EPP Preparation and Organization

Today we’re talking EPP organization! I don’t know about you, but preparing for a project is my favorite part. Selecting fabric, cutting, sorting, organizing. It is MY JAM. I always slow down a bit when it comes to the execution :P!

Whether you are participating in the Butterfly Effect Sew Along (kicking off May 3!) or simply working on your own, today I’m talking about how I organized and prepared to begin my project. Tips in this post will apply to both supplies ordered from Pink Door fabrics (preorders now shipping!) and for those printing and cutting their own papers.

This will be the only post I share here before the Sew Along kicks off on May 3. All other posts and tutorials will be shared through the Sew Along newsletter, so you’ll have to sign up if you’d like to follow along! You can do so here.

If you’re printing and cutting your own papers, you can skip down to the next section. If you ordered a laser cut paper piece set from Pink Door Fabrics you will receive 16 sheets as shown above. There are four each of four different sheets. This includes all the pieces needed to create the full Butterfly Effect Pattern plus some extras of each piece.

The pieces are perforated and pop out easily, though take care with extra pointy corners as to not tear them. The pieces are laser cut and etched, so there may be some light residue on the sheets. It is not harmful and can be lightly brushed off with a paper towel, if desired.

One of each different sheet has the paper piece letters etched into every piece as a guide for helping to familiarize you with the shapes and assist with direction and placement. The letters and placement on the paper pieces match all the diagrams in the pattern file. Each subsequent sheet has only one of each piece labeled to assist with sorting which we will discuss next.

As you sew, I recommend keeping at least one paper piece with a letter unused to use a reference for orientation as you go. You can also always reference the template pages in the pattern PDF if you get confused on the orientation of a shape. Some shapes are very similar to others, such as H and I, P, S & K. Also pieces A and R look symmetrical but are ever so slightly unsymmetrical, so you need to be sure you are using them in the proper orientation for all your pieces to fit together.

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ORGANIZING YOUR PIECES

The first step is to separate and organize your paper pieces and my favorite way to do this is with plastic bags and alphabet stickers! Who doesn’t love an excuse to play with stickers, right?!

I like to create two sets of labeled bags – one for holding all my paper pieces and a second for holding my templates, fabric cuts and basted pieces.

I used 3″x4″ bags and small stickers for holding my paper pieces. This pattern has 19 shapes labeled A thru S, so I first affixed the stickers to the bags and then punched out my paper pieces and bagged them accordingly.

For the second set of bags to hold my templates, fabrics and basted pieces, I used larger 4″x6″ bags because they will need to hold more, and big, fun stickers that are easy to see.

I purchased my bags and stickers at Hobby Lobby, though you can find them in many stores such as Walmart with a craft section, Joanns, Michaels or your local craft store. Small bags can be found in the jewelry supply section.

I’m working on a few different versions of this pattern at once, so I created multiple sets of bags and used different stickers for each version to help keep them sorted. My free Mini Maker Case pattern is perfect for storing all your baggies and parts, too! You could also punch a hole in each bag and put them on a binder ring or in a cute pouch. I have some oil slick vinyl that is calling my name and I may need to make some!

I hope you find this post fun and helpful! You can sign up for the Butterfly Effect Sew Along here and be sure to follow me on Instagram for a chance to win some awesome SAL prizes!

Butterfly Effect launch day!

Today is the day! Butterfly Effect is out in the world and I’m SO DARN EXCITED! This pattern has been a really long time in the making. I started and stopped and started and stopped and almost gave up on it a few times. I sketched dozens of options and fought with geometry for too many hours to count, but… TOTALLY WORTH IT!

Download the Butterfly Effect Pattern here

The pattern finishes at 24” square as written (shown above), making it a perfect mini quilt or pillow, but you can continue to grow your piece to any size or use small sections of the pattern for other applications.

The pattern includes printable templates and pattern papers so you have everything you need to jump right in or you can order laser cut paper packs and acrylic templates at PinkDoorFabrics.com.

The pattern also includes a coupon for $5 off at Pink Door Fabrics when you purchase  a set of papers and complete acrylic templates (see the last page of the pattern file)!

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SUPPLIES AND FABRIC KITS

Pink Door Fabrics now has Butterfly Effect supplies available for preorder! They have two fabric kits that match the pattern sample using Tula Pink True Colors with either a light or dark background. You can find them here.

