Our new series of quilting tutorials is back! Join us for a new class of Quilt School, our new blog series featuring our favourite essential techniques to brush up on your patchwork skills. This week we’re in the mood for a spot of English Paper Piecing, come join us! Expand your EPP repertoire with one of our favourite shapes: diamonds really are a quilter’s best friend! Our in-house technical expert Sarah Griffiths has all the basics for you paper-piecing newbies, plus top tips and tricks for more experienced EPPers. We’ll show you how to sew a simply paper-pieced star from diamonds shapes, and then read on to find out how to use your new skills to make these sweet coin purses. We’ve even got free English Paper Piecing templates for you to download and get started today. They’ll make a great stocking filler if youÕre looking for easy-stitch DIY gifts.
Preparing diamond shapes
Step one EPP Diamond pieces are measured not only by their side size, but also by the degree of the angle (in the pointy part of the diamond). Sometimes they are also referred to by the number of diamonds it takes to complete a star. The diamonds we’ve provided with this issue are all 60-degree diamonds, which go together to make a six-point star. The other most common shape in EPP is the 45-degree (eight-point) diamond.
- You can also find other variations, including 30-degree (twelve-point) and 72-degree (five-point) diamonds.Whichever size you choose to work with, the method for using them is just the same.
Step two Diamonds are one of my favourite shapes to cut out for EPP, because you can batch cut lots of pieces using a rotary cutter. Line up one side of your diamond with the edge of your ruler to measure the width of your pieces and add in to this measurement to get your strip size.
- Cut several strips and stack them on top of each other. Line up your diamond in the centre of the strips and trim the fabric ¼in from the edge, using your quilting ruler.
Step three Using a washable glue pen is a very quick way to baste the fabric around the shape. Simply swipe your glue pen along one edge of the paper and fold the fabric down over it. Continue until all sides are attached. Leave the fabric ‘dog-ears’ that form at the points in place.
- When it comes time to remove the paper, press your piece well, then unfold one glued edge and gently tug the template free. If you’re careful, you should be able to re-use your glued templates a few times.
Assembling pieced diamonds
Step four You can also baste the fabric around the shape using thread to corner tack your fabric. With your template centred on the fabric, fold one edge over the template. I like to secure this first edge with a binding clip, but you could also pin in place. Fold the next side down and secure with a small stitch in the corner, going through the fabric only. Move to the next side and repeat. Keep going until you get back to your first corner. Stitch through this corner again and knot off your thread.
- It may be time consuming, but the paper pieces will easily pop out once you’ve sewn all the edges.
Step five Once your pieces are basted, start sewing them together one pair at a time. With two diamonds held right sides together, stitch along one matching edge. I like to start from the centre (non-dog-eared corner) of the diamond and stitch down to the point. When you reach the extra dog ears, push them away from the side you’re stitching to finish the point.
TOP TIP: Try to break up any design into sections instead of always stitching single pieces. This will help to remove difficult seams as well as letting you sew longer sections before knotting off your thread.
Step six To stitch a star, sew your diamonds into two halves. Then join the halves together, matching the centres. This will save you having to tackle a difficult inset seam, causing a small hole in the centre.
- I like to secure my two halves with some binding clips so they don’t move around too much while I’m sewing across the seam. Make sure you are only sewing through two diamonds at any one point, and push the dog-ears out of the way while you navigate the seam.
Step seven Once all four edges of a diamond have been sewn, you can remove that paper piece. Once you’ve finished sewing all your shapes, you can remove the outer pieces as well. Give your piece a good press before removing the outer papers so that your seam allowances remain folded under. When appliquéing pieced diamonds, keep the dog-ears in tact. As you reach an outer point, trim away a bit of excess, then fold the remaining ear under the point. Stitch down the outer edge to secure.
Try me now! How to make a pretty coin purse
Practise your new piecing skills with this simply stars coin purse. Our free quilting tutorial will talk you through all you need to know…
You will need…
To make one coin purse:
- Six or eight fabric scraps each at least 2 ½in squares
- Diamond paper pieces
- Linen outer fabric, two (2) 8in squares and two (2) 1in x3in pieces for zip tabs
- Lining fabric, two (2) 8in squares
- 4in zip
- Download our free English Paper Piecing templates
4 ½in x 5in approx
- RST = right sides together.
- Fabrics Used: Prints for the EPP stars are from Sakura by The Henley Studio for Makower
Start with the star!
Step one Make an EPP star as described in the Technique Focus. Download our English Paper Piecing templates to make an an eight-point star, or you can find chunkier diamond shape templates online to make a six point star. We used two alternating prints on our stars.
Step two Press your star and carefully remove the paper templates. Topstitch or hand appliqué your star in the centre of one of your pieces of linen.
Now make your purse
Step three Centre the purse template (from our English Paper Piecing templates download) over the top of your star and cut out along the solid line. The template includes the seam allowance, so be careful to leave room around your star. Cut out one more piece of linen and two pieces of lining fabric using the same purse template.
Step four Press under one short end of both zip tabs. Align at each end of your zip so there’s 2.in of zip tape in between (making sure the pull tab is also between the fabric tabs). Topstitch in place, close to the folded edge. Trim away excess zip tape from underneath the tabs.
Step five Place one linen piece face up. Lay the zipper face down on top, centring and aligning the top edge. Lay one lining piece on top, right side down. Pin and then stitch close to the zipper. Press both pieces away from the zipper and topstitch in place.
Step six Repeat Step 5 with the second linen and lining piece on the other side of the zipper. Carefully trim away any excess fabric from the zip tabs.
Step seven Unzip the zipper. Refold your purse so that the two linen pieces are RST and the two lining pieces are RST, aligning the centre seam. Pin in place. Sew around the outer edge, leaving a 3in gap in the bottom of the lining for turning. Make sure you backstitch at each end of the seam.
Step eight Turn your purse right side out and hand sew the remaining gap in the lining closed. Push the lining inside the purse and you’re finished!
If you like this, you’ll love our other beginners quilting tutorials
We’ve got more free sewing tutorials to tempt you to reach for your quilting stash and sew the days away… here are a few of our favourites: