Intro to English Paper Piecing Tutorial with Sue Daley

Jenny Doan

Intro to English Paper Piecing Tutorial with Sue Daley

Time: 19 minutes
Jenny is joined by English Paper Piecing Guru, Sue Daley in this Intro to English Paper Piecing Tutorial. Follow along with Jenny as Sue explains the supplies needed for English Paper Piecing and teaches us the basics. We have a feeling you'll be loving this new technique as much as Jenny does!

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video transcript

Jenny: Hi everybody, it’s Jenny from the MSQC. And I am here today with Sue Daley. Sue, welcome to our set.

Sue: Oh thanks for having me, Jenny. It’s great to be here.

Jenny: Just so you guys know I’ll be talking like this within a very short time. I’ll have that accent going on. Sue is from Australia. And she is, to me she is the queen of paper piecing. Paper piecing is something I never, ever, ever thought I would be able to do. I mean English paper piecing. Let’s get this straight. The other paper piecing doesn’t have anything to do with this.

Sue: No, no.

Jenny: But this is English paper piecing and we’ll show you what that is. But I never thought I could do something like this. And then I took a class from her. And now, oh my gosh. So wait til we do it. So Sue, why don’t you show us some of this stuff.

Sue: Ok so first of all I’m just going to run through a few of the notions that I use. I don’t have a lot of different things but what I do have I use all the time. So it’s pretty basic. We start with our needles. The needles I use are Sue Daley brand of course which are milliner’s elevens or fifteens, whichever you prefer.

Jenny: Wait, the benefit of those needles, they have a big eye.

Sue: Yep. A big eye.

Jenny: For those of us who need it, we’ve got the big eye. That’s really helpful I think.

Sue: Well they have a big eye but they’re also really fine. And the finer your needle the finer your work is going to be. The rotating mat which is I used to call this a luxury item but to me it’s actually a necessity now. So it rotates as you’re cutting. So you can turn and cut, turn and cut. And it’s, it’s, it’s a great tool. If you need some exercise you can stand on it.

Jenny: There you go.

Sue: Just wiggle your bottom a little bit.

Jenny: There used to be a thing like that called the twister. You remember?

Sue: Yep, yep I do remember. So you don’t have to dance around the table or cut under your armpit, you can just turn and cut it.

Jenny: Well and it’s pink. I mean, ya it’s pink.

Sue: It’s pink. Ok, the thread I use, normally most people would use a cotton thread with, with patchwork which is actually what I would do in a normal situation but with English piecing I use a polyester thread. It’s a very fine thread. The reason I use it is because when you’re dragging the thread across the top of the card constantly then it will shred. And so then it becomes weak and we don’t want the piece to fall apart because we want it to stay together while we’re on this earth anyway. The next thing Jenny: I never thought about that, that’s really good. A good point. Polyester is going to hold together better.

Sue: Absolutely. The papers or the templates, our papers are, we have lots of different shapes and sizes. And they actually have a silk coating on back and front. So the reason for that is because when I introduced the glue pen technique to the market then it was easier to peel the fabric away from the paper. And I’ll show you how that works a little later. The glue pen which singlehandedly changed this whole technique. The whole world loves this, this technique right now. The glue pen is, whoop, of course it’s got an ink top on it and it’s pink glue. However it does come in blue and clear and white, all different colors.

Jenny: It does dry clear though. Oh ok.

Sue: It dries clear and it washes out. So it’s water soluble. And you get your little refills with that as well. So there’s the Sue Daley glue pen. I also do fussy cutting, the Sue Daley fussy cutting method and with that I use the, the mirror. So you’ve got your mirror for fussy cutting. And I also work with the Riley Blake stickers which are little double sided adhesive. 

Jenny: We, we are going to show you how all this, I mean the things she can make is amazing. So that, do you also do that, what is it called, with the angled ones, is it millefiori?

Sue: Oh the millefiori yes we have all the papers and templates for the millefiori quilt. It’s a gorgeous quilt. It’s everywhere.

Jenny: A lot of people are into that.

Sue: Ya. So we do all the, all the papers for that.

Jenny: I knew I would say it wrong. That’s why I had to try to get you to say it.

Sue: There’s all sorts of millefiori going on out there at the minute so, ya lots of things happening. So it’s, it’s, it looks like a time consuming technique. I mean it is hand sewn. But it is not as time consuming as it was many many years ago back in the 1700, 1800’s so I’ve actually pulled the technique in a little but and it’s much more user friendly. And you know the whole world is all over it right now.

Jenny: No wonder we’re having so much fun with it. So show us what we’re going to make here.

Sue: Ok, so what I’m going to do is just run you through a little bit of fussy cutting so you can see here. Fussy cutting is the cutting on the same pattern repeat over and over again. It’s a little bit like a kaleidoscope. I’m going to be working with our little hexagon flower petals. So in the middle is a hexagon flower, a hexagon shape and then the little petals around the outside. This is just a little needle case that has a little pocket in to pop your scissors in. And then all the little coordinating pieces.  So we have a pincushion and some little what they call orts which you put your threads in and a little container to put your rubbish in.

Jenny: I call them bowls Sue: Bowls, ya or baskets

Jenny: I’ll probably never call them that, never

Sue: Apparently, a rubbish bowl. Ok so what I’m going to do is just run you through how I cut using the rotating mat with the fabrics and the glueing and sewing and then putting it together.

Jenny: By the way, this is also your fabric. You design fabric as well.

Sue: Yes, yes I do.

Jenny: Alright so what are we going to do with it.

Sue: So we’ve got, this is Borgeleigh. So we’re going to just start by cutting out from this top fabric which is the main print. And I’m going to fussy cut this, so cutting on the same pattern repeat. So I’ll quickly show you how to do that. So when you choose fabric to fussy cut I’m going to be working with six pattern repeats. As you can see there’s six little petals around the outside. So make sure before you cut you have six pattern repeats on your fabric. So we can see there that we do have at least six pattern repeats. We’re going to take our little mirror here. 

Jenny: This mirror thing here was fascinating to me because all of a sudden you can see it.

Sue: Yes Jenny: Which for me is huge. That being able to see it.

Sue: This is our perlite template so you can see it has a quarter inch seam allowance around the outside.  So that’s for cutting our fabric. I’m going to pop it inside the mirror here and I’m not sure that you’re going to get a great view of that but. You pop it in there and you can see inside the mirror. You can have a look in there and you can see the six pattern repeats.

Jenny: Can you see it? There we go.

Sue: So if I was to move it around a little bit. You can see that it doesn’t matter where you put it on the fabric you will get a pattern repeat happening.

Jenny: I hope you guys can see this because it’s really, really cool to see in the mirror what’s going to happen. And you can see ahead of time exactly what your pattern is going to look at.

Sue: See here you can see exactly what you can get. So what I’m going to do is I”m going to find where I want to put that, where I want to place that and where I want to cut it. And then I’m going to stick a sticky dot onto the back of my thing. So I’m just going to turn this around so I can work out where this is going to go.

Jenny: I’ve got our sticky dots ready.

Sue: You have? Cool. Ok let’s take Jenny: I don’t know how, oh there we go, that is smart.

Sue: Take that little spot out of there. So there’s a dot So these are double sided sticky dots and just pop it onto your template. If it’s a small template you only need the one. If it’s a big template you’ll probably put a couple on. So I’m just putting it back inside the mirror so I’m turning it like that. I put the sticky dot on there. I’m just going to press down.

Jenny: It actually holds to the fabric.

Sue: I can take my mirror away and so it’s stuck onto our fabric now. I just take a little rotary cutter and now I’m happy with this is a 28 mil or 45. It doesn’t matter which one. So whatever one you’ve got in your kit is fine. I’m just going to cut. And as you can see I can just turn the board as I need to cut around to the corners. And there we have, it’s cut.

Jenny: It’s cut out. You can see.

Sue: There, we’re going to put that back over here.

Jenny: Oh ok.

Sue: Yep. And we’re going to find that same pattern repeat one more time. So what I do is I just, it’s stuck on there now. It’s not going to fall off. And all you need to do is lay that on the top and line your pattern repeat up exactly where it was. So you get it exact every time. And we don’t have any mistakes. And when you go to sew it all together your pattern repeat will be, they’re all join up Jenny: They’ll all be the same. So you have some of those cut for us already over there.

Sue: Ya, I’ll just cut the one out so you can see. Now it’s important that you leave the original one on there because you don’t want to have it to change every time you Jenny: Oop, we’re a little bit

Sue: One piece of fabric here so Jenny: There we go.

Sue: Ok there we have it so we now have two and they’re both exactly the same.

Jenny: And how many do they need to cut?

Sue: They need to cut six of those and then one hexagon for the center. So what you’ll end up with is this. So we’ve got our six and you can see they’re all cut on the same pattern repeat. And then I’ve put a red hexagon in the middle.

Jenny: Perfect.