They also have laser cut paper packs and two sets of acrylic templates. The first set (shown above) includes a complete set of templates and the second set (shown below) includes templates for the butterfly and moth wings.

YOU CAN PREORDER PAPERS AND TEMPLATES HERE

Don’t forget to also check out their notions section for all your EPP tools!

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I believe that any level sewist can create this pattern, even EPP beginners! Complete instructions on EPP are not included, but many tutorials can be found online. You can also check out my  Beginners Guide to EPP. Even if you are experience with EPP, you may find some helpful information in this post, plus links to all my favorite tools!

I will be hosting a Butterfly Effect Sew Along that will kick off May 3 where will we work step-by-step together, so if you’re a newbie but want to give this a try, I hope you’ll sew along! You can sign up by clicking here.

I hope you love creating this pattern as much as I have. Remember to share your projects and find inspiration with the hashtag #ButterflyEffectPattern on social media!

A Beginners Guide to EPP


My new Butterfly Effect Pattern comes out TOMORROW (March 3) and I wanted to share ALL THINGS EPP with you today to help you prepare! Whether you are new to English Paper Piecing (EPP) or have dabbled in it before, I hope you find some useful tips and techniques here today. Below I’m sharing all the basics about EPP, as well as my essential (and favorite) tools and a variety of tutorials on basting, stitching and more.



English Paper Piecing (EPP) is a hand sewing technique that uses heavy paper templates to create shapes and stabilize them for stitching. EPP allows you to create intricate designs that would be difficult or impossible to achieve through machine sewn seams. I, personally, find great satisfaction in creating a beautiful quilt with just my hands. Though the process can be slow and meticulous at times, it’s one that people often describe as therapeutic and rewarding. One of my favorite things about EPP is the portability. I like to be busy (you know what they say about idle hands…) and I can take EPP anywhere – on car rides, while waiting for appointments, to the park, on road trips – with minimal equipment. You can toss a few things in a little pouch and always have a project on hand.

Next I will be diving into tools and techniques for EPP. I will be sharing some detailed information and tutorial links, but this is still a surface level intro to help get you started. I will be doing a deep dive into all of this and more with my own photos and video tutorials during the Butterfly Effect Sew Along which will be scheduled later this Spring (probably early May), so stay tuned for that!

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GETTING STARTED

There are a few tools that are essential for EPP and several others that are simply beneficial and make the process easier, more efficient and more accurate. These tools include papers, templates, needles, thread, a thimble, a glue pen, small scissors, a small rotary cutter, Friction pen, SewTites, washi tape, Clover Clips, and more. You can see many of these items above and I will discuss them all in more detail.

The first thing you need for every EPP project is paper templates. Some patterns have the option of printing the papers yourself on your home printer (or at a copy shop) using card stock and many patterns have pre cut paper packs available. My Butterfly Effect Pattern includes printable paper files if you’d like to print and cut them yourself or you can order precut paper packs from Pink Door Fabrics (shown below). They will be available for preorder March 3.

You baste your fabric to these paper pieces and then stitch them together leaving the papers in place until your project is complete (more on basting later in the post!).

The next tool in the EPP process is templates. These help you cut your fabric pieces to the right size and shape before basting them to your paper pieces. Templates are not essential to the EPP process, but they are extremely handy and helpful. With EPP patterns, you will use either a 1/4″ or 3/8″ seam allowance on your fabric pieces. This is often determined by the size and shape of your pattern pieces. You can use your paper pieces as a guide/template, cutting your fabric 1/4″ – 3/8″ larger all around or you can use templates. EPP templates are  clear acrylic shapes that are the same size and shape as the paper pieces that you baste to, but include a seam allowance and allow you to easily fussy cut fabrics for your pattern, which is one of the great joys of EPP! Some EPP patterns will also include printable template files that you can print and cut from card stock just like the papers. You can use them whole or cut out the centers for easy fussy cutting.

My Butterfly Effect pattern includes printable templates and you can also order acrylic templates from Pink Door Fabrics. There are two options available. One includes a full set of templates for every piece of the pattern and the second is a mini set which includes acrylic templates for the butterfly and moth wings. You would then print and cut the other templates yourself.

