Updated: Jan 13, 2020
Here is a tutorial with hints and tips for getting started with English Paper Piecing, from prepping your fabric, basting your paper pieces and sewing them together.
When English paper piecing you need to add a 1/4" seam allowance on to the fabric around each side of the paper piece. I have found the best way to do this is to use a fabric glue pen (i.e Sewline glue pen) and dab a small amount onto the back of your paper piece and then place it onto the wrong side of your chosen fabric.
Now using a ruler that has quarter inch markings on it, (or an add a quarter ruler) line up the quarter inch mark with the side of the paper piece, using a fabric marker draw a quarter inch outline all around your shape. Then move your paper piece along the fabric and repeat the process if cutting the same paper piece more than once in the same fabric (See Figure One)
STEP 2: Cut out your fabric along your drawn lines using either a rotary cutter or fabric scissors.
STEP 3: Now it is time to baste your paper piece to the fabric. In this tutorial I am going to concentrate on the glue basting method.
Place your paper piece in the centre of your fabric and using your glue pen lightly draw onto your fabric along one side of the shape and slightly around the 2 corners. (See Figure Two) If you look closely you can see a light blue glue pen mark down the left side of the shape. You only need to press lightly with the glue, there is not need to use a lot.
TIP do not glue too close to the edge of the paper piece as this will stop your needle from getting any sticky residue on it when sewing your shapes together.
NOTE: I also choose to glue straight on to the fabric (instead of the paper piece) as I have found that it makes removing the paper at the end of the process easier and it also keeps your paper piece in better condition, so you are able to reuse if more than once ( I have been known to use the same paper piece 6 or 7 times. This also depends on the quality of the paper/card that you are using.)
STEP 4: Fold the fabric which you have glued over the card so it produces a nice crisp edge and press down gently . Now glue across the bottom of the fabric (See Figure Three)
STEP 5: Next fold over where you have just glued. repeat this process, to baste around the remaining sides of the paper piece. (See Figures Four, Five and Six)
STEP 6: Turn your shape over. as you can see glue basting around the paper piece has give the shape really great crisp edges. Some shapes produce dog ears (the little bits of fabric sticking out the sides of the shape. DO NOT cut these off, they will not show when you sew the shapes together)
(See Figure Seven)
STEP 7: Baste your remaining shapes .
TIP you can either baste enough shapes for one block, 2 blocks or the whole quilt top. it is totally up to you and your preferred way of making)
STEP 8: Sewing Paper pieces together.
Place 2 shapes that you want to sew right sides together (RST) lining up the sides of the shapes that you will sew along. (See Figures Eight and Nine) both of these images are of the same 2 shapes lined up, but taken with one shape on top and flipped over to see how it will look with the other shape on top.)
STEP 9: Make a small knot in your cotton. Hold your 2 shapes together still lined up.
TIP you can use a quilters clip to help hold your shapes together in place, this will also help relieve any pressure on your hand from holding the shapes too tightly.)
Starting in one corner push your needle through the fabric, just catching a few fibres of the fabric and not going through the card. (If there are dog ears just bend them back with your finger so you don't catch them with the needle. (See Figure Ten)
STEP 10: Using a small whip stitch, sew along to the end of the shape. Finish off by knotting the thread and cutting it off. (See Figures Eleven and Twelve)
STEP 11: Open out your 2 paper pieces. (See Figure Thirteen)
STEP 12: Now place your next shape on top RST lining up the edges that you are going to sew together. (See Figure Fourteen)
STEP 13: Sew together using the same method from Steps 9 and 10.
STEP 14: Open your shapes out (see figure fifteen)
STEP 15: Repeat these steps too keep adding your shapes together.
STEP 16: Once all sides of a shape have been sewn around you can remove your paper piece. This will make your project easier to handle and will also help maintain your paper pieces so you can reuse them as they will get less bent.
I hope that you have found this tutorial helpful!