Paper pieced patchwork is the traditional British method of making patchwork. A template is cut out onto which the fabric is tacked, and these pieces are then sewn together. I used the Liberty fabric I bought at the V&A quilt exhibition to make a paper pieced hexagon project.
Firstly, I cut out paper hexagon templates, one the size you want each finished patch to be, and one slightly larger which includes the seam allowances. I used a thickish paper so the shape would be quite stiff, helping to keep the corners sharp and improve the overall effect of the finished patchwork. I drew the smaller template first, and then cut a larger one 1cm bigger all round. You need as many of the smaller ones as you have patches, as you will use one for each patch.
Using the larger template, cut out fabric hexagons in your chosen fabrics. You need to make sure you have enough to complete your design, plus some extra for finishing it off to the required shape (you can see this in action in my finished project below).
Lay a small paper hexagon on the wrong side of a fabric piece. Fold the overhanging seam allowance neatly over the paper keeping the corners neat, and tack all around to hold it in shape. The fabric should cover the template without being baggy or pulled too tight.
Sew two hexagons together by laying them right sides together and sewing alone one edge, stitching through the fabric but not the paper. Continue adding one piece at a time in the pattern you want. This can get a bit more difficult when your patchwork gets larger but don’t worry about accidentally folding the paper: it will be removed at the end and the whole thing will be ironed to remove any creases.
Here is my finished patchwork panel. You can see that the edges are not straight; this will come later! The next step is to iron the whole thing in order to press all the seams and keep the folds neat.
After that, carefully remove the tacking threads and take out the paper templates. These can be saved to be used again in another project.
Now the patchwork is finished you could add wadding and a backing piece and quilt your patchwork before making up your project. To do this you need to cut a piece of backing fabric and a piece of wadding to the size of your patchwork at the widest points, tack the three layers together and then quilt by either hand or machine. When you have finished quilting you can trim your panel to remove the overhanging pieces.
I chose to make my patchwork into a cushion without any quilting. My patchwork was 45cm square at the narrowest point. I cut two pieces of plain fabric 45cm x 30, hemmed one long edge of each piece, then lay them right side down onto the right side of the patchwork so the hemmed edges overlap in the middle, this forms the opening to allow you to put your cushion pad in.
Sew all the way round the outside through all the layers and trim the corners so they are not bulky when you turn the cushion cover the right way round.