Monday, September 14, 2009

How To Paper Piece Tutorial

I’m still enjoying fine tuning my paper piecing technique while making my scrappy basket blocks in 1930’s prints and I’m really please with how my baskets are turning out. Because of the frustration I experienced when I had attempted to learn how to paper piece I thought I’d put my talents into writing a tutorial on this method of quilting. My hope is to provide clear and concise instructions so others don’t experience the difficulties and frustrations I did.

You’ll first want to gather all of your supplies. These include:
1) small cutting mat
2) pressing surface
3) iron – set on dry heat
4) ruler – I chose to use a 6” x 12” because some of my seams are diagonal and long
5) rotary cutter
6) seam ripper
7) thread clippers
8) card stock card – I didn’t have an index card but a legal sized envelope worked great
9) size 14 needle
10) set your sewing machine for a straight stitch at a 1.5mm stitch length
11) copies of your paper pieced block printed on paper piecing paper – there are several brands to choose from; I selected one manufactured by Patchwork, it comes in a package of 100 sheets

I used a block drafted by Carol Doak and she provides recommended cutting dimensions for each piece required to complete the block. However, if you were to use a block where these dimensions were not provided, you could easily figure out this size yourself. Place your ruler onto your block to measure the piece. Measure the height and width of the piece and add ½” to each side. This is the dimension to use to cut your piece.
Because there are so many pieces, all a different size and many similar, organizing is a key to success. There are several good methods you could choose from but I decided to place my pieces into snack or sandwich sized Ziploc type bags with the piece number and dimensions written on the outside. I organized them in sequence on a baking sheet.


To begin, I placed piece #1 over piece 1 on my block pattern. I eyeballed ¼” seam over the stitching line for piece #2 on the wrong side of the block. I know this seems backwards, but it will work out. I promise.

I then placed piece #2, right sides together, edges matching, onto piece #1



By holding both pieces securely in place, I flipped the pattern over to the printed side and lined up my needle to the line between piece #1 and piece #2. With the needle in the down position, I lift up the pattern to verify my pattern pieces have not shifted and the edges are meeting.

Make sure you have shortened your stitch length to 1.5mm before you begin stitching. You will want to backstitch 2 or 3 stitches at the beginning and ending of each seam.



After stitching the first two pieces I placed the edge of the envelope / index card to the stitching line.

Fold the pattern paper over and crease the paper.


Trim the seam allowance to ¼”.

Fold the pattern paper back and press your seam.


You could finger press your seam but I found I had better results when I pressed with the iron. This is the perfect time to use that small iron you purchased for sew-ins or classes.


Initially, I was told to trim my seam allowances after I had sewn the seam. However, as I progressed in perfecting my paper piecing technique, I learned it worked better for me to trim the remaining seam allowances before I stitched the seam. (I will show why I came to this conclusion a little later.) With this mind, place the envelope / index card edge onto your stitching line for piece #3 and trim the seam to ¼”.



Place piece #3, right sides together with the edge centered on the stitching line.



Place your needle in the down position onto the stitching line.



Lift the pattern paper to verify the pieces have not shifted and the edges line up. Stitch seam and press.


If you turn your pattern paper over to the printed side you will see where each seam begins and ends.


Place your envelope / index card onto the stitching line for piece #4 and fold the pattern paper back. Because the connecting stitching lines have been backstitched you’ll need to carefully pull the paper back to ‘pop’ a couple of stitches so you can fold on the stitching line. Trim to a ¼” seam.


Having trimmed the seam before stitching allows you to see where to place the next piece more clearly while giving you a placement line for the piece. This is especially helpful for odd shaped pieces.


Center the fabric for piece #4 over the stitching line lining up the edges of the pieces. Lining up the edges will ensure a ¼” seam. Notice this piece is triangular. By placing the long side of the triangle on the long side of the triangle on the pattern piece will make certain the piece will cover the shape properly.


Holding the pieces securely, flip the pattern to the printed side. With the needle in the down position, verify the piece has not shift and the edges are lined up. Stitch the seam making certain to backstitch at the beginning and ending of the seam. After sewing the seam, verify you have maintained a ¼” seam and press.


