Tutorial · weekly update

Paper Piecing Tutorial

Today, I was going to talk about the design process for this Diamonds quilt I made for the Maker’s Birthday Bash swap.  However, I realized it might be better to talk about how to paper piece first before going into designing a paper piecing pattern!

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I’ll discuss the design process of this quilt in 2 weeks after it’s in the mail to my partner!  It’s my finish #5 of the year and has been updated on the Completed Quilts page.

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The example I’m using for paper piecing is the Month 5 block of the Modern Heritage Block of the Month, which is the Mingle block from Amy Ellis’ book Modern Heritage Quilts.

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Items that you will need to make a block:

  • 8 background pieces and 8 color pieces (sizes are listed in the pattern of the book)
  • Ruler and Rotary Cutter
  • Scissors or an Add-A-Quarter Ruler
  • 4 copies of the A and B blocks copied at 100% from the book.
  • Paper scissors

The first step to any paper piecing pattern is to rough cut the paper pattern with your paper scissors. For this block, I laid out the pieces so I am looking at final layout of the block.  The key is to remember: this is the BACK of the block.  I’ll say that again, the printed side of the paper is the BACK of the block.

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So as you lay fabric out onto the block, remember this will be mirrored when you are finished.  The left photo is fabric right side up, the right photo (the correct way to do it) is the fabric right-side down to simulate the back of the block.

One key point to note specifically about this block pattern, the As and the Bs don’t really matter.  The number is what signifies the order in which the fabric is added to the block.  The correction I would make to the pattern is to swap the A1 and A2 locations.  When I was making this block for the tutorial I also swapped B1 and B2; this is WRONG, do not do that.  Swap ONLY the A1 and A2 locations.  This will help your seams nest better when you sew the block together in the end.

For the A blocks, the background fabric is the first fabric you will add onto.  Place the paper pattern over the background fabric making sure the seam allowances are within the inside of the fabric.  Remember to include seam allowance for the side that is going to be sewn to the next piece.  It doesn’t matter if there is more than 1/4″ of seam allowance, just don’t have less. Once you’ve checked the seam allowances have fabric underneath, pin the paper to the fabric.

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Next, flip the piece upside down so the paper is on the bottom.  Fold on the seam line so the paper for next piece to be added is on top.

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Now open the folded paper and add the next piece of fabric Right Sides Together (RST) to the bottom fabric.  The bulk of the piece should be over the fabric of the piece that was pinned, not over the paper.  Refold the paper to crease the fabric to simulate your seam line.  Check the seam allowance on the outer sections to make sure there is enough fabric to cover that piece once the seam is sewn.  Then open the fold and check the inside seam allowance.  Is there at least a 1/4″ seam?  If not, adjust the fabric so there is a 1/4″ sewn seam and the outer edges of the piece will fit within the seam allowance.  The last step once you get the fabric adjusted is to pin.  (*I don’t pin this part, I just hold it while I sew.  However, for beginners it would be best to pin.)

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Shorten the stitch length on your machine to approximately 1.5mm.  This will help perforate the paper to remove later.  Sew on the line.  Make sure to start before the line and end after the line.  This will create the sewn seam allowance like you would normally have piecing fabric. This will be important when you have more than one seam line. Once you’ve sewn on the line you can remove your pins. Take the A2 section and fold on the seam line to the A1 side as shown in the photo.  The fabric and both sides of the paper should be to one side of the seam.  The only part left is the seam allowance.  Now you have several options to trim down to the 1/4″ seam.  You can use an Add-a-quarter ruler or a plain ruler that has a 1/4″ marking.  The other option on smaller seams is to just use your scissors to cut the seam by hand.  (This is my preferred method as long as the seam isn’t longer than 2-3 inches.)

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Now you iron the seam.  Placing the paper side DOWN on the ironing board, iron the seam then open the piece.  Always have the seams going to the piece that was ADDED.  One of the key points here, do NOT iron the paper side.  If you printed with a laser jet printer, you will get ink all over your hot iron and it’s messy.  (Guess how I know?!)  If you iron the paper, you are doing it wrong.  You will only be ironing on the fabric side.

