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How to English Paper Piece – sewing pieces together

How to English paper piece

In this series of blog posts, I’ve talked about start up supplies (what my favorites are) and discussed glue basting (also my favorite). Now that you know how to prepare for sewing, lets get going! In this video, I’ll show you how I sew my paper pieces together once they’re basted. There are many, many ways to accomplish this. I’m showing my favorite methods, in case you haven’t seen them before, in the hopes of inspiring you to try new things!

There are different kinds of stitches you can use to sew the pieces together. My go to is a simple whip stitch, but I’ve heard people rave about the flat back stitch. I tried the flat back stitch, and it wasn’t for me–but you might love it (so def. check it out!).

how to english paper piece
Sewing the pieces together

To knot…or not?

I’m probably in the minority when I say I don’t tie many knots while I’m EPPing. To start my stitches, I’ll sew a few stitches in place and make sure they’re snug and right on top of each other, rather than knotting. Ending, however, is a different story. I do tend to knot my thread consistently when my thread runs out or I get the the end of a piece and need to break thread. I also prefer to not tie knots in the end of my thread…simply because I’m lazy. After all the EPPing I’ve done, I’m confident my stitches are secure and I’m not too worried about breaking seams or threads coming undone. Find what you like and what works for you and go with it! And don’t let anyone else try to tell you that your way is wrong. I like to share the methods I use, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way. This is your journey, and you’ve got to find your own way.

For the love of EPP

I’m so excited for you to start your EPP journey (or maybe you’re already on it), and I’d love to hear about some of your favorite projects and see what you’ve made! Here are a few of my favorites, and works in progress:

My “Quilt” using the letter Q from Whole Circle Studio’s Typecast of characters pattern

Above is the Letter “Q” I EPPed for Sheri’s blog tour and then made into a small wall hanging with some quilted ghost letters. These letters are so much fun to stitch and incorporate into projects. You can see more of Sheri’s work at Whole Circle Studio.

Trippy Triangles

Above is some of the piecing I did for my Trippy Triangles pattern (soon to be released). I love the modern look of this pattern and it will be one I recreate over and over again with different fabrics.

My never ending scrap buster project

Above is my never ending scrap buster project that I stitch occasionally when I’ve got leftover fabrics. There isn’t a pattern for this one that I’ve sewn–I just drew up some little pieces and cut them out by hand to piece this together on the run. So now that I’ve shown you mine, I’d love to see some of your projects! What are you working on? Or if you’re new to EPP, what are some EPP projects you’ve been eyeing? Drop me a comment or post your project on instagram and tag me @kustomkwilts πŸ™‚ Happy sewing!

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How to glue baste – English paper piecing

how to glue baste

How to glue baste…

I know, I know. I know what you’re thinking. Why do I need to know how to glue baste?? So before we get into it…let me just say that I am not the authority on english paper piecing. There are so many ways to get a finished project, and I certainly don’t claim to be the one holding all the answers. But I want to let you in on what has worked so well for me after lots of trial and error. And before I go on, I just want to say: ALWAYS TEST NEW PRODUCTS LIKE GLUE STICKS ON YOUR FABRIC PRIOR TO USING THEM IN AN ENTIRE PROJECT. The glue I use has never done me wrong, but that’s not to say you might not have a different experience.

glue basting

Thread vs. glue

Thread basting is very popular. I know a lot of sewists who swear by it and refuse to ever go down the glue basting road. Which is totally fine. But I. Hate. Thread. Basting. With a passion. I don’t know if I just don’t have the dexterity to move my fingers like they do, but it doesn’t work for me. And it takes me fooooooreverrrrrrrrrrr. I know English paper piecing is slow sewing, but I don’t want to make it any slower than I have to, ya know? That being said, I highly encourage you to try thread basting if you haven’t. It might be the cat’s meow to you. Then give glue basting a try and I’ll try not to say I told you so πŸ˜‰

Some glue basted pieces ready to sew

Getting started

If you missed my last post, check out Basic Supplies and the video I did explaining my favorite tools and why I use them. I have several of my favorites in my shop. Okay, now here’s the skinny on glue basting: There are “sewing specific” glue sticks. I won’t name the brands because I don’t want to seem like I’m speaking negatively about them. I’ve tried at least a couple of them and they work great! So if you’re growing money on trees in your backyard, feel free to use those. What I’m trying to say, is they’re pretty pricey as far as a glue stick goes. And the refills that go with them.

