Saturday, January 28, 2012

Paper Piecing, A Step By Step Tutorial

Hello Everyone,

This is something that I have wanted to share with you for a long time.  Since I am a Certified National Teacher for Judy Niemeyer, I thought I would share the basics of paper piecing with you.  As I realize there are always several ways to do various techniques, this is the way that I paper piece and I hope that it is informative and helpful to you!

This tutorial will focus just on straight piecing of flying geese, no curved piecing.

It is based on Judy Niemeyer's pattern, Which Way is North, which can be found in my shop by clicking here if you are interested.  This is a great pattern for a beginner paper piecer.

First begin with your paper foundation unit.  You will see that each sew line is labeled in numerical order for each step.

For this unit you will need to cut these fabrics from your templates.  8 background pieces and 3 geese units.

These are some of the basic tools that I use to paper piece.
1.  Add a quarter ruler
2. Template plastic cut into a rectangle. 
3. Microtex Sharp Needles 70/10
4.  Purple Thang (acts as a stiletto) 
5.  Fabric glue stick
6.  50 weight thread for piecing
7. Rotary cutter with a NEW blade

Begin by turning your foundation paper over and placing some fabric glue on the back like so for your first piece of fabric.

Don't wait to long to place the fabric down as the glue will dry quickly.  Place the fabric wrong side down.  I use the glue so I don't have to pin.

Now turn the foundation over and you will see how much the first triangle will overlap.  When the fabric is pre-cut with the template there is an allowance for a larger piece of fabric to assure coverage on the foundation.

Take your template plastic and place on Line 1.

While holding the template plastic in place, fold back the foundation paper.

Place the lip of the add a quarter ruler on the edge of the paper and template plastic as pictured.

Trim the fabric with your rotary cutter down to 1/4 inch seam allowance. 

Take one of your background pieces and line it up as shown, right side up.

With right sides together, place it with the first fabric piece, aligning the edges of the fabric with one another.

Make sure your sewing machine is set to a stitch length of 1.5 - 1.8.  This allows for the paper to be perforated and peeled away easier and it is also more stable when you are pulling the paper away.

Sew on Line 1.

It will look like the above.

Turn it over and press towards the background.

Turn the foundation back over and place the template plastic on Line 2.

Fold back the foundation paper over the template plastic.  Because you have sewn into the seam line the fabric will pull back too.  That is okay, because...

While holding onto the paper and the template (firmly), just pull back the fabric from the paper.

Now place the add a quarter ruler on the paper and template.

Trim away the excess to leave the 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Take your second background piece, right side up and aligned as shown...

and place it right sides together with the geese fabric, aligning the edges of the fabric as shown.

Sew on line 2, you will begin this time sewing in the seam allowance.

It will now look like this.

Press the towards the background.

We will now add the next "goose".  Place the template plastic on Line 3.

Fold back the paper and fabric.

While holding firmly, pull the fabric away from the paper.

Place the add a quarter ruler on the paper and template.

Trim away the excess fabric. 

Take your next geese unit, right sides up...

and place it under the foundation unit aligning the edges of the fabric with right sides together.

Sew on line 3.  Repeat the above process until you have all geese and background triangles sewn in place.   Once this is done...

Turn your block over with fabric side down. Place your regular ruler...

on the SOLID line on the edge for trimming.

Trim away the excess.

Repeat this on the top...

and the remaining sides.

Once it is trimmed it will look like the above.

The only pieces left are the two strips for the sides.

These will be sewn onto either side of the block.  This is the ONLY time we will be sewing on the dotted line.

Once they are on, it will look like the above.

Press towards the sides.  Now we need to square up the block.

Trim off the upper and lower edges to be even with the paper pieced geese block.

Like so.

Now take your ruler and align it very carefully with the middle of the flying geese on the 3 -1/4 inch line, as shown above.  This is the dead center of the block. Click on the photo to enlarge for detail.

Once it is aligned properly, trim away the sides.

You now have a perfect 6.5 inch block, with perfect points!  The true beauty of paper piecing is accuracy.

