EPP: Throw Out The Rule Book

EPP: Throw Out The Rule Book

The Paper Pieces team just got back from the Houston Quilt Festival, and one of our take-home thoughts was this: a lot of quilters are very concerned with "The Rules"! Similar to the Pirate Code from Pirates of the Caribbean, "The Rules" are more like guidelines. If you bend them, stretch them or break them, guess what will happen to your gorgeous project? ...Absolutely nothing.

1. Seam Allowance

Myth: You must choose either a 3/8" or 1/4" seam allowance and you must cut them precisely each time.

Fact: The beauty of English Paper Piecing is that the precision comes from the paper pieces. You do have to have enough of a seam allowance to sew your pieces together successfully, and you don't want so much seam allowance that your quilt becomes bulky. But beyond that, do what you're comfortable with. We absolutely swear by 2.5" mini charms for our 1" hexies. If you don't want to cut a hexie shape, use a square! An easy calculation for using squares: whatever size your hexies sides measure, e.g. 2", multiply it by 2, and add 1/2" for seam allowance. A 2" hexagon would use a 4-1/2" square of fabric! Cutting fabric into squares is much faster than cutting individual hexagons.

Alternatively, you could use hexagon precuts, which I say with a huge boulder of salt. You want to get precuts from an actual fabric manufacturer, not someone cutting them by hand. I've seen some very disappointed quilters when their precuts don't measure consistently.

 2. Stitch Count

Myth: You must have 16 stitches per inch or your whole quilt will fall apart.

Fact: Meh. If you're doing a bed quilt or a pet pillow that's going to spend a lot of time being used and washed, then yes. You'll need a good amount of stitches per inch. But that number isn't necessarily sixteen. It's whatever you feel comfortable stitching. Wall hangings or objects that won't be touched a lot don't have to have that many stitches.

3. Basting

Myth: Thread basting is the correct way to baste.

Fact: Nope. There's thread basting, there's glue basting, there's even Wonder Clip basting. I'm a glue baster myself- I find it more pleasing and less fiddly. Jess thread bastes exclusively for the same reasons- to each their own.

4. Using a Machine

Myth: An EPP quilt cannot be Machine pieced- if so, it is no longer an EPP quilt.

Fact: This came up most recently for Queen of Diamonds, where you're able to either EPP or machine quilt the blocks to the sashing. "Isn't that cheating?" According to whom?! Your process is your process; you don't have to explain yourself to anyone. There's no reason you can't use modern technology to simplify your process if that's what you'd prefer to do.

There are only two rules that absolutely matter:

1. Your Paper Pieces must be accurate.

2. HAVE FUN. Enjoy your process, otherwise, what's the point?

You're the artist here. However you choose to create your art is entirely up to you. When you start getting yourself entangled in what you should or should not do, your art suffers. Do what pleases you! 

Let's hear from you- what's a quilting rule you love to break?

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I understand there are quilt police.

Sheila D. Russell

I agree with everything here! I would just change one little thing, for the sake of inclusivity. In #3, you write “to each her own.” We know that dudes EPP, so how about “to each their own” just so no one feels left out of the EPP family. Love your paper pieces, always accurate.

Dawn Draper

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