A Tantalizing Technique
Several years ago I headed south on a Saturday afternoon to the Homestead National Historical Park in Beatrice to view a display of miniature quilts. Each was a stunning work of art on an extremely small scale. In addition there were several artisans demonstrating their crafts such as wood carving and English Paper Piecing (EPP). I was excited to see the woman demonstrating EPP as that was a quilting technique that I had been wanting to learn. She showed participants how to do EPP and had several EPP quilts displayed. The best thing she did was assemble small kits to give to those who stopped by her display so we were able to take home a sample to try on our own. For me it was love at first sight and now I have several EPP quilts of my own!
My first EPP quilt was a Fourth of July quilt completed in September 2014 from a kit entitled Patriot Parade. It measures 46” x 46”. This was one of the quilts that I saw at the Homestead demonstration so naturally it caught my eye when I saw it in the Connecting Threads catalog. It probably wasn’t the easiest pattern for my first project as it features two-fabric 3” hexagons but I didn’t know any better at the time. After the seven hexagons were stitched together I hand appliquéd them to the blocks. I machine quilted this patriotic quilt on my domestic machine by echoing around the appliqués and adding loops and stars in the corner squares. I also stitched wishbones and stacked triangles in the narrow borders - designs that I learned from Angela Walters. This quilt hangs on our banister during the summer months.
My next EPP quilt was another kit that I purchased from Connecting Threads entitled “Joy” that I completed in April 2015. This was a fun wall hanging to stitch because the hexies were small - only 1 1/2”. After stitching them into a wreath shape I appliquéd them onto the block. I then hand quilted diagonal lines across the quilt and hand embroidered the word “Joy” in the center of the wreath. I hang this festive little quilt on the wall in our family room during the Christmas season.
Another kit from Connecting Threads that caught my eye was the First Bloom quilt. This is another small wall hanging which measures 28” x 28” that I finished in March of 2016. It is different from the first two EPP quilts that I did as the appliqués in the center and corners of the quilt are made from a Dresden Plate shape rather than hexagons. I quilted this piece on my long arm quilting machine by outlining the appliqués three times so that they popped off of the background block. Then I stitched a cross hatch design in the remainder of the quilt. I discovered that that was a lot of work but I really liked the results. This quilt now hangs in our entryway during the spring months.
A year later I ran across yet another EPP quilt in the Connecting Threads catalog. This one is called Sweet Honeycombs and features a hexagon-filled center surrounded by a border of appliquéd leaves and flowers. I quilted feathers in the negative spaces in the border corners, swirls around the border appliqués, and continuous curves in the center hexagons. This small quilt which measures often hangs in my sewing room in the spring.
On one of our yearly trips to Colorado we took the southern route through Nebraska and stopped at quilt shops in Hebron, Hastings, and Holdrege. The shop in Holdrege has since closed but it was there that I purchased a pattern book filled with EPP patterns. The book by Vicki Bellini was called English Paper Piecing: Fresh New Quilts from Bloom Creek and featured a quilt on the cover called Just Judie that caught my eye. It has 2” hexagons, diamonds, and triangles in the center and diamond-shaped leaves appliquéd in the border. I discovered that by using Sew Tites magnets the larger hexagons were more manageable to work with. I stitched continuous curves with a swirl in the center hexagons and added a filler of swirls, pebbles, and McTavishing in the background of the border. I also stitched veins in the appliquéd leaves to give them a little more interest. After working on and off for five years this quilt was finally completed in June of 2020. It took a pandemic for me to finish it! It is one of my favorite quilts and the largest EPP quilt that I have done. It measures 53 1/2” x 72 1/2” and hangs in my Mom and Dad’s family room at their home in Omaha.
The second quilt that I made from the Fresh New Quilts book was entitled Black and Red and Gold All Over. I started making this quilt and had no idea what I was going to do with it. I just knew that I wanted a small project that I could take outside and work on while I sat on our patio. By the time I finished this quilt in October of 2020 we had remodeled our downstairs bathroom and this quilt fit the color scheme perfectly. I quilted continuous curves in the hexagons, ribbon candy in the narrow border and piano keys in the outer border.
I have another EPP project in progress so stay tuned for the completion of that quilt. It is another one that I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. I hope to have some inspiration by the time it is finished!