Getting Started with English Paper Piecing Part 2: Cutting & Basting Hexagons

Are you just getting started with English paper piecing and want some guidance? Worried it's going to be too difficult? No worries. I'm here to help walk you through EPP one step at a time.

In this four-part series, I take you step-by-step through making a small EPP project from start to finish. You'll learn how to make a bookmark entirely by hand and get familiar with the entire English paper piecing process. It's a fast and fun EPP project perfect for beginners!

Last week, we covered the essential tools and supplies you need to get started with EPP. In this week's post, I teach you how to cut your fabric and how to glue baste your hexagon EPP templates to your fabric.

I'll cover each step in detail in this blog post. If you'd prefer to watch me do it and follow along with me, below is the video for this week.

I'm so excited to share this post with you. We finally get to start working on our bookmark project! So let's begin.



Let's Start an EPP Project!

There are a few simple steps to make EPP hexagons (aka hexies). First, you need to gather your EPP supplies. Next, you'll cut your background fabric and you'll attach your paper EPP templates to your other fabric. You'll cut out your hexagon shapes from the fabric. Then, you'll glue-baste the hexie fabric around each paper template. Lastly, you'll prep your background fabric for stitching.

Let's go over each step in detail...


Step 1: Gather your EPP supplies

For this step in our project, you'll need to grab four of the six tools and supplies I covered in last week's post. The four tools/supplies you need to start your EPP project are:



I recommend selecting two or three different colors of fabric for your bookmark. One fabric will be for the background (the actual rectangular bookmark shape). The other fabric or two will be for the hexagons that we will be putting onto the background fabric.

Here you can see the fabrics I've chosen to use for my bookmark. The red fabric will be my bookmark background, while the green and blue fabric will be for my hexagons.


Fat quarters of quilting cotton fabric I'm using for the EPP project.



The second item you need is your paper hexagon templates. You can either purchase pre-cut templates from my shop or download the free templates and cut them yourself.

You will need 5 hexagons that are 3/4-inch in size. Because hexagons are measured by the length of one side, your hexagons should measure 3/4 inch on each side.



You're going to need a pair of scissors for cutting out your fabric. And if you haven't yet cut out your templates you'll need them for that, as well. I recommend using paper scissors for this.

If you have a separate pair of scissors designated for cutting fabric, then definitely use those for cutting out your fabric.

I've included the scissor method here, just in case you are not a quilter and are exploring English paper piecing for the first time. I want you to know you don't need any special tools or equipment to get started with EPP.


Tools & supplies needed for cutting and basting step.


Glue Stick

The last item on the list is a glue stick. In last week's post and video, I explained in detail the type of glue I use and why. Check it out if you want to know more.

Two additional tools needed for this step is a pencil (or pen) and a ruler. We'll be using these for measuring and marking our background fabric before cutting.

If you happen to have rotary cutting tools then you can use those instead of the pencil, ruler, and scissor method I show here to cut your fabric.


Step 2: Cutting the Background Fabric

If your fabric is wrinkled or has creases, be sure to iron it flat first.

Grab your background fabric. We're now going to measure and mark out a rectangle on the wrong side of the fabric. The rectangle needs to be 8-1/2 inches by 5-1/2 inches.

Next, draw a line down the center of that rectangle that splits it into two sections that both measure 8-1/2 inches by 2-3/4 inches.


Background fabric with measurements drawn and ready to cut.


Now cut out the shapes with your scissors along the lines you just drew.


Cutting out the background fabric for the EPP bookmark.


You should now have two pieces of your background fabric each measuring 8-1/2 inches by 2-3/4 inches.


Two pieces of fabric each measuring 8-1/2" x 2-3/4".


3. Prepping & Cutting the Hexagon Fabric

Now we're going to prep our hexies for cutting. So grab your templates, glue stick, and your hexagon fabric(s).

Put a dot of glue in the middle of one of your paper hexagon templates. Place the hexagon glue side down onto the wrong side of your fabric, making sure you leave at least 1/4 inch of fabric all around the paper template.


A dab of glue on the paper template.