Above you can see a set of acrylic templates from Pink Door fabrics. They ship with paper on the back that you peel off.  I *always* fussy cut so I love acrylic templates. They are also beneficial because you can easily use them to cut your fabrics with a small 28mm rotary cutter. If you did this with paper templates, you could cut into your templates, so you would need to trace your shapes and then cut them with scissors. If you choose to trace shapes on your fabric, I love using a Frixion pen that erases with heat.

If you use acrylic templates, you may find No Slip Grip Dots helpful, especially if you’re using a small rotary cutter. You affix these to the back of the acrylic templates to help keep them from slipping around on your fabric when tracing or cutting.

You can also consider an EPP starter kit like this one!

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BASTING

Basting is the process of attaching your fabric to the paper pieces in preparation for stitching them together. You can baste with thread or glue and this is a personal preference. I prefer glue basting. I find it to be quicker and to hold my fabric to the paper tighter which allows me to more accurately and easily stitch my pieces together. I like to use a Sewline Glue Pen because it’s small and accurate (don’t forget the refills!), but you can also use a glue stick.

Here are three great articles talking about basting that show various techniques. Check them out and experiment yourself to see what works best for YOU!

• The Bating Debate by Tales of Cloth

• 5 Ways To Baste English Paper Piecing – The Little Mushroom Cap

English Paper Piecing Basting – A Little Patchwork

There are also oodles of videos on YouTube at your disposal if you search EPP basting.

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Stitching supplies & techniques

My preferred basic stitching supplies – needle and thread – are Tulip needles and Invisafil thread. I have used Aurifil thread, but for me it sometimes breaks because I’m a little rough when I pull it. The synthetic thread holds strong and is practically invisible. I love it! I also use a thimble and my favorite is the Clover natural fit leather thimble. I can’t sew without it!

When it comes to stitching your pieces together, there are a variety of methods. None are right,  wrong or better than another, it all comes down to personal preference. I recommend, once again, experimenting and finding what works best for you. Keep in mind, this may change with practice and over time or even with the specific project you are working on, so always be open to trying new things.

My preferred method of stitching is the flat back stitch. This is when you keep your pieces flat, butted up next to each other, and stitch across the seam. This is opposed to other methods where you place your pieces face to face and whip stitch or ladder stitch along an edge.

I like using a flat back stitch because I find it the easiest way to keep everything perfectly lined up and because your stitches are invisible! Above you can see that all my seams are neat, even and have no stitches showing. Below is a shot of the back where you can see my stitches. One thing to note is that invisible stitches is a preference. Sometimes different methods are used to intentionally see stitches.

I learned the flat back stitch from Karen the DIY Addict. She has a short video that I first watched here and she also just released a fantastic master class on the flat back stitch which you can find below. This video also includes ample information about basting.

I will share more videos and details during the sew along, but when I flat back stitch, I use a generous amount of washi tape/painters tape and Clover Clips, but also totally rely on SewTites, specifically when my project gets bigger. They are a game changer!! (You can use code lillyella for 15% off on their site, too!). When I start joining multiple pieces together and have a lot of seams and folded fabric, I use tape, pins and SewTites to move things out of the way as needed.

If you’d like to try a traditional whip stitch method of joining your pieces, here is another great tutorial from Jodi Tales of Cloth.

Another method is the invisible feather stitch demonstrated by Pat Bravo of Art Gallery Fabrics in the video below.

Finally, here is an article by Amira The Little Mushroom Cap talking about five different stitching methods. Once again, you can find endless articles and tutorials with an internet search.

Play around with some basic hexagons or triangles and see what feels right for you!

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additional tools

There are a few more tools that I use on the reg that really help me with my EPP (and all my sewing projects!). I will talk about them more in depth during the upcoming Sew Along, but here is a quick list with links:

Mini Oliso Iron and wool pressing matsmall and easy to setup next to you on a side table or to take on the road!.

Lap Deskdid you have one of these as a kid for car rides? I use mine ALL THE  TIME! For sketching, cutting, hand sewing on the couch!

Stella two task lampI’m typically stitching in the evenings on the couch and let’s face it, my eyes aren’t what they used to be.

Daylight Wafer Lightboxespecially helpful for fussy cutting without acrylic templates.

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Last, but not least, I recommend making yourself a Mini Maker Station! This is one of my free patterns and it’s perfect for EPP! You can download the pattern here.

