Paper Pieced Block

August 13th, 2009

IMG_9812

July’s block has got to be my favorite – both visually and for how it’s pieced.  I am far from being an expert at paper piecing, but I’ve done it a few times and can at least get you started.  I welcome all of you with more experience to please let us know your secrets and share some links.  Because we girls can’t manage to get together in the summer months, this will be what I know to make sure Sarah and Liz can get their block put together.  I have plans of doing more of this block in the future, so I’d love everyone’s insight into what makes for easier paper piecing…not that it’s hard.  Don’t let anything deter you from trying this if you haven’t before.  I know for years I talked about taking a class to learn house, but low-and-behold, there was no need to!  It’s that simple!  And once you start – you might be addicted.  Paper piecing gives you beautiful, perfect points every time!  Inspiration for this months block found here.

Directions

I think the first thing you want to do when working a foundation block is to take a long hard look at it and visualize where your fabric will go.  In this case we want to notice that we have prints for our flying geese and solid white for the rest of the print.

IMG_9728

1.  Print your template on either computer paper or foundation paper (I recommend foundation paper, it’s a thin newsprint).  You will need to print four for this block.  This block is a free pattern by Beth Maddocks at her website Piece By Number.

IMG_9730

**Note** I made my first block using computer paper and the following three blocks  using foundation paper by June Taylor, Inc.  It was around $6.50 at Joann’s, regular priced, for 25 sheets.  It’s kind of like fabric softener sheets, but a little stiffer so it will go through your printer.  Supposedly it’s suppose to tear off your fabric better at the end, but I found it just as difficult, if not more so than the printer paper.  However, it was great being able to see through it to my fabric to make sure it was in the right spot.

IMG_9729

2.  If using printer paper, I suggest perforating your lines with your machine (minus the thread) before sewing.  Set the stitch length to very small so that later it will tear away easily.  Just remove your bobbin and thread from the needle and follow along the lines until they have all been punched.  I would suggest doing this for foundation sheets as well.

IMG_9731 IMG_9732

3.  With the wrong side of your printed pattern facing up (you can already see where these foundation sheets come in handy) lay your first piece of fabric over the shape labeled “1 – Goose Triangle”.  This is going to be your first print fabric.  See how it not only covers all of spot one and down into the seam allowance below and beside it, but also into the next spaces (two and three) as well.  You always want to make sure you have enough fabric to cover your desired space as well as a little for the seam allowance.

IMG_9733 4.  Next, grab a piece of your solid colored (in my case white) fabric big enough to cover space #2.  Lay your fabric over the space to make sure you have enough to cover it and to give you some for the seam allowance.

IMG_9734 IMG_9735

5.  Now I like to prep my piece for sewing.  I am going to be sewing on the line between space 1 and space 2, so I like to take my fabric and finger press it a 1/4” past the line.

IMG_9736 6.  I then finger press a 1/4” in along the side of my white fabric where I will be sewing and nestle that into the finger pressed fold of fabric 1.

IMG_9739 IMG_9741

7.  Flip fabric and foundation paper over carefully and stitch along the line between space 1 and space 2.  I used a very short stitch length here, but that still didn’t help me pull this away later.

**Note**  I recommend pinning in place the first time around.  You may also choose to use a fabric glue stick to help hold the fabric in place.  Make sure you use a fabric glue stick, as I have heard a regular glue stick will cause the fabric to turn brown.  I suppose if you plan on washing this right away, that probably wouldn’t be a problem.

8.  Flip back back over to fabric side a press fabric 2 back from fabric 1.

IMG_9743 IMG_9744
IMG_9745 IMG_9747

9. Repeat the same process for attaching fabric 3 to fabric 2.  In these photos I’m pressing my fabric to match the fold, meaning I will want to make sure it continues 1/4” beyond that at least.

IMG_9750 **Note** After I’ve sewn down a piece, I like to go back and trim the seam allowance back to a 1/4” so I don’t have a lot of overhang.  When using a white fabric, a lot of what’s underneath will show through, so trimming back helps it to stay tidy.

