What is EPP?

Why it stands for English Paper Piecing.  EPP is the technique of using paper a template to sew around when sewing together difficult shapes, often times polygons with 4 or more sides. This paper is left in as a stabilizer until the quilt is sewn together, or depending on what kind of paper you use it may be left in. If I had to guess, that may be one reason we can date some of the early EPP quilts. Instead of printing a template out on the computer, ladies would use old letters or other scraps of paper.

Photo Source: State Museum of Pennsylvania

A common EPP quilt to make was the Grandmothers Flower Garden Quilt. These quilts are made entirely out of hexagons to create flower shapes. These quilts can be seen all over in antique stores. My mom uses a giant one as her comforter on her bed!

Quilt. TE*T08900. Nashville, Tenn., 1864. From 35mm Kodachrome.
Photo Source: The National Museum of American History (Quilt. TE*T08900. Nashville, Tenn., 1864.)

The picture above is an example of the Grandmothers Flower Garden Quilt pattern. This quilt was made by Mary Hughes Lord.

“This quilt was made in Nashville Tenn. I began just before the Civil War, the day Tenn. seceded I stitched the U.S. Flag in the center of the quilt, my father being a loyal man he had to leave home or be forced in the Confederate service, I carried the quilt through the rebel lines to the federal to Cincinnati we remained in Cincinnati until the fall of Fort Donelson then we returned home to Nashville. After the battle of Stone River Gen’l Rosecrans suggested I make an autograph quilt of it & at his headquaters [sic] his was the first name placed in the flag and the second was James A. Garfield and most of his Staff Officers names were placed around the flag. Gen’l Winfield Scott in 1863 at West Point wrote his name. I was visiting my Brother who was a Cadet at the Point. `Then Abraham Lincoln 1863 his son Robert Lincoln in 1881. P.H. Sheridan U.S. Grant Brig Gen’l L. Thomas Adjt Gen’l U.S.A. Maj Gen’l George H. Thomas Benj F Butler Chester A. Arthur. S. H. Wilson. Gen H. W. Blair W. T. Sherman J. St. Clair Morton. Jas McLear Horace Maynard. Col Bowman Supt West Point 1863. Jas S Negley. A McDowell McCook J.A. Garfield Chief of Staff. Jas McKibben. Col Arthur Ducat. C. G. Harker. W.WS. Averill Wm McKinley. Nelson N Miles. Leland Stanford. Theodore Roosevelt. Sen Jos R. Hawley. This quilt was saluted by 20000 troops at the funeral of Pres Lincoln. Hung over the East door of the rotunda when Pres Garfield’s body lay in State, has been hung out at different Inaugurations. It has the line of Gen’ls & Lt Gen’ls. It has other names but these are the most prominent. The different ones that have had charge of it when on exhibition have not been very careful with it. I have never thought of disposing of it, but having lost my home through fire, I wish to rebuld [sic] & this is the only way I can see to raise money. Mary A. Lord.”

To see many quilts visit the National Museum of American History’s site. Here is a link to their collection of quilts.


Why do I love EPP?

  1. It is super easy
  2. It is ultra convient for on-the-go quilting. It’s really hard for me to be able to get through a whole quilt lately, I just don’t have enough free time at home. However, with EPP you are hand sewing (and I usually work with small shapes) so you are able to take it with you.
  3. The main reason I like EPP is my love, no not love, OBSESSION with hexagons. As lame as it sounds, they are my favorite shape.

Mollie Johanson’s blog Wild Olive has soooooooo many great hexagon EPP patterns, templates and more.  She even has these adorable little hexies that you can print out and use. You can find them here.

Photo Source: Wild Olive





All photographs/designs are made by me, Emma Antaillia, unless otherwise  stated

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