After reading so many good things (particularly this review) about the new resource book All Points Patchwork by Diane Gilleland, I decided to purchase a copy of the book to see what all the excitement was about. While I waited for my book to be delivered, I did all kinds of research into the mathematical aspects of EPP, the geometry of the shapes, and how to create repeating designs (cause I'm nerdy that way, and I enjoy learning about stuff). I'll definitely write more about that in a future post.
But back to the book.
As soon as I saw the cover I knew it was going to be a good book. And, flipping through the pages, I saw so many beautifully-photographed projects and well-illustrated instructions. I took it with me on my very next trip to the park with my toddler and got started learning about EPP. Diane's excitement for her craft comes through on every page. Her comfortable, easy-going style of writing is like an old friend siting beside to you explaining what to do next. I enjoyed reading it both for this fact as well as the wealth of information and ideas it provides.
The book begins with a brief, but concise, guide to selecting materials and tools. The next section includes clear instructions on basic techniques, including cutting fabric, using templates, making knots, appliqueing by hand or machine, and more. And every instruction is paired with a clear image to illustrate it.
One of the first things I noticed is that there are slightly different "rules" depending on the shape and size of each piece you are working with. For example, basting a piece through the paper and fabric is most helpful for pieces with sides longer than an inch, but tacking through the fabric only will generally suffice for everything else. And the photographs clearly illustrate this fact. Once you have read through the book once or twice, these images provide a quick reference guide.
Each category of shape is given its own chapter. Triangles and tumblers, for example, are the subjects of Chapter 6. This is helpful since the rules, or guidelines, really, are similar for each type of shape. Diane explains how each type of shape is measured, either by one of its sides or by its height. For those wanting to purchase or create their own templates, this information is essential to accurate piecing.
For the mathematically inclined, drafting instructions are included for every shape. I particularly appreciate this since my favorite part of any project is making up a pattern. But don't get scared off if you aren't skilled at arithmetic. The instructions are simple to follow even without a background in geometry.
Diane also gives suggestions for repeating designs for each shape (though they tend to be basic and often limited to only one shape). The patterns she shows are created by changing the color and/or orientation of the shape to make interesting designs. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but a helpful way to see how to manipulate the overall look of the finished piece.
She also provides alternate methods on stitching together shapes. Although EPP is appealing, in part, because the pieces can be sewn in almost any order, there are ways to make it easier on yourself and reduce tension on the stitching that is already in place.
In addition to the traditional, straight-edged shapes, All Points Patchwork includes several curved shapes. Although many people feel intimidated by machine-sewn curves, EPP can actually be easier since it removes the tension differential caused by the feed dogs and the presser foot. The tips and tricks for curved shapes are quite different from the other shapes, so a thorough reading of this section is essential for increased success in sewing curves.
One of my favorite things about this book is that it does not assume you want to make a quilt. In fact, it does not assume you want to make anything. What I mean by this is that the book covers the techniques of English Paper Piecing and includes ways of applying it, but it does not include project instructions. Instead, there is a project inspiration page for each shape that is meant to give you ideas. I appreciate this because I rarely make projects from a book or other source as outlined. I prefer to use the ideas and expand on it or put my own spin on it. This book encourages you to do just that.
My journey into EPP began with this book, not more than two weeks ago. I have yet to cut out any shapes, but my mind is brimming with ideas. I will share my experiences (and even some designs!) with you as I delve deeper and continue to learn. On my last trip to my local quilt shop I purchased a few bold prints that I think will be perfect for fussy cutting into some EPP shapes. I can't wait to see what I make!