IMG_9748 IMG_9749

Sometimes, I will trim a piece before I sew it down.  I use this same method of folding back and finger pressing and then cut along my 1/4” line.  Or, as in the four photos above in step 9, I will trim 1/4” past my fold line.

IMG_9754 10.  Attach fabric 4 to fabric 3, again sewing on the line between these two spaces.

IMG_9755 IMG_9758
IMG_9765 IMG_9767

11.  You get the point, keep attaching fabrics in numerical order, sewing on the line between your two fabrics, in numerical order: Fabric 1 + 2, Fabric 2 + 3, Fabric 3 + 4, etc…  And ignore the fact that the first photo shows that I started to attach fabric 6 before fabric 5.  I fixed it before I got sewing, luckily.

IMG_9776 12.  Trim your block, in this case, along the dashed line.

IMG_9777  13.  Flip over your piece and begin tearing away your paper.  Pull gently.  With this foundation paper (unperforated) it would pull at my seams and begin to pull fabric away from each other where I hadn’t backstitched.

IMG_9778

14.  Pat your self on the back.  You’re done with your first…now you have three more to make!  But don’t worry – after the first it goes much faster!

IMG_9793 15.  Once you have all four blocks made, trimmed and pressed, attach them to each other in the circular pattern.

IMG_9812 16.  Trim your block to 12-1/2” square once that is complete.  Hmmm…couldn’t you just see those white fabrics in the center being a different color from the white fabric along the edge?  Wouldn’t that be striking!

Make sure to share your advice and links with everyone in the comments!  And please, if your joining us, share your blocks in the Flickr pool so we can all enjoy!

72 Comments

  1. Jeni says:

    I don’t quilt, but this is simply gorgeous! May be worth learning to piece just to make a nice tote with this on one side! I love the fabrics you choose, this would be such a great way to use up pretty scraps! :)

  2. 25 cents per sheet for the special paper or printer paper at way fewer pennies. I think printer paper may even be cheap enough for me to just print them all out if I figure out how to print black and white only!
    you did it again Christine! what an inspiration you are!
    I wanna pull your hair!

  3. twin fibers says:

    This is so cute! I think it’s a great way to showcase all those special fabrics!

  4. sewtakeahike says:

    I cannot begin to thank you enough for posting this!! As soon as I read it, I tried it following your awesome tutorial and I didn’t even know it, but I love paper piecing! This was my first time doing it and my block turned out fabulous!!

  5. 3.25 squares cut diagonally in half are perfect for the geese. to prevent waste, if your not using scraps. and best press makes it so nice.
    What obsessed? me? gonna be! :)
    how cute would this be in vintage sheets? or liberty?

  6. SG says:

    Great tutorial! Thank you!

  7. This is something I’ve never tried but thanks to your tutorial-now I want to:)

  8. I love to do paper piecing. Thanks for sharing your technique. I also prefer the computer paper over the other stuff.

    BTW-I have also heard that some people are using old telephone book pages (but I have never tried it).

  9. I did a paper pieced block-a-day in July. I posted free foundations for the 4-inch blocks. If you go to my blog, click on the month of July on the right hand sidebar. There are some free ones for August, too.

  10. Melissa says:

    oh my goodness I love love love it!

  11. Gerry says:

    Christina, thanks for the jump-start back to doing a bit of quilting.
    I’ve had the knitting socks 2-at-a-time socks and crocheting bags bug for the past several months, HOWEVER, your blog post has kicked me back into a little quilting.
    I am a new reader of your blog and will add it to my blog list.
    Thanks for taking the time for the tutorial.
    Gerry

  12. Bethany says:

    I love this block! Thank you for the tutorial. I am going to try it soon.

