Friday, 1 February 2013

Introduction to Paper Piecing– putting it together

Quiet Play's Intro to Paper Piecing - Joining the Sections

I’ve written this tutorial to help those who are new to paper piecing and about to tackle the second block in the And Sew On BoM. It might look a little scary with all those separate pieces to sew then join together. But it’s not as bad as it looks! Let’s get started!

1. Piece each section.
Your inner perfectionist might demand you start with section A and work through to E. Your inner rebel quilter might prefer to start with D and go completely out of order. So long as all five sections are pieced, you’re good.

I’d recommend marking areas so you know where print fabric is going, background fabric, seam ripper etc. You can see I’ve scribbled little notes on my pattern pieces before sewing.

1 All the pieces

2. Join the first sections
In my patterns, I include a page that gives you instructions on the order to join your pieces together. In this pattern the instructions read as:
So our first step is to add A + B

2 Join A   B
You’ll notice when you trim up your pattern that there are odd little shapes at the corners of some pieces. You can cut them or ignore them, I prefer to cut them as it can make it easier to line your pieces up.

In this case you want your seams around the “fabric squares (A1 and B section with seam ripper) to line up. You might like to pin to keep in place. I suggest joining using a small stitch length as you are sewing with the paper on and you want to make it easier to tear off. Or you can go with paper already removed and a bigger stitch length in case you have to unpick and resew. Up to you.

Tangent I used to always remove the paper from my blocks before joining them together before my quilty gals showed me how much easier it was to leave the paper on. It does mean you have a lot of paper to remove at the end but the structure of your block stays nice and neat while joining together. Without paper backing, you might struggle with some biased edges. Personal preference.
Sew on the bold line, or 1/4” from the edge of your blocks.

3. Admire your first joining seam.
3 Back of AB

Slight amendment to my above tangent on removing paper. I do tear off those skinny bits stuck to the seams. I find it easier to make my block lay flat with the paper still on. Again personal preference.

3a back of AB with some paper off
4 Front of AB

4. Join C+D+E
 5 CDE
Just like before, join your sections together. Not too many seams to line up in this one. Just get your blocks in a neat row Smile

6 Adding CD to E6a back of CDE7 Front of CDE

5. Join AB + CDE
8 Join AB   CDE
I suggest you pause here and iron your blocks. I don’t iron my paper pieced seams open as I like to keep the seams as strong as possible and I feel that the seams laying to the side works better – though it does sometimes make for bulky seams. I can live with that.

This is a longer join and you have some key seams to line up – particularly those on either side of the seam ripper. I didn’t line mine up perfectly, but I’m not a perfectionist so it doesn’t phase me too much. Do as your quilty conscience commands, even if it means unpicking for the sake of your sanity. Thankfully my quilty conscience is pretty laidback. 

9 Pin
10 Back of block11 Front of block

6. Celebrate putting your paper piecing block together with a good rousing iron session.

You Little Ripper - February block for And Sew On

Then go take a photo, and blog about it or add it to the Flickr group so you can come back and link up your work of fabric! Can’t wait to see your blocks!!


  1. Ooh - that one does look a bit more complicated... I love the design though. Thanks for the tutorial!

    Fancy that - I have an Uncle Bob too :-)so I should be OK then!

  2. Ok, lets see how I can mess this one up! At least it's broken down in sections, so the whole block won't be a loss if I muck up one section.

    Menal note: print LOTS of copies because I know I'll mess up each section at least once.

  3. let's see how wonky mine gets lol this looks complicated (says the beginner)

  4. Hmmm...I wonder how many times I will be using my real unpicker to unpick the pieced one???? Looking forward to this block though! I'll let you know my tally!

  5. What a cute block! I am sure you have heard of the "Frog-stitch" right? You know- :-)

  6. I do love a challenge! This certainly appears to be just that, fantastic!!


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I read each and every word! I'll do my best to reply to them either via email or here on the blog, when time permits!