I will admit that I used the pricey glue sticks in the beginning and completed an entire EPP project with them. Then, I ran out. At the time, there wasn’t a quilt shop just next door to me, so I looked through some school supplies and found some Elmer’s School Glue sticks. I felt like I had heard someone say they could work in a pinch, as long as they were water soluble–so I figured, what the heck? I tried them and was immediately hooked. They were the Romeo to my Juliet. Everything that had even been missing in my life. Well… maybe not, but still pretty good.

Elmer's disappearing school glue
Elmer’s Disappearing Purple Glue Stick

Pros about the Elmer’s school glue glue sticks:

  • The purple disappearing ones show up so you can easily see where you’ve applied glue
  • The purple generally dries clear, unless you put a huge blob of it
  • They’re water soluble
  • They are CHEAP — I buy mine in bulk on Amazon (60 glue sticks/pkg) -Not an affiliate link
  • You can find them almost everywhere
  • Each glue stick lasts much longer compared to the sewing glue stick counterpart

Want to learn how to glue baste?

Check out the short video I put together below. I’ll walk you through how I glue baste my pieces. It’s SO easy!

In my opinion, glue basting is well suited for elongated shapes. In the video, I am glue basting a really long, skinny triangular shape. I tried to thread baste this shape, just to see how it turned out, and I lost the precision of the points. With glue basting, you can press those points with accuracy.

Before I leave you with your thoughts on glue basting, I will say there is some difference in Elmer’s glue sticks. I tried the glue sticks pictured below (Elmer’s Clear Repositionable), and I didn’t have much success with them. The glue I applied didn’t want to seem to adhere to the papers or the fabric. I made sure I didn’t purchase those again, but I’m glad I tried them. You never know if you don’t try! So I challenge you to take a chance on glue basting and if you haven’t tried it–give it a shot. Happy sewing!

Glue sticks
Clear repositionable glue sticks
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English Paper Piecing – Getting started and basic supplies

english paper piecing supplies

If you’ve spent any amount of time on my blog or Instagram, you know by now that I LOVE sewing and quilting. SO much so that I like to have a travel-friendly project I can take with me, whether it’s in the car, waiting at the doctor’s office, taking my daughter to the dentist, etc., to help pass the time. While English paper piecing is fun, it is much slower than powering up your sewing machine and zipping through a few seams. There’s something meditative about it that helps the craziness of the world to fade away for just a moment and let you appreciate the thoughtfulness of a stitch. English paper piecing appealed to me first when I was still an ag teacher. A lot of times, I’d be on a school bus with kids and nothing to do for hours while we traveled to judging contest OR I’d be stuck in a hotel room at night, not able to go to sleep and wishing for something productive to do. So I started dabbling in EPP. My husband bought me the La Passacaglia kit (Pattern by Willyne Hammerstein) for my birthday and I was totally hooked. I want to take the time to share my favorite English Paper Piecing supplies and tips in the video below.

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Horizon Challenge by Windham Fabrics

fabric challenge

I’m a sucker for bright, bold prints. Grant Haffner‘s Horizon collection for Windham Fabrics, is so inspiring! I loved the linear look of the prints and knew I wanted to create a quilt that showed this lines radiating out from the center of a block. Star blocks are my favorite, and I really enjoy the precision of foundation paper piecing that create the Starry Dreams blocks. I also fell hard for the Windham Artisan Cottons and knew they needed to be a supporting player in this game. Starry Dreams is the quilt that was born out of love for these collection, and there’s a free pattern available from Windham so you can create your own! Since I’m so inspired by these fabrics, I’d love to challenge you to check out the Horizon Challenge!