Using the same method as before, place the edge of the envelope / index card on the stitching line for piece #5 and trim to a ¼” seam allowance.

Centering piece #5 on the stitching line, holding onto the pieces securely while flipping the pattern over to the printed side. Verify the pieces have not shifted before stitching the seam line.



Verify your ¼” seam and press.



Using the same method for trimming seam allowance, trim the seam allowance for piece #6.


As you can see from the picture, piece #6 is another triangular shape and the long edge is at a different angle than for pieces #4 and #5.


Matching the long side of the triangle, verify you have proper placement of the piece to ensure coverage.

Center piece #6 while lining up the edges.


Securely hold the pieces together while flipping to the print side of the pattern. With the needle in the down position, verify the pieces have not shifted and the edges are lined up.



Stitch the seam for piece #6.



Verify you have maintained the ¼” seam allowance and press.



Verify there is adequate coverage on all seam lines for piece #6.


Piece #7 is the same shape as piece #6.



Trim the seam allowance for piece #7 as shown for piece #6. Line up the piece to ensure coverage.

Center the piece with the stitching line and line up the edges.

Holding the pieces securely, flip to the printed side and verify the pieces have not shifted and the edges line up.


Stitch the seam.



Verify you have the ¼” seam allowance and press.


Confirm there is at least ¼” seam allowance for all sides.



All the seams have been pressed.



Place the edge of the envelope / index card on the stitching line for piece #8.



Trim to a ¼” seam allowance.


Trimming the seam first allows full view of the area for piece #8.



Center the piece and line up the edges for piece #8.



Holding securely, flip the pattern to the printed side, confirm the pieces have not shifted and stitch the seam. Verify you have maintained a ¼” seam and press.



Trim the seam allowance to ¼” for piece #9.



Trimming to the ¼” seam makes the stitching lines for piece #9 visible for easier placement of the fabric.




Center the fabric for piece #9 on the stitching line and line up the edges.



Hold the pieces securely as while flipping over to the printed side of the pattern. With the needle in the needle down position, verify the pieces have not shifted and the edges are lined up. Stitch the seam, confirm the ¼” seam allowance has been maintained, and press.



Confirm there is adequate seam allowance on all sides of the piece.


Trim the seam allowance for piece #10, line up the fabric, flip to the printed side holding the pieces securely, and stitch.


Verify the ¼” seam allowance and press.


Trim the seam allowance for piece #11. Center the fabric on the stitching line, hold the pieces securely and flip to printed side. Stitch, confirm ¼” seam allowance, and press.



Place the edge of the envelope / index card on the stitching line for piece #12.



Fold the pattern paper over to expose the seam allowance.



Trim the seam allowance to a ¼”.



This is another instance where if the seam allowance was not trimmed prior to stitching, it would be very difficult to line up the fabric and ensure complete coverage.



Center the fabric on the stitching line, hold securely and flip to printed side, verify pieces have not shifted, stitch seam and press.



Center piece #12 and line up the edges, hold the pieces securely and flip to printed side, verify pieces have not shifted, stitch seam and press.



Using the same method as before, trim the seam allowance to ¼” for piece #13. Center the fabric over the stitching line, hold pieces securely and flip to printed side.



Verify the pieces have not shifted and stitch seam.



Press seam.



Trim the seam allowance for piece #14, line up the fabric, hold firmly and flip to printed side.



Confirm pieces have not shifted, stitch seam and press.



Pieces #15 and #16 are very small. For this reason, I trimmed the seam allowance to 1/8” instead of the standard ¼”.




Trimming both pieces to 1/8” will allow the ability to visually see the outline of the pieces for proper placement of the fabric.



Here is what the block looks like after trimming the seam allowance for both pieces.



Here is a shot of the small triangle for pieces #15 and #16.



Center the fabric piece on the seam, hold firmly and flip to the printed side of the pattern, and confirm the pieces have not shifted.



