Ring of Coffins Pattern: Tips and Tricks Part One

Ring of Coffins Pattern: Tips and Tricks Part One {an Art School Dropout's life} EPP English Paper Piecing Foundation Paper Piecing Halloween Quilt

A few weeks back Sylvia of Flying Parrot Quilts contacted me with her idea to do a quilt along for a quilt she made using a mash up of a bunch of Halloween themed patterns. She calls it the Epic Halloween Quilt. You can see a photo of it here.

Each week she talks about a different pattern, either free or paid, that fits in the quilt. Like a puzzle piece.

This week is my Ring of Coffins pattern with Heidi Kenney’s Occupied Coffin add on (that’s included)

For anyone out there that hasn’t worked with English Paper Piecing / EPP, where it needs to be basted straight, I’m here to help! Just Keep Reading…

For the Epic Halloween Quilt Along, make sure to print the pattern at 85% to help it fit on the block!

How to Make a Custom Fussy Cutting Template:

ring_of_coffins_001For my block, I will be making eight solid coffins and eight occupied coffins. However you could do whatever configuration you want. Just make sure to print out enough templates pieces!

I like to print my EPP Templates on 68lb cardstock, and my Occupied Coffins Foundation Paper Piecing template on everyday copy paper. For this tutorial, I am also using a small piece of Heavy Duty Template Plastic.


The first step is to trace to basic coffin template on to the plastic, using a sharpie marker. I also labeled it, so I know it is the 85% smaller coffin.


Next I go and center the Occupied Coffins window in the Basic Coffin shape and trace that too.

ring_of_coffins_004I then cut out the entire thing using my “anything” scissors. This plastic is thick, so don’t use your nice fabric scissors. You don’t have to cut out the window, I just like the extra visibility.

Now that the fussy cutting template is ready to go, here are two ways to use it…

Using the Fussy Cutting Template to Make a Solid Coffin Block:



You don’t always need to center pieces that are just blender fabrics, but if you’re like me, and you want straight blocks, this is one of many ways it cane be done.

If your fabric is printed on a light base fabric, you can use a disappearing ink pen to trace the template on to the back of the fabric itself. Make sure to leave room around template, because you’ll need that in the next step.


Cut about 1/4″ to 1/2″ all the way around the traced lines. The seam allowance all depends on your personal basting preferences.


Next take one of your cut out solid cardstock coffin templates, and your choice of clips (I like the jumbo Wonder Clips by Clover) and line it up with the traced line and secure it temporarily.


Now here is where you may go “but that’s not how I baste EPP”, and I get that a lot. “There are many ways to skin a cat”, and there are many ways to baste English Paper Piecing templates. This just happens to be my personal choice. If it isn’t yours, skip this and the next step.

I tie a knot at the end of my thread and I do two large basting stitches to keep the coffin secure and in place. I don’t take the clips off yet.


Using the same thread, I then continue to baste around the edges by going through the paper. Again, it’s a personal preference. You could glue baster yours, or baste only the fabric around the coffin. All up to you!


This is how my finished basic coffin looks. See how the lines are all straight on the bottom? It’s all; because I went that next step and lined it all up! Sometimes it’s just worth it.

Next up…

Using the Fussy Cutting Template to Make a Occupied Coffin Block:



So using the template for the Occupied Coffin is a bit different. At first I use the inside window to pick out the best cuts for the window of the coffin. I then use the outside edge of the template as my cutting guide. I added a 1/2″ underneath the window ledge too.

I then just add that to the center block of the pattern and piece it normally. It’s just nice getting that perfectly centered block without guessing.


I’m not going to get in to how to do Foundation Paper piecing, because I don’t want to make this post too long, BUT if you have questions about this particular pattern, please just email me.

Above is after I centered the fussy cut block and then pieced all the other pieces all around it. I haven’t trimmed it yet, and I want you to read the next step before you do so too.



If you are making these blocks as part of the Quilt Along, and you shrunk the pattern 85%, then you’ll need to account for it. I would trim the edges of the Occupied Coffin 1/8″ or 1/4″ away from the original edge. I chose 1/8″, but it all depends on how much fabric you like to work with when basting.


Once your Occupied Coffin is all trimmed and nice looking, Take your template and match up the window you just stitched up. Keep it in place and trace around the edge. I used a dark chambray as my coffin fabric, and ended up using a yellow dressmakers chalk. If you are sewing with lighter fabric, you can use the disappearing ink again. Whatever works for you!


You can see my traced lines here.



Now, just like with the basic coffin, using your choice or clips go ahead and center the card stock piece and baste it on using your preferred method.

ring_of_coffins_occupied_010I used a bulkier fabric, so I had to do a bunch of tiny stitches to keep it all in place. Especially around the corners. As you can see though, the little window is perfectly centered and it wasn’t that hard at all!

Just continue whichever steps you need to to complete all 16 coffins needed for the ring.

If you would like to hear about how I piece together all the coffins and attach them to the backing fabric, then please stop back by next week to see more.

In the meantime make sure to check out the #epichalloweenqal hashtag on InstaGram to see everyone else’s progress on their quilts. It all looks so amazing. If you make yourself a ring of coffins, please use the #ringofcoffins and #artschooldropoutpatterns hashtag so I can go look at them too!!


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