When I can't be at my machine

I find myself thinking of quilting and itching to work on something even (or maybe especially) when I can't be at my machine. For those times I am a passenger in a car, on a plane, at lunch during the work day, or watching TV with my family, I have a few go-to projects.

Sometimes I work on counted cross-stitch.

Subversive Cross Stitch for my honey

I learned to do cross-stitch on my ninth birthday and was hooked. I've created several pieces over the years, but don't tend to display them, other than my latest, pictured above.

First in my heart, though, is quilting.

I tried English paper piecing hexagons a couple of years ago. It was good and portable, but didn't fit in my hand very well. That is, it didn't fit until I found the sweet spot - the 1" hexagon. It's perfect! Like Goldilocks, I had to try until I found something just right. Now you can hardly find me without my travel EPP pack close at hand.

To try your hand at EPP, first either cut shapes to suit you, or purchase a pack of pre-cuts. I have some card stock on hand and a copier at my disposal, so it was nearly free to run several pages to be cut with scissors. To print your own, go here. You can choose any size you like. Note that hexagon size is the length of each outside edge, not the width. Again, I find 1" absolutely perfect; they're small enough to fit easily in my hand and seem small, but go very quickly.

To make it easier to pin them to my 2.5" squares of fabric, I then punched two holes near the center for my pin to snake through.

One I've cut my shapes and pinned them to my squares, I baste*** them very similarly to this video:

Then I sew them together with a simple whip stitch***, again like this video tutorial:

I don't care for the flower shape, but that's a matter of opinion. Some people like it very much. I've made ogees and diamonds, so far.

Girl's Best Friend Olympic Ogees #1 and 2

Of course, you're not limited to the hexagon shape. There are tumbling blocks, stars, even curved pieces - your imagination is the only limit! Take your inspiration from architecture, tile, woven work, counted cross stitch, anything at all. You could make an entire quilt top out of your EPP shapes, or only a few and tack them to a whole-cloth background.

***A note about thread:
For basting, I use whatever I have on hand and need to use up; when I first started quilting, I though "real quilters" only stitched their sandwiches together by hand, so bought several spools of Coats and Clark hand-quilting thread. It is fine for actual quilting, but with EPP, tends to shred, so I'm using it in the basting process, instead. For piecing the basted shapes, however, I switch to high-quality Gutermann 100% cotton hand quilting thread. It comes pre-treated and doesn't shred on me.

Time for me to go baste some more!


  1. Thanks, Flaun - I have this size of hexagon templates (and now I might actually use them!)

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