Stitch the seam and press.



Confirm there is adequate seam allowance for all sides of the piece.



Follow the same process for sewing piece #16.



Trim the seam allowance for piece #17. Center the fabric on the stitch line.



Hold the pieces securely, flip to the printed side of the pattern piece, verify the pieces have not shifted, and stitch the seam.



Press the seam and confirm fabric adequately covers the pattern piece.




Trim the seam allowance for piece #18, center the fabric over the pattern piece, hold pieces securely and flip to printed side.



Verify the pieces have not shifted and stitch seam.



Press seam.



Follow the same process for stitching pieces #19 and #20.



Turn the pattern over to the printed side. The pattern has an outline that runs the circumference of the block. The line is the seam line for assembling the blocks and it ensures a ¼” seam allowance. But there is another purpose too.



By stitching around the block using this outline as a guide, the block will retain its shape and size until it is stitched to another block or sashing.

I used the outline as a guide and placed my seam just to the right of the outline. This will guarantee this seam will not be visible when I assemble my blocks.



Next, trim to a ¼” seam allowance on all four sides of the block.



All of the sides have been trimmed to ¼”.



Here is the completed block. At the point when I’m ready to assemble the blocks together, the blocks will be stitched together before the paper is removed.

If anyone is interested, I do have a pdf version of this tutorial. Just make a note in your comment and I’ll send it to you. Remember, I will need your email address to send it, so if you’re set as a no-reply response, you will need to include your email address in your comment. Thanks!


40 comments:

Vicki W said...

Nice tutorial!

luv2quilt2 said...

Great tutorial. I haven't done any paper piecing yet, but there are several in the Dear Jane quilt which I'm trying to do.

Piecefulafternoon said...

Look at you - giving lessons already - you've come a long ways baby!!!!

Tonya's Sewing Room said...

how cool, I've been wanting to learn to paper piece. maybe I should try a smaller block with not so many pieces???

ivoryspring said...

What a great tutorial Dena - you made paper-piecing less daunting. Thank you!

Quilter Going Bananas said...

Excellent Tutorial Dena! Paper piecing is such fun, isn't it?
I really like your tip about stitching around the perimeter of the block once it's all done; I'll give it a try the next time I do some paper piecing!

jannimary said...

I love the accuracy of paper piecing, but always struggle with lining up my fabric. Your folding method is brilliant. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this detailed tutorial together. Would be so kind as to send your PDF version, so I have it as a handy reference.

Scarlett Burroughs said...

Thanks for the great tutorial. I linked to it from my quilting blog,
http://quilting.craftgossip.com/tutorial-paper-piecing-a-scrap-basket/2009/09/15/

Scarlett Burroughs
Quilting Editor, Craft Gossip

Connie said...

This was excellent and very detailed. Great work.

Karen L R said...

Hi Dena, thanks for stopping by my blog. This is quite the tutorial here! Nicely done.

Myra said...

Excellent tutorial Dena! Super!!! 8-)
Thanks for taking the time putting it together! Very useful!!!
K from Quilter Going Bananas directed me here...
Happy stitchings! 8-)

Stchsluv@aol.com said...

Dena, that is a great tutorial! For the first time, I think I will actually try to do some paper piecing. Would you please send me the pdf file -- my email is stchsluv@aol.com. Thanks so much - I'm sure this took you some time to make this tutorial - it is so nice of you to share it with us!

momtofatdogs said...

I do a lot of PP'ing - and your tute is GREAT ! Always nice to have a new & fresh idea!

Sam in Middle TN

Sharyn said...

Very nicely done. Your early organization is excellent!

Peggy H said...

wow...
I am amazed!!
Great tutorial..
Can I have the pdf flie? Thanks a bunch!!!

peggyhuang3140@hotmail.com

Sunny said...

I would love your paper-piecing tutorial! sunny@sevenspringsranch.us

Anonymous said...

This is really clear and should be easy to follow. Paper piecing always scares me. Please send me a PDF copy of your tutorial. Thanks. Sharon
skn1@netcare-il.com

DeeR said...

