Paper Piecing Monday tips

This week as I put my paper piecing block together, I thought of what I have learnt this year doing these blocks… and thought I would share some of my tips.

So this week I choose another of Julie @ 627Handworks great blocks.  The block, Siouxsie, is one that Julie has put up on Craftsy and is block 13 of her Block Rock’n series.  At a $1.00 for the pattern is it a bargain.  You can also download Julie’s free Block Rock’n blocks at Craftsy as well.

paper pieced scrap star block

Tip #1…   I always download the pattern to my desktop before I print.  This is the best way to guarantee that you are printing to the correct scale.  I had some fun issues printing directly from the website early on in Paper Piecing Monday’s life, which resulted in me have to remake some blocks.  Also make sure that you tick the “print in original size” box in your print dialogue box.

Tip #1a… I use normal photocopy paper for printing my patterns.  It is cheap and easily available.

Tip #2… If the block is complex or I am making it complex, I use coloured pens to mark up my paper pattern.  This way I do not lose track of what colour goes where.

star 11 paper piecing pieces

Tip #3… I always glue down my first piece of fabric.  I go through so much Elmers glue it is not funny.  I find it easier to align the first set of seams with one of the fabric pieces already stuck in place and pins cause fabric bunching which is annoying.

glue stickTip #4…  I am always generous with my seam allowance on my scraps.  I have found it is much easier to work with BIG scraps or pieces of fabric than it is to work with precisely cut pieces of fabric.  In paper piecing you get all sorts of weird shapes and having an abundance of extra fabric means that you can get even the weirdest shapes to work, without having to re-sew the block over and over.

Tip #5… Do all sewing with a small stitch length.  I usually do my paper piecing stitching on a length of 2 – 2 1/2.  This helps make ripping the paper off at the end easier, but also ensures the integrity of the sewing.  Ripping the paper off the block can cause stitches to loosen and the smaller stitches helps with this immensely.

stitch setting

Tip #6…  I use scissors to trim my excess fabric, not a rotary cutter and ruler.  I find it quick and easy – I can do it while still sitting beside my machine.  No one ever sees the backside of the block, so I do not mind if it is a little messy.

trusty scissors

Tip #7…. Your iron is your friend. I iron all my seams/pieces to get them to lie flat.  For this block I sewed the first two fabric pieces together on all the pattern sections and then stood up, ironed all the seams and then sat down and sewed the next fabric piece to the pattern.  For last week’s fox block I used my mini iron to sew as I went.  Whatever way all seams get ironed.

Tip #8… Before I sew together the finished paper pattern pieces, I  rip the paper off any bits of the pattern that are bulky or intersect.  This makes the block less chunky and means my sewing machine is less likely to hiccup when it hits the multiple layers of fabric/paper.  With this pattern the center pieces of the block needed to be pulled.  I leave enough of the paper so that you can still see your sewing lines.

remove paper

Tip #9… Tweezers are an essential paper piecing tool.  When you are removing the paper pattern at the end of the process, the big bits are easy but tweezers are the only way to get those pesky little bits of paper that are hiding in the corner of the block.

tweezer action

Tip #10… If at all possible train your husband, children or friend to help you pull the paper off your finished quilt top.  It really does make life easier.

43 thoughts on “Paper Piecing Monday tips

    • Thanks Lorna for the sharing. It did not occur to me that people would find paper piecing daunting until I set a couple of easy patterns as Bee blocks. It has been an eye opening exercise.

  1. Dah! WordPress ate my last comment! I found this post through Diane on Facebook and I am sharing this on my blog Facebook page. Great tips! I especially love #10. 🙂

  2. Great paper tips, especially the color coding. I recently had a hard time with some paper piecing and need to let it rest a bit before I do it again. Your tips will help.

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  5. Thanks for the tips. I’m just starting PPing, think I’m going to like it. Great way to get precise intersecting points and fun way to use up some scraps. I’m going to share your tips with my quilting friends.

  6. This is a very complete set of tips . . . and one that I wish I found much earlier, because I learned many of these the hard way 🙂 It’s okay though, I’ve also learned to love paper piecing, even though I learned the hard way!

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  8. Hi, I love your site. I downloaded your blocks but I’m having a hard time to figure out how to find the sew sequence of them, especially because of triangles in the middle of the block. Could you give me a hand? Thanks a lot!

  9. Hi, I love your site. I downloaded your blocks but I’m having a hard time to figure out how to find the sew sequence of them, especially because of triangles in the middle of the block. Could you give me a hand? Thanks a lot!

  10. Do you iron all of your seams open when you paper piece? I was always under the impression that pressing seams open in quilting weakens the block.

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  13. Hi love your site! I am making the Harlequin Star pattern and I am having trouble making the center 16 points join perfectly. They are a little off even when I nest the center seams and press the perfect halves. Any tips would be appreciated.

  14. Thank you so much for these great tips; I have tried pp-ing before, but didn’t like the bulky seams to be sewn together–good tip on that. I love your little triangles especially–so cute! Hugs, Julierose

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