Tuesday, March 15, 2016

8 essential tools for
English paper piecing your Glorious Hexagons

Including my latest Yuki dog hexagon block, I've completed 30 blocks thus far in the Glorious Hexagons Quilt-along. These EPP [English paper pieced] polygons are very portable—whether you travel from city to city or from your quilting room to the living room. I carry my equipment, completed blocks and partial block bits in a small tote bag. So what's in the bag, you ask?
30 English paper pieced "Glorious Hexagons"

My 8 Gotta-Haves in the EPP Quilt-along Tool Bag:
1) THE Book. (Pronounced "thee," with a capital "B" in book). You need Katja Marek's The New Hexagon book because the numbered blocks in the book are referenced in the monthly paper piecing kits. The book also has instructions for English paper piecing along with a few more hexie projects (should you desire more).
"The New Hexagon" book by Katja Marek.
2) Hand sewing needles. The EPP experts at Paper Pieces recommend a #10 sharp or #10 straw needle for piecing the hexagons. These needles have small round eyes and nice sharp points. They easily pierce and glide through fabric (and the paper, if you use that method). The shaft is uniform in size with the straw needles being slightly longer by comparison. If you prefer a different size needle, remember the bigger the number, the finer and shorter the needle. A handy Guide to Hand Sewing Needles can be found on the John James web site here.
The Gotta-haves in my EPP Tool Bag: 1. The New Hexagon book, 2. needles,
3. thread and (optional) conditioner,  4. straight pins, 5. acrylic templates,
6. paper pieces, 7. scissors, 8. pencils.
3) Thread. I use a good quality 50 wt. cotton thread for basting the fabric around the paper templates. I use up the "just a little bit left" spools. However, my go-to thread for hand piecing the hexagon bits into finished blocks is Wonderfil's 80 wt. DecoBob. It is a strong, fine weight polyester thread with a matte finish. The best part is that your stitches are nearly invisible on the right side! I have a package of DecoBob pre-wound bobbins with lots of colors and change thread color depending on the color of the fabrics I'm piecing. Optional: Thread Magic is a thread condition that minimizes knots and tangles in your thread when hand sewing. I use this occasionally on the cotton basting thread, but haven't found I needed it with the DecoBob polyester. (Ask YLQS about Thread Magic.)

4) Straight pins. I prefer glass head silk dress-making straight pins for my quilting and sewing projects. The glass heads will not melt if the iron accidentally touches them. The "silk" identification equates to these pins being thin, smooth and sharp so they don't make big holes (in delicate fabrics like silk). They are strong and about 1-3/8" long. I have a lot of these so use them for EPP as well.

5) Paper templates. Get the monthly kits from Paper Pieces and all the work is done for you. Open the resealable plastic bag and start in on the fun part!
Selective cutting or "fussy cutting" multiple motifs from the fabric.
6) Acrylic templates. If you want to take your Glorious Hexagons to the apex of magnificence, you'll want to do some selective cutting (fussy cutting) of your fabrics. The New Hexagon 32-piece acrylic template set is a must-have to achieve excellence with this technique (and prevent bad words from coming out of your mouth). Each template has the 3/8" seam allowance built in, a white outline indicating the image area (the finished view of the piece), and a label indicating its shape, size and what it's used for (ie. 1-3/4" Equilateral Triangle, or 1-1/2" 6-point 60-degree Diamond).
Acrylic template for fussy cutting multiple shapes from fabric.
7) Scissors. For cutting fabric and thread. I use small embroidery scissors for cutting lengths of thread for piecing and larger fabric scissors for cutting the fabric pieces.

8) Pencil(s). For tracing around the acrylic templates to mark the cutting lines on your fabrics. If you have dark fabric, consider a white Prismacolor or a chalk marking pencil.

1 to 8. These are the essentials in my EPP Tool Bag. I'm ready to take my Glorious Hexagons on the road. What's in your bag?
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