Dealing with bulky seams….PP Monday style

After making my green star for this week I ummed and ahhed about whether to share it on the blog.  I love the star, but it suffers from the problem that a lot of paper piecing stars suffer from… a bulky center.

free paper pieced star blockIt is a fun star but the center is where 16 points of fabric meet, and as the star is only 8 inches square it makes for a lumpy middle.  Now this is a problem that I came across when I first started making paper pieced stars and there are a couple of tricks for minimizing the bulk.

1.  Iron seams open… ALL the seams are ironed open on my stars… and when the paper is removed I starch the seams so that all they want to do is stay open.

turning star partscompleted paper back2.  Remove the paper pattern in the corners BEFORE I sew all the pieces of the star together.

remove paperThis step means you are less likely to get paper stuck in the center joins… and so less bulk.

3.  Use tweezers to remove any excess paper that does get stuck….

tweezer actionThe only other trick is I have found that quilting through the bulk helps soften it, and with time, washing also softens it too.

Now there is only so much of the bulkiness you can effect… at the end of the day the bulk is there because so many seams are meeting at the same point. I personally think the visual effect of the stars are worth the extra bulk…

Now, if I have not turned you off this pattern, you can find the PDF here….turning star pattern.




22 thoughts on “Dealing with bulky seams….PP Monday style

      • I don’t know how to paper piece. I want to learn but all the tutorials I find seem to end with what paper to use to print. Then what?! I don’t get it. It looks like a lot of work! I do like how precise your pieces can get.. If only I knew how to get there!

  1. These are really great tips. I wouldn’t think of some of these. You might also try the jeans maker’s trick of hammering the seams to flatten them. Put a press cloth over first so you don’t mar the fabric. I’ve used this in dressmaking but never in quilting but it MIGHT help. Can’t wait to see finished quilt.

  2. Thank you for the good advice and thank you for keeping it real. I was so confused quilting my first paper-pieced quilt. My cheap sewing machine couldn’t even handle sewing over the bulky center points!

  3. Thank you for posting about this. I never know what to do about buly seams in paper piecing and no one seems (ha ha seam -seem) to be talking about it. I figured I was just doing it wrong. Thank you for the tip!

  4. Lovely block. Thank you so much for sharing the bulky center and how to deal with that problem because it’s one we all run into and it’s great to get tips and tricks on how best to minimise the problem.

  5. I like the block a lot, but I would try to make the inner part with 8 seams coming together instead of 16, and split the outer triangles in half. Just a thought. I like easy. Have you done a block like that?

  6. I really like this block, but I’d be tempted to make it easy for myself by using 8 seams coming together and splitting the outer triangles instead of the inner ones. Have you done a block like that?

  7. Oh, btw, do you twirl your centers? That’s what I’ve heard recommended on dealing with lots of seams coming together like that. I think you have to loosen a stitch or 2, then twirl the center where they meet to go in one direction. And great tips. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I really appreciate hearing about the things that don’t work as well as those that do – plus you have tips for fixing the problem. 🙂 Can’t wait to see what you make with all these stars.

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