EPP Stars

Hexie Stars -Big Piece
Hexie Stars -Big Piece

I haven’t talked about this project in a long time. I have been working on bunches of EPP stars. It wasn’t until last week that I actually put some of them together in groups and then attached them to my big piece.

I also laid the whole piece out on the bed and found that I have to double the size to make it even begin to fit our bed. I am feeling a little daunted by that effort with all of the other hand projects I have. Still, my friend Faye said that I have to think about this project as a long term, slow project.

Hexie Stars -Big Piece detail
Hexie Stars -Big Piece detail

There is a certain amount of satisfaction in getting even a few bits of this top done. When I add 4 stars to the larger piece, it feels good. It feels like I am making progress.

This is another project where I find that there are not enough colors in the rainbow. I guess I’ll have to think of it as a design challenge.

Interesting Half Hexie Progress

I’d love to say this piece was in the finishing process, but it is so far from the finishing process that lying wouldn’t even cover what I was doing. I am, however, working on this piece. It is slow going, which is fine when I don’t have other handwork that I must do.

Half Hexie First Borders
Half Hexie First Borders

Recently, I bought papers to fill in the border of the half hexie piece. I needed some triangles and some diamonds. I want to create a full stop at least on one side, so I picked out a dark grey (charcoal) with small white dots and basted some pieces. The fabric is not a pin dot.

It is a little bit of a shift to insert these extra shapes, but I got into it. It is kind of funny to see the edge done. I wonder if the grey is too dark considering the overall cheerful look of the piece.

I plan to put another straight border on the sides, once I get all the diamonds and triangles attached.

A Few More Hexie Stars

Half Hexies - May 2018
Half Hexies – May 2018

I have been working on the half hexie stars a tiny amount. They take a long time, as I have said.

I finally was able to cut some more backgrounds, so I have been focusing on making background stars. I’ll have to see when I can add more stars to the larger piece. Making the individual stars is fairly easy, though not completely mindless. I do have to really pay attention when I am adding stars to the larger piece.

EPP Progress

Half Hexie Project - June 2017
Half Hexie Project – June 2017

I have to admit I am losing steam on this project. I’d like to finish it and get it over with, but that means I have to work on it and I haven’t been.

I kind of screwed up on the side I had designated as the definite edge (left side). I need to make one side and edge and put the triangles on so I don’t put a star where it shouldn’t be.

I am feeling the urge to add some more stars so perhaps the time is coming soon.

EPP Technique

Recently I talked about using the flat back stitch for EPP. I have been using it and finding that it works well. I wasn’t always 100% happy with the WonderClips, however. It is probably the one time I don’t find the WonderClips gripping hard enough.

Taping and the Flat Back Stitch
Taping and the Flat Back Stitch

I have heard that some artists use tape to hold the pieces in place while stitching with the flat back stitch.

I started out with Scotch Tape. It was ok, but I could only use the tape once. Mailing tape – the clear kind – was a little better.

I didn’t have any masking tape, which I think would be the best, so I tried blue tape and it works pretty well. I can re-position it about 3 times before it gives out.

Taping and the Flat Back Stitch - back
Taping and the Flat Back Stitch – back

Still, I am pretty happy with the results. It is easier to keep the stars, or half hexies, in place while I sew.

EPP Travel Kit

EPP Travel Kit - closed
EPP Travel Kit – closed

I really like this pattern even though it gave me a few fits before I finished it.

I found this pattern somehow. It is free (for personal use only) from Zen of Making*. I wish I had thought of the name, because there is something zenlike about making and the name is cool.


The travel kit is part of a three part series, which includes a lesson on making the hexie flowers. The final piece is making a pincushion out of smaller hexies to use with the EPP Kit. I had plans to make that as well, but ran out of time.

EPP Travel Kit - open (front)
EPP Travel Kit – open (front)

This travel kit is awesome and the problem I had really had nothing to do with the pattern, but with the supplies I had on hand. I hand on hand, and wanted to use, some sew-in invisible  magnet closures. Sara of Sew Sweetness uses these in a lot of her patterns and I find I have better success with them than the models with the ‘legs’ used in this pattern.

