It’s an absolute pleasure for me to introduce to you our first Slow Stitcher, Emma Jones! I fell in love with Emma’s sweet English Paper Piecing style the instant I discovered her on Instagram. Not only are her projects cheerful and pretty, but Emma is also a wonderfully kind and thoughtful stitcher, always commenting on her fellow stitcher’s posts and generally spreading her passion for EPP among our wonderful community.
Name: Emma Jones
Where are you from:
I live in North West England, in the county of Lancashire. It’s a beautiful place as I live very close to the countryside but also not far from the coastline. I really enjoy being outdoors and amongst nature. I love going for walks on the beach or in the woods when I’m not sewing. Both nature and sewing are really important to me and have a positive effect on my wellbeing. I feel calm, relaxed and grounded when I am outdoors or sewing.
When did you discover your love for EPP (English Paper Piecing)?
EPP has been a really recent discovery for me and it’s only in the last 12 months when I started sharing my sewing online on Instagram and on my blog, that my love for it has turned into a full-blown passion. I’ve been sewing in some form or other since I was a child and I’ve been interested in patchwork and quilting for about 12 years. I actually can’t remember exactly when or how I first discovered what EPP was but I remember reading about how you need to cut out paper shapes and tack fabric to them with basting stitches before joining them together. At that time I remember thinking this was just too much hard work! I went to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in about 2016 and found a stall selling tiny EPP Christmas decoration kits and I bought one. After making the decoration I started looking into EPP online and found Jessie Fincham’s blog. That’s how I discovered the Sewline glue pen and I ordered one along with some more Christmas decoration kits and then I was completely hooked! Pre-cut paper templates and the Sewline glue pen were game changers for me because it meant that the slow process of EPP could be speeded up a bit.
How did you learn EPP?
I learnt how to do EPP from reading the tutorials on Jessie’s blog and I also took a Craftsy class with Helen Stubbings. There isn’t anyone in my family who quilts or does EPP so if it wasn’t for the internet, I wouldn’t have ever taken up this craft. I’d also followed Florence Knapp’s blog (Flossie Teacakes) from way back when I was doing a lot of dressmaking and she also regularly delved into quilting projects. When she published her EPP book I bought it straight away and I learnt a lot from reading it.
What is your favourite EPP shape?
I love hexagons so much! They are really versatile and I just love the look of them. I am really drawn to traditional quilts and I think that’s why I love the look of hexagons. I also really admire more modern aesthetics that use contemporary, non-standard shapes and I hope to try some shapes like that one day.
Thread or glue baste:
It has to be glue for me. I love slow stitching but my sewing time is limited and if I was thread basting shapes I’m not sure I would ever complete a project!
What thread and needle do you use?
I have tried so many types of needle and so many different types of thread over the past few months as I have been determined to find my ideal combination. My favourite needles are Clover black gold appliqué needles in size 9. I love them because they glide through the fabric and they are long but they don’t bend. I find shorter needles cramp my hand too much and cause me pain. When I’m doing EPP to make large quilts, I use Aurifil cotton 80wt thread and sometimes the 50wt. It is fine, smooth and I just love how natural fibres feel when sewing with them. For tiny EPP shapes, I use InvisaFil thread made by Wonderfil. I like this because it is 100wt, very fine, strong and the stitches barely show.
Favourite fabrics to use in EPP:
I adore floral fabrics, in particular, tiny, ditsy prints. I use a lot of Liberty tana lawn in my projects and I find it to be ideal for EPP because it is so fine. Liberty has such a wonderful range of prints and many which are tiny florals which have an incredible amount of detail. This means I can use tiny scrap pieces in my projects and I am still able to fussy cut beautiful motifs. I’m also drawn to 1940s reproduction prints and I love anything that has a vintage vibe to it. I love the look of mixing prints with solids as well as ginghams and stripes. I also love working with linen and I like to appliqué EPP motifs onto it.
What quilting method do you like to use on your EPP projects?
Machine quilting is not my strong point although it is something I really want to get better at. So for now, I am hand quilting all EPP projects. I love the look of hand quilting and the process of doing it is very relaxing. I am yet to quilt a large quilt as they are all still works in progress but when they are complete I will be hand quilting them.
Do you like to embellish your EPP, for example with embroidery stitching?
Embroidery was the first type of sewing I did as a child and it really is my first love. Once I discovered Hexiform shapes for EPP (they are fabric shapes rather than paper) I realised they could be stitched into and that’s when I started embroidering onto my projects. I love the look of embroidery on patchwork and again, it is really enjoyable to do. I have lots of ideas for embroidery and EPP projects because I feel like the possibilities are endless. I’m currently exploring the idea of embroidering a repeating pattern onto each shape, mimicking fussy cutting.
