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The Origin Of English Paper Piecing & Why It Is For You

April 22, 2019

By Kitka Neyedli, Stitchery quilting and sewing instructor and guest blogger.
If you are looking for a portable, meditative activity to keep your hands busy and your mind relaxed, then English Paper Piecing might be just your thing! 
English Paper Piecing (or EPP for short) is a fun method of hand sewing small scraps of fabric together to create a multitude of patterns. This old quilting technique became popular in England (hence the name) in the 1800’s and is enjoying popularity again in present day. It’s easy to see why.
The process is still the same where fabric is cut into geometric shapes, wrapped around papers and then hand stitched together. Originally, since plain paper was a relatively expensive commodity, the papers used were re-purposed from what was available including scraps torn from old letters, newspapers and catalogues. All that was needed was fabric, paper, scissors and a needle and thread. Not much has changed with the EPP technique of today, except for modern fabrics and some new handy notions.
 Many people find it a wonderful form of quilting they can take with them and work on in short bursts of time. Supplies are small and lightweight and can be stashed anywhere from a pocket inside a handbag – perhaps to work on while waiting in a long line-up – or in the glovebox of the car for something to have on hand as a passenger.
We can unplug from our electronic-obsessed world and work simply with our hands and create something beautiful. The simple act of taking needle and thread to make rows of stitches can be meditative and melt modern-day stress one stitch at a time. It can be an environment and fashion win too – perhaps by attaching a cute EPP’d hexagon onto a worn-out pair of jeans you can turn a garment destined for the landfill into a newly re-furbished treasure. 
One of the most popular EPP shapes is the hexagon (like the one pictured here with the little mouse) but there really is no limit to the shapes and patterns one can create. Perhaps my favorite aspect of EPP is the fussy cutting possibilities. Fussy cutting is a technique of finding, cutting and stitching very specific areas of a printed fabric to isolate and highlight it, or to create entirely new geometric patterns like turning stripes into a spider web or partial ellipses into a full circle. 
What are your favorite aspects of EPP?

-Kitka Neyedli ​​

Kitka Neyedli is a quilting and sewing instructor at The Stitchery in Port Moody, BC. She can be found on Instagram @madebykitka.
If you are interested in learning more about EPP, visit The Stitchery for inspiration, supplies and classes.

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