EPP Mini Quilts, Finished and in Progress

Hello Everybody,

It’s wonderful to welcome the Spring and see lambs in the fields again.

I have some new followers; hello and welcome! I never know whether the people who join me here are experienced English Paper Piecers who want to move on from hexagons, or beginners who want to give the technique a try. Or, perhaps they are just interested in any kind of textile work, even if they don’t want to try it for themselves. I’d love to know!

The purpose of this blog is mainly to see what I can do with English Paper Piecing, other than the ubiquitous hexagon, so you will only find one post on hexagons, a unique pattern that was designed by one of my followers (see ‘Grandmother’s Posey Guest Post – A New Hexagon Design’). I want to see how small I can go with this technique, how large, how pictorial, how abstract. I want to embroider, quilt, paint and dye my English Paper Piecing backgrounds and designs and much more, so many of my posts are experiments with one thing or another. In between experiments I have been making small quilts, mainly wall hangings, with a Scottish theme, many of them featuring houses.

Since my last post I have been working hard on finishing a few quilts that have sat about unfinished for a while. It is always fun to do the top patterned part, but there are so many stages to a quilt that it is easy to put one aside once you have completed the top, in favour of starting another top. As I very much want to move on to something quite different in the near future, it is important that I get all this unfinished work completed. So, there may be a run of posts showing recently completed work with comments before I move on.

While I was working to complete these quilts it occurred to me that not everyone is likely to want to make a quilt. There are so many stages to quilt making: Once you have finished your top layer with its English Paper Pieced pattern, you still have to add backing fabric and wadding/batting in the centre. Then you have to quilt it, add binding, a sleeve if you want to hang it and a label to show who made it. But English Paper Piecing doesn’t have to be just about quilts. Of course you can use the technique to appliqué patterns onto tote bags or towels but there are a few other possibilities too, that I would like to show you in future posts. So if you love the technique but are not sure if quilt making is for you, perhaps there will be something there to suit you.

In the meantime, here are the quilts that I have completed since my last post. They will be familiar to many of you from previous posts but maybe it will be interesting to see how they look now that they are finished:

It’s going to be a long, picture-heavy post, so buckle up!

This is ‘Windblown’, a six inch mini quilt made for a picture frame. The quilting is not easy to see but I chose a circular pattern to represent the strong winds we have up here in the west of Scotland. I find square quilts often look distorted when photographed from above, so I bought a small easel to eliminate this problem. This quilt has polyester batting/wadding in the centre, which causes the shapes to puff out slightly but if you want a flatter look, cotton or bamboo is a better bet.


Here is ‘Geese Flying Over’. I love seeing the geese flying over our house between late November and January each year. I can hear them coming long before I see them. The naturalist and writer Helen Macdonald described the sounds they make as “discordant bugles” and that’s exactly right. I have found that when quilting stitches run up and down or across from the centre it is important they are not pulled too tight or they pull the centres of each edge in a little, as you see here. I have started to get a bit annoyed that the edges of my pictorial quilts cover part of the pattern when the binding is added, so I need to thinking about this more carefully beforehand, or add ‘knife edge’ finishes instead.

‘Geese Flying Over’

This is ‘Attic Window’, a really useful block for beginners to try because it is made up of only three pieces and you can put anything you like in the ‘window’, in this case a little black Scottie dog. This tiny quilt is also an example of a knife edge finish, which doesn’t interfere with any picture on the surface of the block but it can look a bit unfinished somehow. It works ok for projects you put in a frame because the edges are covered but I feel that it wouldn’t be as attractive on a quilt hanger without a fabric frame. What do you think? This has thinner bamboo batting inside which makes it more floppy, as you can see by the kink in the top as I tried to balance it on the easel. Bamboo works better for a quilt designed to go in a frame where you don’t want the bulk/higher loft that you would get with polyester.

‘Doggie in the Window’

This is ‘Thistle Jam’. It looks rather Christmassy with the red and green though it was not intended as a Christmas quilt. Here the fabric frame around it doesn’t interfere with the pattern as it does with more pictorial surfaces. Something to bear in mind when you are choosing your surface pattern.

You will see that the mitred corners are open along the crease. I used to sew right up to the top of each corner to close the gap but it often looked pinched. However, I am not sure I like them open either. I think it’s probably best to give them a press and see if they sit neatly and if not you can always add some stitches later.

‘Thistle Jam’

Here is the back of Thistle Jam, in case you wonder what they look like on the back. The quilting stitches make a nice pattern. It is the same green fabric on the back with the same bright red quilting thread so I’m not sure why the colours look a little different in the photo below.

‘Thistle Jam’ (the back)

This is a wall picture made for a quilt hanger that I made some years ago but wasn’t happy with the embroidery at the bottom, so I removed it and re-did it. I would have preferred to just put ‘Welcome’ but the space seemed to want more than a single word which looked lost in the centre.

Welcome Home’ wall quilt

It has a slim sleeve on the back, for a quilt hanger.

‘Welcome Home’ (sleeve on back)

And lastly here is ‘Little Kitties’ a mini quilt of one inch squares surrounded by a border. A border before the binding is the best way to avoid the pictorial part of your pattern from being covered but of course it requires more work and more fabric. It does make the quilt larger, which does give it more presence on a wall. As I was attaching the binding, I was upset to discover a small flaw in the fabric near the corner, the sort of flaw that, with a little friction, could become a hole. The only way to deal with something like this is to mend it as best you can and then cover it. This is why there is a little kitty face in the top left hand corner. It’s not what I would have wanted but the only way to save the quilt.

