Saturday, 21 April 2012

Paper piecing tutorial and tips

A lot of sewer who have not tried foundation paper piecing think it is difficult. It is what it seems but actually it is quite easy: it requires only basic sewing knowledge like sewing a straight line. Nothing more! Here is a great tutorial made by Karen Johnson (Connecting threads). You can find many good tutorials online for foundation piecing, in movie or pictures, I think this one is the best.

I have seen several people (blogs, tuto, etc) who cut each piece of the pattern then sew in order. This is not the proper way to paper piece. It is longer plus this way the piecing is not accurate anymore. One of the great thing with paper piecing is that it allows small details almost impossible to sew otherwise, and it allows also very neat and precise piecing with crisp details. You can achieve this only by sewing through the paper.

Here are few tips and advises that I would like to add:
- Use foundation paper instead of usual printer paper: it is easier to remove without damaging the stitches.
- A small stitch make easier to remove the paper at the end, a large stitch make easier if you need to use your seam ripper. It is why I prefer a medium stitch size.
- When you choose your fabrics, the background should be contrasting with all the other fabrics of the design. If not, a part of the drawing might merge with the background and "disappear". It is the most common mistake, but when you know that, it's easy to avoid!
- Always follow the numbers (1,2,3,4...)
- When you precut your shape accurately, it is sometime dificult to be correctly adjusted to the pattern once you unfold the fabric, particularly for triangle shapes. tip: Larger pieces of fabric make it easier: they correctly cover the shapes, plus it's quicker!
- Always use large piece of fabric for the tiny shapes: it is easier to sew and you trim it later.
- For your very first paper pieced block, choose a simple pattern with larges pieces. (ex. matryoshka, barn or sweet heart from my shop are very easy)
- A cup of tea and few chocolates are a good help.
- Always have fun!


  1. Hi there! I'm late in joining the small blog link up over at Lily's Quilts. I've always wanted to know how to paper piece this way. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Hi, I do a lot of paper piecing. the folding along the card and then sewing takes a lot of time. I just put a pin on the line and then when I put the fabic on it I know that is my stitching line. Just put the fabric on the line leaving a little for the seam allowance, sew, bend back the paper and using the 1/4 inch ruler, trim it off. goes a lot faster than the above method. I have noticed people using this fold back over the card method now. I have tried it and my method is still faster. try it.

  3. Hello Baby,
    Thanks a lot for your comment. I am not sure to understand well what you mean. She only use the card to bend the paper accurately. I use to do that but I have to admit that most of the time I just bend the paper with my fingers and it's ok. But it is as quick (or as long) as using the card...
    From what I understand, the description of what you do: " put the fabric on the line leaving a little for the seam allowance, sew, bend back the paper and using the 1/4 inch ruler, trim it off"
    is the same than what I do or what she does in the video...?????
    Could you please give more precision about the difference of your method? It would be so easier in live:-)

  4. Great video. Thanks!