Paper Piecing?

What the Heck Is It?

by Beth Cooper
1 comment

If you’ve heard the term “paper piecing” and had no idea what that even meant or how it differed from just regular piecing, well, here ya go.  This article is for you!

Foundation paper piecing (FPP) uses a printed pattern on (you guessed it!) a piece of paper that you lay on top of your fabric.  It shows you exactly where to stitch and the stitch lines are numbered. It is very simple.  You just sew straight down the lines.  Have you ever done a paint-by-number?  It is similar to that but you are sewing like a rockstar, instead of painting like one.

Paper piecing allows you to do complicated or intricate piecing easily and perfectly.  Even a beginner can do paper piecing.  In fact, many beginners find it easier than regular piecing. 

Show Me How to Paper Piece by Carol Doak is an excellent resource for learning how to paper piece. Carol shows you step-by-step and even first-time quilters can achieve perfectly paper-pieced blocks.

Before getting started, prepare your workspace and gather your tools.  In addition to your fabric and sewing machine, you will need:

1.     An iron or a pressing tool, such as a seam roller.  However you choose to press, you’re going to be doing a lot of it, so get ready.  Keep your pressing station close by because you will press after each seam is sewn. 

2.     You will need an Add-a-1/4” Ruler.  This is made for paper piecing and allows you to add in your seam allowance before cutting.

3.     You will need a thin straight edge to use when folding your paper.  Some Add-A-1/4” Rulers have one on the side.  Some quilters use cardboard or plastic. Those cardboard postcards that come inside of magazines for subscription renewal are perfect for this.

4.     You will need a sharp rotary cutter and you should consider moving a small cutting station close to your sewing machine.  Setting up a wooden tv tray as a small cutting station to the right or left of where you are sitting to sew is very helpful.  You will be trimming after each seam is sewn.

5.     A wastebasket.  Paper piecing is messy business. Paper.  Fabric.  Everywhere. 

6.     A smaller stitch length on your sewing machine is needed.  Try using 1.7 or 1.8 stitch length. 

Once you have everything gathered and set up, you are ready to begin! It is a straight-forward process and you will be on your way to perfect piecing in no time at all. Paper piecing patterns are aplenty in the quilting world.  You will want to try them all!  Check here for some paper piecing ideas and patterns.  Prepare to fall in love with paper piecing.

A great visual of the paper piecing process from Hayley Grzych over at Check out her fantastic tutorial.

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Linda Hinds
Linda Hinds
1 year ago

Nice to meet you Beth! And thank you for this fresh new Nancy’s Notion site!

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