Starry Dreams Quilt by Joanna Marsh photo courtesy of Windham Fabrics

Horizon Challenge

Now that I’ve gushed about how much I love the Horizon fabrics, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be a guest judge for the Windham Fabrics Horizon Challenge! Check out the rules below and pick up some of your favorite Horizon fabrics (shipping to stores in February 2020). You’ll swoon over the prizes!! The Horizon Challenge wraps up in May 2020, and the winners announced shortly after.

Horizon Challenge hosted by Windham Fabrics


  1. Choose 1 or more Horizon Prints.
  2. Choose a Basic from Windham or Anthology: Artisan Cotton, Bedrock, Palette or Lava Solids.
  3. Make a Horizon Project: Quilt, Apparel, Accessory
  4. Submit a photo of your project by May 26, 2020 to
quilting my starry dreams quilt
Quilting my Starry Dreams quilt

Horizon Fabrics

You can check out the full collection of Horizon fabrics and shop for inspiration from other designer projects. And the sky is the limit, so use that creativity! Best of luck to you, and happy sewing!

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Reversible Lanyard Tutorial

lanyard tutorial

It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year! (Sorry you’ve now got that stuck in your head all day πŸ™‚ Tis the season for gift giving and making, and one of my favorite things to do is make stocking stuffers. It’s easy to drop a ton of money of useless little items that might never get used, so I try to make utilitarian stocking stuffers that will see the light of day over and over again. One of my go-to gifts is a reversible lanyard that can be used as a quick release keychain or an ID badge holder. It’s a quick gift that I know will get lots of love throughout the year. The Reversible Lanyard Tutorial goes by even quicker with the helpful Oliso Mini Project Iron. It doesn’t take up as much work space as the standard sized iron, and it’s really convenient for smaller sized projects like this.

lanyard tutorial

Here’s what you need:

  • Oliso Mini Project Iron
  • 1/8 yd. of Fabric A sub cut into (1) 1.75” x 39”
  • 1/8 yd. of Fabric B sub cut into (1) 1.75” x 39”
  • 1/4 yd. Pellon SF101 woven interfacing sub cut into (2) 3” x 20” strips
  • Lobster clasp hardware with 5/8” to 1” opening
  • Spray starch/pressing spray
  • Thread for piecing and topstitching
  • Binding clips
Reversible Lanyard Tutorial Supplies

Lanyard Tutorial: (about 45 minutes)

First place the two pieces of fabric right sides together and sew down the 39” length with a 1/4” seam allowance.

Sew the pieces of fabric together, right sides together

Then plug in the Oliso Mini Project Iron and turn heat dial to high. Allow it to warm up sufficiently before pressing.  Press the sewn seam open with the OLISO mini project iron. Be sure to flip the solemate to the “resting side” while in use, and when the iron is off and cool, store the iron so it’s resting on the “storage side”.

Use the Oliso Mini Project Iron for smart pressing.

Next, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fuse the SF101 to the wrong side of the pieced fabric with the OLISO mini iron.  This will give the lanyard a little more stability.

Oliso Mini Project Iron

Fold the outer long edges inward WST so they meet at the center and press with the OLISO mini iron.

Now fold this in half and press with the OLISO mini iron.  The total width of the lanyard should be approx. 3/4”.  Secure the folded edges with binding clips.

Next, take the long piece to the sewing machine and topstitch all the way around the perimeter, 1/8” from each outer edge.

Topstitching the lanyard

Feed the lanyard ends through the D ring/bottom of the lobster clasp and fold the lanyard short ends up about 1”, checking to make sure the lanyard pieces aren’t twisted.  Stitch through all four layers of fabric to secure the lobster clasp in place.

