Friday, January 16, 2015

Tutorial- Paper Piecing Part 1

Paper piecing is a simple and traditional quilt making technique and once you have learnt the basics, sewing more complicated patterns will become easier and enjoyable. I love to paper piece and I am thrilled to have designed my very first PP pattern which I will be releasing very soon.
I have put together a two part tutorial so you can try paper piecing for yourself, if you haven't already. Both tutorials will include a pattern so you can sew along with the tutorial.
Firstly, lets talk about what you will require. There are several papers available to print or draft your patterns on, including some which will wash away after you have completed your project (which would be great for large quilts) but I use either the paper directly from the printer, which is a little harder to remove, or I trace the design onto baking paper, which removes a lot easier. Choose a paper that best suits you.
If you do choose to use printer paper, you can take the thread out of your machine and sew along the sewing lines before beginning to paper piece; this perforates the paper and make removing it a lot easier.
I have a separate rotary cutter for paper piecing and I load it with my older fabric blades. I also use a universal needle in my machine but just remember to change it after you have paper pieced, as sewing through the paper will blunt it. I also suggest using a smaller stitch, so you don't rip out seams when removing the paper.
Ok so starting on a pattern. Download and print my basic pattern HERE. Cut around the dotted line of the pattern (not directly on the line) and chose your fabrics based on the picture below:
Each piece of the pattern is labelled in numerical order (A1-A7) and we are working in that order. This particular block will be worked in one piece, but in Part 2, you will be making a sectioned block.
First we need to cut a square of red fabric for A1 and a square of pink fabric for A2:
When cutting fabric for squares and rectangles, cut each piece at least 3/4"- 1" larger than it measures on the pattern, so all seam allowances are generously covered. I always cut bigger, just to be sure; this becomes more important when cutting fabric for angled pieces (there will be more on this in Part 2).
Fold the paper back, along the line between A1 and A2. It's important to remember that when you are paper piecing, you are working from the back of the block. Place the red and pink squares together, right sides facing and position the squares at least 1/4" from the top of the fold.  The wrong side of the red square must be against the back of pattern and ensure that the squares are centred and there is at least a 1/4" excess around the section you are covering (holding it up to a light source helps to check this).
Fold the paper back and sew across the line between A1 and A2 only.
Fold the paper back and check your seam allowance and trim to 1/4" if necessary.
Turn the paper over and press the seam flat.
Fold the paper back along the line between A1 and A3 and trim the red fabric 1/4" from the fold.
Cut a square of pink fabric for the A3 square and with right sides facing, lay it behind the red square, aligning the exposed raw edge. Fold the paper back and sew across the line between A1 and A3 only. Fold the paper back and check that you have a 1/4" seam allowance, trimming if necessary.
Turn the paper over and press seam flat.
Fold the pattern back along the line between A4 and A1/A2/A3 and trim excess fabric 1/4" from the fold. Cut a rectangle of aqua fabric for A4. Place the aqua fabric behind, with right sides together and line up the exposed raw edge, ensuring all seam allowances are covered. Fold paper back and sew along the line. Fold paper back and check your seam allowance, trimming if necessary.
Turn paper over and press seam flat.
Fold paper back on the line between A4 and A5 and trim excess fabric 1/4" from the fold. Cut a rectangle of grey fabric for A5. Place the grey fabric behind, with right sides together and line up the exposed raw edge, ensuring all seam allowances are covered. Fold paper back and sew along the line. Fold paper back and check your seam allowance, trimming if necessary.
Turn paper over and press seam flat.
We are doing the same for the other side. Fold the paper back along the line between A6 and A1/A2/A3 and trim excess fabric to 1/4" from the fold. Cut a rectangle of aqua fabric. Place the aqua fabric behind, with right sides together and line up the exposed raw edge, ensuring all seam allowances are covered. Fold paper back and sew along the line. Fold paper back and check your seam allowance, trimming if necessary. Turn paper over and press seam flat.
Fold the paper back along the line between A6 and A7 and trim excess fabric to 1/4" from the fold. Cut a rectangle of grey fabric. Place the grey fabric behind, with right sides together and line up the exposed raw edge, ensuring all seam allowances are covered. Fold paper back and sew along the line. Fold paper back and check your seam allowance, trim if necessary.
Turn paper over and press seam flat.
Trim excess fabric and paper along the dotted line, on each side of the block. You have now completed your block which should measure 6 1/2" square when complete.
If this was the only block you were making, now would be the time to remove the paper. If you were making multiple blocks, leave the papers in place to assist in joining and then remove them once they are all sewn together.
I hope you enjoyed sewing this paper pieced block. I'll be back with Part 2 of this tutorial in a couple of days and this will cover sewing angles plus sewing and joining sections. :)

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