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What is English Paper Piecing?



Photo Source: State Museum of Pennsylvania

English Paper Piecing is a quilting technique that uses paper templates as fabric stabilizers to ensure accuracy when hand sewing complex angles together, such as the hexagon shapes found in a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt.

English Paper Piecing quilts date back as far as the 1770’s, with the oldest quilt of its kind made in the United States dating back to about 1807 - 1813. In this piecing method, individual pieces of paper are cut in matching sizes and shapes of the quilt pieces and the fabric is hand basted over the paper templates.

During America’s Pioneer days, "paper" quilting became very popular. Interestingly, paper was scarce in early America and women often saved letters, newspaper clippings and catalog pages to create patterns. In many cases, paper templates were not removed from the quilt, the paper serving a dual purpose of both pattern and insulator. But these paper templates are also important pieces of history. Papers found in old quilts have preserved first-hand glimpses into pioneer life!

Today, new methods of English Paper Piecing, like those by Sue Daley, make the traditional piecing technique easier than ever. Sue Daley offers books that will help quilters of all levels

Re-discover the joy of this quaint, time-honored quilt making skill. Additionally, you can find instructional quilting videos online or join an English Paper Piecing class at your local sewing and quilting store.