Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Paper Piecing Phobia

Hi!  I'm LuAnn from Loose Threads blog, and I am really excited to be here doing a guest post today.  I'm also a bit nervous.  Thank you Madame Samm for inviting me to be a guest blogger. 

When someone mentions paper piecing, do you shiver like you've just been chilled by a cold wind or do you just shake your head or pretend not to hear?  If so, you may have paper piecing phobia.  I'm going to do a tutorial on paper piecing and show you some of the quilts where I've used paper piecing.  I really enjoy making blocks by this method, and I hope you will, too.

These are the materials that I use.  I prefer That Patchwork Place foundation paper, but I have also use Scribble Pads that I buy from the dollar store.  I use an Add A Quarter ruler that is available from most quilt shops.  A regular ruler can also be used for trimming, but the Add A Quarter ruler has a lip that catches on the paper when you trim so that the fabric doesn't slip when you are trimming the quarter inch seam.  Of course, you will need a rotary cutter, cutting mat, and paper scissors.  I keep the Magic tape on hand in case the paper foundation perforates and tears before I've had a chance to sew.  You will also need a post card or an index card.

Paper piecing is just like a lot of things:  Getting started is the hardest part.  Set your sewing machine to a short stitch.  I set my Bernina at about 1.5.  Your objective is to perforate the paper so that it is easy to remove after you finish the block.  
Experienced quilters measure the spaces and add the seam allowance and then cut their pieces, but for this tutorial we’re just going to cut the fabric large enough so that we're sure it fits and sew.
First, fold the foundation paper on the line between spaces 1 and 2.  Place fabric piece on the back side of the paper right side up so that it covers space 1.  Fabric #1 is the only piece that goes face up.  I put a pin in far away from the sewing line to hold the fabric in place.

Cut a piece of fabric to cover space 2 and put it on top of piece 1 right sides together.   If you hold the paper/fabric up to a light source, it will help you get the first two pieces in the correct place.  Sew on the line between spaces 1 and 2 starting a few stitches before the line and continuing afterwards. 

Now flip your work over to the fabric side and press the two pieces open. 

Now you are ready for piece 3. Take your post card or index card and fold the paper over the post card on the line between spaces 2 and 3. 

Use the add a quarter ruler or regular ruler and trim the fabric leaving a quarter inch.  This is your sewing guideline and seam allowance for piece number 3. 

Add the piece of fabric to cover space #3 right sides together and SEW.

Flip it over, open and press.

So….from now you:

FLIP the paper back and
TRIM the fabric.
Add the next piece of fabric and SEW.


Continue  in numerical order.  Piece number 7 is done the same way.  Fold piece number 7 up over the postcard and trim to a quarter inch using your add a quarter ruler.  Add your piece of fabric to cover that little triangular space and sew. 

Now trim your block around the edges and you are finished.  This is what 4 of these units look like sewn together. 

After you are comfortable with this method, you can chain piece your paper pieced blocks. 
This is a quilt that I paper pieced when the book Easy Stash Quilts by Carol Doak first came out in 1999. 

I just made this one in a different colorway as a gift earlier this year.

Here are several 3" blocks from a swap that I was in for almost 3 years.  Each of these blocks was paper pieced.

The pattern for this quilt is from the Judy Martin book, Piece 'n' Play Quilts.  Each block is alike, so I drew it into Electric Quilt and printed it as a paper piecing pattern.

This is my quilt called A Distant Star that is published in the book Dear Hannah, A Tribute to Jane Stickle by Brenda Magnes Papadakis.  I enlarged one of the blocks for the center and paper pieced the sections and then applique'd them together.

I love paper piecing because I feel that my sewing is much more accurate.  It is a lot easier to get sharp points and works great for smaller blocks.
I hope that if you haven’t tried paper piecing that you will print an easy pattern and try it.  If you haven’t tried it for awhile I hope you will give it another chance. 
Thanks again Madame Samm for letting me come over to visit and be a guest blogger here.
I hope you'll drop by my blog sometime for a visit.  I'd love to meet you and have a chat.



  1. You certainly don't have to have any phobia, your work is amazingly good. This is a very good example of paper piecing. Thank you for sharing your talent.

  2. Very good tutorial. I thought I was the only one out there that still used paper piecing in my quilts and crafts!!

  3. I enjoyed seeing your gallery of paper pieced projects. I especially love "A Distant Star". I also love paper piecing and I look forward to visiting your blog.

  4. Good Morning LuAnn, Ok my goal this summer is to learn how to do this paper piecing, you have made it a tad easier for me..many have tried....why cannot I not get this? lol YOUR paper piecing quilt the one with all the blocks..holy moly lol. I want to do this...I do ...