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I also REALLY love the Sewing Date Traveler pattern  for storing and toting around all my project supplies. You can download the free pattern here. I made this one a few years back and it’s constantly in use!

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I hope you have found this post helpful and try your hand at some EPP!

I want to add, if you don’t love it at first try or get frustrated with perfection or techniques, don’t give up! Like everything, it can require some practice and finessing.

Stay tuned for my pattern release TOMORROW and I hope you’ll join in the upcoming Sew Along! I will post details here on the blog and you can also stay up to date with everything on my Instagram page and by joining my email newsletter here.

Happy stitching!
~ Nicole

Brimfield Meadows + EPP Tips

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Howdy, friends! Sheesh, this blog has been neglected. Some days I feel bad and others I don’t because most people have the attention span of a goldfish these days and blogs aren’t what they used to be. Still, I love to have a space to share more than a few words and one photo of something, regardless of who ever reads it!

Life has been extra crazy lately, but I squeezed in a few days of hand stitching recently because I needed to create something beautiful for myself. I stitched up the new Brimfield Meadows block from Brimfield Awakening and HOT DOG! I couldn’t be happier with it. It was quick and fun to sew, it came together like a dream and it’s such a unique and beautiful shape. I used Sleeping Porch lawn to match the bed quilt I’m working on and plan to make a pillow out of this block to go in my bedroom.

While I’m here, I just wanted to share a few things I loved about this pattern and how I sewed up the variation I chose. I’m also going to talk a bit about some of my favorite notions for English Paper Piecing, because I often get questions in my social media posts. I am by no means an EPP expert, but I have experimented with a variety of threads, basting techniques and stitching methods, and definitely have my favorites that I think yield nearly flawless results.

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Above are just a handful of the fabric placements I was playing with for this block. My final block matches the top left diagram above. You can see all the separate segments of the pattern and how I chose to combine two or three pieces in areas to create one larger piece. I love how you can do this to change the final look of there block, use larger fussy cuts, and make the stitching go quicker!

I simply taped some of the segments together to create the larger units. Note that the outer most tip of every “petal” is perforated on the paper so you can use them whole or split them as I did. Also, another design variation that isn’t shown above is different arrangement of those center “orange peels”. You can flip them 180° from how I used them, sew them up as one unit or even leave half or all of the segments out completely, letting your background show through. You can check out the hashtag #BrimfieldMeadows on social media to see some beautiful examples of all these variations.

While this photo above may look like someone’s unmade bed, it’s how I audition fabrics. If you look close you can see the method to my madness! I’m a total planner, so even when I say I’ll just “wing it”, I always end up making diagrams and taking pics of piles of fabrics to help me plan things, or at least start in the right direction.

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TIPS & TOOLS

Basting curves was new to me, and it took me a couple tries to figure out the best order of basting down the sides, but once I did, it was really easy! I basted the concave edge first, then pulled the convex edge as needed to make it smooth, and did the two straight sides last. I cut small notches to help with the concave curves which you can see below. As I mentioned above, I used small pieces of tape to connect the paper pieces and create the larger units, which you can also see below.

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When I first started EPP, I would thread baste, mainly because I didn’t have glue basting supplies and didn’t feel like researching how to do it! I tried glue basting because it seemed to save time and it did not work for me AT ALL! The problem was that I was applying the glue all the way to the edge of the paper and I couldn’t grab my fabric to stitch it. I watched some amazing tutorial videos from the queen of EPP Karen the DIY addict and it changed my glue basting life! I watched her apply the glue a bit in from the edges and it was like a “why didn’t I try that?!” kind of moment, but it works like a charm and I’m all glue now! I prefer to use a glue pen (such as Sewline or Fons and Porter).

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When it comes to stitching all those pieces together, I also tried many methods and many threads! If you know me at all, you probably see what a perfectionist I usually am, so visible stitches drive me BONKERS! Though I have learned that sometimes this is on purpose to show consistency? Regardless, it’s not for me. Once again, Karen saved my EPP life with her flat back stitching tutorial. You can see in the photos above of the back of my block that my stitches are by no means consistent or perfect, but you can see directly above how they are not visible at all from the front. This is the only stitching method I use and while some people think it’s slower than others, I find it very easy and quick. It helps to line up pieces and I love that the stitches are hidden so well.