  13. PegF says:

    Hi Christina, Thanks for the lovely photos and tutorial. I discovered paper piecing a few years back and now I use it for nearly everything. Here are some tricks and hints I’ve picked up along the way:
    ~ Being basically cheap, er, thrifty, I trace my patterns onto superlight interfacing (like what is used to back embroidery patterns). I buy rolls of the stuff on sale at JoAnn’s and trace with a fine-point pencil NEVER pen!! (trust me on this).
    ~ I generally leave the interfacing on (unless it’s for a baby quilt or something that’s going to be handled a lot), if only to give the pieced block more stability. Don’t forget that there’s going to be a lot of bias edges in there. But if you use a small stitch length, the interfacing will tear off nicely if you do want to remove it — just wait until after you’ve sewn all the blocks together.
    ~ Linda at http://www.PaperPanache.com has a wonderful tutorial on what she calls “the Butterfly Fold,” to help you make sure your next piece will fit properly in the space it’s to go into.
    ~ She also has very nice patterns. I used the alphabet one an “I Spy” quilt for my grandson — it took months, but turned out really nice.
    ~ I second your suggestion to trim back the seam allowance, especially when it will end up under a light/white fabric.
    ~ All of Carol Doak’s books are fabulous and great for ideas.
    ~ Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find yourself using the technique for nearly every block. Things just match better with it…
    I loved your block and look forward to making it!
    Peg

  14. Michelle says:

    Hello! What a great tutorial! I, too, love paper piecing and use it regularly. The foundation I like best is tracing paper. It tears off easily when you’re ready to remove it, can be fed through your printed, and is see through so you can see what you’re doing. I think is the best of all worlds! Thanks!!

  15. supa says:

    I love this so much! I can’t wait to try it sometime.

  16. Michele says:

    Thanks for the great link and awesome tutorial. I tried this block today. All of your stuff is so inspiring.

  17. Gerry says:

    It’s me, Gerry, again. I made my circle of geese block yesterday after reading your blog. I’ve post a pic to my blog.[And a link to your blog.]
    I’ll make it into a small wallhanging using some free-motion quilting, though at this point I’m not certain how I’ll plan that out.
    Lots of Fun, thanks for the jumpstart and tutorial.

  18. Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for the pattern. It’s a really great block!

  19. cdpquilter says:

    Carol Doak makes wonderful paper for paper piecing. I think it’s about $8.00 or so for 100 sheets. Also, sandwich wrap paper works beautifully, can be inserted into the printer when trimmed to 8 1/2″ x 11″. I bought it at a bulk grocery store (Smart & Final). Thanks for the tutorial.

  20. sewhooked says:

    Hey there! I teach design paper pieced patterns and I teach beginning classes and I just wanted to tell you that you did a great job explaining! I’m all about getting new people involved in paper piecing…the more, the merrier!

  21. Indigo Blue says:

    When I saw this design I thought wow I could never do that but yur clear tutoiral made it seem that maybe I could.
    Many thanks this must have taken you ages to complete.

  22. lucy.oh says:

    QUIERO APRENDER ESTA CLASE DE PATCHWORK …..PERO ALGUIEN LO PUEDE TRADUCIR AL ESPAÑOL.

  23. happy zombie says:

    I found you via Craft:, I feel in love when I saw your block. I’ve paper pieced a couple of times, and I like it… I just forget how! Your tutorial is wonderful – and I’ve got it bookmarked as my go-to when I need to nudge my noggin into remembering how to PP. Thank you!

  24. jaybird says:

    i love paper piecing!! open it up to so many options!!

  25. Larissa says:

    this looks like a really great tutorial using my favorite fabric ever. I’d love to get into quilting, and i’m bookmarking this for later!

  26. Bateau says:

    Thanks so much for making a tutorial on this. I am new to quilting, and it would be a lot easier to have a pattern drawn up for a block rather than bemoaning the gap between my ideas and the ruler math!

  27. tinarae says:

    Hi, I’m going to try this when I’m at the cabin in a couple of weeks. Do you know how to accurately calculate the amount of fabric I will need for this? I’m thinking either a throw size or a Queen size.

  28. Jeanette says:

    I am so glad to see this. I saw one that someone had made and absolutely loved it.

