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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 🙂 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 😉

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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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 😉

What to do for Week 6:

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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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Moroccan Tiles Sew Along – Week 3

week three

This week, we’ll be focusing on sewing together blocks 1, 2, and 3. If you’re brand new to sewing curves, I’ve got some great tips for you and some video tutorials to help you out. I made quite a few videos in case you’re a newbie, and it may seem like overkill, but I wanted there to be plenty of help available if you needed it. If you’re a seasoned curves-sewist, feel free to skip them!

The first time I sewed curved pieces, I was really intimidated by it all. Honestly, the first few blocks I made looked awful, I had puckers in my fabric, and it obviously wasn’t clicking with me. If this is you too, please hang in there! Practice makes it so much easier. There are several ways to sew curves together, and two of my favorites are pinning the fabric, and not pinning the fabric. I’ve made some videos to help, and you can see them here.

Alright, so here’s the breakdown for Week Two:

  • Sew together 3 complete Moroccan Tiles blocks
    • the SAL is paced for the throw size (9 blocks), but you can easily make more blocks per week to accommodate the larger sizes, or make less per week to make the baby size.
  • Follow steps #6-15 on pages 8-11 of your Moroccan Tiles pattern to assemble each block.
  • Don’t forget to match those stripes or fussy cuts if you went that route. I like to pin to match the patterns, or you can try glue basting for a great no-shift match!
  • This week, post a picture of your 3 blocks on Instagram using the #moroccantilessewalong hashtag.
    I’ll be randomly picking one winner from week three (you have to post the week 3 prompt on Instagram with the hashtag by 6/21/2019 at 11:59 CST) to win an awesome prize!  This week’s prize is a SunPrint 2019 FQ bundle from Sew Modern Chicky (the SAL shop sponsor). Check out the Original Sew Along post for more details & the rules.
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Moroccan Tiles Sew Along – Week 2

moroccan tiles week 2

Week 2

We’re moving right along into Week 2 of the Moroccan Tiles Sew Along!  Head over to the Original SAL Post to review the details and schedule, if you need to.

YouTube tutorials

If you haven’t seen the list of video tutorials for the Moroccan Tiles quilt (they’re listed on page 2 of the pattern), you can see the full playlist of tips and tricks I made specifically for the sew along below. It starts with some different variations of the quilt (you can skip right through that video and onto the next), and goes right into using the templates.

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Quilting Hack – Stack and cut to save time

time saving quilting hack

Everyone’s favorite thing to do is spend an entire day cutting out all the pieces of a quilt, right? UGGGGHHHH. I just cringed thinking about it. I want to sew, sew, sew–can’t someone else just do the cutting for me and lay everything out all nice and neat? Is that what heaven is going to be like? If this all sounds good to you, you’re going to LOVE the stack and cut method.

We all just want to spend our free time sewing and not doing the gross part that takes forever. When I’m cutting out the same shapes from different fabrics, I like to save a little time and stack and cut the fabrics together. It’s super easy and a HUGE time saver. Here’s what you need to do:

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