To trim the piece, it is good practice to always use your ruler.  Measure 1/4″ off the edge of the piece to trim away the excess after the seam allowance.  Do not blindly trim the printed seam allowance line. Getting into the habit of trimming with the ruler will allow for you to increase and decrease the block size from the copier while maintaining a 1/4″ seam on the piece.

Do not rip off the paper yet.  Now repeat the above steps for the rest of the pieces for the block. For the B blocks, the color side is the first piece and you are adding the background.  For other patterns, if you have more than just 2 pieces, repeat starting with the folding of the seam line to add the additional pieces.

Once all the pieces were completed and trimmed, I laid out the block.  Notice how this is the mirror of what was originally laid out above.

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For this block, I sewed the triangles together to make the 4 squares in the block.  Again please note, you should NOT switch B1 and B2. I figured that out when I sewed the squares together.

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I open the triangles to make sure my seams are aligned.  Since I did switch the B1 and B2, all my seams were to one side and it did not nest well.

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Now to rip out the paper.  I typically only sew two pieces together that are paper pieced and no more.  After two are sewn together, the paper gets pretty hard to remove.  So here are my tips on removing the paper.  Always remove the paper from the inside to the outside (outside referring to an edge of the block).  So for this case I start on the inner most seam and rip that apart.

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With that part of the paper ripped, I fold the shorter seam allowance in and then rip the paper.  Once that is removed the A2 triangle only has one side that is still attached.  I fold and rip to take that out.  Followed by A1, and lastly by the seam allowance next to A1.  For all of the pieces I start ripping from the inside to the edge.  Repeat this for the B side on the back and then for all the other pieces.

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With all the paper removed, line up the blocks so they are oriented the same way. Because this is a square and will form a pinwheel, you will want to press the seams all in the same direction.  Once you have pressed the blocks into squares.  Change the stitch length back to normal on your machine. Sew the top two blocks together first, then sew the bottom two blocks together.  Press seams in alternate directions and sew the top to the bottom.  I pressed the center seam open to get rid of the bulky center for this particular block.

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Ta Da!

Common FAQ for paper piecing:
What is the difference between Foundation Paper and Copy Paper?

  • Foundation paper is thinner and more like newspaper.  It is easier to remove, but it’s more costly than normal paper.  I actually prefer to use Copy Paper because it’s readily available.  There are also other methods to help remove paper from paper piecing that I’ll go over another day for more complicated blocks.

Is an Add-A-Quarter ruler necessary?

  • No, it is not necessary.  Some people swear by them.  I got one in a kit that had paper piecing in it, but honestly, I don’t use it much.  Like I mentioned above, I actually use scissors to hand trim short seams because it’s faster.  For longer seams, a ruler does just fine.

Oh no, I messed up and I need to rip out a seam.  How do I do that so I don’t rip the paper?

  • Always rip the seam BETWEEN the two layers of fabric.  If you happen to tear the paper, use a small piece of scotch tape to tape the tear.  The paper should still be able to be ripped out later.

Anything else you want to know, comment below!

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Short recap on the week because this is a crazy long post:

Here’s the Quilter’s Planner Block from last week, Sunrise Stars By Chelsea Huckins of Patch the Giraffe.  This one was pretty quick to do.  I’m not the biggest fan of the flying geese with HST combo because I kept getting confused which direction things were going.  However, in the end I realized it didn’t really matter!

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Lots of design work going on, but I seem to be running out of time to actually get those design into quilts.  Definitely more to come in the future!  Here’s what I have done so far for the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG) Fabric Challenge:

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3/28-4/4 Weekly Goal:
Available time for quilting:
Wednesday PM, Thursday PM, Saturday and Sunday afternoon

Projects I want to work on:
Quilter’s Planner Block
Powered By Quilting PBQ103
MQG Fabric Challenge
Blossom Project

Goals for the Projects:
Quilter’s Planner Block: Complete this week’s block
PBQ103: Make more blocks… or block pieces!
MQG Fabric Challenge: Finish the design for the text and start applique
Blossom Project: Finish quilting my project for the blog hop next week!

