Getting Started with English Paper Piecing Part 4: Finishing the EPP Bookmark

It's our final installment of the four-part getting started series all about English paper piecing!

So far, we've covered the essential tools and supplies for EPP, cutting fabric and basting EPP templates, and even stitching hexagons and appliqueing them to background fabric.

In this final part of the series, we'll finish assembling the bookmark project we began three weeks ago. You'll learn three basic hand sewing techniques. These are common stitches that can be used in many other hand sewing applications beyond English paper piecing.

If you're new to the series and would like to learn the basics of English paper piecing by making the bookmark, check out the entire series beginning with part 1. Here's what was covered in each part of the series...

As usual, I'm also including a video tutorial for this part which you can watch here...



So let's begin...


Assembling the EPP Bookmark Project

This is one of the best parts of any project when we finally get to see our work come together into a finished product!

There's not a lot of steps to assembling the bookmark, either. So this will be a quick finish.

Let’s go through the steps together...


1. Gather Tools & Materials

For the finish, you're going to need your two fabric pieces, needle, thread, and scissors.


Tools and supplies needed to finish the EPP bookmark.


If you're just joining the series, refer to Part 1 for the essential
tools and supplies you need to get started with EPP
and what I recommend for beginners.


2. Stitch the Bookmark Seam

Go ahead and thread your needle. You'll need about 18 inches of thread on your needle to sew around the bookmark.

Next, tie a quilter's knot at the end of your thread. Here's a quick review.


How to tie a Quilter's Knot

Hold the needle in your right hand and the end of the thread in your left hand with each end pointing at the other, like so.


Beginning a quilter's knot.


Then wind the end of the thread around the needle three or four times.


Thread wound around the needle for a quilter's knot.


Pinch the windings between your index finger and thumb. Then pull the needle through your pinched fingers with the other hand until the knot forms at the end of the thread.


A quilter's knot.


Time to stitch! Place your two pieces of fabric right sides together so that the edges line up with each other. Your hexagon motif should be facing down on top of the other fabric that is facing up.

You want to be able to see the pencil markings you made for the seam allowance in a previous lesson. You will be stitching on that pencil line.

If you want to pin or clip your fabric together so they don't shift, you can do that now.

But you don't have to pin this project. Just make sure that as you're sewing the edges remain lined up, checking them as you go and straightening as needed.


Bookmark fabric pieces laying right sides together.


Pick up the fabric pieces, holding them in your non-stitching hand so that the long sides are arranged to point up and down, or vertically.

Insert your needle down through both layers of fabric right on the pencil line about 2 inches away from the corner on the long side closest to your stitching hand. Pull the thread all the way through until you reach your quilter's knot.

Bring your needle up through both layers of fabric about 1/8 inch away from where you went down, right on the pencil line.


Taking the first stitch.


Now we're going to do a couple of backstitches. They are easy to do and just what the name implies - stitching backward - but you'll do it in one place.


How to sew a backstitch

Insert your needle into the same spot you went down when you first entered your work with the needle. Then bring the needle up 1/8 inch away, in the same spot you just came up. That is a single backstitch.

Repeat this a second time to create two backstitches in the same exact place.

Now, we're going to do a running stitch to begin closing up the seam of the bookmark.


How to sew a running stitch

Insert your needle about 1/8 inch away from your backstitches through both layers of the fabric, going towards the top corner.

Without pulling your needle and thread all the way through the fabric, bring the needle up through the fabric 1/8 inch away on the pencil line.

Leaving the needle in the fabric (not pulling it through all the way) continue poking it through the fabric, down and back up, at 1/8 inch intervals.


A running stitch with three stitches lined up on the needle.


This method allows you to put several stitches on your needle at a time, speeding up the sewing process and saving you time. Depending on how long your needle is, you can put three or four stitches on your needle at a time, more or less.

Continue with your running stitches until you reach the first corner.


How to hand sew a corner

In order to make the corners of your work nice and strong, you need to backstitch on either side of the corner.

To do this, repeat the same backstitch process you did when you began stitching your work above, making two backstitches in one direction and then turning the corner and making two backstitches in the other direction.

Both backstitches in both directions should be right on top of each other like in this picture.


Backstitching to secure and add strength to the corner.


Continue stitching along the short side of the bookmark using the running stitch. When you reach the next corner, repeat the same backstitches you did at the previous corner.

Continue in this way around the bookmark until you get back to the long side that you started on, stopping about three or four inches away from where you began.

Make two backstitches in the same spot to secure your thread. Then bury your thread in the seam allowance next to those backstitches and tie off using the loop method I showed you in last week's post.