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Last but not least, my favorite thread and my favorite thimble! Hands down, I love InvisaFil thread from WonderFil. It is 100wt polyester and virtually invisible. I do double the thread over and sew with two strands simply because I like a secure thread on my needle, rather than a loose tail, but it’s strong enough to be used as a single strand. I have tried 80wt cotton threads and they also work well, but I’m a tight puller and am much more likely to break the cotton thread, but I’ve never broken the InvisaFil. I match my thread to my lighter fabric when possible, but as you can see in my detail shots, it’s not too important since you can’t see the stitches!

My favorite thimble, which I cannot stitch without these days, is the Natural Fit Leather thimble shown above which is from Clover. It comes in three sizes and I wear a small on my middle finger, but I have pretty tiny hands 🙂

So, that’s all I got for now! I hope some of these little tips and resources have been helpful to you. I’ll be sure to share my finished Brimfield Meadows pillow once it’s complete, and you may very well see more blocks popping up because I am in love with this pattern (which you can find here if you’re interested)!

happy stitching!
~ nicole

Planning my Moonstone Quilt

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Howdy, friends! I’m here today with a short post about planning my Moonstone Quilt. There is a high likelihood that all of this may only make sense in my own head, but planning this was a HUGE struggle for me, so I wanted to share my thought process in case it does happen to help anyone!

First, if you haven’t seen the Moonstone pattern by Giucy Giuce and Karen The DIY Addict, you must check it out! (You can find it here.) Moonstone is an English Paper Piecing pattern (aka hand sewing!) and it comes in a fantastic kit complete with all the pieces you need to make a quilt, or several small projects, along with acrylic templates for cutting your pieces. The kit and pattern are really well done and I think the design is just so striking! It was just recently released, but there are already a handful of really inspiring photos on social media under #moonstonequilt.

AAANNDDDD… there just so happens to be an AMAZING giveaway going on right now where TWO lucky winners will be flown to San Fransisco to hang out with Giuseppe and Karen for the launch of the Moonstone Sew Along! You can find all the details here.

Ok… onto my quilt!

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For my Moonstone quilt, all I knew was that I wanted to use the new line, Neptune and the Mermaid by Margot Elena (Tokyo Milk) for Free Spirit Fabrics. It’s absolutely dreamy and seems like it was just made for fussy cutting. That’s as far as my plan went. I couldn’t even decide what configuration of the pattern I wanted to use.

So I stared, and stared, and stared some more. I only chose a few of my favorite prints from the line, but was really struggling because there is a lot of variation in color in what I chose. As a whole, the line ties together, but when you just pick and choose some prints, not quite as much.

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I started to pull some blenders in every color used in all the prints I had and decided that a Free Spirit Fabric designer mash up would be the way to go. I pulled what I could from my Tula Pink and Anna Maria Horner stash, and order a few more things by those two ladies, as well as Amy Butler and Heather Bailey.

I hadn’t really planned to use this many colors in the quilt, but once I saw them all together, how could I not? I had to figure out a plan. I organized all the blenders by color and took some photos. I spent a good amount of time looking at the photo of all my focals and then at the photo below of all the blenders. I stewed about it for awhile, as I usually do with projects. I kept hoping something would come to me.

And then I stewed some more. I mean, I stewed A LOT. I thought about while I walked the dogs, while I did dishes, I’m pretty sure I even dreamed about it.

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Something that many of you likely already know about me is that I am a planner. Hard core. I so desperately wanted to start cutting and sewing, but knew that I had to figure out where it was going first.

So I thought about the focals and how I would fussy cut them. I took photos of all the parts I planned to use and thought about the main colors in each of those parts, then I made a list. This helped me figure out how many variations I had to work with in my design and how I may be able to organize them.

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I kept going back to the idea of a color fade. Perhaps diagonally across the quilt or something, but I couldn’t make that work. I ended up order some of the dark blue color way of the Neptune line because I felt like I was going to need it to balance everything out.

It was time to make some decisions. First, I had to pick a pattern configuration and then I just had to start playing.

I use Adobe Illustrator for most of my drawing and layout. I understand many people do not have this program, so these next steps may not be helpful for everyone, but it is a great program that anyone can use with a little patience and a few YouTube tutorials!

