You may know that I have a deep love of hand sewn quilts. English Paper Piecing was the reason I started sewing, even though this skill is done by hand it led to me buying my first sewing machine.
If you have some time on your hands, some cotton fabric and paper then you too can create your own English Paper Pieced quilt. I’m excited to show you all of the quilts I have made over the years, its the first time I have ever documented them all so it’s interesting for me too!
My First Quilt – King Size Diamond
My first quilt was a scrap quilt and it seems to have set the tone for all the others that followed! I love using up the smallest piece of leftover fabric in these quilts, its always a joy to spot that little piece of fabric and remember where it came from. It gives the quilts such life in my eyes.
I started with 1″ hexagons (hexagons are measured across the edge, not across the body of the hexagon), again this is the traditional place to start and is by far my favourite method of EPP. I decided to put a modern slant on the pattern of the quilt and went for a traditional flower shape but with an extra hexagon on the top and bottom, making it into more of a diamond shape.
I sewed the diamonds with the same fabric on the surround and a different fabric to the centre. Once the diamonds were sewn together I would then sew them to the main quilt, my only rule was not to put the same colours together.
My addiction was already starting to show and I just kept sewing this quilt until it was big enough for my King Size bed. I just want to note to you all that this goes against every bit of advice I ever give anyone who’s starting to make hand sewn quilts! The entire thing took me 2 years to sew and it was worth every stitch!
Quilt Number 2 – Colour matching & more of a plan!
For my second hand sewn quilt I felt that I needed to have a plan. I chose a colour pallet, assembled my fabrics and got started.
I decided to work from traditional flowers for this one, but wanted to separate the flowers with a solid colour. I found this amazing raspberry sorbet pink fabric in a local fabric store and decided to use that. As the quilt evolved and grew I realised I need more of my background colour but there I discovered my problem! The shop I had bought it from no longer had any of that shade left and couldn’t get it in store again!! DISASTER!
In the end, I added more of my flower fabrics to the edge making it longer and a more useable shape. The design isn’t straight but I really didn’t care, I just wanted to finish it. It’s completely unique and a testament that you can still make it work however it ends up!
The lesson in this quilt is always to overestimate how much fabric you might need, the worst thing is to run out! Since then I have found that there are EPP Quilt fabric calculators you can use online, here is one from CD Designs.
Quilt 3 – Trying Different Shapes
I started preparing this quilt before a big European family holiday a few years ago. I know it sounds a bit mad to take quilting on holiday, but we had planned lots of travelling so I wanted to take my sewing with me.
This time I wanted to experiment with different shapes and I chose a straight-edged diamond shape with square centers to work with. This is a nice shape to work with, but you do end up with little ‘ears’ at the top of the points. These are hidden once the diamonds are sewn together.
They are joined together with squares which I chose to change the color as the quilt progressed. I also chose to tie the quilt with the matching color to the square. It was really lovely to sew this quilt, it really made a change to sew with a different shape. I hope you like it as much as I do.
Quilt 4 – Rachel’s Quilt
This was my first attempt at sewing smaller hexagons. I loved the idea of tiny little hexies all sewn together, but sewist beware!, smaller hexies mean the quilt takes a lot longer!!
I found these matching fat quarters at a sewing show and just knew it had to be a quilt. I used 3/4″ hexies and started sewing them randomly. As the quilt grew I fell in love with it even more, as did my beloved bestie Rachel! Every time I showed her how it was coming along she said she couldn’t wait for it to be finished when I could gift it to her! She is so cheeky!
A month or so before it was finished I began to think that it really was Rachel’s, and as it happens a month later it was her 40th birthday. I scrambled for a month to get it finished in time and there was a few late nights but I managed it.
Rachel was completely shocked by her gift and I am so pleased that I gave it to her in the end. It really is beautiful and it is one of the best hand sewn quilts I have ever made.
Quilt 5 – Another Scrappy Quilt
When my scraps get out of control that usually means another scrap quilt needs to be made! This one is another 1″ EPP quilt and is made completely randomly, just avoiding putting the same print next to each other.
This one again took about 1.5-2 years and is my biggest so far. It was only finished a month or two ago so its currently wrapped up waiting for the colder months to arrive. I can’t wait to get it on the bed!
With this quilt I filmed the finishing process for you guys, so if you want to see this one on film then check out the Youtube video (linked below).
Quilt 6 – Rainbow 3/4″ Quilt
My latest quilt is another planned one. Over the years I have collected lots of solid colour cotton fabrics and I had an urge to make a rainbow hexie quilt with these lovely colours.
I also wanted to use the small 3/4″ hexagons again, after enjoying the process so much with Rachel’s quilt. I have a feeling that this one will be another large one. At the moment I’m so early into the process I’m not really thinking about size yet, I’m just enjoying making those hexes!
Want to make your own?
So, if I have tempted you to start to hand sew quilts don’t worry, I can help you get started!
I filmed a tutorial some years ago showing you how to start hand sewing EPP quilts. I get so thrilled when people send me pictures of their first EPP hexies and flowers, so make sure to share your first makes with me.
Once your quilt is finished you will need to quilt and back it. I have recently filmed a tutorial showing you how to do this, so there is no excuse to finish off your quilt!
I would love to see any of your hand sewn quilts so please send me some pictures!
Remember that all of our online classes are currently still reduced in price due to the current crisis. So if you fancy building some skills or doing a quick, fun project then head over and see what we have on offer.
Nikki & Rachel