Hello Hexies + Thread for English Paper Piecing

How do you prepare for a 6 hour road trip?  With English Paper Piecing, of course!  

Pretty Colorful Fabric Stacks.jpg

Last week was stressful.  Liam and I had a hard week of homeschooling, which was underscored by the pressure of preparing to be away from home.  Brandon and I left on Thursday morning for a long weekend away in Williamsburg, Virginia.  We attended the East Coast Gammill Conference to expand our skills as longarm machine quilters.  The kids stayed behind with friends and family, as the 6 hour one-way road trip combined with classes from 8 am to 5:30 pm... well, it wasn't going to be a vacation!  We did arrive home last night positively exhausted, but also brimming with new ideas and skills we can't wait to try.  

EPP Hexie Flowers

In the evenings before our trip, I rewarded myself for getting through each day by cutting fabrics for a new English Paper Piecing (EPP) project.  This style of patchwork is sewn by hand.  First you wrap fabrics around paper shapes.  That's called basting.  Then you join the shapes by hand, being careful not to sew through the removable papers. 

Cutting Fabrics for EPP.jpg

I love basting - love seeing the pretty fabrics take on geometric shapes - but, sometimes find the joining tedious.  I tend to reserve EPP for sewing away-from-home.  It's very portable!  

The road trip and conference were perfect opportunities for EPP.  I to chuckle when I pulled out my supplies to get started.  I had cut five, not six petal fabric squares for each of the flowers. I mean, really, they're called hexagons.  That means you need SIX petals around a hexagon center.  Come on, Rachel!  Yep, I was a little bit stressed last week...

EPP Hexie Flowers.jpg

Oh well, that didn't stop me from making 5-petaled partial hexie flowers.  Hehe!  


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Testing Thread for EPP

I brought along four different threads.  I could have used just one, but I was too rushed to decide.  I took the opportunity to thoughtfully sample each one and hone in on a favorite for English Paper Piecing.  Here's what I found:

Thread for EPP.jpg

On the left is a hand quilting thread by Gutermann.  It's waxed and stiff and tangles easily.  It used to be my go-to hand sewing thread, but no longer.  I'm never going to use such a fine thread for hand quilting, so I'm using it up for EPP basting.  

The next thread is a spool of Aurifil 80 wt.  It's a very fine thread, which allows the joining EPP stitches to sink into the seams, rather than show.  Sadly, I tend to snap this thread when I use it for EPP.  I'm too rough, I guess.  I'll save it for hand applique.

That chunky spool of shiny thread is Aurifil's invisible monofilament thread.  This was my favorite choice if sewing in excellent lighting.  The EPP joining stitches don't show at all, and it's a nice, strong thread.  Because it's slippery, the thread tends to slip out of the eye of my needle.  I had to rethread often.  Still, it seems worth the extra trouble in excellent lighting.  In medium to low lighting, it's too hard to see what you're doing with invisible thread.

On the right is a spool of Metler thread.  I bought it randomly at some point for color.  It's just regular sewing thread, but I was glad I brought it along.  In subpar lighting, I had to use it or stop sewing.  The joining stitches do show, but oh well.  Just keep sewing, right? 

Next time I'll test a spool of Aurifil 50 wt, which I've heard some prefer for EPP.  What about you?  Do you have a favorite English Paper Piecing thread?