Repeat to make 4 units... and then... keep on going... fly away!  Once you are ready to join the units, make sure you remove the paper!

This is the pattern that I am using.  If you would like to give paper piecing a try with this pattern you can find it in my shop by clicking here. You will also find many other paper piecing patterns by Judy Niemeyer there.

I hope you have found this tutorial helpful and informative.

Don't forget to enter my fat quarter giveaway by clicking here.

Until Next Time...



Unknown said...

Jackie, thanks a lot for your tutorial!! it's such in time for me! yesterday I made almost the same patters as you use, and it's so interesting to look how professionals do this! :)
thank you!

Lesley said...

Beautiful fabrics and an excellent tutorial! Thanks!

Monika said...

Thank you Jackie! You make paper piecing same way I learned. Good to know, I am on the right way :)

Enjoy your weekend!

Helen said...

would love to take a class with you. Sadly, there is this big ocean between us. Thanks for the tutorial. Love the fabrics. Some of them are in my Zoë's quilt :)

Karen M said...

Thank you for the excellent tutorial. It is very clear with precise instructions. I'm sure I will refer back to it when I do paper piecing.

Nedra said...

Great tutorial Jackie. I don't paper piece that often, but when I do, I use the same technique and rulers. The only difference is that I fold all of my solid lines FIRST on the paper foundation before I stitch.

Abby and Stephanie said...

Perfection! Thanks for sharing the process. Great tutorial.

Lorri said...

jackie, thanks so much for the information. This seems to make alot more sense to me!

Tina Craig said...

Great tutorial, Jackie! I tend to be a sew first then trim paper piecer, except when I use Judy's patterns. Like Nedra, I fold everything before I start sewing.

Petit Design Co. said...

thanks! I've just started paper piecing so it's nice to see how others do it. Once you start joining blocks do you remove the paper before joining?

PunkiePie (Jen) said...

Thanks for the refresher! I did paper piecing once and forgot the steps and where to use that Add a Quarter ruler. It's all coming back to me now. AND!! I'm heading to Southington today. Hopefully I will pop into Close to Home and say HI!

Nifty Quilts said...

Thank you, thank you!!! Just in time to do the blocks for Mary in the Two's Company bee. You are a great teacher!!

SewCalGal said...

Excellent tutorial Jackie. Best I've ever seen for paper piecing.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tutorial Jackie. Paper piecing is still on my to do list for this year. I'm hoping to get to it soon.

Colleen said...

Thanks for that Jackie. I always sewed the two pieces together, then folded back the paper and trimmed. I can see the value of trimming first - you can see where to line up your next piece. I'm going to try that next time I paper piece.
I would add that if you don't have an Add A Quarter ruler, your rotary cutting ruler will work fine.

Miriam said...

Thank you!!!

I will be trying your technique.....My flying geese always turn out wonky and I haven't really understood paper piecing properly before!

Victoria Findlay Wolfe said...

I always LOVE geese! Love the aboriginals with the red too! ;)
great tutorial!

Elisa Black said...

Thank you for posting this tutorial, Jackie!! I am especially fond of Flying Geese, so this will be bookmarked for my next paper piecing endeavour and added to my mile-long list of projects I HAVE to/want to try!

VickiT said...

WOW! Thank you SO much Jackie for the best paper piecing tutorial I've seen yet. You will be a fabulous teacher if this is any indication. Great job.

Nicole said...

I love to paper piece, I just recently found a pin on pinterest or a paper pieced Mariner's Compass block, that was used as a clock. I was in love with it! It was framed in a hand quilting hoop. Now, I MUST MAKE THIS CLOCK! Does anyone know where I get a mariner's compass paper pieced pattern...Does EQ7 have one? I will have to check but any suggestions would be great!

Mama Pea said...

Jackie, it's Stephanie from the Two's Company Bee....this is exactly how I paper piece. I love it, too. Congrats on becoming a Judy Neimeyer teacher! That is so cool! You and I have a lot in common in that I love her complex designs, too. But, I have not made one yet! LOL.

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