Hey Fabric Lovers!  This is Jessica from Lifeunderquilts and I’ve got a little project to share today, perfect for outdoor summer hand sewing.

Have you been curious about English paper piecing but not sure what type of project to try?  Why not make this pin cushion from my new book, Quilting on the Go!

Quilting on the Go

English paper piecing is a technique where the fabric patches are first basted to paper templates and then stitched together by hand (I use a whip stitch).  Once all sides of a patch are sewn, the template can be removed and reused.  It’s simple and addictive, and can be done almost anywhere.

Here is a simple tutorial that will show you the  basics of basting and whip stitching, and when it’s all stitched up, you’ll have a cute little summery pin cushion.  Let’s get started.

You’ll need the following materials:

Fabric scraps – I used the Coastal prints from Timeless’s super adorable Mini Series collection, plus Rain Basic.

2 triangle templates, 3” per  side.

6 half hexagon templates, 1.5” on the short side.

3 square templates, 1.5” per side.

3 rectangle templates, 1.5”x3”

Crushed walnut shells (available in pet supply shops)

Two buttons

Thread for piecing, thicker thread for attaching the buttons.

Sewing kit  (needles, paper clips, basting thread)

A long needle for attaching the buttons

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Now that all our materials are assembled, let’s begin!

  1. To cut out your fabrics, hold the template on your fabric and cut about 3/8″ around the sides.  Use paperclips to hold your fabric onto the template.

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  1. Start basting by folding in the seam allowance and taking a backstitch in one corner.  Keep folding and backstitching at each corner, ending again with another backstitch where you started.  Do not baste through the template!  On long edges, take an extra stitch in the seam allowance to hold the fabric taut.

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  1. Attach three half hexagons to each triangle, with a whipstitch.  Put two templates right sides together and hold the seam allowance tails off to the side as you stitch.

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  1. Attach squares and rectangles to one of the triangle/half-hexagon units.

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  1. Remove templates after all sides have been stitched.

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  1. Stitch sides of the squares/rectangles from the wrong side, leaving one square unsewn.

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  1. Begin stitching the bottom onto the sides with the entire piece inside out.  When you reach the last square, finger press any remaining unsewn edges and take out all templates except for that square.

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  1. Turn the piece right side out.

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  1. Sew ½ of the bottom edge of the square and take out the template.  Stick your finger into the hole to help manipulate the fabric and keep the edge straight as you finish stitching the rest of the seam.

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10. Using a funnel, add the crushed walnut shells until the pin cushion is the desired thickness.

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11. Stitch the opening closed.

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12. Using a thicker thread, stitch buttons in the center of the pincushion at the top and bottom, pulling taunt.  After 4 loops through both buttons, knot and bury the thread.

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And there you have it! Make one for yourself, make them for friends, the Costal Minis line is perfect for small English Paper Pieced shapes and fussy cutting.  And the basting and stitching steps for this project can totally be done at the park, in a café, or on your patio as the kids run in the sprinkler.

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I hope you get a chance to try this project.  For more fun English Paper Piecing patterns, check out my book, Quilting on the Go, and my blog.

Happy stitching!


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