English Paper Piecing Templates

As a quilter, I am always looking for ways to increase efficiency and perfection in cutting out materials to use in my fiber art. This is how I came to purchase a KNK Maxx Air 15” cutting machine. I draw my quilts digitally in Corel and then use the vector files to create patterns, appliqué and even digitized robotic quilting designs. It seemed a natural progression to use these same vector files to cut out my designs.

My blog post contributions will be focused on the ways you can use your KNK machine in the fiber arts. Enjoy this journey with me!

Never run out of templates for your English paper piecing!

Never run out of templates for your English paper piecing!

English paper piecing is a technique that involves hand piecing shapes of fabric that are basted onto paper templates then sewn together create larger shapes. Dating back as far as the 1770’s, this method of quilting is enjoying resurgence in popularity today, fueled by the new Modern Quilt movement. The shapes are geometric and lend themselves well to modern fabrics and quilt layouts. It is also accessible and portable, no sewing machines required!

Polygon shapes such as hexagons, trapezoid, pentagon, diamonds, triangles and rectangles are used in many combinations to produce a multitude of designs. The paper templates used are traditionally cut by hand from a printed sheet or purchased precut from a supplier. But since we own a KNK cutting machine we are not limited to either the sizes or quantities a supplier may have to sell. We can just cut our own!

Maxx Air Settings

Blade = Red, Blade height = 25

Force = 70

Velocity = 300

# Passes = Disabled

Blade Offset = .35

Let’s start with the most familiar shape, the hexagon.  The size of the hexagon is normally quoted in the widest dimension.  So if a pattern calls for a 3” hexagon, its width will be 3” at its widest point. Each side of the hexagon will be 1.5”, so the width of the hexagon is always 2 times the length of one side.

  • In the Make the Cut software, open the Basic Shapes tool box and chose the Polygon set from the drop down box.

Basic Shapes

  • Select the Hexagon shape by double clicking on the icon. If your pattern calls for a 3” hexagon you need to set your width for the hexagon to 3”.
  • Duplicate the hexagon to however many you need.  I have provided a MTC cut file for 3” Hexagons for your use. (get Hexagon EPP.MTC file here)

Hexagon sheet

  • Cut the hexagons from cardstock, nothing fancy, a white or light color is best. The cardstock should not be too heavy as you need to be able to sew though it. I used the Worldwin Cut Mates Cardstock from KNK.

Now you have the start of your own Hexagon quilt! Fabric is cut larger than the paper template, normally ¼” to ⅜” bigger all around. You can cut each fabric hexagon randomly, or center the template over a motif in the fabric and “fussy cut” to showcase the design.

However you choose to cut the fabric, the next basic steps are to center the paper template in your cut fabric, fold over the excess and baste to the paper template. Basted shapes are then combined and sewn together to create the units. Units are joined to make a quilt. Paper templates and basting are removed after joining units. For more information on making quilts from the hexagon shapes a quick Google search turned up 271,000 results!  Have Fun!



Hexagon English Paper Piecing Tutorial

Images of Modern Hexagon Quilts


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About Candace West

Candace West is a multiple national award winning quilt artist and educator, whose art has been displayed at all major quilt show venues such as the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX, and the American Quilting Society show in Paducah, KY and many others nationwide. Her award winning quilts and garments have appeared in several major magazines. A love of teaching and sharing the techniques that can make anyone’s quilts show worthy, is her mission.