5 Ways to Baste English Paper Piecing Templates

There are a couple of well-known ways to baste English paper piecing templates.

While there are no right or wrong, I’d like to point out some of the pros and cons of the template basting techniques based on my thoughts (some may have a different opinion). So in this post let’s go through a couple of methods of basting english paper piecing pieces.

If you haven’t tried English Paper Piecing (EPP for short), it is a form of patchwork done with paper templates basted to the fabric to keep the fabric in shape. It is suitable for lots of different shapes that fit like a puzzle.  Mostly these are geometrical shapes which can be stitched together into beautiful shapes and mandalas. You can see some example in this post.

If you have been EPP-ing quite a while, let me know which one is your favorite basting technique and why. If you have a different way than the one I have mentioned, share it with us, please…


Various English Paper Piecing Basting Method

There are affiliate links provided in this post for your convenience. I may earn a small commission when you purchase at NO cost to you. Please find my full disclosure here.

1. Stitch/Sew basting onto both fabrics and paper

This is one of the first methods I tried when I started EPP. I like a couple of things about this method, but in the end, I find too much of a hassle to remove the paper.

Basting simply means you can just do a running stitch punching through the fabrics and paper around the templates. You can see an example of this in the stripey hexagon in the centre of the photo above.

The benefit of this method is that the paper is securely attached to the fabric.  This makes it wonderful for securing it while finishing all around each side. Particularly important when fussy cutting and you want the paper template to be in the exact position.

Pros: Easy quick basting stitch. Secures paper well to fabric.

Cons: May leave stitch holes on the surface. Need to remove basting stitches then paper.


2. Stitch/Sew basting on fabrics only not paper

This one is my favorite basting technique as I don’t like removing paper and this method makes that step easier and I can re-use my templates.

Here is a brief tutorial on how to stitch baste only the corners:


3. Glue Basting

This is one of the common ways modern EPP-ers are rocking it. It is fast, quick and easy to baste.

The question that people always ask about this method is all type of glue stick okay?

Honestly, I don’t find any difference in the specific glue stick or the regular glue stick your kids use. The only difference is probably the size of the tip and the blue colour makes it easy to see.

I have great success with the cheap purple glue stick before.

I find that the cheaper the glue stick is probably best as it doesn’t stick so well and makes it easy to remove paper later. (Psstt: buy those dollar store ones…talk about dollar store, have you tried online dollar store, Hollar? check it out here.)

Here is a video of me glue basting:

However, with the glue stick basting method, I do find that removing the paper will not be as easy as removing it if I were to stitch baste (on the fabric only, not paper). But it is not too bad either.

Here is a video of me removing the paper from glue basted pieces:

Pros: fast, easy to get. Portable.

Cons: Costly (if using the EPP exclusive glue stick). A little bit of work when removing the paper later.  Can be sticky and messy.


4. Starch Basting

Have you heard or seen this one?

I love the idea of it, but looks a bit tedious that I haven’t even got time to try it myself.

Here is a video of the how to.

I am thinking that a regular painting brush with a cup of starch or even easier – those watercolour pen brush would work as well.

Pros: No need to remove paper! The solid crease line can guide sewing better. Cheaper as compared to the EPP gluestick.

Cons: Not so portable as it requires ironing. And you may need to buy those mini iron if you don’t have one yet. Need electrical port unless your iron works on battery.

5. Fusible Fleece Basting

Wel,l this one wouldn’t be so paper-y would it? Shall we still call it English paper piecing then? It is similar to the idea of the EPP technique, so we’ll keep it here as another option.

This technique uses a fusible fleece as the templates as opposed to papers. These fusible has to be cut into the shape of the EPP pieces required and basted to the fabric using the fusible glue on the fleece. The fusible sides are activated to stick once heated using the iron.

So, basically you will have to fold the fabric edges and iron them to stick to the fusible fleece.

I haven’t tried this one yet too, but the thought of having to carefully iron on the edges scares me and I feel like it is too much of a work. But it might be worth a try. I am thinking that with these, you may not need to remove the fusible fleece at all. They are soft enough to be in a quilt.

Pros: No need to remove paper. No messy glue residue.

Cons: Cost. Need to cut out fleece shapes. Need ironing. Not so portable.

English Paper Piecing Tutorials and Information. Lots of Free English Paper Piecing templates on the blog

Which method do you use? Not listed here?

Drop a comment and let us know how you baste you EPP pieces. We’d love to hear them.

Or if you have a tip on how to do either of them, share them too, please 🙂 I know you are all full of wisdom.

Related Post:

What do you do while your hands is at EPP? Listen to audible books? If you have not tried audible, here is a link to try it out for free and you get two books to start with. Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks.

If you are not the book type, how about some movies on HBO. I love movie time while stitching! Get free trial on amazon here. [Join HBO Free Trial]

About littlemushroomcap@gmail.com


  1. Technically not paper piecing, as there is no paper – but what I do is trace the template in pencil on the wrong side of the fabric, then hand stitch on the pencil lines. The tracing takes about the same time as basting, but there is no paper removal so it saves time on the back end. Also, sewing WS together instead of whip stitching means that your stitches will always be invisible! The only con I can think of is that you can’t really use this method if you want to applique your piece onto a background, since the seam allowances stick out.

  2. Mnvan

    I press the hexagon fabric, cut generously, around the paper first, then use quilter’s glue, like Roxanne’s, in a bottle with a fine tip to put a drop of glue on each folded corner. Then I press again. This results in a very crisp shape. The papers more or less pop out, although sometimes a bit of glue gets stuck to the paper. In that case, I just run the blade of my small scissors underneath to pop it out.

  3. I’ve started a project with 1/2″ (12mm) hexagons, and I’ve been stitch basting through the fabric (your method #2). I love the portability of this technique, but it seems to take at least as long, if not longer, to baste the shapes as it does to finally stitch them together. One trick I’ve found to basting such small shapes, however, is that rather than cutting my fabric into hexagons before basting, I cut the fabric into squares, and I’m basting the square fabric over the hexagon template paper. The extra fabric gives me a bit more to hold onto as I baste down the seams on these tiny pieces. Once I have several pieces basted, I go back through them with a pair of sharp fabric scissors and trim away the excess fabric from the seam allowance.

  4. Dorothy Matheson

    By Kate makes stamps to stamp the print of the sewing line on the back of the fabric. Trim fabric to 1/4 inch seam allowance then sew the seam. Works very well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *