Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fritillary and EPP

Becky's Blocks.
How does she do it?

Becky's Block #2 has a star with blue sunflowers fussy-cut to rotate around the center.
The print is Fritillary from Morris Earthly Paradise.

 We printed #8334  in four colorways

The print may look more like a sunfower (I do love the checkerboard center on that big sunflower)
but Morris sometimes named his prints after a minor flower in the garden.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has updated their website and I notice their splash photo makes use of the fritillary (the bellflower in the background) rather than the sunflower. They own samples of the design, originally a Morris-designed wallpaper, perhaps from 1885.

The fritillary is a rather rare plant (Fritillaria meleagris ) that likes a boggy English soil. Other names include Snake's head fritillary, Checkered lily and Chess flower.

Fritillaria meleagris, W. Curtis, Flora Londinensis, 1777.

Do look up images of the flower as it looks like a checkerboard too. You can see why Morris combined the two blooms.

A detail. The scale is small in our repro print. It makes a good color texture
with directionality.

But let's go back to Becky's technique.
Here's how she stitched Block #5.

I watched Bettina make her models using traditional hand piecing, at which she is quite adept. I assumed Becky machine-pieced her models but she corrects me:  
"NONE of mine are machine pieced - at this size is that even possible? I'm not that good! Just wanted to let you know that I don't sew those little pieces by machine. (Have never even tried.)"

She English-Paper-Pieced it.
(Dear Editor: I know that's not grammatical---
oops I forgot there is no editor.)

The seams show the whip stitching and open seams typical of EPP. She's removed the paper (freezer paper). 
"Most of my blocks were done EPP using freezer paper (faster than basting the seam over). I print your patterns directly to freezer paper. Some of the blocks with fewer pieces were done with traditional hand piecing."

"Notice, I do nothing to the outer edge of the blocks."
In other words she doesn't glue/baste/iron those outer edges under.

Her technique:

"I print the block out on "the dull side of of 8-1/2 x 11" freezer paper sheet, which I order from C. Jenkins Company (see a link below). It's always nice to get just what you want delivered to your front door, and I use a lot of freezer sheets, especially with applique.

1. Cut the freezer paper pattern apart on the lines and you have all the pieces for the block. (I keep them in the same position after they are cut apart).

2. Cut your fabrics about 1/4" larger than the paper pieces (less on smaller pieces). With a hot dry iron, on a firm pressing surface, press the fabric edges onto the shiny side of the freezer papers and you are ready to start stitching them together - one block each week!"

So you see she is not using any glue, but rather the heat-interactive side of the freezer paper to "baste" the edges under.

This is how I'd do it---if I did it. My job is to do the patterns---and challenge all of you.

Buy freezer paper for your printer:

See the Victoria & Albert Museum's new website:


  1. Thank you for that little tutorial. You may have just saved my life, lol! I'm ordering freezer paper sheets right now!

  2. Glad to save your life, but I think you can credit Becky, who is the lifesaver behind the methods.

  3. Becky should win an award, not only for her beautiful work, but also for being very clever.

  4. Thanks so much for showing us how the very talented Becky is doing the blocks. Her blocks are beautiful - both in the construction and the fabric selections/fussy cuts. So far I am brave/foolish enough to be machine piecing with a couple having a hand applique center. But I can see EPP in my future.

  5. Dorry---I knew they could be machine pieced ---it's mainly the size of the pieces that may be problematic.

  6. Becky's blocks are beautiful (as always!) and I am loving the 1st block on your post. Do you know which fabric she used for the center?

  7. Enjoyed the dissection of this fabric design and the insight into Becky's process. I am machine piecing the blocks -- y-seams are a specialty of mine. I do have to confess though that I've been unable to decipher the process of enlarging the patterns from the blog to a 4" finish unit -- tech savvy is not a specialty of mine. Perhaps you could explain it in another way? Thanks.

  8. I love silk thread for whip stitching EPP. If you've ever tried it and had problems with it constantly coming unthreaded, just thread the needle TWICE. You can also take the short tail of the thread and put in through a loop to make a knot right at the top of your needle. Silk thread is so fine, you won't even feel it when you pull the needle through your fabric AND it will stay threaded. Happy stitching.

  9. Barbara, I have acquired an antique quilt top that is sewn by hand and is quite interesting as far as fabric design. I have not seen any of these fabrics before and think that most are quite beautiful. Actually you could design a new line and call then "The Shenandoah Valley Collection"

  10. Bev---already been done.

    See this link:

    But we'd love to see a picture of your quilt top

  11. ?!?! Press the fabric *edges* to the shiny side of freezer paper? I've never (yet) used freezer paper, but I always thought it was shiny side pressed to the back of the main pattern piece, and the fabric edges pressed to the non-shiny side...have I misread how to do this all along? Becky's way would make the sewing much easier, not to mention easier to remove the paper - cool!

  12. Thank you for more insights from Becky Brown, quiltmaker extraordinaire in my estimation. Who knew you could special order printer safe freezer paper? Becky's little whip stitches on the underside of those blocks are just beautiful. I'd like to see the stitches in her regular handpiecing some time. Does she take little back stitches along the way?

  13. Ohh I'm going to use this method, thank you for sharing!

  14. So to understand the technique, the seam is turned under to the sticky side and pressed down so that only the seam is sticking to the paper, then with papers in place two pieces are handsewn together? Please tell me if I have gotten that correctly? Thank you so much for the illustrations and ideas.