English Paper Piecing Adventures in EQ8

Lauren MacDonald
Winter 2020

How many of you have UFOs (unfinished quilt projects) using a hand piecing technique called English Paper Piecing (EPP)? Some of us began using this technique years ago because it is so convenient – a small baggie of notions and shapes, perfect for stitching while travelling, waiting or sitting outdoors. I chose the Tumbling Block and worked on it for many years before facing the big dilemma about what to do – what to make, what shapes to create? Electric Quilt, from versions 5 to 8, has provided the design board for all the ideas generated.

I picked a good template for this technique because the Tumbling or Baby Block is made of one shape. All can be cut from strips, then basted around the papers.

Electric Quilt 8® makes it easy to create an EPP quilt. There are two main options under the New Quilt tab, Baby Blocks and One Patch Layout. Under One Patch Layout is a menu of shapes that can be used and coloured to suit. Colouring the quilt and printing the shapes (if you can’t purchase them easily) are your design challenges.

There are five Paintbrush options in EQ8®: One Dot, Freehand, Line, Rectangle and Oval. These are time-saving brushes when designing a one block quilt. With the Line brush, you can draw a line through several blocks and they are all coloured at once. The Oval brush is very useful when painting a Grandmother’s Flower Garden type quilt made of hexagons. A quilter in my guild, Rolanda Tovey, has a number of these blocks ready to go as soon as she decides on a layout.

Colouring the hexies is very easy using the Freehand or Oval paint brushes. Here is one section with the Oval drawn, then when the colour has been set:

Cobblestones, a One Block option, helps illustrate how to print your own EPP shapes. It uses two shapes, an octagon and a square.

This octagon has 1¼” straight sides. If you choose to Print the block in the Print & Export tab, you will only print one octagon per page. The more efficient method is to draw the octagon on an appliqué block. If you plan to print on letter size paper, make the size 8″ x 10″.

Select the octagon shape and hold down the CTRL key to keep the sides equal while you draw the shape. Drawing beside the ruler helps ensure that the side length is exact. You may have to use the Edit tool to adjust the corner nodes so that the sides are straight. Once you have a perfect octagon, change the Snapping Options because for this use, you only have to have Snap Aligned Segments selected. Click on Clone in the left menu, then drag the cloned octagon to touch one edge of your first octagon; the two will join. The size of your EPP shapes will determine how many you will be able to print on one page.

There are currently a couple of fascinating trends in English Paper Piecing. One is illustrated by the La Passacaglia Quilt, a pattern by Willyne Hammerstein that requires the pattern book, acrylic templates, and paper pieces. One of the quilters who attends the same quilt retreat as I do at Red Lodge is busy with this pattern. It offers a real challenge to an EQ8® designer! Terry Lee Milligan has shared photos of this quilt in progress for those who haven’t seen one.

Another trend is demonstrated by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill as she moved away from the traditional EPP shapes. Her Typecast letter block was designed by Whole Circle Studio. The pattern, Typecast Complete EPP Paper Pack & Pattern Guide, is available through their online shop. They also offer a machine pieced foundation paper pieced pattern (FPP) entitled Typecast Fast.

Why choose EPP over FPP? There are a couple of reasons. With EPP, you can include curves in the design, like the letter S shown below; and EPP uses less fabric than FPP. You may also prefer a hand piecing project at times.

Sheri’s pattern prompted an attempt to make a block in this style for the cover of a cloth book for a great niece. The S was traced in EQ8 from a wooden pattern piece and the templates printed for the two sections. Will you try your hand at designing an EPP pattern?

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