Swirling Star Paper piecing Monday

Today’s block is a very simple block, is really easy to make but really effective…

swirling star quilt blockJust twelve easy pieces and you get a fabulous twisting pin wheel star.  I can definitely see a quilt made out of a larger version of this block…  The free PDF pattern for this 8 inch star can be found here…swirling star

block pieces

This is block 11, if I am counting right.  I need to start thinking about what I want to do with these blocks and how many I need to make.  Usually 12 blocks is enough but as these are smaller blocks I feel I need more… should I make a few more or move onto something else?

Paper Piecing Monday…the jet lagged edition

After three weeks of sunshine, family and fun I am back to the cold wet reality of Portland… with jet-lag and suitecase full of Aussie sweets!  It is the said “jet lag” that I am blaming for the lateness of Paper Piecing Monday…

For those of you who have not experienced the joy that is jet-lag, and in particular East Coast Australia to West Coast America jet lag it boils down to this…I want to be asleep when it is daytime and I am WIDE AWAKE at 2 am.  Augh!

Enough whingeing and complaining and onto fun stuff…. this weeks block…

simple star finished block

In my jet-lagged haze I named this one Simple Star, do not ask me why!  The block is a 32 piece baby, and not really simple, but quite effective.

Block piecesYou can find the free paper piecing pattern for this 8 inch block here…simple star.  Have fun with it.

Now that I am back home I promise that my posting will involve more than just green stars (not that there is anything wrong with green stars).  A couple of months ago my laptop died and I have had to post from my husbands desktop…and for some strange reason I find writing posts in the office, surrounded by masses of Lord of the Rings Lego and Dungeons & Dragons books off-putting and un-inspiring.

But I promise to work through my discomfort and catch you up on some of the exciting things that have happened in my quilting universe in the last couple of months.

Mixed Medium paper piecing Monday

Today’s paper piecing pattern is a little bit different from my usual fair, as it is a lovely mix of traditional piecing and paper piecing, not that you can tell from the results….

scrappy quilt block

The pattern I used is Lee at Freshly Pieced’s Arkansas Traveler block.  Lee’s instructions are easy to follow and I loved making a block that had a little bit of traditional piecing

pattern

as well as some good old-fashioned paper piecing….

block piecesThis is the block I am setting for August for my Do Good Stitches group.  I can not wait to see how everyone in the Hope Circle interprets this block….

 

Building some more houses…

Paper piecing Monday is back this week, after a flu induced hiatus, with another house block…

WQ House block 2This 10 x 10 inch paper pieced block was a not as complex as my last block… I am getting better at this house designing thing.  I simplified some of it to make sure that I was not dealing with too many little bits.

house block piecesThe roof construction was the only fiddly bit for me.  You can find the paper piecing pattern here….WQ house Block 2.

More houses next week… and I also include a wip with the blocks done so far.

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.