Your bookmark should now look like this...


The stitched seam around the bookmark with an opening for turning the work.


Notice how it is stitched around the seam line with a gap of about three or four inches at the bottom that is not stitched. That gap is where we'll turn the whole bookmark through so that the inside comes to the outside.


3. Turning the Work

Before you turn your work, clip the fabric at each corner. Clipping the corners of the fabric helps to reduce bulkiness at the corners on the finished project.

It's important to clip close enough to reduce bulk but not too close to cut your stitches! I like to leave two or three threads of fabric between where my stitches are and where I cut.


The corners should be clipped close to the stitches to reduce bulk.


Now we need to turn the work inside out. To do this, insert your thumb inside, at one corner. Then put your index finger on the outside at the same place so that you're pinching the two fingers together.

Then manipulate the fabric with the other hand so that your thumb is now on the outside and your index finger is on the inside. Here is a photo showing what it looks like as I'm turning out the fabric.


Turning the work right side out.


Now it's time to straighten out the corners and the seam. To do this you'll need a retractable pen or some other blunt but pointy object.

If you are using a retractable pen, make sure the tip of the pen is retracted inside the barrel of the pen. You don't want the ink to get on your project.

Insert the tool inside the bookmark through the opening and gently poke the corners out. Be very careful as you do this so as not to poke a hole through your seam! Repeat for each corner.

Then run the tip of your tool along the inside of the seam on each side of the bookmark, gently smoothing out the fabric as you go. This will help straighten out the insides of the bookmark much like the finger pressing we did in last week's post - only now using a tool instead of your finger. And on the inside instead of the outside.


Using a retractable pen to poke the corners out
and smooth the side seams from the inside.


Take your time with this and get it looking just how you want it.

Once you're satisfied with how the bookmark corners and seams are looking, put it down on the table for some finger pressing.

Align the edges of the opening as best you can before pressing them together. Next we'll stitch this opening closed so you want these edges to line up as best as possible.


Aligning the edges of the opening for sewing it shut.


If you're short on thread from stitching around the seam and need to rethread your needle, go ahead and do that now.


4. Stitch the Bookmark Closed

This is the last step in finishing the bookmark and the third stitch you'll be learning in this part of the series. It's called a ladder stitch.

First, you need to secure your thread. To do this, tie another quilter's knot at the end of your thread.

To bury your thread, insert your needle into the seam allowance only, making sure to not catch any of the fabric on the back of the bookmark.

Bring the needle up past the seam stitches you sewed earlier. You want to overlap your stitching just a bit to ensure everything gets closed up nice and tight and you don't leave any gaps in the seam of your bookmark.


Burying the thread in preparation to sew.


Now make a small knot right where you came up. Pick up a couple of threads of the fabric as close to the seam as possible, and send your needle through the loop that forms before you pull the thread all the way through.

If you need a review of how to do this go back to Part 3 of this series where I show the whole process in detail with pictures.

Turn your work around. You are now going to stitch towards the opening and sew it shut using the ladder stitch.


How to sew a ladder stitch

Insert your needle into the fabric opposite from the knot you just made (across the seam). Catching only the ridge of the fabric fold, bring up your needle about 1/16 inch away on that same side, pulling it all the way through.

Now jump across the seam and insert your needle directly across from where you just came up. Take up about 1/16 inch of fabric on that side with your needle, making sure to catch only the very edge of the fabric fold. Pull your needle and thread all the way through.

Now repeat on the opposite fold of the fabric, going down directly across from where you just came up. This is the ladder stitch.


The jumps of thread that span the seam are beginning to look like rungs of a ladder.


What I love about this stitch is how invisible it becomes when you pull the thread taught and how tightly it closes up the seam!


Ladder stitches disappear after being pulled taught.


Continue making ladder stitches until you reach the end of the opening. Go one or two stitches past to overlap your running stitches from before. Then tie another loop knot, bury and snip your thread.

Give your bookmark a good pressing with your hands.


Your EPP Bookmark is Finished!

Congratulations! You've completed your EPP bookmark project. Now go grab a book and start using it.

I use these bookmarks for all sorts of different things. From quilt books and magazines, to mark a pattern I want to make, to cookbooks, and even my bullet journals. The opportunities to use these EPP bookmarks are endless.


My bookmark inside the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman.


Now go grab some more fabric and hexie templates and make some more bookmarks! They are kind of addictive, aren't they?

I'd really love to see your finished bookmarks. Please share pictures of your work on social media using #MakerJayneStitchAlong and tag me @MakerJayne.

Happy stitching! :D



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