by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter

English Paper-Piecing

These instructions are for the “Grandma’s Flower Garden” hexagon patches. But English Paper-piecing can be used for many other shapes, as well, commonly those that have insets and unusual angles.
First, decide what size you would like your hexagons and print them onto thin cardstock. Cut them out very carefully, using an Xacto knife and ruler will be more accurate if you are comfortable with them.

Here are several pdf pages of hexagons for your convenience.
3/4″ Hexagons, 1 1/4″ Hexagons, 1 1/2″ Hexagons

Choose fabrics and design your piece. Traditionally, there will be “rounds” of one fabric, color, or value, and each round should be contrasting from the previous. If you choose to do rounds, here are the quantities of hexagons you will need: Round 1 (from the inside outward) = 1 hexagon, round 2 = 6 hexagons, round 3 = 12 hexagons, round 4 = 18 hexagons, round 5 = 24 hexagons.

For each hexagon, cut fabric roughly a generous 1/4″ larger than the template. Baste the fabric over the cardstock hexagon with the knots on the right side and about an 1/8″ in from the edge. This can be rough, large stitches and should use a contrasting thread for easier removal.


Then, place two basted hexagons right sides together directly on top of each other and stitch one edge together with a tiny overcast stitch. Just pick up two or three threads from each side. Reinforce the corners with a couple extra stitches and use a very close matching thread color.

Two together

Open the seam and lay the next hexagon on top of one and repeat, stitching just one straight seam at a time. For the third seam, you will have to fold one of the hexagons in half to make them lie on each other with the edges you want to stitch. As you continue in rounds stitching each seam you may bend the cards as you need to and travel the thread inside the seam to keep stitching.

FoldingThree together


When you have a nice “flower” pieced, you can applique it onto a foundation to complete your piece. Again, use tiny stitches and matching thread. Cut out the backing fabric leaving a seam allowance then remove the basting and paper pieces carefully.
You may instead stitch flowers to other flowers to make a larger quilt top.