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

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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 it 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 center 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 the basting stitches then the 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 the paper later. 

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 it 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 cheap paintbrush with a cup of starch or even easier, try this brush pen. Fill it in with starch water and starch away. Easy and clean.

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

Well, 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 have 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.

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, but the thought of having to carefully iron on the edges scares me and I feel like it is too much 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 the paper. No messy glue residue.

Cons: Cost. Need to cut out fleece shapes. Need ironing. Not so portable. Fleece can be a little too soft to create sharp edges.

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 are 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 a free trial on amazon here. [Join HBO Free Trial]

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English paper Piecing Tutorial_ Various basting technique. One should suit you.




  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. 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 Reply

    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.

  5. Okay, I am accepting the challenge of English paper piecing. It took a ridiculously long time to finish, but I just completed my very first hexi. Thanks for the tutorial and the inspiration!

  6. I use a company called Inklingo. They supply sets of shapes for all sorts of designs such as Willyne Hammerstein and Lucy Boston. The shapes can be printed onto fabric directly and have a cutting line and a sewing line which intersects at each corner making it easy to place the needle and sew accurately. There is no need for papers you cut a piece of freezer paper and iron it to the right side of your fabric and print on the wrong side of your fabric. You also get a design without borders to print onto freezer paper for fussy cutting too. Lots of videos on this site.

  7. Linda Deering Reply

    Great information. Thanks for sharing. It is a great take- along project. I keep thread on a bobbin, easy to take many colors, in a little box with my cut squares of fabric. I work these when I am just sitting and waiting.
    I noticed you had a little knoting in the thread as you were basting in your first video. I learned that the thread has a nap and should go thru the fabric in the direction it comes off the spool. It makes EPP much more enjoyable. Try knoting your thread near the end by the spool. Again, thanks for all your info.

  8. Wanda Ball Reply

    Enjoyed your video. I started paper piecing hexes as two of my sisters were making them. However, I did not watch videos on how to, I just winged it. I have since spoken with others that are more experienced in this craft and have learned a few things which you mention in your methods. One thing that was suggested was to use thread that is specifically for hand sewing. Do you use a particular thread?

    • littlemushroomcap@gmail.com Reply

      Hi Wanda,

      Glad you enjoyed the video. I do not use a particular thread, but I recently used a thread wax which makes the thread less likely to break due to friction.

      I have heard some used fine silk thread for achieving fine results too. It is something I am yet to explore too.

  9. Louise Pedersen Reply

    Unfortunately I was not able to access the information on starch basting. The link was unavailable. Are there any other options for tutorials?

  10. I have a ton of cheap masking tape and use it to baste and for flat back stitching. It’s my 1st attempt at EPP

  11. I use the glue method with quite possibly the cheapest school glue stick I could find, as its a cheap glue it doesn’t stick well, and I find that steaming it causes the glue to release the paper, it dose tend to stick to the fabric making it stiffer but a quick wash and you would never know.

  12. I used to stitch baste but now I’m addicted to glue basting! I use Elmers glue as they are quite cheap. Thank you for the tutorials ?

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