Sue: Ok. So we’re going to now glue. So the board actually I cut out on it and I glue on it. I do lots of things on it. You can play Scrabble on it too if you like.

Jenny: I do love Scrabble.

Sue: You do love Scrabble. Well there you go, you’ve got a board to put your. Ok so your glue pen, what you want to do is wind your glue pen up a little bit. Don’t leave it down really low like that because you’ll be tempted to glue on the flat of your glue stick. You want to roll it up and you want to glue on the edge of it.

Jenny: This, this is genius guys. This is what made me want to do this because it’s so easy.

Sue: Ya. Well it took a lot of work. It saves me about 75% of my preparation time, the glue pen. So I’m going to work on my papers. So I’m going to glue on the edge but not right on the edge of the paper. You need to keep the glue a little bit away from the edge of the paper. And then you’re just going to fold it up and go around, fold it. When you come to these curves, it’s really cool because when you put your glue around there you can just drag it in really tight so you don’t get any points on your curves. Because what happens when we used to tack that you’d get all these little points on your curve there. And then fold it. So then we end up with this.

Jenny: Oh look how perfect that is.

Sue: So it’s really smooth on the top. So when we’re going to something that edge down it’s all really smooth. And then we will do a hexagon for the middle which is exactly the same technique.

Jenny: Wow, I love it.

Sue: Ok so I have one over here that I’ve prepared. So I might just move that off here and then we can put this on here. And then we can see that we’ve cut all these out.

Jenny: Here I will help you Sue: Yep. Oh and we’ve alternated those so Jenny: Oh Ok

Sue: Put that there. So that’s right.

Jenny: Oh how cool.

Sue: So with this one I’ve just alternated the pattern repeat and I’ve put three pattern repeats and alternted each one so it makes a whole different

Jenny: Oh that’s pretty.

Sue: Different pattern in there in the middle.

Jenny: Sure

Sue: So to sew it together, we’re going to take a milliner’s needle and some thread. It’s going to get away from me.

Jenny: And our little Sue: Our little scissors

Jenny: I’m patting for my scissors Sue: Now if you’re struggling to thread a needle just hold, hold the needle up to something white and it goes in a treat. And we’ll just put a knot in the bottom of our thread. And this is just what I call a quilter’s knot but I would wrap it about five or six times because the thread is so fine. But any knot in the end of your thread will be fine. And we’re going to take two pieces. So with this particular flower I would start Jenny: Make sure you put it here so everybody can see Sue: Oh sorry. I take the hexagon and I’ll take my flower petal. And I always put my hexagon facing up and my flower petal facing down because then I can sew all the way around in one thread. So I take my needle, I’m going to thread up through in behind the paper and the fabric just to lose my knot into that seam allowance . And we’re just going to take one stitch here at the top. And I’m going to come in for a second stitch. And I’m going to leave my needle in my work and I’m going to do a thing that I call a knicker knot. Now the problem with English piecing and Jenny: The knicker knot

Sue: Don’t get your knickers in a knot, Jenny

Jenny: Don’t get your knickers in a knot. I won’t.

Sue: The problem in the past is people never stopped and finished their work properly so it’s, so it will become part of the beginning and the end. So a knicker knot is, I don’t think it’s really called a knicker knot. I call it that just because it’s a bit of fun. So take the thread at the front and wrap it under your needle to the left , the two threads at the back will come around and go under your needle to the right and pull it. And you’ll have a little knot, a little figure eight knot in your thread. And then you know you’ve done it. If you don’t have a knot in your thread then it means you’ve wrapped it in the same direction. And we’re just going to travel across this piece taking a small bite of fabric on both sides. So you want to pick up about two threads on the back and two threads on the front and that way your thread will get lost into your fabric. If you only pick up one thread either side then you’ll see your stitches on the right side of your work.

Jenny: Now meaning picking up a thread by that you mean the bit of fabric.

Sue: Ya Jenny: Ok

Sue: So we need to pick up two threads of fabric on each side.

Jenny: Ok Sue: And I’m just going to do a tiny little bit of that.

Jenny: Which means you’re not doing right along the edge but just a hair in

Sue: Yep.

Jenny: Ok Sue: But before, when I start around and I go to cut my thread I do a knicker knot before I cut it because then it won’t come undone. You don’t want to just finish with two stitches. So you travel all the way around there. So then we end up with our little piece here. So here is the one I prepared earlier. 

Jenny: And it actually looks like one piece from up there but you can see on the back that it’s got, it’s got all the little sewn pieces together. And I’m going to look at her stitches here which I cannot even see. Pretty amazing. It’s so cool. It was just so fun to do that.

