English Paper Piecing

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                          English Paper Piecing

English paper piecing, a technique of stabilizing fabric with a paper template, & its a sure way to guarantee accuracy. It is most effective for designs that don't have long straight sides but do have numerous set-in corners. 


English paper piecing is a quilting technique that traces its first noted origins to the 1770s, and became widely popular in England during the early 1800’s.  The earliest known hexagon quilt in the States dates back to 1807, though it is possible that the first hexagon quilt was made even earlier (and just not dated). Godey’s Ladies Book published the first hexagon pattern in 1835; being of British origins, and all things British being considered “elegant”, the technique quickly spread. In the 1800s, paper was a luxury, and women often reused old letters, catalogues, and newspaper articles as the foundation in making their quilts. This method of reuse has actually provided historians with a true glimpse into the day-to-day life of early times, as the paper was often left in the quilts (it served as an extra layer of insulation, and softened over time). Imagine discovering old love letters, recipes, and tincture recipes tucked inside a family heirloom quilt!

The paper piecing technique again found popularity in the States in the 1920’s and 1930’s; as these quilts are often made with small pieces of fabric (often scraps), their affordability increased their popularity during the Great Depression. Today, one of the most popular patterns is the basic hexagon flower, sewn together to create a Grandmother’s Garden. This traditional shape – which has a hexagon at its center and is surrounded by six same-color hexagons, creates the impression of a flower. Multiple flowers, often surrounded by green hexagons (representing the grass and leaves) are then sewn together into one larger quilt.