  5. Very good tutorial on paper piecing - I love paper piecing, but usually only do small projects where total precision and points are required. I save all the fake credit cards that are sent in the advertising mail to use as my straight edge. Very lovely quilts. Judy C in NC

  6. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial. I really need to give paper piecing a try.

  7. Great tutorial LuAnn. I love paper piecing. Your projects are fabulous.

  8. I love paperpiecind but don't do enough of it. I have never used a staight edge and couldn't figure out what you were using the post card form. Must be a slow brain morning as I had to read it about 4 times! Then the light bulb went on. Great idea! LOL.


  9. Great tutorial. Your quilts are fabulous. Foundation piecing is my favourite way of creating blocks. I'm sure you have a few converts!

  10. I love paper piecing! thanks for sharing! Hopefully, more piecers will "hop on board"!!

  11. Thank you for your great tutorial! I do paper piece but you have helped me with the trimming of my seams with your neat tutorial! I'll be off to visit your blog too!

  12. I suffer from P.P.P. (Paper Piecing Phobia) but that doesn't mean I don't admire and appreciate those of you who are PPP free! I do! However, until there is a Pill for Piecing (P.P.P.) with Patience (P.P.P.P.P.P.) then I will happily sit on the sidelines and watch and cheer and admire! Thanks for the great P.P.P. (Paper Piecing Post!)
    xo, Nan

  13. Thanks for the tutorial and sharing the pictures of your quilts - they are lovely!

  14. I do love to paper piece. For anyone who hasn't tried it, maybe a miniture quilt (doll quilt) would be a good opportunity to give it a shot.

  15. Your paperpieced quilts are awesome LuAnn. Great tutorial.

  16. LuAnn, Great job on your tutorial. And your quilts are incredible. As you know, I do the perforated paper piecing a la Judy Mathieson's method, but either way, I think it opens up a world of possibilities with blocks I would not have attempted without it!
    Your quilts are beautiful!!

  17. I've done just a little paper piecing but I love the precision of it! Beautiful quilts...really beautiful. blessings, marlene

  18. Your work really shines here, LuAnn! Beautiful tutorial, thanks!

  19. The best I like the purple and black quilt. You send me samples?

  20. Great tutorial! I've only done a snall amount of paper piecing, and have another project in mind. Maybe I'll get started today!

  21. Oh, this tutorial will help. I have done one paper piecing project....every time I start I have to go back to the tutorial or instructions, and re-learn how to do it. I have flubbed up time and time again. Frustrating! I will try again, though. Your work is just beautiful!
    Jacque in SC

  22. Oh I love to paper piece and your tutorial was great. I hope more people give it a try. Your quilts are stunning, thank you for sharing!

  23. I have never paper pieced apart from English paper piecing which is different- making hexagon flowers. Thanks for a great tutorial. I will have to try it. :)

  24. Oh wow Luann, your quilts are very nice.Thank you for sharing your gift. I may try this method.

  25. Your paper pieced quilts are lovely. I have used paper piecing in several of my quilts over the years and I love the fabulous points created by this method. Great tuttorial.

  26. LuAnn, your quilts are beautiful. Your tutorial was great. I havent' tried paper piecing yet. So many quilts .So little time.!

  27. Wonderful inspiration, LuAnn. Your projects are eye candy of the best kind -- ones we all can make, if we practice paper piecing for a while.
    I'd forgotten about that Judy Martin book. I bought it because of her dramatic quilts, and I have yet to start one. Maybe next week. :)
    Congrat's on being invited by Madame Samm. Great post! Your tutorial is clear and detailed.

  28. These are great instructions. I just wish they had been posted earlier ... I'm 34 blocks into a 36 block paper pieced design ... At least the last two can now be (closer to) perfect!! Thank you

  29. You make it look so easy! I've done some paper piecing, but should do more! It is very satisfying to get such small, neat points!! Your tutorial was fabulous!

    In stitches,
    Teresa :o)

  30. Fantastic job LuAnn...full of helpful info!!

  31. It's a great tutorial, LuAnn.
    Thank you.

  32. Thank youu for the tute.....confession time..I love Paper piecing!!!!!!

  33. Great tutorial! You explained everything very well. Love your projects, too.

  34. Lovely gallery of quilts that you have pp'd Luann :) Paperpiecing is not my favourite technique but I do it when I have too ;) I use the foundation paper you use from That Patchwork place. Never thought of the magic tape though I do have some. Thank you :)

  35. Your work is absolutely wonderful! But to save my life I cannot get this PP stuff. It blows my mind and sends me running for the hills. I'm gonna try this when I am well rested and sitting in front of my machine and try step by step with your tut. I think this is why I love EPP cause its a no brainer at least for me. LOL


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