Hexie obsessed? Get your quilting fix on the go with part 3 of my English Paper Piecing tutorial series: the English paper piecing travel kit!
Designed with mobile crafting in mind, my English paper piecing travel kit has two main compartments—one for holding fat quarters and spools of thread and the other for organizing stitched hexies and finished blocks—plus an outer pocket that’s the perfect size for two altoids tins—one for paper templates and one for sewing supplies—and a pair of scissors. Closed and fully loaded, the travel case is a 6" x 6" square that’s only about 3" thick, so it’s the perfect size to toss into a purse, tote, or project bag. Ready to make one of your own? Download my free printable pattern, and let’s get started!
Note: Apologies to those of you who’ve been waiting patiently for this third EPP tutorial installment. Due to the nature of the project, the pattern tech editing and step-out photography took a bit (okay, a lot) longer than usual.
Please note that the links to supplies and tools that are provided below are affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you choose to make a purchase after clicking through.
* English Paper Piecing Travel Kit PDF, printed at full scale, cut out, and assembled
* Cotton fabric and lining fabric, ½ yard of each
* 2 hexagon flower blocks
* ¾" magnetic snap
* Decorative button (optional)
* Fusible interfacing, ½ yard medium weight
* Interfacing, one 1 ½" x 1 ½" square heavy weight
* 2 Altoids tins, one to hold paper templates and one Altoids Tin Sewing Kit
1. Print the English Paper Piecing Travel Kit PDF at full scale. Cut out the pieces, then attach the three sections of pattern piece A with scotch tape at the cut marks. (Don’t print the image above—it’s just a sample, not the full pattern.)
Note: A ¼" seam allowance is included on the printed pattern pieces and is denoted by a grey line around each shape.
2. Cut fabric, lining, and interfacing in the quantities indicated on each pattern piece.
3. Using an iron, adhere the fusible interfacing to wrong side of the following:
- the lining fabric of the pouch (pattern piece A)
- one of the pocket pieces (pattern piece B)
- one of the divider pieces (pattern piece C)
- two of the accordion pieces (pattern piece D)
- both flower backing pieces (pattern piece E)
4. Press the hexagon flower blocks gently with an iron to secure the creases, then, leaving the basting stitches in place, use a small crochet hook to carefully pop out each paper template.
To do this, gently insert the crochet hook under the folded-over fabric edge with the hook facing down, then feel for the edge of the paper template. Once you feel the template edge, grab the template with the hook and wiggle it a bit until the edge pops out. Once one edge is free, the rest of the template should come out with a gentle tug. (Folding the template can also make them easier to remove.)
When all of the templates have been removed, press the flower blocks flat. Unless they’re visible through the front of the blocks, there’s no need to pull out the basting stitches.
With the fabric and the flower blocks ready, it’s time to construct the travel kit.
First, we’ll prepare the two flower backing pieces to be stitched to the back of each flower block.
5. Fold the edges around the backing over ¼" and press in place. Where the two folds cross between each petal, use a pair of fabric scissors to carefully cut a notch that just meets the point where the two creases intersect. This will allow the folded edge to lie flat.
Once all creases have been made and all notches have been cut, press each flower backing piece one more time to secure the folds.
6. Select the flower block that you will use for the pocket, then, with wrong sides facing, secure one of the flower backing pieces to the back of the block by making small whipstitches around the edge.
Let’s install the magnetic snap.
7. Use paper scissors to cut the seam allowance off of the flower backing template (piece E). Stack the remaining pressed flower backing on top of the backed flower block that you finished in step 6, lining up all of the edges. (If needed, you can use Clover Wonder Clips to hold them in place.)
Using the black dot in the center of the button outline on the template as your guide, use a tailor’s awl to punch a hole in the same place through all three layers of fabric, marking the location of the snap.
8. Cut a 1½" square of heavy interfacing (to reinforce the snap), then place it over the hole on the wrong side of the remaining flower backing, pinning or clipping it in place. Next, on the right side of the flower backing, center the male end of the snap over the hole in the fabric, then install it on the petal per the directions on the packaging, punching the prongs through the fabric and the extra square of interfacing. (I generally use an X-Acto knife to pre-cut the holes for the prongs.)
If you’d like to add a decorative button to the front of the flower block where the closure will be, you should do so now before the backing is attached to the block.
9. Place the second flower block on top of the flower backing from step 8, lining up the edges. Then, using small whipstitches, sew the backing to the flower block.
