Five Tips to Decrease Paper-Piecing Stress

There is no way when I was first introduced to paper-piecing in 2016 that I ever could have imagined writing this post. The mirror image nature of paper-piecing just didn’t compute, and I often cut pieces that weren’t big enough to cover a particular section. I gained a lot of confidence last year participating in the Summer Sampler 2017, and Lee’s mind-blowing paper-piecing tip was a total game changer for me. I have continued to improve my paper-piecing skills in 2018 and have come up with a few of my own tweaks that work really well for me, and hopefully they might help some other folks feel more comfortable with paper piecing. Below are some pics I took while working on a current WIP (see my June ‘18 OMG post if you are curious!)

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One:  I use Lee’s tip all the time, only I trim the fabric above the fold 3/8” rather than 1/4” which helps keep my seam allowance from shrinking to less than a quarter inch.

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Two: With the paper still folded, I peek under the fold to see how long my pieces need to be including an ample seam allowance and then mark with pencil the minimum length of fabric that needs to be used. I rarely need to hold my pieces up to a light source using this method.

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Three: Except for the smallest of pieces, I generally pin when I paper piece. After I have my next fabric piece aligned, I place a pin in the last section I sewed (reverse side of pin shown next to butterfly pin above). I then flip the paper over, and secure the fabric by pinning in two places an inch or two from where I’m going to sew. I then flip the paper back over and remove the initial pin if it is in the way of the next seam that I need to sew.

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Four: I will chain piece any time I can, and I’ve found that even when I’m working on a project with completely different units, I can sew the fabric strip down on one unit and pull it to the back, then place the next unit under my presser foot and not have to worry about holding onto my threads to keep them from forming a thread nest (or as another friend says, “thread throw-up.”) After I’ve finished sewing the strip down on the second unit, I reach around and clip the threads connected to the first unit and start preparing the first unit for its next fabric strip.

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Five: When paper piecing with longer strips, after the presser foot is down, I lift up the paper to make sure that the fabric hasn’t gotten folded over and everything is lined up correctly.

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Extra Tip Not Specifically Related to Paper Piecing: When working with solids, I like to make a fabric swatch for each solid I am using in a project. I cut a 3 1/2” square of the solid fabric and a slightly smaller square of white copy paper. I write the name of the color on the white paper square and sew it on the fabric square. It is so handy to have a quick reference to ensure I’m using the right color, especially when I am using similar colors in a project and am frequently rotating my colors.

I know many quilters have been paper piecing much longer than me. I’d love to hear some of your favorite paper piecing tips.

Linking up to Tips and Tutorials Festival: Sewing Tutorials.

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June ‘18 OMG

My June ‘18 One Monthly Goal is again a two-parter. A couple weeks ago I started making half-square triangles for my version of Freshly Pieced’ Fire Whirl Quilt. I love Lee’s original scrappy version but decided to use solids for the violet and turquoise/teal whirls and some orange diamonds for extra pop. I really enjoy designing directly on my design board, and for this quilt, I cut a lot of 2 1/2” squares and then sliced them diagonally to create my design triangles to see what a small segment of the quilt will look like. My stepdaughter and her girlfriend are getting married next year, and as I’m making this quilt as a wedding gift for them, I’m calling it Wedding Whirl. My plan is to finish making all of the 768 HSTs this month. I don’t know how many I already have, but I’m probably close to halfway done.

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The other part of this monthly goal is to make a 15” x 24” paper-pieced butterfly using Lillyella’s Take Wing pattern that will be the feature butterfly in a quilt for my best friend. I will also be making some of Lillyella’s Charm butterflies in the next couple months, but they are not part of my June ‘18 monthly goal.

Linking up to Elm Street Quilts: June ‘18 OMG.

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May ‘18 OMG Finishes

My May ‘18 One Monthly Goal was to quilt Jackie’s Aviary and to finish my Rainbow Autumn Chain quilt top. I am happy to report that I did meet my monthly goal again this month, thanks to Patty’s motivating monthly link up. Because I really haven’t been in the mood lately to quilt anything, I probably would’ve bailed on quilting Jackie’s Aviary, which is the name I gave my Scattered Squares pattern test for Sarah@Sarah Goer Quilts, but since I had set it as a goal to quilt this month, I got it done. I have to admit I prefer quilt designing and piecing much more than the actual quilting itself. I think it would’ve looked better with quilting lines more closely spaced together, but I didn’t want to quilt through the birds, so I decided that quilting lines spaced an inch apart was fine. And it’s definitely more cuddly with less dense quilting. Here’s my favorite photo of Jackie’s Aviary with my handsome cat, Rusty, on it:

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And a pic that shows the whole quilt measuring 30.5” x 42.5”:

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Here’s a close-up of three of the birdies:

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One thing that I’ve been doing lately is writing the blog post address on my quilt labels in the hopes that somebody may come across the quilt in the future and want to know a little more about it. Sometimes I print them up on my ink jet printer, but I went old school with this baby quilt. I noticed my hyphen looks more like an underscore and after I took the photo below, I went over the words in the bottom line to emphasize the hyphen. It doesn’t look as nice, but I think it is clearer, which is the goal!

