The quilting world loves English Paper Piecing. I wanted to try it to see if I would, too.
For those of you who may not be familiar with EPP (English Paper Piecing) Craftsy has a good article and how-to here.
Basically, it's a method of hand piecing most used for small or intricate blocks or designs. It involves precisely cutting paper and basting fabric to it before sewing the fabric together for more exact piecing. Many people use basic shapes that are small and may be harder to hand or machine piece without some stiffness and stability. Hexagons are one of the most popular shapes to use.
The method is to precisely cut (or buy pre cut) shapes, cut fabric slightly larger, and baste it on to and around the paper. One you have a bunch of basted hexis (or what ever shape you might be using), you put them right side together and sew along the papers edge. You join the fabric covered papers like this, until you have the size and shape you like. Then you can remove the basting stitches and pull out the paper before finishing the piece by quilting, making a pillow, etc...
I had been wanting to try this method for a while bc many people swear by it. EPPing is known for being portable, small, and unwieldy, so I thought I might enjoy it.
I'd waited before starting an EPP project, bc I had the idea that I would go and buy some paper templates. As weeks went by where I would look longingly at other peoples EPP projects, I realized I was never going to find time to buy the supplies I needed. So I found some stiff paper and some scissors instead.
The very nature of EPP is to be very precise, my very nature is to be not very precise at all.
But I forged ahead and cut some very wonky octagons. And then some very wonky squares to go with them, and set to basting. I basted as many as I could stand (like 6) before sewing a few together to see just how it worked. After doing this a bunch more times, I found out how I preferred to baste the octis and how I preferred to sew them together. Although I had to make many adjustments as I went bc the shapes were not at all uniform, I eventually got into a rhythm.
As with all my quilts, I didn't have a plan or sketch of what I wanted to do. I just made it up as I went along. And as always, a vague plan started formulating. A pattern emerged and when it was time to stop, I stopped. After about a month I had completed the major part of the EPP project, and now it's set aside to decide what comes next.
What I am about to say might shock and dismay some people.
I don't love EPP. It's an interesting method, and I can see where it would be very useful. I didn't hate it but I found it achingly slow, and a little boring. Maybe it's bc I hand piece all my quilts already and this method is more for people who are used to machine sewing? I know I could have pieced the whole thing way quicker, and possibly neater, without the paper basting aspect. I also felt quite bad about all the fabric that was wasted. When I quilt there is rarely any unusable scrap left over. It kinda broke my heart to throw away so many tiny triangles. I found that as the piece got bigger it got harder and harder to handle. The stiffness of the paper became unwieldy and maneuvering became annoying.
My favorite part is definitely cutting the basting threads and pulling the paper out. I like to see the patchwork all hard and stiff before, and then soft and subtle after.
I was also not sold on EPP's portability or ease for travel. I pretty much always take my sewing on the go with me, and rarely find it overly cumbersome. But with EPP I had tiny scrapes everywhere, paper templates popping out all over the place, not to mention the scissors, needle, and thread. And I had to have a special bag to carry it all in. Usually I just stuff all my sewing in my purse, but bc there are so many pieces of fabric and templates, etc... I needed more organization and therefore more stuff to carry. I was lucky enough to snag one of my husbands first zipper pouches, which did work wonderfully for the job.
I will definitely finish the work. I liked the process and the result enough to make this one project. But bc I didn't like it a lot, I'm not sure what the project will end up being. Only time will tell.