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weekly update

Perfectly Imperfect

I was very motivated to finish Chic Country this week to gain access back to my design wall for my next pattern.  There is nothing quite as motivating as just needing the space.  Chic Country was a pattern that has been on my to do list for since April, 2016.  After taking the class from the Sew Kind of Wonderful sisters, Helen and Sherilyn, at Winter Quiltfest in January, I couldn’t stop dreaming about this quilt.  Now, the top is finally finished!!

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At a quick glance, the top looks great, right?!  Well upon closer inspection, you’ll see about 99% of my points do NOT match up at all.  This will be one of the few times that I’ll voluntarily take photos of my mistakes and imperfections.

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The beauty about this quilt and other Sew Kind of Wonderful quilts is the forgiveness to all the imperfections.  The overall movement and shape of the quilt isn’t disturbed by mismatched points.  Will this ever be a show quilt?  Absolutely not. Will this be a quilt I treasure for years to come? Definitely.

Prior to quilting, I would have considered myself a perfectionist (actually I think people in my day job still think I’m a perfectionist).  But now that I’ve been quilting for a while, I realized I wouldn’t get anything completed if I were to maintain being a perfectionist.  The phrases “Complete is better than Perfect” and “If you can’t see the mistake driving by the quilt, it’s okay” (or something to that effect) have been making the rounds through social media, and I completely agree.  After all, when I say my seam ripper is my best friend, what I really mean is if I could get through an entire quilt without using a seam ripper, I’d be the happiest camper in the world!

This past week has been nothing short of a disaster in terms of how many mistakes both big and small I’ve made.  I hope I get out of this funk quickly!  It all started after this week’s Quilters Planner block by Renee Hoffman of Quilts of a Feather called Island Sunrise.  I liked the paper piecing aspect, until I got to the tiny little pieces at the very end.  I am not a tiny piece quilter at all, but I finished the block!

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I then started working on my Maker’s Birthday Bash present for my partner.  Some diamonds that I made a paper piecing pattern for.  Notice the pattern then take a good look at the block.  Doesn’t look the same, does it?

Well…. Somehow when I split the diamond apart to make the paper piecing template, I didn’t draw the lines right.  Thankfully, I only made one and not all nine. Maybe I’ll turn this little one into a mug rug.

I’ve been working through this Vintage Modern Basket Case quilt as enders and leaders.  I sewed over half of the 3-2.5in squares to the one 6.5″ piece, before I realized that I was sewing the same fabric together rather than different ones. I had to seam rip each and every last one of them to make the correction. On the bright side, I did manage to get 7 blocks completed…only 35 more to go.  Enders and leaders are my bonus sewing.  Outside of spending the time seam ripping my mistake, it hasn’t felt like I’ve spent any time sewing this project together so far.

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As for progress on PBQ103, my next pattern yet to be named, I have parts of it on my design wall. I have finished 1 block of 56, with a lot of piecing sticking to the wall. Still not sure about time frame yet for the need of pattern proofreaders or testers, but if you are interested and are not currently on my list, please comment below!

Because of this project and the fact that I have some really fun ideas for the Modern Quilt Guild Fabric Challenge, I am going to currently hold off on finishing the Modern Building Blocks QAL.  Too many ideas floating in my head that need to come out so I’m going to be dedicating more time on my own designs.

Anyway I hope everyone has a great week! (and I hope I stop making so many mistakes!)

3/21-3/28 Weekly Goal:
Available time for quilting:
Wednesday PM, Friday PM, Saturday and Sunday

Projects I want to work on:
Quilter’s Planner Block
Powered By Quilting PBQ103
Maker’s Birthday Bash
MQG Fabric Challenge

Goals for the Projects:
Quilter’s Planner Block: Complete this week’s block
PBQ103: Make more blocks… or block pieces!
Maker’s Birthday Bash: Finish 6-9 of the Diamonds
MQG Fabric Challenge: Finish the design and start construction

 

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Tutorial · weekly update

Web Piecing Tutorial

I am participating in a blog hop in a few weeks with some very awesome ladies in the Stitching Stars Blog Hop next month.  The grand prize giveaway is going to be a quilt made from blocks from the participants.  Such a great giveaway prize, I can’t wait to have everyone see the finished product.  Here is a sneak peak of the blocks I made for the quilt!  The strips on the side are my contribution for the binding.  The whole quilt will have a scrappy style with so many different contributors!