For the next hexagon, do the same thing, being sure to leave enough room between it and the first template you placed to make enough fabric for two seam allowances. In other words, the space between your two hexagon templates should be a minimum of 1/2 inch - 1/4 inch for one template and 1/4 inch for the other template.


EPP shapes with at least 1/4 inch seam allowance around each one.


Repeat this for the remaining three templates. Feel free to use a second fabric color/style for a two-tone hexie design. I'm using the green fabric for two of my hexies, and the blue fabric for the other three of my hexies.

Now that you have your templates tacked to your fabric. It's time to cut around each template.

As you cut make sure you leave at least 1/4 inch of fabric around the paper template. That 1/4 inch of fabric will be the seam allowance that we're going to baste to the template in the next step.


Hexie shape with 1/4 inch seam allowance.


If the seam allowance is too small, it will be difficult to glue-baste and may cause you to get sticky fingers, or worse, could cause problems with your piecing later on.

So make sure you leave at least 1/4 inch of fabric around each paper template. Feel free to measure it if you want to make sure you've got enough fabric there.


Hexie Cutting Tips

Here are a few quick cutting tips to help you along.

Feel free to mix your five hexies between two fabrics to make a two-tone design.

  • Two or three in one color
  • The remaining two or three in the other color

  • Accurate seam allowances are not necessary, just make sure they are between 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch wide.
  • If you prefer to be more accurate, use a quilting ruler to measure for accurate seam allowances.


Step 4: Glue-Basting the EPP Templates

Now that you've got all your fabric pieces cut and ready to go, it's time to baste your hexie shapes. Glue basting makes the prep work of English paper piecing more fast and more fun. 

Here are the simple steps for glue-basting...

  1. Take your glue stick and one fabric/paper hexie shape.
  2. Apply glue along one side of the paper hexie without touching the edge of the paper. 
  3. Fold the fabric seam allowance that's on that side over and onto the paper with the glue on it.
  4. Press with gently with your finger to secure the fabric to the paper.
  5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 for each side of the hexagon shape. 
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 for each of the five hexie shapes.
  7. Make a total of 5 hexagons wrapped in fabric.


Glue-basting hexagons for EPP. 

Fuss-Free Glue-Basting Tips

Here are my glue-basting tips for fuss-free EPP...

  • Keep glue away from the very edge of the template.
  • Hold the glue stick at a 45 degree angle to get the thinnest line of glue possible. (See my video for a demonstration of this).
  • Be sure to take glue all the way to the right to ensure crisp corners and easy folding of the fabric, without going all the way to the edge of the paper.
  • Try to keep glue away from the left side to avoid getting sticky fingers.
  • Turn your shape in the same direction each time. This will keep all the seams going in the same direction.


Step 5: Prepping Background Fabric

The last step you need to do is prepare the background fabric for the stitching step that we'll cover in a later post.

Grab the two pieces of background fabric that you cut out above in step 2. You'll also need the pencil and ruler you used earlier.

You want to mark a 1/4 inch seam allowance around one of the fabric pieces. Here we go...

  • Flip one of your background pieces over so that the wrong side is facing up.
  • Mark 1/4 inch in from the edge on all four sides of the fabric, two marks on each side.


Marking the 1/4 inch seam allowance.
  • Draw a line, connecting the two marks on each side, at 1/4 inch from the edge of the fabric, on each side.

You should now have a rectangle drawn just inside the edge of the fabric on the wrong side of your background piece, a 1/4 inch in from the edge of the fabric. You'll be using this drawn rectangle as your stitching line when I show you how to put the bookmark together in a couple of weeks.


Background fabric with 1/4 inch seam drawn on the wrong side of the fabric.


Next Week

Alright! You now have your fabric cut and templates prepped and ready for stitching. Great job!


Two background pieces and five hexagons ready for next week!


Next week, you'll learn how to hand sew the EPP hexagon shapes together using a simple stitching technique. I'll also give you my top tips for making almost invisible stitches so they won't show on the front of your project.

I'd love to see your EPP bookmark project coming together. Share on social media using #MakerJayneStitchAlong. See you next week!



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