Sunday, April 16, 2017

English Paper Piecing Accidental Chanukah/Christmas Decor

Two weeks ago, I described my romantic hotel room rendezvous with English Paper Piecing. I used a simple pattern to make a bunch of kaleidoscopic stars that progressed veeerrrry sloooowwwwlly.

Back from our trip, I speeded things up, and made a bunch more blue-and-white star blocks, including the following....

With all that blue strewn around my sewing room, things were beginning to look a lot like Chanukah. I craved more color. So, just for fun, I dug this colorful and ancient Jennifer Sampou stripe from my stash,
I used my plastic locator template (details in my first EPP post) to find a good location to cut kaleidoscopic petals....
Traced the swirl onto the template with a waxy china maker (easy to erase), then drew close around the template onto the fabric, in pencil.
Cut out the shape from fabric leaving 1/2" seam allowances. (Over time, I've decided that, with EPP, 1/4" is too small, 3/8" is better, and 1/2" is best. Your mileage may vary.
 I glued the corners down and pressed them at the ironing board, which sets the glue immediately so you don't have to hold it down.
Then - don't tell Queen Elizabeth (the British invented EPP in the 1700's) - I zigzagged all the shapes together with invisible thread on my sewing machine.
 With the cardstock still inside....
Then pulled out the cardstock. As you can see, the machine stitching takes a toll on the templates (much more than hand sewing). I won't reuse these.
Backed it with felt, sandwiched rick-rack between the layers around the edges, did some decorative hand stitching with embroidery floss - there it is, a finished thing! 
That was so much fun I decided to do it again with a different ancient stripe from my stash.
 I cut the pattern pieces out of different areas from the stripe, again zig-zagged the pieces together, and here's what appeared:
 Added rickrack, and backed it with felt.
OK, by now I was sick of the same old hexagon-in-the-middle star. I decided to take my red "jewel" shapes, from the same Hoffman fabric, and point them inward. 
 Assemble in sets of three.
 Then joined the halves. I zigzagged over all the seams with a thick red thread.
It definitely needed more, so I nested blue/green hexagons in the concavities. Now it looked like a space station or a virus.
The back, after removing and tossing the machine-stitching-damaged paper templates.....
Diane Gilleland, author of my EPP bible, All Points Patchwork: English Paper Piecing Beyond the Hexagon for Quilts and Small Projectstold me I could straight stitch it onto felt. So I did, except I used two layers of felt for extra heft. I pinned first.
 Then all the way around with a straight stitch....
 And cut away the extra felt.
 The back.
Of course, it also needed some rickrack - doesn't everything?  So I picked a divine shade of green, strung it between the hexagons, tacking it in place with buttons. I couldn't decide on one button color, so I chose six.
OMG! It's an accidental Christmas wreath! (I really had no idea until I started writing this blog post and looking at the photos!)

UPDATE: Insightful quilter Nili Marcia feels that it looks like a turtle with splayed limbs. Thanks, Nili....I think...

And so, happy Easter and Passover to all who celebrate. There are only 7 months until next Chanukah/Christmas! Have fun with these ideas! My original post that takes you through the steps of EPP is here. My second EPP post, about making polyhedra, is here.


  1. What fun to see thanks so much for sharing,

  2. The Perfect thing to hang on your Chanukah bush! Love your whimsical approach!