I really loved the Gems configuration of Moonstone because I love the four pointed stars it makes, but I wanted my fussy cut focals to run horizontally and diagonally because they are primarily people and fish, so I rotated the gems configuration 45° to what you see below. I drew up the pattern in Illustrator so that I could begin placing my fabrics and colors.

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I input JPG swatches of the focal fabrics and turn them into pattern swatches so that I can place them into shapes. It’s not perfect, but it definitely does the job!

Once I had the pattern drawn up, I stared at the blank canvas for a bit until I decided which shapes I wanted to focus on. I settled on the large four-pointed stars that you can see around the outer edges and their center octagons. Everything would radiate from these. I started playing with those elements only and trying different repetitive color arrangements.

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I was going a little crazy with all the possibilities so finally just chose my favorite and started filling in the spaces between. I still really wanted to achieve some sort of color gradation and began trying to do that between the stars. It took some time, but I finally felt like it was moving in the right direction!

Once I reached the point shown above, I felt confident enough about the direction that I could start sewing.

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A good part of what I’ve already laid out will repeat around, but I do still have a bit more to work out. All in good time…

In the meantime, I can sew! I finished my first piece yesterday and have my second prepped. My plan is to work out from the middle of the quilt so that I can stop or keep going at any point. My current design plan is about 65″ square.

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There’s no question that this quilt will take me quite awhile to finish, but I know I’ll enjoy the process, and that’s what matters!

EPP Table Topper Pattern

Free EPP Table Topper Template | lillyella stitchery
This pattern, or something like it, may very well exist somewhere in the world. But with my 25th & Pine charm pack in hand, I went searching for a small EPP pattern that would be relatively quick and had no luck, so I just drew one up.
I am by no means an english paper piecing expert and everyone has their favorite methods, so I’m just sharing my pattern templates here rather than a full tutorial. I will, however, provide some links to other tutorials for anyone who is new to EPP and explain how I finished my piece. The great thing about it is that all you need is fabric, a needle and thread – no sewing machine or experience is necessary.
This pattern creates a piece that is 9.5″ wide and is designed to be charm square friendly (5″ fabric squares). You can get two center kite pieces from one charm square and more of the smaller pieces, but I used 5 white, 5 red and 5 green charms to create my piece. This pattern is also great for scraps, the biggest piece you need is about 2.5 x 5, but the templates can also be printed larger or smaller to create a different sized finished piece.
Free EPP Table Topper Template | lillyella stitchery
Free EPP Table Topper Template | lillyella stitchery
I made mine into a little table topper (isn’t it the perfect little mini tree skirt?!), but it would also be nice used on a pillow, as a trivet or on a bag. You can download a PDF of the templates by clicking the image below. You will need to print two sheets so you have ten of each shape.
I thread basted my pieces because I just haven’t gotten the swing of the whole glue basting thing yet, but that would certainly work, too. When sewing my pieces together, I followed the order shown below.
To finish my piece I removed the papers and cut a piece of batting to the exact size of my piece (you could also use insulbrite if you wanted to make a hot pad). I then unfolded the outer edges of the green pieces and pressed it well. I layered the piece and the batting and did some machine quilting on the center, but you could also do hand quilting or spray baste the batting in place and quilt after attaching the backing. I only wanted my quilting to show from the top.
I cut a piece of backing fabric slightly larger than my piece and placed the quilted top and back right sides together. I sewed around the outer edge, using the pieced top as a guide, with a 1/4 seam and left a couple inches open for turning. I trimmed the seam, turned the piece right side out and pressed. You could machine or hand quilt at this point if you wanted to see it from both sides.
Free EPP Table Topper Template | lillyella stitchery
I decided to finish my piece with a blanket stitch around the edge using a DMC pearl cotton and I love the way it came out. This also closed up the area I left open for turning. And voila! All done.
Here are some tutorials on english paper piecing:
Craftsy – English Paper Piecing from Beginning to End
All People Quilt – English Paper Piecing
Flossie Tea Cakes – EPP, where to begin
YouTube video – How to Finish an EPP Project
And you can find a good tutorial on how to do a blanket stitch here.
Free EPP Table Topper Template | lillyella stitchery
I hope you enjoy the template! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email anytime.
Free EPP Table Topper Template | lillyella stitchery