English Paper Piecing: Let’s go 3D!

141213_Christmas ornamentsEver since first trying English paper piecing I’ve been having new ideas of what to use this technique for besides quilts. One of those was 3D shapes. Small 3D shapes can be challenging to sew with a sewing machine because they often contain Y-seams. Sewing these seams the English paper piecing way, however, isn’t tricky at all (just time-consuming because it’s all done by hand).

I’m probably not the first person to have this idea but instead of researching it I simply made some templates using Adobe Illustrator and started sewing. It worked quite well. I started with 6 equilateral triangles and three shades of green fabric. The sides of the triangles are just 3 cm which made sewing a bit tricky, larger shapes are probably easier.

Next, I made a cube using six 5×5 cm squares of a black and gold print. This was the easiest of the three and I even remembered to take some blurry progress pictures.


For the final shape, I used three ellipses that I made pointy on the shorter sides (the picture shows the shape better than I can describe it in words…). I probably should have clipped the seams better than I did because they ripple a bit. I really like the final shape though. The shapes are stuffed with some soft toy filling. Since it’s almost Christmas I left a tiny hole in one of the corners and pulled some cotton yarn through and turned these into Christmas ornaments. Even though we never have a Christmas tree so I’m not really sure where to hang them…

It was fun to make these. Have you ever tried the English paper piecing method to sew anything other than a quilt top?


12 comments on “English Paper Piecing: Let’s go 3D!

  1. katechiconi says:

    I’ve made a soft ball for a baby, using 1″ hexagons. You just have to remember to leave enough of an opening so you can turn it right side out before you stuff it.

    • Emmely says:

      Oh yes, especially with 1” seams I can see that quickly becoming an issue! A hexagon ball would be cute though, perhaps I’ll try that next.

  2. Ingenious! What a great idea!

  3. Beautiful! Might be a bit complicated for me… Like puzzles!

  4. CurlsnSkirls says:

    Charming ornaments – hang them in windows or from a door knob or… the ceiling?! Have never tried this, and have no urge to at this time! Happy Holiday!

  5. Carolyn says:

    I love handmade ornaments! I’ve never tried paper piecing (even for quilting), but it sounds like this is a great way to use it.

    • Emmely says:

      I thought English paper piecing would be immensely complicated until I watched some YouTube videos. I don’t think I would have been able to create these shapes on my sewing machine without some serious cursing and unpicking along the way. Handsewing is definitely the way to go.

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