Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Paper Piecing Practice

Kristy at Quiet Play is doing a sewing themed, paper-pieced block of the month. The patterns are free for the month she offers them and after that they're available for purchase in her Craftsy shop. I missed January and February, but was so impressed with the blocks that I went ahead and bought them. Then, of course, I had to get them made...and that's what I've been doing.

I believe I've posted a picture of this block before, but this was the March one and the first that I did.

This is the April block. I'm finding that my biggest challenge with paper piecing is trying to be sure that there's enough contrast between different elements. I either should have used a different background here, or else just done something different with the thread spool. But it's not bad.

This was the January block and the easiest one so far. (Kristy is starting with the easier blocks and getting progressively more challenging. There's a picture of the finished quilt on her blog, so you can see what's coming!) Some people who made this block were able to find tape measure fabric to use for the tape measure--or you had the option to just embroider the lines and numbers after sewing the block. I don't have any fabric that would work and I didn't want to have to wait for fabric to be shipped. So I put my thinking cap on and figured--I'll just PRINT a tape measure onto fabric! So that's what I did. I put a tape measure onto the glass of my printer/copier and then just printed a copy onto an inkjet fabric sheet. Then I followed the instructions for how to treat the fabric. Finally, I very carefully sort of fussy cut the tape measure-printed piece into my project. As you can see, it worked out perfectly!

Here's the February block. That's supposed to be a seam ripper, but again, I didn't use fabrics with enough contrast. I looked at it and looked at it and finally decided that I'd just have to make it again.

I'm so much happier with this second block! It's amazing what a difference the correct amount of contrast makes. That's something I'm going to try and watch out for a little better as I'm paper piecing.

As I've been working on these projects, I've been learning more and more about how to paper piece and have the projects turn out the way they should. Number one, of course, is the contrast between the fabrics. Number two is to make sure your fabric pieces are plenty large--you want to make sure they cover their specific section, but also ALL the seam allowances ALL the way around. I'd rather err on having a piece that's a bit too big rather than a bit too small!

When I first learned paper piecing, I was taught to sew my fabric pieces together and then trim the seam allowances, using an add-a-quarter ruler. Then I read Debby Kratovil's book, Paper Piecing Perfect Points. In there, she suggested you trim to the seam allowance of your initial patch and then just line up the next piece with that seam allowance. It works like a charm and you don't need a light box to make your pattern (which is what I was doing before!)

I've also been trying to get caught up with Lee from Freshly Pieced who is doing a quilt-along with the Bloom Bloom Pow quilt. Normally I'm not that interested in modern quilts, but I fell in love with this design when I saw it and decided to follow along. Here's the pile of all my cut strips.

And here, they're sewn together, ready for cutting. Rather an unpromising looking block, isn't it?!

Here's how each initial block is cut up--60-degree triangles! This is so different from anything I've ever done before--and it's lots of fun!

Finally, these are the stacks of each color of block pieces. Don't they look intriguing...and fun?! Tomorrow Lee will be posting the instructions on how they all go together. I can't wait!

Laura was fascinated by all the colored triangles and had to sort them all out for me!

On a different note...I think I posted a picture of this project in its unfinished state back in January. It's finally DONE!! I wasn't sure what to do with it, since I wasn't going to make it into a pillow. Then somewhere, somehow, someone mentioned stretcher bars. So I made a trip to A.C. Moore and found canvas stretcher bars in the sizes I needed. I had to sew an extra border around this piece so I would have something to "stretch" over the wood.

I put a piece of batting behind the fabric piece and then stretched all of it to the back and secured it by stapling with a staple gun. Now it's ready to hang!

Here's a close-up view of the embroidery. The fabric is actually colored with crayons, ironed to remove the waxy coating and then embroidered. The coloring adds such a nice effect, I think.

Tomorrow will be my day (among others) for the "Shake Your Pompoms" Blog Hop--be sure to come back and see what Laura and I have been up to! Until then, there's still plenty of time to Get More Done...Today


  1. loved your post and I'm glad you mentioned the paper pieced patterns - as that has now been added to my list!

  2. Your 'And sew on' blocks are looking great and I love your embroidered picture. Thanks for the tip about the crayons, I might have to 'borrow' my daughters!

  3. Your And Sew On blocks are looking great together!!

    I'm Bloom Bloom Powing too - love the colours you've chosen for yours!