The closure is pretty awesome. I love the way the hexie flowers stick together. Very clever.

Once I figured out how to get the sew-in magnetic closures oriented in the right direction, the assembly went pretty smoothly. There is a lot of handwork in this pattern, which I wasn’t expecting.

The open look (right, slightly above) is a little odd. I think it might be because of the scrappiness of the whole piece. I think I should have used a backing for the flap hexie flower that matched the hexie flower (the one with leaves and a turquoise center). I do kind of like the scrappy look. I think I will make one that looks like a Dia de los Muertos celebration for a different friend. I definitely want to try different colors.

EPP Travel Kit - inside view
EPP Travel Kit – inside view

Altoids tins fit nicely inside and Haley (blog owner/designer) calls for two of them for this project. I had to scrounge them up. I put a piece of felt in the bottom of each tin to make them less rattly and a little nicer.

I cut and added some 5″ squares, and an EPP book to make the kit look full and fun.






*It appears that the name of the blog has changed to Red Handled Scissors. Not sure why, but the pattern is still there.

More EPP

Half Hexie EPP - late March 2017
Half Hexie EPP – late March 2017

About a week ago, I showed you my big English Paper Piecing project. I have been working on it quite a bit and am showing it again with its new and attractive bulge on the lower right. I have thought about EPP a lot in the past week, wondering why I am enjoying it so much. I don’t suppose I really need a reason, but I do wonder.

What I have come up with is that I enjoy handwork, but something like needleturn applique’ isn’t really my thing. EPP provides a convenient type of handwork that is pretty different from machine work. Why would I hand piece something I can easily machine piece?

For a challenge?


After  a few blocks, however, it is no longer a challenge.

EPP is handwork, but it is different enough in process to fill a hole. It is also strangely convenient and can be the catalyst for creating amazing designs. Have you seen La Passacaglia?

On my half hexie piece, I have been working on making dots on white half hexie stars and I am making progress with my next two rows (one with a white background and one with fabrics prints in colors.

I have to admit being a little sick of this project and wanting it finished. I have a long way to go before it is finished, however. Learning something new about basting at the last guild meeting reinvigorated me and I can’t wait to try it with my half hexies.

EPP In Process

Half Hexie EPP - Feb 2017
Half Hexie EPP – Feb 2017

I have done a  little more on this piece since I took the photo, but it is slow going so not much.

Despite my protests yesterday that I wasn’t in a rush to finish this piece, I really do want to finish it so I can start the La Passacaglia. Having two large EPP projects seems ridiculous and I only have a certain amount of handstitching time, so focus is the requirement.

My big push now is to make dots on white stars. I need a lot of them and can’t move forward without them. I think I have three in process, but a number of strips cut, waiting.

Improving my EPP

I haven’t been happy with the right sides together method of whip stitching my EPP pieces together. I don’t like the stitches showing on the front. No matter how careful I am, I seem to always get a few stitches showing. ERGH!!!

Finished star using flat back stitching
Finished star using flat back stitching

I mentioned recently that I had heard about the Flat back stitch for sewing EPP shapes together. I watched the video thoroughly, eventually, and tried it. I like the technique, although it isn’t without hassle and have modified my stitching accordingly.

One thing the video shows is starting inside a seam. The idea is to slip the needle between the fabric and the paper, catching the knot on the inside. I never thought of that!

Flat back stitch using WonderClips
Flat back stitch using WonderClips

I have been using WonderClips to hold my pieces together. It is imperfect at best despite the fabulousness of WonderClips. The video shows using regular transparent tape. Another great idea.

There are a couple of other good things about the flat back stitch. First, you don’t have to bend the paper/card pieces when you insert a piece (Y seam idea). This makes the card last longer. Second, the stitches don’t show at the beginning of the line of stitching, which they can if you are even a tiny smidge not careful. DIY Addict has some info about this after the 2:50 minute mark on her video.

