Sunday, February 24, 2019

Paper Piecing Tutorial

 Today, I'm going to share my method of paper piecing with you.  Many quilters are intimidated by paper piecing, but it's really not that difficult.  It just takes a little practice to get the hang of it.  Once you understand how to paper piece, you can sew beautiful points and complicated looking blocks with tiny patches or unusual angles with ease and accuracy.
 I'm going to demonstrate with this curved section I used to sew the Miss Minnie Sue Pickle quilt.  When you begin your paper piecing, you'll need to make a copy of the pattern to do your sewing on.  There are several products out there you can purchase for paper foundation piecing, but I've always used regular copy paper and had good results.  I recommend using a copy machine to make your paper pattern copies, but if you don't have one available, you can always tape your pattern to a window or light box and trace it.

Paper foundation piecing feels a bit like sewing backwards at first.  Your fabric will be on the back of the printed side of the paper.  The sewing will be done with the printed side face up.  You'll need to cut your fabric patches large enough to have at least 1/4" extra on all sides to accommodate the seam allowance.  Begin by placing the fabric you are using for the first patch (B1 in my example) on the back of your paper copy.  It needs to cover all of B1 and extend into the seam allowances.  The patch should be face up on the back of your paper.  You can see the back of my fabric in the photo above.  

This is how your fabric should look on the back of the pattern.  Fabric right side up, paper pattern back side.

Next, you'll place the fabric you are using for the second patch (B2 in my example) face down on the first fabric.  Be sure they are extending about 1/4" into the paper pattern piece B2 so you will have an adequate seam allowance. 

Holding, or pinning the fabric patches in place, flip the paper pattern over to the front (printed) side.  Sew along the seam line for your pieces (In my example B1 and B2).  Start and stop your sewing at the seam allowances, using a machine knot or backstitch to secure the line of stitching.  Set your machine to sew a very short stitch, (1.5 works well on my machine).  This will make it easier to remove the paper later.

After stitching, the back side of your piece should look something like the above photo.

Flip the second fabric patch over (the pink B2 in my example), make sure it is covering all of the second patch on the paper pattern (B2) and extending into the seam allowances.  If needed, trim the seam to 1/4" between the two pieces (B1 and B2).  Press.

Continue on in this manner, adding the pieces in numerical order to complete your paper pieced unit.  An easy way to trim the seam allowances between each patch is to fold the paper pattern back as shown above...

and trim to 1/4" with a ruler and rotary cutter.

Don't worry about the ragged edges as you sew along.  Here is how my piece looked after adding the third fabric patch.  This is normal.

When you have sewn all of your fabric patches, your piece should look something like this.

Trim off the ragged edges so your fabric is even with the paper.  This is your completed paper pieced unit.  Depending on your pattern, you may or may not need to remove the paper at this point.  Follow the directions in the pattern you are using.

Be Creative ~ Sew Something Beautiful Today!

Jennifer Thomas

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