I would love to receive a PDF of your paper piecing tutorial.

Thanks so much!

Dee

Dena said...

(I would love to receive a PDF of your paper piecing tutorial.)

Dee ~ Thank you for visiting my blog and expressing interest in my paper piecing tutorial. However, I'm unable to forward a pdf file of my tutorial because I do not have your email address. If you'd like to send me your email address I'll send you the file. Thanks! Dena Martin

DeeR said...

Oops...guess that would help. ;->

kittiekat@cfl.rr.com

Thanks,

Dee

Pat said...

Is it still possible to get the paper-piecing tutorial in pdf format from you? I saw you posted on Micki's blog about it today.

Loralynn said...

Awesome tutorial! I don't know how I missed it before.

chris_quilting said...

This tutorial is wonderful. Very clear and concise. Please, send me a copy I have just started to paper piece and would love to have this to follow along with as I go.

chris_quilting @ yahoo dot com

Thank you

Sarah Sander said...

Love the tutorial. Time to dip my toes into the waters of paperpiecing and hope I don't drown. Please send the PDF file to: btcboss@aol.com Thanks.

Patti said...

Thanks for this tutorial. Please send me the pdf.
pika3345@gmail.com

smreusser said...

I attended a class on paper piecing the other day, by the time the class was over we all walked out shaking our heads. Your tutorial was wonderful. It makes me want to try to do it again. Thank you. Please send me a pdf file to smreusser@aol.com. Thanks again

Edna M. said...

I truly enjoyed your tutorial and believe it is an excellent guide to learn how to for this first time paper piece attempt to add a different type square to my black and white quilt I am making for my granddaughter - it has straight lines and want to add a variation of twisted drunkards sq. pattern which is paper pieced. Please send me a pdf file to llamativo@gmail.com Thank you and looking forward to learn something new. Thanks again Edna.

Emma said...

GREAT tutorial! I've done some paper piecing, but still learned a few "tricks" from your tutorial. I would like to teach some others...can you send me the pdf form of the tutorial?

THANS!!!

emmyodegaard@gmail.com

Memaw and Papa said...

This is the best tutorial i have found. I want to paper piece so much. It just looks fun. You did a great job!
I think I will need to refer to your instructions often so the pdf sounds like a great way to go if you could send it on to me I would love to use it. Thanks

stan_yam@msn.com

cy said...

This is a great tutorial. You do great work. Since I am just a beginner,I would be so thankful for the pdf file. My email address is: yatescarol@gmail.com Thank you and have a blessed day!

hetty said...

This is a wonderful tutorial, Dana! Thank you!
Thank you also for letting us know about it here at the Friday Block Party.

Erin said...

Do you still have a pdf version that you can send me? mcsweeney.erinatgmail.com. thanks

Chappy said...

I would love the PDF version if you wouldn't mind sending it to me. conniemeyers1@gmail.com

Thanks so much!

Debbie Yeager said...

I would love to have a pdf of yout tutorial. Thank you for taking the time to write such detailed instructions.

thanks,
ddyeager@triad.rr.com

Tiffany said...

I would love a pdf of this. I am just trying to start teaching myself paper piecing, and think your tutorial will help me. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Dean, this is a great tutorial, and was so helpful in showing me where the exact place where I was going about it the wrong way! I would appreciate your PDF, if you still supply that. Looks like this originated in 2009. That's staying power. Thanks so much

Lloyd_Elaine@yahoo.com

Janny said...

Thanks for the easy directions, I would love to have a pdf!

quilt 'n piece said...

Thank you so much Dean for this tutorial. Please would you send me the Pdf.

Carolyn
cjtrez@mighty.co.za

Inge Lise said...

Is it too late to ask politely for a pattern?
I just started sewing on paper - think your guide is fantastic - in advance many many thanks.
Inge Lise from Northern Jutland in Denmark
My email: il@mvbmail.dk

ChantaClair said...

Great tut! I always find PP difficult but i'm starting to get it now. Could you send me the PDF version please.
Thanks.