This technique takes me longer, but I like the look and really am not in a rush to get another star attached to this piece.

It is a good day when I learn something new.

Other resources

DIY Addict video: flat back stitch

EPP New Sections

I know the last time I talked about this piece was back in February. I have sort of been working on it, though there have been long stretches where I have not worked on it. I got a little fed up because sewing big sections to the big main piece is really a pain and I didn’t want to do it. It made me think twice about La Passacaglia, but that is a tale for another day.

EPP April 2016
EPP April 2016

Finally, I put a new section on and it is looking good. A little boring and staid, but good.

I am going to try to put one or two stars on the main piece instead of larger secondary pieces. It means more handling of the large piece, but perhaps the duration of dealing with the main section will be less.

Improv Again

I got two new-to-me round robins last Friday. I didn’t have enough design wall space, so I took them out and looked at them. Different elements caught my attention – the squares in Annemarie’s and the applique’ on Michelle-Nicholle’s.

My addition to Annemarie's piece - detail
My addition to Annemarie’s piece – detail

I started with Annemarie’s after I finished the Cutting Corners donation top. I decided to add  the other corner to the top left. My corner has the same look at the corner on the right side. I wanted the elements to be related, but not to be derivative. I wanted to use more of the Alison Glass fabric, but there wasn’t any left in the packet.

I looked at it after I had finished the squares. They looked too square. I had to make up some space (see the bottom strips where the blueberry fabric is?), so I added some strips and kept adding until my addition was large enough to fill the space. The strips look more improv than the squares. I can’t blame my hand for the cutting as it is much better. Habit, I guess.

Michelle-Nicholle's Improv piece -before
Michelle-Nicholle’s Improv piece -before

Michelle-Nicholle’s was harder, mostly because it had the structure of a very traditional round robin. All the pieces in the round robin are getting quite large and Michelle-Nicholle’s is no exception. It is also, I think, the largest piece on which I have worked. There were also only a few motifs I could use as inspiration, none of which were very exciting to me. More applique’ would have been logical, but I just wasn’t in the mood. It was very difficult to think of an addition. I reached back to my early days of quiltmaking when I learned to do improv curved piecing. I added some of that. It is a simple addition, but effective, I think. I may add something else as my addition does seem like much, nor does it help the next person as a jumping off point.

Michelle-Nicholle's IRR after -detail
Michelle-Nicholle’s IRR after -detail
Michelle-Nicholle's IRR after
Michelle-Nicholle’s IRR after


EPP Progress

EPP Progress-main
EPP Progress-main

I have made a lot of progress on my English Paper Piecing project. I worked on it a bit during my recent trip to the North Coast.

I am now out of papers and basting thread, though I have more to use. I just didn’t have it with me. The papers are a bigger problem as I need to buy more or unbaste some from that big piece and reuse them. I will work on that.

Invisible Stitches from the front
Invisible Stitches from the front

I also tried a different way of stitching the sections together. I used an, supposedly, invisible stitch and I am pretty pleased with the results. The picture with the green star is one of the first tries at this invisible stitch and I can’t see the stitches. I am using Aurifil 50wt in the #2600 color, so I have thinness and a blendy color on my side. It is a bit of a pain to sew the pieces together, because you line them up side by side as they will look when finished. This makes it hard to hold them together while sewing. I can’t use WonderClips to pinch them together. I have resorted to a few stitches at critical points to hold the pieces in place and that seems to be working. I am pleased with the progress.

Back of invisible stitches
Back of invisible stitches

The back doesn’t look quite as nice. Fortunately, very few people will see the back.

In the photo, you can see my needle (towards the center of the picture by the green rabbit ear). That is how the sections, or stars, get sewn together. For the moment, I have been sticking to this method with big sections only.

I have found that using this method means that I trim more of the excess fabric, frayed threads, etc off the back.

So progress. Next on the list is to lay this on the bed and see how much more I have to make.

