Sunday, March 10, 2013

7 Smart Tips for Paper Piecing Quilt Blocks - by Debby Kratovil

This was in my Martingale "Stitch This" e-newsletter and I thought I would share the info for those that are new to paper piecing or veterans to the method.  The 7 tips below are by Debby Kratovil.  You can sign up for STITCH THIS on the website by clicking the Martingale image below.


1. Always paper piece a sample block before you cut out an entire quilt. You may find the patches don’t work, you don’t like the block, or that your colors aren’t pleasing to you. It’s not a waste to “test drive” a block before committing to an entire quilt.

2. Choose your foundation paper carefully. The type of paper you use DOES make a difference. I like thin paper (newsprint or tracing paper). Martingale makes awesome papers for foundation piecing and it’s all I use. I introduce my students to it in every class—I give them one or two printed patterns so they can see the difference. Computer paper is a bit too heavy; if you use it, you can tear out your stitches when you remove the paper.

3. Shorten your stitches, but not so small that you can’t unsew them. When I need to unsew, my method is to save the seam and sacrifice what I call the “Patch of Shame.” What? That’s the fabric patch that doesn’t quite cover the space it’s supposed to cover. You have to sacrifice it for the good of the project. To unsew it, trim the Patch of Shame away with a pair of sharp scissors, as close as you can to the seam. Then grab the remaining seam allowance and peel it away. Everything’s removed except for the seam stitches.

4. Begin stitching lines by sewing off the paper. Begin and end your seams outside your seam allowances whenever possible. You need stitching in the seam allowances, just as you do in traditional sewing.

5. Remove paper from a finished block or unit before joining it to other parts of the quilt. I don’t enjoy removing tiny pieces of paper in seam allowances, but even more than that, fabric sewn to paper has absolutely no give. You must remove the paper in order to join a paper-pieced unit to a curved background unit. These have to work together on the bias.

6. Use thin pins. My favorites are small silk pins with no heads. You won’t be able to fold the pattern and trim with a ball-head pin getting in the way.

7. Follow the lines and numbers! The most confusing part for a beginning paper piecer is that there’s this opaque piece of paper sitting between her and her fabrics. She can’t see where she’s going. Just remember, you are always sewing from the wrong side, just like you do in traditional sewing.

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