And Voila! You’ve completed your first reversible lanyard tutorial stocking stuffer! Another fun idea is to clip a gift card holder to the lobster clasp if you’ve got one handy πŸ™‚ I really loved using the new Oliso Mini Project Iron for this–it’s small enough to fit right next to my sewing machine so I’m not wasting a lot of time walking back and forth to my ironing board, and that little pop of pink brightens up my studio in the best way. Happy sewing, and happy holidays! XO Joanna

Reversible Lanyard
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Moroccan Tiles Sew Along – Week 6

week 6 of the sew along

Week 6 is here, and we’re finally in the home stretch!! Many of you have already completed the baby size and pieced your tops, and you’re ahead of the game. Last week, I popped in a catch up week due to the holiday weekend, and I hope you got to enjoy some time with your family (or squeezed in some extra sewing time πŸ˜‰

What to do for Week 6:

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Free motion quilting tutorial – How to quilt pebbles

how to quilt pebbles

Pebbles are a favorite of mine when there are lots of small spaces that need extra texture. The thing is, it can get kind of boring to quilt the same size pebble over and over AND OVER again until the cows come home. Right?

I like to change up the size of the pebbles to add a little more interest and create a river rock effect. It helps to take some of the monotony out of it, but lets you keep all that ooey-gooey texture that you’re going for. Sometimes, quilting the same shape so much will make you get a little road weary, and I’ve found this is a great way to avoid that.

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Moroccan Tiles Sew Along – Week 5

Guys!! We’re starting Week 5 of the Moroccan Tiles sew along! I’m putting up the week 5 post as scheduled, but week 5 is going to be 2 weeks long. So you’ve got until 11:59PM CST July 12 to post your remaining 3 blocks for the throw size. If you decided to go the route of baby quilt and you’ve already completed all your blocks, just post something Moroccan Tiles related. It can be your binding/backing fabric, another shot of your blocks, you sewing, anything having to do with the sew along! You’ll have an extra week this week because the end of week 5 initially fell on 4th of July weekend. We don’t have plans to travel, but a lot of people do. I don’t want to hassle you with a deadline when you’re trying to spend some quality time with the family!

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How to quilt orange peels – free motion quilting tutorial

Have you ever seen a really cool geometric quilting design? Then you look at it and immediately think it’s too complicated to quilt yourself? With orange peels, that’s just not true! If you’d like to learn how to quilt orange peels, I’ve got a tutorial that breaks the design down into smaller pieces. All you need to start is a ruler (not a longarm quilting ruler–any ruler will do), marking tool, and your sewing machine and fabric.

Begin by marking out a grid of your choice. For this video tutorial, I marked out a 1.5″ square grid. You should also decide if you want a vertical x horizontal grid, or if you’d like to mark it on point (as I did in the video). After you mark your grid, mark a few of the curved pieces that are going to go in and around the grid you drew as a visual guide before you start quilting.

Now that you’ve marked a few visual guides, you’re ready to get started. Quilt a few half circles as the video shows on the outer edge of the quilt. It’s easier for me to quilt half of the circle, and then go back down the line to quilt the remainder. But do what works for you, and find what you like best! Learning how to quilt orange peels is really just quilting several circles that interlock. Don’t make it more complicated than it is. And know this: The more you quilt that circular motion, the easier it will get. The orange peel shape might not come naturally at first, but the more you do it, the better it will look.

Video tutorial

How can I use orange peels?

I love using Orange peel designs if I have a large background on a quilt to work with. Also, the orange peel design looks fantastic if you’re quilting up a panel to be used for a bag. I did a modified orange peel design when I made myself some new cosmetic bags for travelling. It really takes the travel bag up a notch, especially if you imagine it without the quilting and just solid green fabric. You can see the full blog post I did here.

variation of quilted orange peels
Gloss Cosmetic bag Pattern by Sew Sweetness from the Minikins 2 pattern bundle

Orange peels look great as a motif that you want to be seen. If you’ve got a lot of negative space, it can really add a lot of punch to the overall look! Even if you don’t have your machine handy, this is a great design to practice with graph paper. Grab a few sheets and take them with you for moments of free time and you’ll be good to go!