For me, English paper piecing has been a journey of trial and error - mostly error. I originally fell in love with the idea of English paper piecing about four years ago. I started a project with scrappy greens and neutrals, and I sewed on it every chance I got. I was planning to make a nice, big quilt for the bed.
As the project grew, it became increasingly obvious that there wasn't enough contrast in my fabrics. The design was getting lost! I was disappointed, but I knew I wouldn't be happy with it if I kept going. It was time to try something else.
Once I decided to scrap my original project, it was back to the drawing board. After the first experience, I thought I would rather have less fabrics and fantastic contrast than a bunch of fabrics and risk repeating my mistake. I also decided that with how long English paper piecing takes, I would be better off starting with something at least a little bit smaller.
I opened up EQ7 and spent quite a bit of time playing with different ideas. This is what I eventually landed on. It will be about 45" by 50" finished, and will be a wall hanging. It uses just two fabrics, which keeps things simpler and allows the design to shine.
Once I had a design, I headed to the local quilt shop. I found lovely purple and grey fabrics that would be perfect, then I looked for thread. Even with all of the values in my original project, I never had any trouble with the thread showing between the hexagons. With that in mind, I thought I would be fine with a single thread color for this project, too. I chose a grey thread with a value somewhere between the two fabrics and headed home.
When I started to sew, I quickly saw that the thread was visible between the purple hexagons. I told myself it wouldn't be that noticeable when standing back from the wall hanging, and I thought anything darker would show even worse between the grey hexies. I forged ahead. Unfortunately, the more I progressed, the less I liked what I was making, and my project ground to a virtual halt.
The last time I pulled it out, I decided to try adding a purple hexagon with purple thread (it's the purple hexie on the top left). It looked so much better! I debated for a while between continuing with my newfound wisdom and starting over. I eventually decided that I would be putting way too many hours into this to be unhappy with the center. It was time for take 3.
By the time I had the center 7 hexies together, I was grudgingly happy that I had started over. It looks way better without thread showing in the seams. Now I use a thread that matches whichever hexagon I am currently adding. This ensures that it never contrasts with either fabric. Even when looking up close, the thread isn't noticeable between the hexagons.
Now I'm so glad I started over. I was concerned about my wasted effort, but I've made more progress on this version in the last month than I did in two years on the old one. I'm absolutely thrilled with how this is coming together. I finally have a hexagon project that I'm excited about finishing.
What about you? Do you have a handwork project you enjoy? Was it smooth sailing out the gate, or did you have a rocky start like me? I would love to hear about it! If you leave your email address when you comment, I will be sure to respond to you personally.