papers – I’m using the Sue Daley ones – and make sure you buy a packet with the acrylic template included. You will also need some paper clips, a mechanical pencil, and your usual sewing requirements.

For those who have never used acrylic templates before, here’s a quick lesson.

Start by tracing around the acrylic template – fussy cutting where desired…

20130708-172646.jpgMake sure you mark the seam junction holes with your pencil too, then join the marks with a line, using the edge of the template as a ruler…

20130708-172756.jpgPin your hexagon into place, matching the seam junctions, and without knotting your thread, take a small stitch, placing the needle in at the first seam junction…

20130708-172931.jpgPull the needle through leaving a tail of thread of about 1/4 inch. Take a second stitch in the same place, then a third in the same place, but before the loop of thread closes over, put the needle through the loop…

20130708-173204.jpgPull the thread in the direction you will be stitching….

20130708-173235.jpgThis gives a nice, flat, secure knot.

Take a series of running stitches along the pencil line on your needle…

20130708-173352.jpgBefore pulling the needle through, turn your work over to ensure the needle is running along the pencil line on the other side. If not, pull the needle out, adjust the fabric and go again.

At the end of the seam, take a last stitch, coming out at the end junction mark…

20130708-173723.jpgAs at the beginning of the seam, take a second stitch in the same place…

20130708-173805.jpg…then a third, putting the needle through the thread loop to form another flat knot…

20130708-173856.jpgAgain, pull the thread in the direction you’ve been stitching to secure the knot…

20130708-173942.jpgLay your piece down and get ready for the next hexagon

20130708-174201.jpgPin the next seam, matching the seam junctions.

20130708-174323.jpg(hint:: I use small appliqué pins and pin into the seam so I can open out the pieces and check that the correct seam is pinned together!)

Start stitching the seam as before, but at the end, as this piece is being set in, do just two stitches at the end…

20130708-174629.jpgPass the needle through the seam junction (yes, the fabrics have changed – the battery ran out on the camera, and I kept stitching while waiting for it to charge!!)

20130708-174807.jpg“Park” the needle in the seam allowance…

20130708-174938.jpg..and twist the next seam into place – bit hard to photograph, but hope you can get the idea…

20130708-175107.jpgPin into place….

20130708-175145.jpgTake a stitch, ensuring the needle goes through the seam junctions…

20130708-175302.jpg…then a second stitch in the same place to secure….

20130708-175340.jpgContinue to the end of the seam and finish as before.

Now for the new technique!!

These pink dot hexagons need to have neat edges for appliquéing into position.

20130708-175603.jpgFor that, hexagon papers and paper clips are required

20130708-175725.jpgOn the wrong side, line a hexagon paper up along the pencil line of the outside edge

20130708-175837.jpgFold the raw edges over…

20130708-175912.jpg…and secure with a paper clip…

20130708-180000.jpgContinue folding and paper clipping all the raw edges…

20130708-180051.jpgOnce that’s done, thread a needle and knot the end of the thread. Remove the first paper clip and take a stitch into the seam allowance only, not through the paper. At each corner, take a stitch

20130708-180318.jpgthen a second stitch to secure

20130708-180358.jpgContine around the edge; the papers may fall out after stitching and those that haven’t are easily removed…

20130708-180509.jpg…and are in perfect condition for re-use!!

And there you have it!

20130708-180603.jpgThe stitching stays in, as it can’t be seen; press if desired; appliqué at your convenience. Me thinks much less fuss!! What do you reckon? Any good? I’ve found it works quite well and will show you the finished product next week. Hope that’s all clear – if you haven’t understood anything, please let me know and I’ll try to help.

Happy stitching

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16 Responses to EPP Is Not For Me!

  1. patchworkrose says:

    Love those gorgeous nails and the gold thimble peeking through 🙂 Like your idea. and will be watching with interest to see your project Have fun Cheers Lynne

  2. Helen F says:

    Nice nails M!!!! – good explanation but I won’t be doing it cause I luuuv my hand piecing templates tooo much!!!

  3. Karen says:

    Lovely – I do it pretty much the same way – I too do not care for EPP. I do use the Inklingo program though a lot of times but other times I use a template and mark my seams as you do. I do have one quilt where I will need to applique some down and I had been giving thought as to how I would do that – your suggestions for the end pieces are much appreciated.

  4. This is like a foreign language to me, withal a fascinating one. Gorgeous colours as usual.

  5. Hi Meredithe, I have hand pieced a hexagon quilt using this method. I started it about 10 years ago, and it is up to about single bed size. I intended making it about queen size so still have a bit to do. I am piecing it in rows of lights and darks using mainly repo fabrics. Its a great way, but I still love over paper. In fact I enjoy both ways.:-)

  6. When you get to the stage of putting the papers in to do the edge, take a paintbrush, dip into your Best Press starch ,paint the seam allowance and fold over the card and press with iron. The edge will stay in place for you to applique down. No extra sewing needed.

  7. Ann says:

    Oh Meredithe, you are so clever. I’ll be trying your method on some hexigons I have waiting to be put together. Thx. X

  8. Excellent tutorial! I have tried using the glue stick method, but don’t like it. I have a master sheet of hexagons, which I simply photocopy when I need more (it is a restful evening job, cutting them out) I have a cardboard template (years old) which I use to mark and cut the fabric. Then I tack the fabric over the papers (because I’ve used thin copy paper, that’s an easy job) then simply stitch them together. Before I take out the papers at the edge, I press them, so that there is a crisp edge ready for applique.
    Love the nails!!

  9. Wow! I am going to try this. I have only done a couple dozen of these hexies and hate the darned papers too! There is that new appliqué paper with fusible on one side that washes away later. Perhaps that would work for the edges? Then once done and ready for appliqueing on you could just touch outer hexies with iron and the piece would stay in place while stitching on the background. No pins needed.

  10. How clever. 🙂
    I am one who loves EPP. But I also love when you fix a problem to suit your desires!!! Great job on that. Have fun now that you have figured out how to make MPP. 😀

  11. Glendacust@gmail.com says:

    U are a clever bunny!!!very clear tutorial
    I’ve done hexes both with or without papers !
    Have to say I find the epp way fabulous for travelling or on-the-go sewing!
    Love your fabrics as usual !!!

  12. thimbleanna says:

    Very clear indeed Meredithe. And very clever. I don’t mind EPP, although I hate having to work so hard to keep my stitches hidden!

  13. treadlemusic says:

    I guess there are ‘pluses’ for EPP but I’m with ya on the paper removal/glue/pressing, etc ‘thing’. I very much like your method! Very clear tute! Thanks!!! Hugs……

  14. Jennifer G says:

    I will have to give your method a try. I haven’t done EPP yet, but I’ve wanted to. I have a pack of those precut hexagons from MODA which work well for this. Great post – love all the detail!

  15. Kim Bastiani says:

    Looks like a great method! Will give it a shot methinks 😉

  16. RC says:

    Have you tried using Inklingo? So much easier. Print directly onto the fabric, including eams allowance, then cut and sew. No templates, no fiddling around marking the seam allowance. Yes, you can fussy cut.

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