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I used the large star to demonstrate how to do Web Piecing.  This technique is what I used for my Mega Man quilt top last week with all 744, 1.5″ squares.  You can definitely use this method to make blocks rather than an entire quilt too.  So after I completed the half square triangles (HST), I laid out my block into the 16 square grid.  Also, notice how I labeled the columns.

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When you start sewing the blocks together you will sew block B onto the block As.

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Chain piece all the squares and do NOT cut them apart after you are finished.

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Next, you will continue to add block Cs to the strips of A and B.  Chain piecing in order of the rows and again do NOT cut the strips apart.

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Continue with each column adding to the strips and chain piece in order.  In this case, I only had one more column to do.

Once you are finished, you will have webbed strips.  If you hold it on one corner, you will be picking up the entire piece.

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Now, you will iron each of the seams on the strips, alternating the direction of the seams on the strips.  So the top strip, press the seams to the left.  The next strip, press the seams to the right.  So on and so forth.

Taking the strips and pinning the seams, sew the rows together.  *I forgot to take photos of the pinning portion on the first row, so the photos are of the second horizontal seam.

Repeat this process for all the rows until you finish the block/quilt.

Then press all the horizontal seams to the bottom of the block (or according to the pattern).

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When you have very small pieces like I did with the Mega Man quilt, I had a hard time ironing my seams since they were so small.  A tip is to have the rows you didn’t want to iron sitting off the edge of the ironing board so you will only iron the row you are working on.  Comment below if that doesn’t make sense, and I’ll try to get another photo.

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I should also mention that I’m absolutely horrible at keeping secrets I’m excited about so it’s very difficult for me to be keeping my next pattern secret.  I am so excited about it that I’m already planning on submitting it to the State Fair and Quilt Con for next year (and any other event I can think of!).  Since I personally make the entire quilt myself (sometimes multiple times) prior to releasing a pattern, I’m not quite sure when the pattern will be completed.  Anyway, follow along here on my blog or on my Instagram to catch some sneak peaks!  The featured image on today’s post is the sneak peak of the colors I’m using for the quilt.

I finished the Quilter’s Planner block this week called Flying Kisses by Josie Heron of Avocado Quilts.  She uses the no-waste flying geese tutorial for the block.  I’ve used this method before, but I still don’t think I like it all that much.  The definite benefit is the reduction in waste, but I don’t think I get the same accuracy as I do with the traditional square in the corner and sew on the diagonal.  I should note that the same accuracy is relative because I know it’s a user error sort of a problem!

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Anyway I hope everyone is adjusting to the Spring Forward!

3/14-3/21 Weekly Goal:

Available time for quilting:
Wednesday PM, Saturday and Sunday

Projects I want to work on:
Quilter’s Planner Block
Modern Building Blocks
Powered By Quilting PBQ103
Chic Country

Goals for the Projects:
Quilter’s Planner Block: Complete this week’s block
Modern Building Blocks: Complete 8 blocks (I’ll eventually get back to this)
PBQ103: Make more blocks… or block pieces!
Chic Country: Finish piecing the top (I need my design wall space for PBQ103!)

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Tutorial · weekly update

Starch Baby, Starch

I do not usually starch my fabrics. I just never really started and didn’t work with a lot of bias pieces…therefore I didn’t really ever find the need to.  However this week while I was testing out my new pattern, I was getting frustrated with myself that I didn’t get my fabric starched.  Therefore this week’s tip:  Starch!