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The easier part of my May ‘18 OMG was to make the last block for my Rainbow Autumn Chain quilt top and sew the 16 blocks together (12 made by #IGHoneyBees2018 swarm-mates and four made by me). This quilt top went together without a hitch due to the well-made blocks by my swarm-mates. I really love how all the blocks worked together to create a beautiful color wheel. My swarm-mates were able to choose the color of their choice, and it all worked out so well. I did make an intentional choice to make the last block on the bottom row to finish up the color wheel. I don’t think this will be the last color gradient quilt you see from me!

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Linking up to Elm Street Quilts: May ‘18 OMG Finishes.

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Jackie’s Aviary

When my friend, Sarah, at Sarah Goer Quilts asked me to test a new pattern called Scattered Squares, I very enthusiastically agreed to do so because of how much I admire Sarah’s modern quilting aesthetic.

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I decided to pattern test the baby size and was excited to see that a fabric I had purchased awhile back with my sister, Jackie, in mind would work perfectly for the small squares. Jackie loved birds, so this quilt basically named itself. Below is a pic of the 20 birdie squares before they were bordered with Kona Aqua:

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This pattern was straight-forward and easy to sew, and I decided to quilt it with (mostly) straight lines spaced one inch apart. I backed it with a Joel Dewberry bird print (I like to think these are the little birds from the front all grown up 🙂 And the binding fabric reminds me of bird feed.

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Linking up to Cooking Up Quilts: Main Crush Monday.

 

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May ‘18 OMG

My May ‘18 One Monthly Goal is twofold. First I want to sew one more Autumn Chain block (see my January ‘18 Queen Bee Blocks post for more information about the adaptation of Sew Mama Sew’s wonderful block). I have a total of 15 blocks (three sewn by me and 12 by my Bee Hive swarm-mates), and I am going to sew one more block in the red violet color scheme to complete a simple 4 x 4 color wheel baby quilt top. Then I plan to sew these together to finish the quilt top.

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The second part of my goal is to quilt my Jackie’s Aviary quilt top which is a Scattered Squares test pattern for my friend, Sarah, of Sarah Goer Quilts.

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Linking up to Elm Street Quilts: May ‘18 OMG.

 

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April ‘18 OMG Finish

My April ‘18 One Monthly Goal was to finish two baby quilt tops for a set of twins who were due to be born this month. They were born on April 19th, and I hope to get their finished quilts to them in the next month or two. Their mom requested one quilt to be pink and the other purple and also mentioned a fondness for French bulldogs.  When I saw Kid Giddy’s French Bulldog block, I knew it would be the perfect center block for the quilts for these babies. Typically I’m not much of a fan of the color pink, but I do love these rich pink colors (and I’m very fond of the Libs Elliott Moon Age fabric that I used to make the petals of the Quatrefoil blocks):

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The purple quilt top also features a Libs Elliott fabric in its Quatrefoil blocks:

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Linking up to Elm Street Quilts: April ‘18 OMG Finishes .

 

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2018 Qtr 2 Finish-A-Long Goals

I have three new projects that I hope to finish this quarter that feature Kid Giddy’s French Bulldog block. I finished making a purple quilt top yesterday with her French Bulldog in the middle:

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My second goal is to make a pink quilt that also uses Quatrefoil blocks. I still need to make another French Bulldog block for this quilt. These quilts are for a set of twins who are supposed to be born this week. You can read more about these projects in my April ‘18 One Monthly Goal post.

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I made a French Bulldog test block last month, and I plan to use it in a purple/pink combination quilt that I will keep. Below is a mock-up on my design board. But I will use a blue Libs Elliott fabric for the corner units rather than the purple and pink corners pictured below:

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My fourth proposed finish is to quilt my Random Intention quilt top I made last year for the Five Fat Quarter Fun Contest. I had designed blocks before but never quilts, and it was a lot of fun!

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From last Quarter I am rolling over two projects. The first is my Wayward Transparency Quilt Top that I hope to get quilted this quarter:

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My last proposed finish for this quarter is to quilt Jackie’s Aviary below (the little gold squares are little birds). I truly enjoyed testing Sarah Goer’s Scattered Squares pattern last year and look forward to finishing this baby quilt that I plan to hang on my wall.

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Linking up to 2018 Qtr 2 Finish-A-Long Goals.

 

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