More EPP

Half Hexies EPP Section - November 2015
Half Hexies EPP Section – November 2015

I have been working on the EPP project while watching TV instead of sewing the sleeve on to FOTY 2014.

A week or so ago, I was in desperate need of some dots on white, so I spent quite a bit of time cutting fabrics to make some stars for the alternate rows. I can’t reap the rewards without papers.

Mostly I have been making stars, but I needed to free up some of the EPP papers so I sewed a section together and will sew it to the main piece next. Once I sew the section shown to the main piece, I can pull out some of the papers. yes, I could buy more, but it seems ridiculous to do so until the papers I have fall apart. I could make more papers from the subscription cards in magazines, but I am too lazy.

I don’t like doing this. I wanted to make all the stars and then sew them all together. I know there were some times where I just couldn’t help myself and sewing sections together is sensible, but still.


EPP Details

Half Hexie Stars - Late April 2015
Half Hexie Stars – Late April 2015

I have made my half hexie star project larger. I like making the stars and, as I have said in the past, they are great for a traveling project. However, I seem to be obsessed with making the ‘top’ piece larger. I don’t know why, but when I sit on the couch to watch TV with DH, I add a star or a row of stars to the larger piece. It wasn’t in my plan to do that, but I can’t seem to help myself. Even the sleeve from the Russian Rubix is languishing, because of this new obsession.

I really need to keep this project going through 2017, so that I have something on which to work when I travel with DH on his rounds to the various parlors. I can’t just zoom through it.

The other night I sewed a row of dot-stars (I decided to make the piece have a stripey effect with stars made from dots on white alternating with the other scrappy stars) together and then added them on to whole piece (see top of picture). Yesterday, I laid the piece on the bed to see how big it needs to be. I estimate that it needs to be 2.5 -3 times as wide as it is now to be a bed quilt with a bit of drape over the sides.

Friday night I pulled out a lot of the center papers, because I was running out, so now there is just a row of papers left around the outside. I got a little over enthusiastic with that process and pulled out half of one on the edge. I didn’t want the stitching to come out, so I sewed the blue batik star to the purple star to keep the purple seam from being lost. That is why you see the blue batik star sticking up, seemingly at random, on mid-bottom right. I didn’t really mean to add another row to the top.

The lavender dot in the lower right hand corner is just clipped to the piece so I remember to place that star in that location. I need to sew it to a white dot star before I sew it to the whole piece. It isn’t hard to inset the stars, but it is less work to sew two together and then add them at once.

EPP Stitching
EPP Stitching

What I really wanted to talk about was thread. I have a hand sewing kit I use when I sew on the couch that has random bits of thread and everything I need to do almost any kind of hand sewing. I don’t always have the exact color, but usually I can find one in there that will work for whatever my project is.

At some point I ran out of Aurifil #2600 and never replaced it. I could just walk upstairs, wind a bobbin and voila. Sadly once I have parked myself on the couch there will be very few steps added to my FitBit. As a result I haven’t replaced that thread.

I am using an Oliver Twist thread that came with a pack of those threads when I bought them several years ago. It is quilting thread, I think, so fairly thick. I don’t think it is ideal, but it doesn’t fray like some others, though it is hard to thread.

I am curious to know what thread you use for EPP?

Seeing EPP Progress

I added two stars to my larger piece.

EPP April 2015
EPP April 2015

I feel like adding only two stars to the larger piece is major progress. I like the symmetry of the [kind of] rectangle. Somehow this looks like I am making something.

My plan is to make the piece big enough to cover a bed. I will slowly make the stars as I travel with the Grand President (HA! DH) then add them to the piece when I am at home.

I know it seems like I should be able to take this piece with me. It is, however, 1.5′ x ~1 foot and I want to keep it as flat as possible because of the cardboard EPP templates still inside. Making one at a time is better for travel.

I have a bin of stars that I have been making. I pulled out my bin of stars and picked some to add to the piece later. I made the stars and stored them in the bin thinking that I would just make the stars and put them together eventually. I couldn’t wait, thus I started putting the piece together into what you see above.