10. Install the female end of the snap on the flower block that will be used for the pocket, punching the prongs through both layers of fabric.
11. Once the snap pieces are in place, use hand quilting stitches or machine sewing to stitch around each hexagon, securing the flower backing to each of the flower blocks.
Next, we’ll prepare the pocket, the divider, and the accordion sides before we combine the pieces to create the pouch.
12. With right sides facing, use your sewing machine to sew the following pieces together as shown in the illustrations:
- Pocket pieces (piece B): With right sides facing, sew the two pocket pieces together across the top and bottom edges using a ¼" seam allowance.
- Divider pieces (piece C): With right sides facing, sew the two divider pieces together around all four edges using a ¼" seam allowance. Leave a small opening at the bottom unsewn to allow you to turn the pieces right side out after sewing.
- Accordion pieces (piece D): With right sides facing, sew two of the four accordion pieces together around all four edges using a ¼" seam allowance. Leave a small opening at the bottom unsewn to allow you to turn the pieces right side out after sewing. Do the same for the two remaining accordion pieces.
13. When the sewing in step 12 has been completed, turn the sewn pieces right side out and press flat, then use small whipstitches or a ladder stitch to close the openings that remain on the bottoms of the divider and accordion pieces. Press flat again.
Now we’ll assemble the divider.
14. Fold the two accordion pieces (piece D) in half at the fold lines shown on the pattern and press the crease on each. Insert the divider piece (piece C) into the folded accordion pieces, lining up the left and right edges of the divider piece with the creases in the folds of the accordion pieces. Use clips or pins to hold the pieces together.
15. Using your sewing machine, sew the accordion pieces to the divider piece along the two folded edges using a ¼" seam allowance.
Once the pieces are secured, fold the two flaps on each accordion piece back toward the edge you just sewed and press the crease with an iron. This will create the folds that will allow the sides to expand and contract as needed.
Hooray! It’s time to construct the pouch!
16. Using the paper pattern for the pouch (piece A), mark the location of the pocket on the right side of the pouch fabric. (The bottom of the pocket coincides with the first fold line on the pattern.) Put the pocket in place on top of the fabric, then stack the lining on top of the pocket with right side facing down. The pouch fabric and lining should now be lined up with right sides facing, and the pocket should be sandwiched between the two layers of fabric.
Hold the three pieces together with clips or pins to ensure that the pocket remains in the correct place.
17. Using your sewing machine, sew the two pouch pieces together around all four edges using a ¼" seam allowance, leaving a small opening along the bottom edge to allow you to turn the pieces right side out.
18. Once the edges are sewn, turn the pouch piece right side out, positioning the pocket on the fabric side. Press flat, then use small whipstitches or a ladder stitch to close the opening on the bottom. Press flat again.
19. Use the paper pattern to mark the fold lines on the pouch. The first fold line falls at the bottom of the pocket, so use your sewing machine to stitch the bottom edge of the pocket to the pouch, sewing as close to the edge of the pocket as possible. Next, sew along each of the remaining three fold lines.
Insert the divider.
20. With the lining side facing up, place the accordion divider at the pocket end of the pouch, lining up the top of the divider with the top edge of the pocket and bottom of the divider with the first fold line (the bottom of the pocket). The accordion flaps should line up with the left and right edges of the pouch. Once the divider is in place, sew the two accordion flaps that are positioned against the pouch lining to the left and right edges of the pouch with small whipstitches.
Fold the pouch piece over at the second fold line, enclosing the divider within the pouch. Align the bottoms of the two remaining accordion flaps with the second fold line and the tops with the third fold line, making sure the edges of each flap line up with the side edges of the pouch. Whipstitch the accordion flaps to the left and right edges of the pouch.
21. Using the paper pattern as a guide, position the flower block with the female side of the snap on the pocket, then sew it in place by hand. (You can use a straight stitch to appliqué the piece to the pocket or a ladder stitch to join the two fabrics more invisibly. I used a ladder stitch and sewed through only one layer of the pocket fabric.)
22. Finally, use whipstitches (plus a few straight stitches when you get to the top petal) to attach the second flower block to the edge of the flap at the top of the pouch, making sure that the snap pieces are properly aligned before sewing.
23. Load your new travel kit with fat quarters and sewing supplies, and you’ll be ready to get your stitch on wherever you go!