Weekend Project: Paper Piecing


I did not get as far as I wanted on my apparel sewing goals this week, so I'm opting for an entirely new direction this weekend: paper piecing!  While I was poking around on the Free Spirit site, I realized that I had never checked out the free quilt pattern for Denyse Schmidt's last line, Hope Valley.  One of my goals this year is to do one (or two) Big-ish quilt projects and a couple of smaller ones.  One of the big patterns in Material Obsession that I'm debating is pieced using paper, and I'm wondering if I am up for the challenge. 

If I can make it through this pattern without clawing at my eyes, then I think I'll be ready for something bigger.  It's a perfect project for novelty fabrics and pieces that you might like to fussy cut.  You could pick a bird/animal them, go strictly floral, or do stay with polka dots.  We have a lot of dots in stock right now.  Or, you could just roll Denyse Style and pick the different prints from a single line (Tula Pink's Parisville comes to mind).

I'm using spent drawing paper from our craft drawer cut to size and run through our printer.  It's just a little bit heavier than newsprint and I get to look at happy little scribbles done by three and four year-old Sam (don't worry!  I've saved the good ones.).  I also put my iron and small board right next to my machine, so I didn't have to move to press.  There is a lot of pressing.  The pattern itself expects that you know the basics of piecing this way, so here's a quick picture by picture account on how to put together one of these blocks (refer to the pattern for cutting measurements, etc.):

On the unprinted side of your paper, place your center piece right side up check to make sure that it overlaps all the printed lines by at least 1/4".  Line up your first short piece right side down even with your center piece, along the #2 piece.  Pin through both pieces and your paper.

Flip the paper over to the printed side and using an large needle and a 1.5 stitch, follow the line indicated between the center block and the short side.  You're sewing through the paper and into the fabric below.  

Turn the paper over and fold the paper back slightly and trim down your seam allowance to 1/4" (if needed).  Press your seam open using a hot iron with no steam.  Do the same with the opposite short strip for piece #3.

I skip pins after the first block and just hold my pieces in place. Sew the long sides on repeating the same method.  By using lightweight paper, you'll be able to see the lines clearly on both sides. 

When you've finished a handful of blocks and have them pressed flat, trim them down following the printed lines.  Because you've used a short stitch and a bigger needle than usual, the paper should come away easily with some gentle folding and prodding. 

You could put together this block without the paper, but it would be fussy and stretchy (because of all the angles).  Pressing and trimming with the paper on ensure everything stays precisely where it should.