Tutorial Number 3

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English Paper-piecing

 The Basics

Taking/Basting is part 3 in the 4-part process in making an English paper-pieced block.

Tacking/Basting– the final preparation stage before sewing the pieces together.

(I will use the term tacking)

 You will need:

  • the fabric pieces

  • the paper pieces

  • some thread – I use white over-locker thread most of the time but any random multi-purpose thread is good

  • a needle

  • a thimble and possibly a thumb protector – as you can end up with holes in the pads of your fingers from the eye end of the needle.

  • and depending on the size of the pieces, some pins

Start by threading your needle – you can choose whether to tie a knot in the tail (I do - but it's just habit), not having a knot makes removing the basting stitches easier – but you do need to make sure that you leave a long tail as the thread could work it's way free.

Place the paper piece in the middle of the wrong side of the fabric piece with sufficient seam allowance, if the pieces are quite big and you find it difficult to hold the paper in position with your fingers pin the paper onto the fabric.


Yet again using the Basic Star block as an example basting a square piece:

  • Starting with any edge fold the fabric crisply over the paper – using your thumb nail is a handy tool – make sure you don't fold the paper over as you will lose the crisp edge.

  • Start from the right-hand side of the fold push the needle through the fabric to the outside and make as many stitches you need to tack the fabric to the paper with the last stitch coming back up to the paper side before the turn to the next edge.

  • Stitch through the fabric and fold the next side down and continue stitching along the edge as before.

  • Continue for all sides.

  • Come to the end and make sure the thread is on the right side (the non-paper side), knot and cut off leaving a tail.

    For the triangle pieces I would recommend starting with long side - as the folds on the shorter sides become tails which can be trimmed to reduce bulk in the finished piece.

    As with any hand-sewing you develop your own technique and habits and this is mine.

    Tack as many pieces as you want to – whether you want to tack enough for one block at a time, or find tacking boring... which it can be when you are itching to get to the end result.

    Tutorial 4 will cover part 4 of the 4-part process of making an English paper-pieced block: Sewing the pieces together.

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