    I am terrified at the idea of paper piecing, it seems so difficult to me, but for my love of this block, I may have to try it out.

  29. Wow, Thanks for the tutorial, I may have to give this a shot!

  30. Marysia says:

    Fantastic tutorial! I found the tip of perforating the base prior to starting the job very useful. Thanks!

  31. Leslie says:

    I found that if you can get your hand on old onion skin paper, it works perfect to print out patterns, and tears easily. I have asked offices if they have old boxes…as they don’t use it anymore. It is hard to find.

  32. I paper-piece alot and go to Office Depot or a store like it and buy the 18 wt. paper, it works great and you can see thru perfectly. Its also very cheap.
    If you have trouble tearing your paper off, simply spray lightly with water, wait a few seconds and it rolls right off.

  33. Ruthie Um says:

    didnt know this could even be done…it’s AMAZING!!!…complicated, but AMAZING!!! :-D
    http://www.craftyartyyummy.blogspot.com

  34. backstitch says:

    I can’t wait to try this with my Far Far Away fabrics!

  35. MeganAnne says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial. Does this block really finish to 12″? When I printed off the pattern it only measures about 5 1/2″ which would make me think the block would finish to 10″.

  36. Christina says:

    It does indeed come to 12.5″ squred when finished. Make sure when printing the template that your printer is not shrinking to fit the page, and also take the seam allowances on the side of the block into account. I remeasured my block just to be sure, and it is 12.5″.

  37. VeeV says:

    you could use a tracing wheel (it’s like a mini pizza cutter with teeth) to perforate the paper before piecing it.

    love your tutorial!!
    thanks
    xo
    eva

  38. Kirie says:

    Thank you for the tute :)
    I’m a new follower also.
    Best regards
    Kirie

  39. nima says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful tutorial. i’m going to try this

  40. Jess says:

    I’ve had this on my to do list FOREVER – but have been a bit intimidated. I’ve never paper pieced before – I have no idea what I was so scared of – it was so easy! Thanks SO much for the awesome step-by step tutorial!

  41. Yay! I am totally and utterly inspired! Going to try this tomorrow – I’ve read through the instructions about a gazillion times and I think I get it! Can’t wait … thank you so much :)

  42. Cheri says:

    I saw right away that if the very last piece you add which becomes the center of the finished block were all in the same contrasting color they would form a star which might make another vaiation of the block. Just a thought.

  43. Becky says:

    Okay, I’m late to this party! I love these blocks. Can’t wait to make some!

  44. Janie says:

    Thanks for the excellent instructions!! I made one the blocks using Moda Origins and I love the way it turned out. This was the first time I have used paper piecing.

  45. Karen says:

    I’ve just found the link to your tute on Don’t Call Me Betsy’s blog, so glad to have found it! I keep seeing this block popping up and it’s so lovely! Thanks for sharing the tute :o)

  46. Hanswife says:

    love your tut..I say a mug rug with these on and was thrilled when I stumbled here to find this. It was just the tool I needed to get me going on sewing, finish a bucket list project and use up some scraps. your a winner thanks so much for sharing your talent

  47. Hi there. I have just made this block using the template however I used freezer paper. With freezer paper you iron on the first piece then instead of sewing through the paper you fold back the paper along the sewing lines(which I had previously transferred by sewing through the template paper with the unthreaded sewing machine) then sewed the next piece together along the edge and then iron the new joined piece flat and so on. Hard to describe but its easy accurate and you can just peel off the foundation paper at the end and use it again

  48. elenor says:

    many, many thanks for your great tutorial! i always wondered, how this pretty block is made. Now i know and can try it myself!
    greetings from austria!
    elenor

  49. Madame Samm says:

    Oh my oh dear…finally someone who has done a paper piecing tut that I actually understood..kudos my dear…if ever you would like to repeat this performance for a few thousand eager paper piecing enthusiasts…please let me know lol

  50. I tried to print out the template, but am having difficulty. Is there a trick to getting it to work?

  51. Christina says:

    L&M Creations – everything seems to be working okay, so give it a try again. If you’re still having trouble, try restarting your printer and your computer. Sometimes they just need a reboot!

