Easter “EPP” Scottie dogs
If you’ve never heard of EPP… don’t feel bad, as I had to google it myself when I first heard it mentioned. EPP stands for English Paper Piecing and it’s used in hand sewing with paper templates, cut into the exact size square of your project… no seam allowance needed. The one thing that I’ll stress in cutting paper templates… is to be very precise, or your squares will not be exact… meaning your squares and seams will be off. After cutting mine, I tapped them down and felt the squared edges in my hand; you can feel they are even that way… and also good to eye-ball them as they are stacked up neat. I learned about this little Scottie dog from You-Tuber, Kate Jackson, whom I watch on The Last Homely House. She’s amazing in all the crafts she makes… and if you’re like me… you’ll want to make every one of them!
I never seem to make “one” of anything… and in having five granddaughters… that seems to always be my number!
You start sewing with paper squares and fabric… covering the squares precisely is what gives you a straight precise edge. Can you guess what my next dog will be covered as? It’s one of my all time favorites and I can’t wait to see it all sewn. I never seem to make myself anything… so this one is all mine!
I began by cutting paper squares… starting with the exact size Kate made for her granddaughter… 1 3/4 inch paper square. You can pretty much use any paper, but I found magazines with shiny pages worked the best… and we all have them; mine was actually one given out free at my local supermarket. I used my small paper cutter to cut… lining up two or three pages at a time to make long strips… and then cutting into the squares needed. My size I used is not exactly what you might want to use… and there is no right or wrong in whatever size you choose to make.
All 5 granddaughters and daughter-in-law received their own Scottie dog for Easter… although daughter-in-law received hers after I returned home. Molly, the granddog, is giving me the stink-eye here… do I dare sew her one?
Supplies Needed: paper, (thin glossy magazines work best), needle and thread, pins, scissors, large buttons or felt, ribbon or scarf for neck bow, and stuffing. For small children you might want to make safer eyes using felt, instead of buttons. I’ve seen embroidered felt eyes… so be creative. My eyes were about 1 1/2 to 2 inches… as you want them to be seen and most regular buttons were too small. On my granddaughters I attached a felt heart of which I embroidered a sentiment to them. Like I’ve said, there’s not set rules… make it your own!
Each of the dogs for the granddaughters I made special by embroidering a heart on them and attaching a label I use for things I make them. It’s all about making something your own!
For my first ones, I used 27 squares for each side (total 54 for both sides) plus 30 for the gusset, but for my daughter-in-law, I added another 3 squares vertical in the center (vertical) to make his body slightly wider… making each side of 30 squares (60 total), plus32 for gusset. If you have a love of Dachshunds, you could even make this dog wider to resemble them. I know in the future I’ll probably make a larger one… as there’s no set rules… other than making sure you have the sides sewn correctly so the fabric front and back match when sewing. The dogs measure about 10 by 14 inches… give or take. I thought it was a perfect size to lay on their beds, as they are too old to play with them.
When I began folding the fabric over the paper squares, I chose to use different colored threads so it would be easier to see and remove at the end. I happen to have had a large collection of embroidery threads, so I used them (one thread) in basting the fabric neatly and even over the paper templates. Knot your thread when you begin, but just cut a short tail off after you’ve basted the large stitches around. You don’t need many stitches to accomplish the basting… just fold the fabric neatly… that’s the clue. Always strive to keep your squares neat with the fabric folded around especially folding at the corner edges.
Covering the paper squares was very easy and went by pretty fast, and I had a couple gallon size bags before I even realized. They can be quite contagious to make, as I’ve since discovered after making my first 5. I first swore, that I’d never make another one… then I began missing the sewing! And after my daughter in law said to me, “I guess I’m not getting one“… I came home to see how many squares I still had and began making her one… which is currently enroute… unbeknownst to her! So yes Rose… “you are getting one“!
Notice the thimble on my finger… after sewing for awhile, my finger was showing quite the wear… it really helps in using a thimble, especially when pushing the needle through on the gussets. I eventually discovered a silicone thimble in the Dollar Tree and absolutely love it… I even went back and bought extras so I had plenty to leave around in my different sewing baskets. Notice that my fabric on the backside wasn’t always the same size folded over… and it doesn’t matter on the backside, so I didn’t fuss in using a pattern, just eyeballed my folded fabric to cut into squares… just don’t cut too short.
This is a hand sewing project… no machine needed unless it’s your choice. It will be sewn by tiny whipstitches around the very outside edge of the fabric squares, that you’ve covered with fabric. You will sew through some of the paper, but many times you’ll be able to grab the tiniest of the edge and might not grab any paper… but don’t worry about the papers as they will all be removed before you turn the dog inside out for stuffing. If you’ve never hand sewed before, or whipstitched anything closed, you might want to practice on some fabric before starting… or watch some videos.
