Basting English Paper Piecing With Starch

Missie's Technique of Basting English Paper Piecing with Starch!

If you've looked at my blog posts much, you know that I love English Paper Piecing, and as time has passed, I've gone from not being able to do English Paper Piecing at all because I can't thread baste and enjoy any of using glue now using Starch to prep my English Paper Piecing!

My technique uses Traditional Primitives Premium Freezer paper and regular spray starch to baste the shapes!  No long process of basting with needle and thread for me!

As I have developed this technique for basting English Paper Piecing, I have learned that the paper and other notions I show here work much better than others.  I offer all of these items on my website should you not find them in your local quilt store. These exact notions REALLY make a difference!  Over the past few years, I've used other brands and have come to see the beauty in using quality products to make things easy and better for the process.  The brands of supplies that I feel are the best to use are as follows:  

Premium Freezer Paper from Traditional Primitives
Missie's Favorite Starch Brush
Missie's Fingertip Stiletto
Clover Mini Iron
Premium or Heavy Spray Starch

Where to get the shapes?  All of my patterns that require the English Paper Piecing technique have the templates included in the pattern, ready to copy and cut apart.  If you are choosing to do a traditional English Paper Pieced quilt and don't want to cut them yourself, you will find Hexie Cutters on my website!  Just double the paper and punch out the shapes!  My patterns and supplies are found on my web site,   Feel free to tell your local quilt store about me and ask them to take a look, then contact me for wholesale information.  My goal is to have my patterns in quilt stores!  
Back to English Paper Piecing Basting with Starch!!

To make these shapes, run one piece of Premium Freezer Paper through the printer to copy or print your shape, whatever the shape may be.  It is important to use my Premium Freezer Paper if you intend to use the same pieces over and over.  It does not shrink as fast as other papers and a few papers can be used over and over!  You do not need a new piece for each shape!  Two sheets doubled will make the corners and points stiff enough to prevent bending, which helps make perfect shapes for a perfect quilt.  Layer two pieces of freezer paper shiny sides down on an applique pressing sheet and iron together with no steam.   Cut out the shape on the line as accurately as possible.
Iron the shiny waxy side to the wrong side of the fabric, trim 1/4" around the paper edge and paint with starch on an ironing surface using the Starch Brush.  

 Try to keep the starch off of the paper and mostly on the seam allowance.   Use the mini iron tip to go under the seam allowance and bump up against the thick paper.  Then flip the seam over and on top of the paper and iron until dry.  It usually takes about 4 seconds to dry.  While holding the iron in place to dry the fabric, keep the iron tip only on the paper.  Do not let it get out into the seam allowance.  The seam allowances need to stay wet until they are flipped over onto the paper to dry.

Continue around all sides, ironing to dry the seam allowances, keeping the iron only on the paper as you go around the shape.

When you are ready to remove the papers do so by folding a corner seam allowance from the back over to the front side and the paper corner will pop out.  Grab that corner and simply pull the paper off of the fabric.  When the paper is new, the wax sticks very well and you may need to tug slightly to pull it out of the shape.  As you use the papers more, the wax continues to stick but not so firmly so it is easier to pull away from the fabric.  It can be used over and over until the wax will not stick any longer or until the corners and sides begin to change shape.  I've used my shapes up to 20 or more times before having to replace them!  This means you really don't have to cut too many pieces out of the paper IF you use my Premium Freezer Paper.


 After the pieces are basted with starch, you can sew them together with or without the papers in place!  Traditionally, English Paper Piecing is sewn with the papers inside the shapes, but by doing the basting with starch you may have the freedom to remove the papers if you'd like to!  This makes it much easier to sew some shapes together.  When I piece Hexies I like to remove the papers.  I'd like to show you how to stitch the pieces together. The picture below shows how I control my needle to take tiny little bites of the edges of the pieces. I keep my thumbnail very close to the edges of the pieces. The needle is resting on the edge of my thumbnail as I pull it through.   This allows me to keep control of the needle when stitching. I also use either Wonderfil Thread or Bottom Line Thread for stitching. You could also use silk if you like to use it. These thin threads really disappear on the front side so wonderfully if you take the small bite. I've stitched the pictured quilt below with red thread and you can only find a few stitches on the front side, due to the combination of small thread and tiny bites into the fabric when stitching. Notice I have removed the freezer paper templates on this quilt pictured below. When making the blocks for The Gardens Of A King you will be leaving your papers in while stitching, but the principals are the same as described above.

When I make a more detailed block as in the block below, I prefer to leave the papers inside the shapes.  This allows me to see where the end of the paper is and sew the pieces together more accurately.  

 I find that by basting with starch, the pieces are much more accurate which makes a more accurate pieced block and overall quilt.  I hope you will give this a try!  Making blocks like the two you see below are NO BIG DEAL when using the starch method!!
Give it a try...I think you will be glad you did!!


HERE is a video so you can see how it works in action!

Be sure to let me know if you have any questions.  I will be happy to help you.


  1. Awesome! Thank you for showing us all another way!

  2. Thank you for the wonderful starch idea. I'm sure it's also a lot cheaper than all the glue I use. One question - when doing EPP on curved pieces, do you remove the papers or do you sew on a flat surface? I'm starting an EPP quilt project that has curves and I was thinking that I would appliqué the curves together.

  3. Thank you! Met you at Shipshawanna Quilt Festival in June. Just now getting to paper piecing. Thanks for the refresher tutorial.