‘Little Kitties’

The binding has finally been sewn on to “Over the Hills and Far Away’ (below), a much larger wall quilt. I am certainly pleased to see that completed. The binding, added separately, was sewn on by hand, both sides. I notice that there is no information, as far as I can ascertain, online, showing you how to sew on binding totally by hand. In all cases it is machine one side and by hand on the other. Sewing it on entirely by hand is done slightly differently and I hope to create a post on that soon, in case it is something you would like to try. Not everyone has a sewing machine. Most of my mini quilts (all those above) have the backing fabric brought to the front and folded into a faux binding. This works on tiny wall quilts because the edges don’t get the wear that larger runners and bed quilts might. It is also cheaper because you don’t need to buy extra fabric for the binding. However, proper binding, as in the example below, looks and feels so much better and is not very much work on a small quilt. In fact it is much less fiddly.

‘Over the Hills and Far Away’. This was a song that my dad used to play on his mouth organ.

The next batch of quilts I am trying to finish are those that I thought would benefit from some surface embroidery, so it may take me a little longer to get through those. ‘A Walk in the Glen (below) is an example of what I mean. I plan to embroider the man and the dog and scatter some French knots in shades of purples across the flowers to give them the quilt more ‘lift’ and texture. I’m not sure if I want to add the pinned on thistles at the sides, or not.

‘A Walk in the Glen’

And there are two or three finished tops still waiting to be quilted. Here is one of them:

‘The Hare’ Runner

So, until next time….

Here’s to new beginnings!

‘Grandmother’s Posy’ Guest Post – A New Hexagon Design

In my last post we were talking about English Paper Piecing’s love affair with Hexagons and how I had never got very excited about them. Then I received a message from someone telling me about her intriguing and very different design for a hexagon, so I asked her if she would be willing to tell us about it in a guest post. So, let me introduce Julie Caisey and her Hexagon Project:

“Hello, my name is Julie and I am a sixty-two year old grandmother of six.  I used  to cross-stitch, and once produced a quilt that combined cross-stitching with quilting, as in this nine patch quilt which is great to use in winter when it is very cold.

I enjoy all sorts of crafts from knitting and crochet to embroidery and quilt making.  I like intarsia and fair-isle knitting and ever since I could hold needle and thread and operate scissors l have loved embroidery. The first stitch I ever learnt was the French Knot. 

I have loved English Paper Piecing from a very early age.  I was shown how to do it  when I was about six.  I started by drawing around square shapes to make templates and eventually, learned how to draw a hexagon with a pencil and compass.  If I was lucky, I had paper with squares printed on it, which made it easier. At that time I had to use fabrics I had at home, so my very first quilt was made up of fabrics from the sixties like Crimpline, which resulted in a very odd quilt but it was a good way to learn!

In time I discovered that quilts are better made with 100% cotton fabric and I began hand tracing shapes from books I found in the library, carefully cutting them out on stiff paper templates. I found Radio Times covers were the best for this! Then, quite suddenly in the 1970’s, quilting became popular, templates, papers and fabric began to be more available and I was in my element! …………

I find English Paper Piecing  very relaxing as it takes my mind off of things that I don’t want to think about. Three of my grandchildren have a “granny” quilt (and the younger three will get theirs eventually……..) However, these quilts were machined as I made their quilts to be used;  for den making, sitting on and quietly reading or just snuggling under to watch a film. They needed to be robust! 

More recently I created a EPP patchwork lesson for a friend’s home schooled children because they wanted to do some patchwork.  I designed a hexagon project that they could fit in between other lessons, over a school year. They found it easy to follow so I am sure you will too.   

You will see that, essentially, this is a pattern of graduating hexagons, using smaller and smaller hexagons and half hexagons to create an overall pattern of interconnected hexagons. The largest (centre) hexagon has a 3” edge and each subsequent hexagon graduates down from here. Going too small might be difficult but the whole project could be scaled up or down, if required. And of course you can make several blocks and join them together.  The important thing to note with this pattern is that the centre line point-to-point of the smaller hexagon, fits exactly to the outer edge of the larger hexagon. 

The centre hexagon can be fussy cut or embroidered. I am in the process of making a cushion cover using this pattern, with a pink and white floral embroidered centre.



Right,  here are the instructions Try it, have fun, and do ask questions if you get stuck!

First, here are the templates you will need for the project:


NB: this patchwork has been designed to have an optional embroidered centre. Place the large template between the marking behind the embroidery and pin it. This may be easier if you hold the embroidery up to the light and get help to pin it with two pins. Fold the fabric over the template and tack/baste it down. When tacked in place, trim the excess fabric. DO NOT TRIM BEFORE TACKING in place in case you cut off too much.


Lay your half hexagons around the large hexagon….







and once you have them in position…

…..sew them into place.


For this round you need 6x small hexagons and 24 x half hexagons and also 6 x 1 1/2″  hexagons:

Lay the hexagons all around the previous round …..

and sew into place.


For this round you need 12 x 1 1/2″ hexagons and 6 x 1 1/2 half-hexagons. Join 2 hexagons together 6 times. Lay the hexagons and half-hexagons around the previous round.

and stitch into place.


For this round you need  6 x medium 1 1/2″ hexagons and 24 x  medium 11/2″ half -hexagons to stitch around the medium hexagons.

You will also need 6 x large 3″ hexagons for the outer edge.

And there you have it!

The trick is that each subsequent round is based on the large hexagon. If you place the centre of all the different size hexagons over each other the centres fit along the sides of the hexagons.”

Thanks so much Julie, for this new idea and all these lovely photos and diagrams. If anyone makes her pattern, please send a photo. I’m sure Julie would love to see how it turned out for you.

Next time we have some more Scottish takes on old quilt blocks.  Till then…..