Paper Piecing Tips

I’ve been working on a Paper Piecing Pattern and thought I would share some of the tips I use or have come across. These are a few paper pieced blocks that helped hone my skills.


First up – Paper!

I use copy paper. My first pieces came from a ream that was purchased for a teenager’s school project. He needed certain colors and a ream full of those colors is what I bought. He used about 5 sheets of paper and I had a full ream left in some really pretty colors that I would not ever use for anything. Instead of using my good copy paper, or buying foundation piecing paper, I decided to use this ream while learning this technique. It’s 24# so it is actually pretty thick.

I have also used 20# that I got during the Back to School sales that are happening right now and that is definitely a thinner stock and tears a bit easier that the 24#. You want the paper to tear pretty easily since it is attached to your stitches. The easier it tears the less your stitches get pulled during the removal of the paper. If you will be doing a lot of paper piecing and like to use copy paper then I would suggest stocking up during these Back to School sales on the cheaper copy paper that is thinner and tears easier.

Now you have to prep the paper for easy removal later. There are a number of ways to do this. You can score the lines by sewing with an empty needle on the paper itself, basically puncturing it to create the little holes prior to actual sewing. I hate to do the same thing twice so I just score my lines by folding it on the edge of one of my rulers and then pressing the line with my fingernail to secure the fold.

A wavelength pattern piece with folds:


Second – attaching that first piece of fabric.

When I first learned paper piecing, I learned to pin that first piece to section 1 and that worked pretty well to keep that piece from sliding around. But, recently I came to possess a Sewline Glue Pen and I love it for paper piecing! Just a small streak on the paper and attach it to that first piece of fabric to keep it pretty secure.

It’s also repositionable, which I really like, and keeps the fabric nice and flat. It goes on blue but dries clear and the fabric is easily removed from the paper after stitching is complete.

Third – sewing – this is really where the precision comes into play.

If you get off of that sew line then it throws the precision off. I will admit, that even as a Virgo, I am not that precise in my assembly. This type of piecing helps me overcome the lack of skill I have sewing a straight line or keeping my points nice and pointy. Now, that only works if I can stay on that sewing line. Take piece 2 and lay it right sides together, with the seam allowances aligned, on piece 1. Flip the entire unit over to prepare for sewing on that line.


The stitch length should be smaller than what you would use for normal piecing. This helps later on when removing the paper from the fabric. Sew on the line per the numerical order written on the pattern. I backstitch at the beginning and end of the line to secure the stitches. This is especially important when attaching smaller segments.

Once the first piece is attached to the pattern, fold the paper on the line between piece 2 and 3 and trim with a ¼” seam allowance.

I trim with a rotary cutter that I use exclusively for paper piecing as I don’t want to take the chance on dulling all of my rotary cutting blades. Line up the 3rd piece of fabric with the seam allowance and then flip the unit over and sew on the line between 2 and 3 on the paper. Fold where piece 3 attaches and trim with a ¼” seam allowance and continue until all pieces in that section are attached.

Trim around the whole section using the ¼ inch seam allowance by lining up the ¼ inch marker of the ruler on the outer line of the block section.

Also trim those strangely shaped points on the end of some of the patterns.

20140726-190957-68997704.jpg This will help line up the sections when piecing them together later.

I remove my paper prior to piecing all the sections together. I find it more difficult to remove them after the sections were joined to each other. When removing the paper be sure to also hold on to those first stitches so they don’t stretch or pull out. I make a small tear on the end, hold those first stitches, and remove that section.

When sewing any pieced sections together make sure to match up those little end pieces. It will help with the accuracy of your piecing.

I love how paper piecing blocks look and I enjoy the process of putting them together. It does, however, create quite a bit of trash.

Here’s a peek of my Crop Duster pattern that I hope to post soon.

I’m loving that section where all my points line up! And I am falling more and more in love with this fabric as I piece it all together. The main print is called Aubrey and it’s so pretty.


Birds and the Bees Pillow

At my most recent guild meeting, we had a English Paper Piecing lesson and were asked to bring some scraps to work with. I decided I needed a pillow to go with my Birds and the Bees quilt. So, I brought some yellow, black, and gray scraps and was able to get a few done while at the meeting.

I decided to do a small cluster and added some small triangles that I sewed into hexies and a couple of random triangles as well. I zig-zag appliqued the pieces onto the gray background fabric. I love how this turned out!