First, I should explain what starch does and what it’s used for.  Fabric has different types of grains:  straight grain and cross grain.  Straight grain is the direction of the fabric that is parallel with the selvage.  The cross grain is the direction that is perpendicular to the selvage.  Bias is referred to pretty much everything else sometimes stated 45 degrees off the grain of the fabric.  Bias is also what makes the fabric really stretchy and can cause puckers.  Everything that is not a square has some sort of bias stretch, for example diagonals, curves, etc..

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Starch is used to control the bias of the fabric.  There are a lot of products out on the market for starch and starch alternatives.  The starch products will say that they are starch on the label and you can find cans of spray starch (Faultless is one example) in places like Target, not just at the local quilt shop.

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Photo from Amazon

For starch alternative products, Best Press is what a lot of quilters seem to find useful and can be bought at most local quilt shops.  Best Press also touts no white reside not flakes from ordinary spray starch.  However there are natural starches in Best Press just at a lower amount.  I use both of these products, and I can see value in both.

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Photo from Amazon

In my opinion, Faultless gives me a firmer starch feeling like less stretchy fabric than the Best Press.  However, this may be that I’m not spraying enough Best Press to get the same result.  Getting Best Press from Amazon seems to be the best deal since you can purchase a gallon of it as long as you already own a spray bottle.

Some tips on applying starch:

  • Always starch BEFORE cutting your fabric.  Starch will shrink the fabric, so if you cut before starching your dimensions will be wrong.
  • After you spray the starch/starch alternative on the fabric, wait for the fabric dry before pressing.
  • Good practice is to also spray on the front and press on the back to get a good bond between the starch and the fabric.
  • Using a hot iron is great.  However, if you start scorching your fabric, use less starch or turn down the iron a bit.

So what is Flatter, and how does that fit with the starch topic?  Flatter is a product made by the Soak company that is a starch free smoothing spray.  Its purpose is to relax wrinkles and freshen fabrics.  It does not control bias since there is no starch in the product.  I also own this product, and it’s really nice for scenting the fabrics as well as getting them flatter, but again, I do not use it to control bias.

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Photo from Soak

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As I eluded to before, I was working on my next pattern PBQ103 that will have lots of bias to work with.  However, I did not work on my list of quilting to-dos this week due to the creative process of figuring out how this next pattern is going to work.  It is not a straight-forward math calculation unless we have hundreds of tiny squares to sew together which is not ideal for a pattern to sell.  I’m hoping I can get the measurement correct so I can start making this quilt soon!  So look for some spoilers or teasers in the coming weeks.

The only thing on my list of to-dos I managed to complete was the Quilter’s Planner block this month.  This block is called Double Edged Star by 13 Spools aka Amy Garro.  It was a great tutorial to follow for a fast and easy block.

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Speaking of hundreds of little pieces to sew together, I decided this week was a great week to make the Mega Man pixel quilt my husband was asking for.  He’s a speed runner for Mega Man, so he wanted a quilt of Mega Man.  I’m hoping to have it up behind him when he’s streaming his Mega Man runs on Twitch.  This quilt was 744 pieces in total.  All of the white background were individual pieces not strips.  Each square was 1.5″ so it would be a 1″ finished block.  I used a technique called web or webbed piecing.  Check back next week for a tutorial on how to use this method.  There is another method called fusible grid that I have yet to try for blocks like this as well.

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Mega Man turned out so cute I almost wanted to keep him for myself.

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Maybe this week I’ll be more aligned with my to-do list, but who knows.  Creativity strikes where it wants.

3/7-3/14 Weekly Goal:
Available time for quilting:
Thursday PM, Saturday and Sunday

Projects I want to work on:
Quilter’s Planner Block
Modern Building Blocks
Powered By Quilting PBQ103
Blog Hop Quilt

Goals for the Projects:
Quilter’s Planner Block: Complete this week’s block
Modern Building Blocks: Complete 8 blocks
PBQ103: Starch fabrics and make test blocks
Blog Hop Quilt: Complete 3 blocks and mail.  (Oh yeah, the next blog hop I’m doing has a quilt made by the bloggers for the grand prize! WHAT?!)

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