Sue: Ok so what I would do then is I would then be going to applique this onto a background fabric. So what I would do is take these papers out from behind. So the, one of the questions people say is How do I get the paper out? Well I say rip it like a bandaid, just pull it out like this.

Jenny: So it’s, it’s not really actually sewn in too much

Sue: No it’s not sewn in at all.

Jenny: You know Sue: You might capture the edges a little

Jenny: Yes but that, all the even does is really kind of perforate it so they come out

Sue: So it just, you’ll see it, it’s been chewed a little bit

Jenny: Ya, ya Sue: On the edge so

Jenny: So these ones that are still like whole like this can you use these again.

Sue: You can Jenny: Awesome

Sue: About three times is about the limit. And it depends what shape you’re working with as well. I mean if we’re working with a different shape like clamshells and apple cores we can use them a whole lot more. But these ones about three times. A lot of people don’t, they just like to use them once because they get a bit soft after a while. So once we’ve taken all that out we would then use some applique glue and we would glue baste that onto our piece here Jenny: Ok

Sue: And then I would normally just press it so it sticks straight away because I don’t have time to wait for anything so I normally, the glue will dry on its own but I would normally just glue it on there and just press it and it sticks right away because I’m ready to sew it again. And so we would applique those edges all the way around. And then like this. So one I’ve got prepared so I’ve prepared all those edges around using the same needle. And I’ve actually used the same thread as well and so you can see the stitches around the outside either.

Jenny: Perfect.

Sue: Then we’re just going to take our little, we’re going to do a quilt as you go hexagon right now. So I’ve used a Pellon product here called Peltex and it’s 72F I think it’s called. It’s double sided fusible. So all we can do is pop that on the top and then we can have a bigger one which I’ve cut out here using some templates here. So we’ve cut these out the same and then cut a bigger one for the back. Ok. So then what we do is we pop one on the top of each other like this. So you’ve got your Peltex, then we’ve got our fabric with our little applique on the top. And I press it. Is our iron on?

Jenny: Oh let’s, I don’t know, let me see.

Sue: Yes it is, look at that.

Jenny: There we go.

Sue: And then we just press it. So I’ll take it over here and press it.

Jenny: Does the Peltex stick, is there sticky stuff?

Sue: Yes a double sided fusible, 72F I think is the number.

Jenny: Perfect. It may not be hot yet. Is it hot?

Sue: It’s not bad. I’ll just press it on the other side so Jenny: Now do you by any chance sell kits of this of these things Sue: I do, yes

Jenny: Not the pattern but with all the stuff in

Sue: With all the stuff, so the patterns come with the papers and the templates.

Jenny: Oh ok Sue: Yes so all my patterns they come with papers or with papers and templates so the smaller patterns come with just the papers but my big patterns, my big quilt patterns will come with papers and templates. So they all come so you don’t have to run around looking for those bits and pieces after you’ve bought the pattern. It’s all there.

Jenny: Perfect, perfect.

Sue: Ok so now we have, this is all stuck together and when we do this, all we’re going to do is fold one edge over and press it. Fold the other edge over and press it. And then move it around, fold one edge over and press it. Fold one edge over and press it. And once you’ve pressed it all the way around then we’re just going to do a little applique stitch around the outside edge so we have what looks like this

Jenny: Perfect.

Sue: Or here’s one with the flower on it, right around the edge . And you’ll see that your corners here will miter. And they’ll miter automatically. You don’t have to make them do that. They’ll just do that.

Jenny: Ya that happens just by the folding and pressing, ya.

Sue: Because of the shape of the hexagon Jenny: That’s awesome

Sue: And so with these you can make anything with these. So in this little pattern you’ve got your little needle case and you’ve got a little mug rug here, your pincushion, your little container to hold your tape measure, another one for threads or buttons or whatever. So it’s a really good technique. Hexagons, something I did many, many years ago. It’s coming a little bit back into vogue right now. But it’s an easy thing to do. You can finish things off immediately. You can make quilts with hexagons as well. And it’s all done, all in one go.

Jenny: So I hope you enjoyed this. I love doing it. It’s just one of those things that I never thought I could do and now I can it. So we’re so glad you came, Sue.

Sue: Thanks, Jenny.

Jenny: Thanks for coming. This is one girl and a glue pen that’s changing the world. So try English paper piecing. Just give it a try. And we hope you enjoyed this tutorial from the MSQC.

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