Earlier in the week, I created some hoop art with my favorite fabric: Polka Dot Stitches by Lori Holt for Riley Blake designs.

I took some variegated colored threads and stitched around the stitch diagrams. This fabric just showcases the beginnings of my stitching journey that I experienced as a child. I keep buying it and hate to cut into it in any way. So, I thought I’d make it a feature piece in my sewing room.

On that train of thought: I found the Polka Dot Stitches fat quarter bundle on #thegreatfabricdestash and I just had to have it. I hadn’t seen the rest of the bundle and I was very pleasantly surprised when I received it and was able to open it up. I love them all!

The text prints are definitely my favorite but this red color story is the grouping that I love most:

It included some solids, some large gingham, and some adorable large prints. I’m not sure how I’ll use them but there may be another Sew Together Bag in my future.

I’m also working on a block that I will be making into a mini and I hope to share that soon. Until then – happy sewing!

Designer’s Block

So, last week I got a new computer. And I’m super excited that it takes less than 15 minutes to boot up and that it doesn’t shut down or freeze every 5 minutes. Let’s just say I really, really needed a new computer and I got one! So, without all the annoying shutting down, I was able to use my Electric Quilt software and actually create something cool. I’ll post the final design later once I test it out a bit more. Here’s a sneak….

The next picture shows my pull for the actual block and lap quilt. Well, it’s not really a pull – I went shopping and bought it all. I sure hope it works out like I see it in my head. I keep changing the color placement and just need to stop over-thinking and start sewing. It will turn out fine if I just start sewing. And if it doesn’t then I’ll have some new throw pillows and some cool new fabric to add to my stash.

We’ve got Simply Color #10806, Dear Stella Piper green scallop, Sweet and Sassy for Quilting Treasures #23344 in Dandelion, Zack and Zoe Circle Dots pink, Aubrey for Studio e Fabrics, and Fusions Meadow #14445 for Robert Kaufman

Also this week, I received my new favorite shirt from Patchwork Threads:

My friends would definitely say that it describes me pretty well. :-)

I put the first border on the Mini-Medallion QAL which is being held over at Clover and Violet.

I’ve got almost a full month to wait for the next border. It’s just torture!

And, I’ve got the next row cut for the Wavelength quilt:


Time to stop playing with my computer and turn that sewing machine on (oh and do laundry – ugh) and then I need to get some crafting started. Hopefully we’ll see some progress this week. I can’t wait to show you the new block!

Random Roundup #4

There’s been a lot more relaxing and a lot less sewing going on over here since my days off last week. I’ve gotten a few things accomplished but no one project has gotten a lot of attention. Here’s what I’ve done:

Sugar Block Club – I posted the June block here but never posted the first 6 blocks all together.
I also already completed the July block.


Pouches – I made 2 pouches – one that I will post next week and one that I made for an employee of mine that is transferring departments. She’s the one person at work that wants to see all this stuff I create. She makes jewelry so we have a crafting mutual respect for each other. I used a free pattern that I found on Craftsy. I used a Home Decor print remnant for the outside. I learned to use a larger seam allowance when using this particular piece of fabric. There was a little fraying on some of the areas of the bag. I have enough of the fabric left over and will be making some pillows so I will use a larger allowance for those.IMG_1614
I might use a stiffer interface or some fusible fleece next time I make this. I think it needs a little more structure. Anyway – she loved it! She’s already got plans for how she will use it.

Random Blocks for bigger projects – A third Memory block. This one is from the second quilt I ever made.
I talked about the inspiration for this quilt in this post. I have more fabrics pulled but not sewn together yet.

I started the Mini-Medallion Quiltalong over on Clover and Violet in association with SewLux. This is my fabric pull:
The center block is just so cute. All the information can be found on Clover and Violet’s blog .
The first border pattern got released today. I can’t wait to see what it is and get started sewing it up.

While I was relaxing, I took advantage of Swim, Bike, Quilt’s moving destash on Instagram and picked up some wonderful fabrics.

I was so happy to be able to snag those text prints!
I also got a few more items from #thegreatfabrcidestash on Instagram.IMG_1583
There’s some Essex Linen in Olive in that bunch of loveliness. I can’t wait to find something great to use it in. That grouping also included 2 pieces of Wee Gallery, Terrain by Kate Spain, and Circa 1934.
Now, I’ve got to pop back over to Clover and Violet and see what that first border looks like.

