What you need to start English Paper Piecing
If you are new to sewing, there are basic sewing supplies needed for english paper piecing: paper, fabric, needle & thread. If you have ever sewn a button back to a shirt you are well on your way to being able to hand sew a quilt or small sewing project. If you are an established quilter but have not ventured into the world of hand piecing or EPP, you probably already have a lot of the essentials!
No matter where you are starting from, I’ll walk you through my english paper piecing kit and share some of my essential EPP supplies and favorite sewing notions.
My EPP Toolkit
Fabric - At the epicenter of all projects of course! I’m pretty sure you have this part covered but if not, have you seen some of the pretty modern fabrics I stock in the shop?
Paper Shapes - You can purchase, draft your own, punch your own. I prefer the speed and accuracy of using precut papers for english paper piecing, but you can absolutely create your own.
Thread- You can use cotton or poly thread for EPP. I started out using Aurifil 50wt cotton thread, the type of thread I use on my machine for piecing. This works great by the way, just be sure to use a thread gloss if you are working with cotton thread to make your life easier. I did some experimenting and discovered Decobob 80wt thread and I love working with it. It's a finer thread but poly, so very strong, and it hides the stitches very well. I tend to use a neutral gray color for everything but if I’m feeling fancy I’ll take the time to match my thread color to my fabrics.
One sewing hack for carrying thread with you on the go- use bobbins! They are easy to pack into your sewing kit because they take up so little space. Decobob comes in prewound bobbins and I always have some in my handwork sewing kit.
Needle - I use Milliners needles, aka straw needles, in size 11. These needles are long, fine, sharp and flexible. They glide through the edge of the fabric like butter and I don’t need a thimble. The tradeoff is the eye being tiny. That's where my next essential tool comes in.
Clover Desk Needle Threader - This thing is a miracle worker, it effortlessly threads my needles for me so I don’t have to squint. If I have time I like to thread a batch of needles at once and store them in the Clover Needle Dome so they are ready waiting for me. Pop it in my bag and it's perfect for hand sewing on the go.
Cutting Tools. I use a combo of rotary cutter, scissors & snips for all my cutting needs. Rotary cutter & mat for cutting strips of fabric and then subcutting. Fabric scissors if I’m cutting out a certain motif I’ve traced out. Snips for quickly cutting thread.
Acrylic Template - Personal preference, but I find it easier to use a template with the seam allowance already included so I can cut accurate shapes from my fabric without having to measure.
Marking Pen- If I’m fussy cutting I trace around the template onto the fabric with an water or air erasable pen, heat erasing frixion pen or pencil.
Gluepen - I use the sewline glue pen because I like the feel of it in my hands and the thin tip makes it easier to put a small line of glue on the paper. You can also use a school glue stick or craft glue stick, do some experimenting. Remember, you want the papers to come out at the end so use the glue sparingly.
Sewtites - This is a ‘nice to have’ item, but one that I have found invaluable. Sewtites are magnets which hold your handwork together. When I first started EPP I would just hold the papers I was sewing together in between my thumb and index finger. I was grasping them so tightly my hand was hurting! I tried using wonderclips but my thread kept getting caught on the clips which I found infuriating. I stumbled upon sewtites and they are a game changer. They cut down on my hand fatigue and have a slim profile so my thread doesn’t get snagged. Not essential, but I’m thankful to have them in my EPP toolkit!
Once you have the essential EPP supplies gathered, we can start to prep our shapes for sewing!