  52. Thank you. I was able to print it, but it’s not to scale. It fits onto a normal sheet of paper.

  53. Pamela Nees says:

    This is a great tut! I plan on doing this before the summer is over! Thanks for sharing!

  54. Cathy says:

    That is a great block and I love to paper piece. I printed the pattern and will give it a try.

    thanks
    cathy

  55. Elena says:

    Great tute! I used it yesterday to teach myself to make Farmer’s Wife blocks.

    Question: when do you sew into the seam allowances, and when don’t you? I noticed that at certain points during piecing, sewing into the seam allowance doesn’t allow you to trim properly, but then other times you need to sew into the allowance to make sure it’s all sewn down to the edge. Make sense?

  56. Natasha says:

    Saw this yesterday and completed the block this afternoon. Love the way it turned out. I used black for the background fabric and two different “white and black” fabrics for the triangles. I’ve never tried using my sewing machine for patchwork, have always done the traditional English paper piecing by hand but this tuuorial inspired me.

    Thank you for showing me how simple foundation piecing is, I doubt I will use a different method from now on!

  57. Natasha says:

    Just thought I would add that I printed out 5 copies of the design and cut one of them up so I could use it as templates for the fabric. I put the template on the fabric and cut slightly bigger around it for the seam allowance. Found that this method ensures that the fabric is the perfect size and is less wasteful than judging by eye.

    1. Digadirt says:

      Yes! Simplifies the piecing!

  58. Connie says:

    What a beautiful pattern! THIS makes me want to learn paper piecing!

    Quilting by the River

  59. I printed a LOT of these out, and then did one as a trial block, to make sure it wasn’t going to make me crazy doing a bunch of them for a quilt – it was SO easy!!! And rewarding :) I just used plain old printer paper, ran over the lines once with an empty needle first, and shortened my stitch length up a bit. The paper came off like a breeze, and I’m in love with the finished block. I’m looking for a nice tote bag tutorial where i can use that first block as the front for a Christmas gift (I got the blues and greens out of order on that one, wasn’t thinking), then will go on to make many more for a quilt. Thanks so much for the great directions!

  60. JoEllen says:

    Love your site! Just subscribed! Paper piecing patterns are hard to find

  61. Very pretty block which I am bookmarking to make some day. I hope I outlive my list. I took a Judy Niemeyer class/retreat and two things I learned that I would suggest are: use an add-a-quarter ruler and use a thin straight edge to fold back. The ruler has a lip that snugs right up against the fold. They come in 6,12, and 18″ lengths. The straight edge can be the edge of a file folder, template plastic, etc. Use it to fold what you don’t want to cut out of the way, then use the ruler to cut the seam allowance an even 1/4″. Speeds things up and looks neat. If you ever get a chance to take a Judy Niemeyer workshop, do it. She is an excellent teacher. Her patterns look intimidating, but she takes you step by step and demonstrates everything. N

  62. milainoa says:

    Gracias por compartir, le explicación esta muy bien.
    un abrazo…

  63. Digadirt says:

    Use newsprint – 500 sheets for about 9 bucks. Print using your computer printer. Sew using a smaller stitch length so that the paper tears off easily. Don’t remove paper until all seams have been sewn.

  64. Elizabeth says:

    I see that in the pdf there is a clockwise and a counter-clockwise pattern – Do I choose which way I want to go, or do you need two of each kind to make one block or??? I have stared at the finished block and it seems to me that all the pieces are identical? So – use EITHER the clockwise or the counter-clockwise, yes??

    1. Yes, exactly. Pick which one you want and then do all of them that same direction.

  65. Thanks so much for this tutorial!

  66. helen says:

    lots great and will try this soon thanks for the pattern

  67. Qlt812 says:

    Thanks for the directions of how to! I haven’t done any paper piecing but your instructions has encouraged me :)…

Leave a Comment


*