Memories in the Making

I recently came across a post on Riddle and {whimsy} where a quilt top was being made using fabric from previously made quilts. It was one old quilt per block and the idea just struck me as something that I definitely needed to incorporate into a new quilt top. Jo used the Catvent pattern but I was thinking more along the lines of the Broken Herringbone. I had been wanting to try that block for a while now and felt that this would be the perfect project for it. So – I tried it out using fabric from the first quilt I ever made.
That quilt is titled Snow Buddies and was made somewhere around 1998. I still use it. Summer, Spring, Winter, Fall – the season does not matter. It is well worn and well loved.

It’s a simple nine-patch that I tied with yarn. The binding is flipped over from the backing fabric and is fraying in the most beautiful way.

As a beginning quilter it is very likely that I overbought yardage of fabric so I believe that I have enough fabric left over from the older quilts in order to take this idea to completion. The problem will be as I get into the more recent ones where fabric buying was a little more precise. I still think I should be okay. Now, onto the first block:

Yay! It came out just as i thought and I am thrilled with this plan! Block 2 has some fabric to be found so moving on….
Block 3 is from a quilt I named Delightfully Deer that I created in 2001 for a hunting friend of mine in Montana. And I’m finally on trend – those deer are coming back in style right about now.

The tutorial is courtesy of Anne at play-crafts. It was very easy to follow and I’m excited to finally have a plan that will use this block. I’m going to write the name and year on the lower right sashing strip and place the blocks chronologically so I can see how my fabric choices changed over the years.

I also put together the June Sugar Block Club block – Teach.

I’m glad that I had the opportunity to go ‘Beyond the Block‘ and teach my nieces how to sew cute zipper pouches. You can read about that experience here. It was wonderful for them to create something with their own hands. And I was proud to give them that during their visit last week.

I also picked up this cool bundle! There’s the periodic table and some formula text print and those beakers! It’s just so great!

They are from Science Fair for Robert Kaufman. I went to check out the name and fell in love with the selvedge.

Eeeeek! It’s so cute!

Waves, Shades, and Pouches

I finally got my hands on some Architextures text and ledger prints!

As an Accountant, I absolutely love that ledger print and can’t wait to see how I will use it.

One more row was added to the Wavelength quilt. We’re moving into the green section so it’s really coming to life.


I made a Cordless Roman Shade for my front room window – which is 1 inch shy of a standard width. It’s an Amy Butler home decor print and is perfect for the room. I found the tutorial here.


My nieces are in town and I put them behind the sewing machine for their first time. I showed them how to try and keep the line straight with the 1/4 in foot and let them go giving verbal instructions as they moved along. They both made zipper pouches with fabric of their choice. As we know, there is a lot of fabric to choose from.
My oldest niece was inspired by a Mickey Mouse ribbon that we found at a local craft store. So we went with black, yellow, and red to use with it. This pattern came off of Craftsy. It’s the Reversible tote and Zipper pouch free class.


Her sister chose to go with chevrons and polka dots in an aqua tone and use a different design.

Both bags turned out so cute! They each did about 75% of the sewing themselves. I’m so proud of them and they both love their pouches. With the weather sitting at ‘feels like 96′, it was a good day for indoor crafting!

My sewing room will be put back together tomorrow and I have a few more days off to get some sewing done before I need to go back to work.

Random Roundup #3

It’s another week of random projects. I took a small break from the Wavelength quilt and made up this sweet zipper pouch.


It is made using most of the mini charms remaining from the Sew Together bag I made for myself. It was a Boho mini charm pack and goes great with that red sketch lining. Both projects turned out so cute!


Progress was made on Wavelength but I’m still trying to round out the colors for the next section.


This picture just makes me smile. I just love it so much!

I picked up last week’s Friday Bundle Batch from Fort Worth Fabric Studio. I just knew a few of those teals would work for this quilt and I was right. I pulled 3 out for this project and the rest got added to my ever-growing stash.

I also had the honor of meeting Jenean Morrison at an Open House at Sew Memphis – a local quilt shop. She was showing off her new line ‘Lovelorn’. I grabbed a few cuts of her designs along with other lovely goodies.


This is my favorite from the new line. It is called Hexagons and also comes in rainbow and in pinks.

I’m going to try and make a little progress on a few projects this weekend as I have to pack up the sewing room for family guests later in the week. I think I’ll postpone that task as much as possible. :-). Happy sewing!