As you sew (whipstitch) around, use single strong thread. On my first couple, I doubled the thread thinking it’d make it stronger, but in stuffing I think my stitches showed a tiny bit more than sewing with single thread. You do want to give a slight tug on your stitches as you sew, as they need to stay tight and close together… using up very little of the basted fabric squares.
I made one of these very patch square doggies many years ago when I sold at craft fairs, but it was much larger and machine sewn. Actually I had forgotten about it until I discovered some older photographs of my craft selling days , but as usual, I can’t find it now. (I will post when found) As it never sold, my kids quickly took possession and used it as their floor pillow for years.
When cutting your paper and fabric, I’ll stress that it’s only the “paper” that must be cut precise, the fabric size is very forgiving… as long as you allow at least 1/4 inch all around to fold over the edge of the paper square. I actually eye-balled my fabric by laying the square on my folded fabric and cut my squares by sight… some were larger than others, but after folded over the paper edge, it didn’t matter… just don’t cut yourself short with very little to fold over. The edges are folded over neatly and basted to stay in place. Some have said they have used a scrapbook roll on glue, but I prefered the basting. The basting went so fast, that before I knew it, I had a huge gallon size ziploc bag of squares… just waiting to be turned into Scottie dogs.
In following Kate’s size of 1 3/4 inch squares, I made 27 squares for the front and 27 for the back, with 30 squares sewed for the gusset; I sewed my gusset squares in one continuous length of 30 and set aside. You can see here how the basting stitches look… note I used large basting stitches so the squares are sewn quickly. It’s a easy sewing project on trips!
Depending on fabric chosen, decide on placement before sewing squares together (by hand) or use a random pull from your stash of squares. I tended to lay mine out by rows, as I wanted the ear, tail and face of certain squares, but like I’ve said before… there are no rules… sew it as you want. The one thing that you need to pay attention to after making your first side, is that the second side needs to face in the opposite direction, so your front-side fabrics face each other when sewing the gusset. If you follow the first one exactly in the same direction, you will end up with either two fronts or two backs… and I did just that! But as I was making 5 doggies, it didn’t matter… I then just made two in the opposite direction. You will quickly figure out how to lay your first side down so you can follow it, but really going in the opposite direction.
I first began by laying out my rows in vertical strips as how I was sewing… I found it easier to sew them vertical to each other in rows, then after, I sewed them those vertical rows together to attach. By laying out in a visual… it helps you decide if it’s laid out correctly to match the other side. The inside “fronts” should always be facing each other, in order for the gusset to be sewn around. If you are shaking your head, just head over HERE to watch Kate explain EPP and sewing the Scottie dog… always better to have a visual.
This is an example of how you “Don’t” want your two dogs to look like at the end… as you won’t be able to sew these two together… they will not match up to right sides together. This happened to me, but luckily I was making more than one, so it didn’t affect me, other than paying more attention when I sewed the next front or back.
This is how your front and back should look like, if sewn together correctly. With the right sides facing you, both heads should be facing in the opposite direction in order to be able to flip one over to sew the right sides together.
After you have both sides of your dog made, you are ready to sew the gusset… and you’re halfway finished… as long as both your dogs “are not” facing the same way… and I hope not! In order for both sides to match for sewing the gusset on, both dogs will face right side up toward each other with the gusset connecting them; the gusset gives the dog a little dimension. Not following me… then head over to the videos I posted above.
Here is one side with the gusset sewn around. Notice that on the first attachment of the gusset, you sew it completely all around… it’s only when you attach the second side, that you “leave open” a couple of squares for stuffing… later to whipstitch closed.
Before sewing the gusset, decide where you want to stuff from, some say the bottom, or the side… I chose the back side edge. I didn’t choose the bottom as I thought maybe I’d have a hard time stuffing the feet. By using the back side, and leaving at least 2 squares open, I could reach across to push my stuffing into all the ear, tail and feet. I wanted mine to be firm, but not bulging. If not enough stuffing, you might end up with a floppy head or neck, but it’s up to you.
Don’t be intimidated on sewing the gusset… just take one square at a time… and breathe… you can do it! What I will stress is… start with even matched squares, and maybe pin your squares , one at a time, together to help you stay on target. Yes, you’ll probably find a few squares that may be a bit off, but fabric is very forgiving and you should be able to wiggle it all in. If it’s off a wee bit… don’t fret as whomever you made it for, will still shower it with love!
Many find turning the gusset on the squares a bit intimidating, and I did also, but I found that by sewing almost to the end of a square on the turns, then turning the square and pinching it together to sew, it wasn’t that hard… then just start again sewing right at the beginning of the corner until you reach the next corner and turn. You will better understand that when you start sewing.
Hope I’ve encouraged you to sew your very own Scottie dog. I’d love to hear from you if you have sewn one and feel free to message with any questions. Have Fun Sewing!
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