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.

Foxy Paper Piecing Monday

Okay I could not help myself…I just had to do it…

Paper pieced fox block

I decided that my low volume quilt needed a block from No Hat’s In the House fabulous Forest quilt, as a not too subtle nod to the amazing quilt that inspired my low volume sampler.  So I bit the bullet and headed over to the Forest QAL and picked one of their FREE paper piecing  blocks.

These patterns are crazy good but complex.  How complex I hear you ask… well my fox took four colours…

fabric pull for fox

cut into 99 scraps of fabric…

fabric & paper bites 2

sewn onto 27 separate pattern pieces…

block bits and guidethat were then sewing into three sections…

piecing block

These sections were then sewn together to make one incredible block.

I was so thrilled with how this block turned out and I kept shoving it in my husbands face saying “look how fabulous this is”… “isn’t this block incredible”… “have you ever seen anything so amazing”.   He was not as excited as I had hoped about the whole thing.  Actually his response was decidedly underwhelming.  Going to have to get him to work on that.

He just keeps saying “what does the fox say“….

A solid finish

I committed this week to try to finish a quilt a week for October… and I mean baste, quilt and bind.  I want to try to get as many quilts finished and delivered to Project Linus before the holidays.  A crazy goal I know, but I have to give it a go.

To start this slightly mad schedule I decided to make another trip around quilt. I love these quilts, they are so easy and fun to make.  This one is a little different for me can you tell how?

Trip around pastel quilt

Those of you who know my work will note a distinct lack of pattern on the fabric.  Yep I made a completely solid quilt.  I have only made one of these before and it was a disaster, luckily this one came out much much better.

My Trip Along started life as a jelly roll, that has been sitting in my stash for quite a while….

Rober Kaufman jelly roll  I love the colours of the roll, but did not know what to do with it until I had to make some Bee trip around blocks recently.  Those blocks inspired me to make another Trip Around quilt and so the fun started.  I managed to get 16 x 12 inch blocks out the one jelly roll (with a little finagling to get the last block complete).

With the first Trip Around quilt I did I went scrappy, bright and used the traditional block layout but with this quilt I went with a wave layout.

wave pattern

My hand is still not allowing me to do any quilting other than straight lines, but luckily I think it works perfectly with this quilt top. I quilted diagonally across the top using a nice Sulky thread to add some shine to the stitches, my way of compensating for the lack of print on the fabric.

quilting detail

To finish it all off I had to find a piece of backing fabric that would compliment and offset the solid fabric front.  I was thrilled to find in my stash this AMAZING Alexander Henry print.

quilt back

Here is a close up detail on the fabulous jungle print.  It really is the most perfect fabric for this quilt.

alexander henry fabric

All that was left was to label and machine bind the quilt.  Staying true to the front of the quilt I went with a Kona solid binding in dusty purple.

quilt binding

So one quilt down for this month a few more to go…

Fine print: I do reserve the right to subtly or not so subtly pull out of my “one quilt a week” schedule.  I also reserve the right to call myself crazy for setting such a schedule.

Adventure Time wip Wednesday

After several “low volume” projects recently I wanted to do something different, loud, bright.   I found inspiration in the pages of my husband’s Adventure Time comic for my new block.  If you know Adventure  Time at all you will see the strong influence of Princess Bubblegum in this block.  She regularly pops up in Jake & Finn’s crazy adventures.  Now if you do not know Adventure Time, this is Princess Bubblegum.

princess bubblegum

After pulling a stash of bubblegum pink fabric and aqua/blue fabric, I found a pattern I liked and started cutting.   The end result is this…

modern scrap quilt block

With this block I did not let the pattern’s unpleasant name ( “turkey giblets”) turn me off.  You can find the paper piecing pattern I used at Quilters Cache.  It is a really easy pattern to make and is made up of two triangle blocks that are joined to make the building block of the quilt.

quilt block pieces

I can not wait to see how this quilt top comes together. I think it is going to be a quilt like my “Sun & Sea” quilt where the final overall quilt pattern looks so different from the individual block pattern.

Paper Piecing Monday Scapbeelicious style

This week’s paper piecing Monday is a little different.   I recently joined my first quilting Bees – one of them is a do.Good.Stitches circle and the other is a fabulous collection of fellow bloggers who set up “Scrap-bee-licious”.  For both Bee’s I was “queen” this month, which means I am choosing the pattern/colour scheme for my fellow quilters.

The Scrap-bee-licious Bee caused me the most consternation as this quilt is not going to charity, but will be staying with me. I have only kept one quilt so far in my quilting history, so I had to think long and hard about what I really wanted.  So after much umming and ahhing, hair pulling and mind changing I settled on…

scrap modern paper pieced block

… low volume.  A couple of weeks ago Sarah at No Hats in the House posted photos of one of the most amazing quilts I have ever seen. Her “Once Upon a Forest” quilt took my breath away.    Inspired the beauty of this quilt, I have asked my fellow Bee members to make me a scrappy low volume paper pieced block or two.

I have not selected a specific pattern to be followed but have asked them to make me any 12 inch paper pieced block they want.  There are so many fabulous free paper piecing patterns on-line, including this one (called Circle of Geese) from Pieced by Numbers or Julie at 627handwork’s Block Rockn’ blocks or Quilting on the Squares Compass Collection.

As I discovered with this block there is a method to getting contrast and detail when you are working with low volume.  When I pulled fabric for this block I pulled two different type of low volume from my stash:

1.  Pastel, soft solid fabrics.

pastel fabric pull

2.  Predominantly white fabrics

white fabric pull

The importance of the contrast these two different low volume fabric selections give you was highlighted to me when I made the mistake of using two pieces of solid light grey in the background.  In the resulting block…

block mistake

..you can see how the grey pearl bracelet in particular distracts/hinders/muddies the circle of geese pattern.  A little unpicking and some re-sewing later and the block was just what I wanted.  I am now excited to try a paper pieced star or two using these colours and I can not wait to see what my fellow Bee members come up with.   This is going to be fun.