I love autumn. The change of colors, mist in the air and the scent of fallen leaves. Autumn is the time to make your home cozy to enjoy staying indoors. A new pillow is a quick way to add some seasonal touch to your home décor. I prepared a new English Paper Piecing tutorial for you. This time we will explore new EPP shapes: octagons and kites. You will learn an easy way to fussy cut the fabric, how to work with those shapes and add simple embroidery and tiny stitches for the autumn feel. Let`s start!
The finished size of the front panel is 18 3/4" x 18 3/4"" (47.6 x 47.6cm). In this tutorial I give instructions for creating the front panel only. For the back side you can either make a button or envelope closure, or add a zipper. If you sew the front and back together with 3/8" (1cm) seam allowance (SA), the finished pillow will measure 18" x 18" (45 x 45cm).
All measurements are width x height.
You will need:
- pre-washed solid colored linen / quilting cotton 19 1/4" x 19 1/4" (48,9 x 48,9cm) for the front;
- fabric for fussy cutting (4) 1" (2.5cm) octagons and (1) 1/2" (1.3cm) hexagon;
- (5) assorted solid colored fabric scraps in coordinating colors for (4) kites and (5) hexagons;
- (4) octagon paper templates,
- (4) kite paper templates
- (6) 1/2" hexagon or Hexiform templates
Download the EPP templates here . Make sure the printer is set to “actual size” and not to “fit to page” when you print the templates. Print the templates in landscape format. Check the 1” (2.5cm) square on the Templates page to ensure the right final size. The templates DO NOT include seam allowances. When you cut fabrics, add 1/4" (0.6cm) seam allowances (SA) for paper templates and 5/16" (0.8cm) SA for Hexiform templates.
I recommend using medium-weight solid colored linen or quilting cotton for the background as it will make the EPP embellishments stand out. If using linen, pre-wash it as it tends to shrink a lot. There is no need to pre-wash quilting cotton.
While choosing fabric for fussy cutting keep in mind the scale of the motif. The purpose of fussy cutting is to highlight a specific design, so chose the fabric with designs that can be fully seen on octagons and the 1/2" hexagon.
To choose coordinating solid fabrics for jewels and hexagons, place fabric for fussy cutting on the background fabric, then start selecting solid colored scraps that coordinate well with both fabrics. Take the inspiration for the solid colors from the fabric for fussy cutting. It is important to pick the fabrics and prints you like because if you enjoy sewing them, you will enjoy the final product.
Here is my fabric pull for this project. I picked natural colored recycled linen, cotton fabric "Forest Friends" in Teal by Belle and Boo for fussy cutting and Grunge by Moda as coordinating solids. Belle and Boo has a beautiful selection of sweet prints with the perfect scale for fussy cutting.
There are different ways to do fussy cutting.
There are special rulers. For example, a 6" Hexagon ruler designed by Sue Spargo, that has the cut out hexagon templates in the most popular sizes 1/2" - 1 1/2".
You can also find acrylic templates for most EPP shapes.
But if you don´t have those tools you can easily make your own templates for fussy cutting.
Take a plastic folder, cut a piece that is approx. 1" - 1 1/2" (2.5 - 3.8cm) bigger on each side than the EPP template. It doesn´t need to be precise. Trace an octagon template onto plastic with a permanent marker. You can also add the SA, if desired.
Cut out the octagon shape with scissors (with or without SA). Now you can easily see what part of the fabric will be in your fussy cutting. Instead of plastic you can use paper.
Pay attention to the grain of fabric when placing the template. Dotted red lines on the Template page indicate the direction of the grain. You can mark the placement of the template on the fabric with a water/air/heat erasable pen. Don´t forget to cut out the shapes with 1/4" SA. Fussy cut (4) 1" octagons and (1) 1/2" hexagons
Preparing the EPP shapes
You can either glue or thread baste the 1" octagons and 1/2" hexagons. I recommend glue basting the kites for accuracy. The photo below shows the basting order for kites.
Baste (4) fussy cut octagons, (5) solid colored 1/2" hexagons , (1) fussy cut hexagon, (4) solid colored kites.
Sewing patchwork panels
Sew the octagons and kites together using your preferred method. Use a fine thread (for example, Aurifil 50wt or 80wt) and a fine needle to make your stitches less visible. It is important to pick just a few threads of fabric when you are stitching and place your stitches closely. When stitching with Aurifil 80wt, use shorter lengths, a needle with a big eye and adjust your pull strength.
First, attach the kites between two octagons.
Then, starting from the centre of a kite (where two short sides intersect), sew 2 kites together (1) and attach the second kite to the octagon (2). Repeat for the other set of octagons and kites.
Carefully sew both parts together (white dotted line on the photo above) paying attention that the seams between the kites are aligned. Use a clip to hold the pieces together when sewing.
Sew (6) 1/2" hexagons together.
Press the octagon and hexagon panels with a warm iron from the back side. Our embellishments are ready!
Appliqueing EPP embellishments
Mark the placement for both EPP panels as shown below.
Gently remove the paper templates. Press the panels with warm iron from the back side. Pin the panels in place and applique them to background fabric using your preferred stitch.
Adding embroidery and tiny stitches
Mark the placement for embroidery. First, mark the centre of the patchwork panel. Then using a round household object mark a circle around the panel. I used a 7 7/8" (20cm) plate. I decided to combine embroidery and tiny stitches.
Mark the leaves and letters on the embroidery part with a water erasable marker. This was my first sketch. I embroidered it and then realized that I wasn´t happy with the placement, so I had to rip some parts. Therefore, I encourage you to play with the placement for leaves and the letters until you are satisfied.
First, embroider the branch. I used Aurifil 12wt, color 5024 Dark Brown and outline stitch. Here is a short video on how to do that.
For the leaves, I used Aurifil 12 wt, color 2235 Orange and Aurifil floss (2 strands) color 2145 Yellow Orange. You can find a video on how to stitch a leaf here. Use an embroidery hoop.
Using brown thread and back stitch, embroider the letters. Personally, I find it easier to embroider letters and stem without a hoop, but each to their own.
Add tiny stitches in brown thread to complete the circle. Also add tiny stitches around hexagons and the octagons.
The front panel is ready. Remove all the markings and gently press with hot iron from the wrong side. Trim the front panel to 18 3/4" x 18 3/4" (47.6 x 47.6cm).
Finish the pillow in your favorite way (envelope / button / zipper closure). Sew the front and back together with 3/8" (1cm) SA.
Here is my finished pillow.
I like the designs that leave enough room to let your imagination fly and add your own finishing touches. You can easily adapt those embellishments for any season. While writing this blog I got a few more ideas for these EPP shapes. Stay tuned 😊
Special thanks to Belle and Boo for gifting the fabric for this project and inspiring me to create this tutorial for you!
P.S. I can´t wait to see your interpretations of this basic design. Do not copy or redistribute the templates and tutorial in any form, it’s for personal use and gifts only. If you show a picture of your made item, the credit for design must be given to NordicCrafter. Use the hashtags #nordiccrafterpatterns and #autumnpillow