English Paper Piecing Tutorial by Janet M. Davies

English Paper Pieced Quilt by Janet M. Davies

Above is a quilt that I made which is slightly smaller in size than a single bed. All the shapes in the central part of the quilt have been hand stitched using the "English Paper Piecing" method.
In this tutorial I show you how to stitch a floweret using the method mentioned. This is a great style of stitching you can take 'on the road' with you. I find it great while "listening' to TV in the evenings or while waiting for a doctors appointment.

Hexagons are the most popular shape in "English Paper Piecing" but there are many traditional quilt machine sewn blocks that could be stitched in this method. Below the hexagon tutorial I have given other shapes I have stitched in the "English Paper Piecing" method.

There is no such thing as 'stitch police' just the limits you have put in your mind.... go for it.

Printable Hexagon Template

1. Cut your hexagon cardboard templates from light cardboard. I use the cardboard weight of an average business card. Save the above hexagon template sheet. Put it into a word document and resize the hexagons to the measurement you wish. Then print out onto a sheet of cardboard. Cut out each hexagon shape. Save the document, so if you want more templates in the future you have the right size. You can trace 1 hexagon shape at a time onto cereal box cardboard and cut out, but make sure each hexagon is the exact same size.

Lay Hexagon Template onto Fabric

2. Lay your cardboard template on top of fabric that has been cut with a 1/8 inch seam allowance. Pin the cardboard in the centre onto the fabric. As you can see from the photo I have used the cardboard template a couple of times before.... recycling is your friend.

Baste Seam Allowance

3. With any sewing cotton tack a stitch in the centre of the template. The fold over the fabric seam allowances and place stitches around the edge folding over the seam allowance as you go. Make a stitch half way along each straight edge and at each corner. Then make a stitch in the centre again. You do not have to knot your thread to start and finish in the centre; leaving a short tail of thread will hold all in place.

Prepared Hexagon

4. The photo above shows the front of the tacked template. I am not keen on using glues on fabric to hold templates in place. Also with simple taking as above you can reuse your template once ALL stitching is done.

Stitching Hexagons Together

5. Thread some sewing cotton to match your fabric. (I have used black for purposes of the photo.) Hold 2 templates with right sides of the template facing inwards. At one side corner make a couple of small knots to attach sewing thread. Then make small stitched along that 1 matching edge, stitching the 2 fabrics together without catching the cardboard. Stitches are made about a needle width apart with small bites of the fabrics. The thinner the needle the easier it will be to pick up the fabric without picking up the cardboard also.

Securing the Thread

6. Once you have stitched along 1 matching edge stitch 2 small knots to secure the thread. Then run the needle in and out along the edge of the seam allowance and cut the thread.

Two Hexagons Joined

7. The photo shows the right sides of the first templates sewn together. Do not panic if you see small amounts of your stitching showing from the front. Part of "English Paper Piecing" is the joy of celebrating hand stitching. Your friends will be amazed when they realise it is hand sewn and not by machine.

Joining a Round of Hexagons

8. The above photo shows a blue line where we have just attached the first 2 hexagons together. Next start at the top yellow star and stitch along that edge with hexagon right sides together. Then turn the corner (bending yellow template in half) and stitch down to the lower yellow star. Finish off your thread. Proceed around the edges of the yellow hexagon stitching 2 edges at a time. The last hexagon in the flower will be attached in 3 edges until your hexagon flower is complete.

9. Do not remove your cardboard templates until all the hexagons are stitched along the edges/sides that will be joined together by other templates.


Non Traditional Shapes in English Paper Piecing
Quilt blocks with straight edges can be stitched using this method.

Above is a Pot stand I made using the English Paper Piecing method. The photo on the left shows the finished item which I hand quilted. The photo of the right shows all the pieces sewn with the templates still in place.

Above is 4 quilt blocks of a wall hanging I made using the English Paper Piecing method. The photo on the right shows the front of the 4 blocks with the templates still attached. The photo of the left shows all the pieces sewn with the templates still in place. I stitched 4 separated blocks and then stitched the 4 blocks together.

To keep track of all the exciting other stitching things I get up to visit my site.


Janet M. Davies

JMD Designs


I love your quilt Janet...Such great colours and the bonus applique additons and the words around the edge make it extra special! Thanks for sharing your English Paper Piecing method with us.

Be sure to visit Janet's site here.




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