Paper Piecing, refers to sewing fabrics to a paper foundation to stabilize the quilt block due to unusual geometric shapes, small pieces or odd angles on a bias. Sometimes the paper foundation has a pattern printed on it, referred to as Foundation Paper Piecing, like a Log Cabin block, where the fabrics are under the paper and the quilter sews directly on the stitching line as shown on the paper. Another version of this technique is Flip and Sew, where the fabrics and stitching are on top of the paper, or without paper. Another method of Paper Piecing is called "String Piecing". Small strips or pieces of leftover fabrics are sewn to one another through a paper foundation in a random manner.
Benefit of Paper Piecing
- When using a printed paper foundation for a block, complex designs can be easily sewn. Patterns like Mariner's Compass, with many narrow spikes, are much easier to sew using a Paper Piecing technique than with regular piecing using templates.
- The paper foundation stabilizes the fabric, which is important when the fabric is not cut on the straight of the grain.
- Paper foundations can be drawn by the quilter, printed from a pattern or purchased already printed with the block design.
- String piecing allows the use of small leftover pieces. The paper provides support for the fabric during the sewing and is then removed when the block is complete.
Supplies and Tools Paper Piecing
- Basic Sewing supplies, Rotary Mat and Cutter, tweezers
- String piecing and Paper Piecing use any lightweight paper, such as vellum, news print or telephone book pages. Remember those? Sewing with smaller stitches will help with the paper removal.
- There are also products for Paper Piecing that are used to print the block design and they desolve when the quilt is washed.
- An Add-A-Quarter Ruler is very helpful with Paper Piecing. It allows the seam just sewn to be trimmed to the 1/4" seam allowance for placement of the next fabric to be added to the Paper foundation.
What I Wished I Knew When I Started Paper Piecing
PAPER PIECING can make piecing complex designs fast and fun. It is important to press each seam flat or there will be folds, creases and puckers in the finished block. Paper piecing is also a good way to work on Group Quilts as the printed paper pattern helps to ensure each block will be the same size. String piecing is a great way to use up lots of bits of favorite fabrics and string blocks can be made that create geometric designs with careful planning.