One of the questions I get asked most often is what needle and thread I use for English Paper Piecing. Today, while I was typing out my answer, I thought, I wonder how many people out there are like me, and NEVER email (or text or call). If the info isn't out there on the internet, I abandon search and try something else instead. Well, this blog post is for you dear searchers, because I love English Paper Piecing, like REALLY love it, and I would hate to think that not making this info easy to find for you, sent you away to try knitting instead. ;P
Brands of supplies can be quite location-bound. I encourage you to try different glues and threads and needles to find your favourites!
English Paper Piecing Supplies I Use Everyday
Here's what I have next to me at my desk, on the couch, in my little tool pouch when I travel. I can't EPP without them.
- Bohin Milliners Needles size 9. Small hole, long and thin. Cheap.
- Aurifil cotton thread, 50wt (At the moment, the colour on my needle is 2309, but I'm not really detail oriented enough to have go-to numbers I like to use. I look for creams to light greys, and I have a medium grey, an aqua-blue colour, and a corally pink that I use for darker blocks, or if I'm using a lot of one colour. You could buy something like this pastel set and they would keep you going almost forever.
- Small snips
- Bostik craft glue 8g, which I buy in a 20 pack from Officeworks.
- A hanky (I made a bunch during the great tissue shortage of 2020, and now we use them all the time instead of tissues!) is so handy to wipe off the extra goop created around the tip of the glue stick. It'll stop that excess glue getting on your paper pieces and fabric, making it harder to stitch through.
- Paper Pieces from my shop (of course!)
- Sewing Scissors (I love these ones from Gingher!)
English Paper Piecing Supplies I Use Less Often, but Are Essential
- Quilters cutting mat for cutting fabric. I love this Fiskars one because it's NOT FOREST GREEN!
- Clear quilting ruler, 6 1/2" x 24" (I also have one that my son broke trying to use as a diving board for Buzz, and the shorter end of that gets used ALL THE TIME! ;D. It's around 6 1/2" x 9") Don't get a fluro yellow one unless you want your fabric to look like vomit. Also, this one above is much easier to see in all light types.
- Rotary cutter (and blade refills. If you find yourself hating life while cutting fabric, it's probably because you need to replace your blade.)
- Pen (I find that stitching quietens my mind and lets all the ideas bubble up. so I also keep a notepad nearby. But a pen is also useful for drawing around acrylic templates if you don't like cutting around them with a rotary cutter. I do it this way and then use scissors.)
- zip lock bags for storing prepped blocks. I love these ones from Ikea.
- Clover clips keep long EPP'd rows in place instead of of pins.
- quick unpick/seam ripper - I only use this if I've sewn pieces together wrong. If I just don't like the block, I wait till the end to see if it still matters once the whole quilt is laid out. Believe me, most of the time, it doesn't.
- Acrylic Templates. People who've followed me for a while might know that I secretly hardly ever use these but LOTS of people do for all their EPP cutting. I do use them when I want to do some fussy cutting, but mostly I freehand cut around the shape, or cut from strips.
- basting pins (this is for the basting that you do at the end - sticking your quilt layers together - not the basting your fabric to the paper shapes. My apologies for the quilting world not coming up with a different name.) You'll also need wadding/batting, and masking tape for this stage.
- Iron, ironing mat (I use this at an IKEA kitchen island in my sewing room rather than an ironing board), sewing machine.
English Paper Piecing Supplies I Never Use, but Others Find Useful
- Clover needle dome. It stores 10 threaded needles without getting them tangled! One day I'll use mine. ;P
- Hera Marker for marking quilting lines.
- Sewing pins. I've never used them since switching from regular patchwork to EPP
Regular Items I Use All the Time in My Sewing
- My Sony noise-cancelling headphones. Tim and I both work from home, so these are great if I don't want to hear his zoom meetings. But they're also great for listening to crime audio books and not bothering him!
- Smartphone - I'm always using it as I develop my quilt. To plan and remember blocks, to compare blocks to chose which I like better, to get a birds-eye view of my layout, to remember the layout when I'm sewing up the quilt top. I also use it to time myself sewing a block so I can set realistic expectations for myself for how long my quilt will actually take to sew.
- My wide-arm, fabric sofa. I didn't buy leather or that funky timber-armed couch on purpose! My sofa is my pincushion! And it also perfect for holding my little piles of shapes waiting to be sewn together. (So if you don't have one of these, you might want a pin cushion or needle-minder.)
- Tubs or archive boxes. Let me tell you, you need to have multiple quilts on the go, (you can't EPP on the train or at your kids soccer practice if your only WIP is at the quilt top stage!) and you need to have a tidy way to keep quilt bits all together. Tubs that are clear or archive boxes that have a spot to put a label are great. They also make your quilt portable if you're going away and want to take it.
So there you go! The Ultimate English Paper Piecing Supplies List with my very helpful commentary. What are your favourite EPP supplies?