Wednesday, September 30, 2020

My AQS QAL "Letter Home" Continues, Complicated With Some English Paper Piecing

I'm making some headway with my baby boy quilt NewFO!   I haven't cut out the four Wasabi (greenish yellow) QSTs yet, but I'm almost done piecing the rest of the blocks for this "quick and easy" project.

Piecing is in Progress!

I changed my mind about foundation paper piecing my center monogram block, too.  I just could not abide with those extra seams that I would have in the center of my "C" if I did FPP, so this block will be my second ever attempt at English paper piecing (EPP).  

FPP Version, with Extra Seams in the Middle of the "C"

Same Block, EPP Version, Cleaner Look with Fewer Seams

I really prefer the cleaner look of the second version with fewer seams, and I think it's worth fiddling around with hand stitching just this one block in order to get the look I want.  (Both of these blocks are in my EQ8 Block Library, by the way, under Alphabets.  I don't remember whether they were in the original Block Library that came with the software or if they were part of the BlockBase add on).  There's nothing in the software that says that the first block is supposed to be foundation paper pieced and the second block should be English paper pieced; that's just my own assessment of which method in my "quilter's tool box" would yield the best results for each version.

I should mention that my FIRST attempt at EPP was over four years ago, and it ended up not being successful for the block I was trying to make back then (Farmer's Wife "Prudence" block, blogged here).  It is so nice to be able to search my own blog with keywords and tags to find my notes about what worked and what didn't work the last time I tried something!  Hopefully I'll be more successful with the EPP method this second time around.  Fingers crossed!

I printed my entire block as an actual-size outline drawing from EQ8 onto green card stock and cut the block apart directly on the seam lines to create my templates.  I numbered the patches and gave each one a scribble of blue or green colored pencil before cutting them apart to help me differentiate between similarly shaped templates.  

My Diagram to Keep Track of Which Piece Goes Where

I'm not sure whether I'll EPP the entire 8" block or just the section of the block within that orange line I've drawn.  I tried to give myself a generous seam allowance on each of those orange-colored edges so that, after stitching the center of the block, I could open up those outer edges, trim the seam allowance 1/4" from my points, and then use the framing strips along the outside of the block for any adjustment I might need to make my EPP monogram block match up perfectly with the machine pieced blocks that make up the rest of the quilt.  I just like to build in options in case things go awry.  (One thing about EPP that makes me nervous for a block like this is that, by slicing through the block outline directly on the printed seam lines, there is no allowance made for the thickness of the two layers of fabric in each seam.  Wrapping fabric around the edges of each template and then putting them all back together like a jigsaw puzzle results in a slightly larger block than when the edges of the card stock templates were touching with no fabric in between.  If I was making a more typical one-patch quilt using all the same shape, like a Grandmother's Flower Garden, that wouldn't matter.  It's only a consideration with this project because I need my EPP monogram block to finish at exactly the same 8" as the adjacent machine pieced 8" blocks).

For basting my fabrics around the templates, I'm using pink 50 weight cotton thread and I think a size 10 Betweens needle.  A little dab from fabric glue stick helps to hold the card stock template to the fabric while I fold and baste the seam allowances over the edges of the templates.

Prepping Center Monogram Block for EPP

In case you missed my earlier post about this project, I'm making a 42" x 42" version of the September AQS Letter Home QAL.  I've scaled my blocks down to 8" and added a narrow border to get the baby quilt size I want, swapped out the plain square at the center of the quilt in the original version for a monogram block, and recolored my version using Kona Solid fabrics in Bone, Grasshopper, Indigo, and Wasabi.  I also eliminated some unnecessary seams in the original design (I'm making flying geese units rather than sewing two HSTs together).

My 42 x 42 Baby Version of the AQS "Letter Home" QAL

I'm following Diane Gilleland's EPP methods from her book All Points Patchwork.  I like that she gives lots of different options for template materials, needles, threads, etc., along with the pros and cons of each one so you can select the method that works best for your particular project.  

Based on Diane's recommendations, I chose card stock for my templates this time in order to maintain really crisp, sharp points on those Indigo triangles at the corners of my "C."  Another thing I learned from this book is that thread color and thread weight matter more with EPP than they do with other piecing methods.  When I tried EPP last time, I was using a 50/3 ivory colored thread that stood out like rope from the right side of my block.  Yuck!

This is the 80 Weight Thread I've Chosen for Hand Piecing

I'll be using a fine, strong thread in green, and hopefully the stitches will be completely invisible from the right side of the block.  Fingers crossed!  It's a new thread for me, 80 weight Para-Cotton Poly from Alex Anderson's Quilter's Select line of product offerings.  I must have gotten this sample spool at a show or something, because I don't remember ever purchasing it.  The name "Para-Cotton Poly" is supposed to convey that this polyester thread is LIKE cotton, but I did confirm that it's actually 100% polyester.  From the reviews on her web site, it looks like other quilters are using it successfully as a bobbin thread, for sewing binding, and for EPP and applique.  The color is a much better match than anything else I had in my stash that was both fine AND strong, so we'll give it a go and see how it does.

Embroidery Perfection Tape, Recommended for EPP by Kim and Nisha

In reviewing Diane's All Points Patchwork book, I rediscovered an EPP Tips page I'd torn out of the September 2019 issue of American Quilter Magazine.  So glad I had the foresight to not only save that page, but also to tuck it inside the only EPP book on my shelf so I'd stumble across it again at the right time!  The EPP tips from the magazine were from Kim and Nisha of Brimfield Awakening, and they recommended using this Embroidery Perfection Tape rather than pins or clips for a back stitching EPP method that is especially well suited to curved shapes like clam shells or apple cores.  I had ordered some of this tape when I first read the magazine tips and stashed it away in my notions drawer, labeling the package to remind myself what I bought it for. Unfortunately, I did NOT make a note of where I purchased this tape!  

UPDATE 10/1/20: HUGE THANKS to Susan for locating the pink embroidery tape for me!  It can be found on Brimfield Awakening's site here.

Once again, my "quick little update" post has grown way beyond what I'd intended to write.  Such is life!

I'm linking up today's post with the following linky parties:


·       Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

·       Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter


·       Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


·       UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland


·       Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

·       Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

·       Slow Stitching Sunday at Kathy's Quilts


SJSM said...

A google search resulted in this.

I have purchased from this store many years ago but not recently.

SJSM said...

I just saw Brimfield Awakening now carries it if you prefer that website.

Kate said...

Good luck with the EPP monogram. Sounds like you've been studying up on all the best practices to use. Love the colors you are using for the baby quilt.

Tammy Hutchinson said...

I have some OESD Tear Away tape (.75"width) that might be similar to what you are looking for, they also make Wash Away tape. I'm sorry I don't remember where I bought it.

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Yes, love the Para Cotton Poly! Alex puts it in the bobbin and pairs it with her Perfect Cotton Plus and that combo makes for skinny thread turn and more accurate piecing. I use the Perfect Cotton Plus (60 wt) a lot now, one of my fav threads! I am amazed at this quilt and all you are putting into it. You can conquer anything!

Kathleen said...

I use washi tape for EPP and clips (paper binder clips as well as the clover clips). You are always adding a twist to what you do - good luck as the project continues.

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

This will be a wonderful quilt when done! I enjoyed your tips about EPP and look forward to hear your results. Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.