Do you have a favourite EPP tip to share:
My favourite EPP tip is not to cut your thread as you come to the end of a seam, but to carry it along, knotting the thread at each corner. I feel by doing this, the stitches are more secure should anything accidentally come undone. On the rare occasion that I have unpicked some of my EPP, it was significantly harder to undo because of these knots so I think doing this is a worthwhile step. The carrying of the thread makes sewing quicker and adds strength to the piece. It also creates a nice flow and I like working in this way as I am not stopping and starting all of the time.
Favourite place to EPP:
I only ever EPP in my sewing room. Occasionally I take projects on car journeys but my sewing room is the main place I stitch. I have a 3 year old son so I am afraid of him getting hold of a needle or sharp scissors, therefore, my projects are kept out of reach of little fingers. My sewing room is very small but I love it. I’m surrounded by the things I love and it is a cosy and creative space. I only stitch when my little one is asleep but he is showing more and more interest in my sewing space and loves playing with my button box and scrap fabrics.
Favourite thing to watch or listen to while you EPP:
Sometimes I listen to audiobooks. My favourite author is Tracy Chevalier. Some of her stories feature quilting and other forms of stitching and I find the way she mixes fact and fiction creates fascinating stories. Occasionally I will watch Netflix and I am enjoying watching Gilmore Girls at the moment. But more often than not I actually stitch in silence. I love the tranquillity of sewing in this way and I find it so relaxing.
Favourite thing to drink/eat while you EPP:
I don’t eat whilst I am sewing through fear of creating a mess! Even though I join the #sipteaandepp Instagram party most weeks, I don’t drink tea! I am a coffee drinker.
What is your current EPP work-in-progress:
I have four current EPP projects. 1 – A large hexagon quilt. 2 – My Sew and Quilt block of the month which is like a sampler quilt and incorporates lots of different shapes. 3 – My tiny, quarter-inch hexagon project. 4 – an EPP flower quilt which I am designing as I go along.
What is your longest running EPP work-in-progress (or EPP project that took you the longest to finish):
My large hexagon EPP quilt is my longest-running project but I haven’t worked on it for a long time and it isn’t very big. I love it but the hexagons are 1.5 inches which are quite big and they ended up hurting my small hands so I put it to one side to focus on my other projects. I do love it though so I hope to get back to it one day.
What is your favourite finished EPP project:
I am yet to finish a large quilt, so all of my finished items are small things. I think my favourite has to be my Mabel’s Garden mini quilt. I made it last year in memory of my Gran who sadly passed away. She was a massive inspiration to me as her crochet, knitting and embroidery work was beautiful. She was always so supportive of anything I did and loved to cheer me on. After I completed the quilt, I entered it in a local art competition and it was chosen to be exhibited in an art gallery over the summer. I’ve struggled with a huge lack of confidence my whole life so when this happened, it was very unexpected and it gave me a little bit of confidence about my work.
What is on your EPP bucket list? Could be a particular pattern, shape or size:
Lately, I cannot stop thinking about the Lucy Boston Patchwork of the crosses! I have seen so many beautiful versions that it has taken a lot of restraint to stop me from starting one too! I even bought the book! I would really like to make a blue and white version so I am currently collecting blue floral fabrics. When I feel like I have enough, I think I will start it. I have made one block that will become a cushion cover for my living room and I have to say, honeycombs are lovely to work with and very addictive!
Are there any other EPPer’s whose work you find inspiring?
There are so many! There is an amazing community of quilters and EPPers on Instagram who inspire me every day. Have a look on my Instagram profile at who I follow and you will find so many talented makers. I really love Jessie Fincham’s style and the way she mixes prints is so inspiring to me. She comes up with the most wonderful patterns and I just love everything she does. I also love Florence Knapp’s work so much. The teeny tiny fussy cutting she does is out of this world!
If you could travel anywhere in the world to EPP where would you go?
I would travel to the Blue Mountains of Australia and come and stitch with you Leela because I think we would have a lovely time. We have a lot in common and I know we would get on so well. Your work is really inspiring to me and I would love to see it in person and learn more about EPP from you. (Aww thanks Emma! I’d love to stitch with you too.) Another place I would love to go to is the northern part of Norway or Sweden to see the northern lights. I would love to cosy up in a log cabin up there, with my daylight lamp of course! I’ve been fascinated by the northern lights since I was a child so hopefully, I will get to see them one day and when I do, I will definitely take my EPP with me for the journey!