Nancy's Natterings

Paper Piecing...

Paper Piecing is one of the things in my sewing life I said I would never do. Along with applique. I had no thought that either of these things would ever, ever have any appeal. Never say never.

I’m still very much a beginner at paper piecing. This does not stop me from accomplishing some fairly difficult patterns. True, I have to retrain myself Every.Single.Time. I sit down to start with the fabric face OUT on the BACK of the pattern. Sigh. I’m sure someday it will be second nature. Maybe.

With regular piecework careful cutting is essential. PP is quite different in that regard. If your seam allowance needs to be a little skimpy, or you leave it a little wide, nothing down the line gets thrown off. We are stitching precisely using the pattern, and our accuracy does not depend on the cut edges aligning or a perfect quarter inch seam. It’s kind of cool. It also makes possible pieced designs that would be too complicated for typical pieced construction.

I found a technique where you don’t leave the paper in the piecing. I don’t know if it has a name. I think I saw it referred to as “almost paper piecing?” Anyway, whatever it’s called, it’s a great technique. I don’t know if it works for every pattern, but it worked like a charm on this tone ladder.



And you don’t need a separate pattern for each identical block. Below is “do” of which, of course, I had to make two. This pattern piece could keep on going for at least a few more. That cut? A mistake (ahem!) I made on the first one. And what do I see? Are those stitching holes? No problem, pattern still works fine.  

If you are unfamiliar with paper piecing, that looks like a “b” not a “d.” But it is correct, because you are looking at the back. The “right” side is a mirror of this.

 The alphabet patterns came from EQ8, my quilt design software. There were a few issues with these, easily fixed. You can see in the above example my edit. If I was lining these up horizontally, I would want them even along their bottoms, as it were, and that is how they are designed. Since I was lining them up vertically, I wanted almost all of them centered. Why only almost all? Do you want a quick music theory lesson? No? Okay, another time then.

The other problem I had with an EQ8 block is that one of them had the dreaded inside curve. Why a commercial program would supply you with a pre-designed paper piecing block with this flaw is beyond my comprehension, but there it was. The program refused to number the sequence because of this. I was able to add a line that eliminated the problem by hand and number by hand, so it worked fine in the end. There is probably a way to edit it within the program, but I wasn’t understanding what the problem was until it was printed.

 Another block in the quilt, which I designed myself…


You will notice the curved seams. Not possible. I mentioned I was a beginner, right? So, the sun rays are paper pieced and then the rays are appliqued onto the block. This is the design picture. I can’t show you the actual block because my friend has it to embroider upon at the moment, but trust me, it doesn’t look like this. Well, almost. I decided to simplify further by eliminating the pieced sky background.

 This combination paper-pieced-applique is not my own idea. I learned it from Colleen Granger’s (www.sewlittletime.com) Circle Quilts.




Yes, I know I “always” said, “No paper piecing, no applique.” And this quilt has both. Never say never.