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Quilt Tips From Quilters Around The World

Paper Piecing

I make my own foundations for blocks, so after I've drawn them (on graph paper) I photocopy enough to make at least two blocks, then store them in the clear plastic covers that are generally sold at stationery shops. I keep them in 3-ring binders, and they're ready when I need to make another block. In the front of each binder, I have index-pages that show the patterns in that binder - a page of 4-to-an-inch paper will show 6 blocks, reduced to 3 inches. - Christine in California

For paper-piecing I purchase tablets of parchment tracing paper and
cut the paper down to the appropriate size to go through my
printer. It really helps to be able to see through the paper when
you are piecing. - Sandra in New York

Keep the scotch tape handy when paper piecing....holds that first piece in place...easier to deal with than pins...just remove before pressing. Also...good for basting bindings....I hate getting jabbed by pins! - Jeni in Vermont

Test the accuracy of photocopied paper-piecing patterns by drawing a line measuring 1" somewhere outside of the paper-piecing pattern. Measure the photocopied line and make adjustments if necessary. - Carol in Maine

Freezer paper is great for paper-piecing! Draw or print your pattern on the paper side and press your first fabric piece in the #1 spot on the waxy side. Sew your next fabric piece as your normally would and press to "lock" it in place. Continue on until pattern is finished. Fabric does not slip and the design comes out perfectly! - Joan in Georgia

When doing paper piecing, to be sure your fabric is big enough, crease on sew line, turn over and if the material is covering the piece you are adding - it will fit!! - Renee in New York

Use half of a regular wooden clothespin to finger-press the seams of small applique or paper-pieced blocks. Just a few passes over the seam, easy and quick. - Rebecca in Idaho

When I do paper piecing, I make the foundation block an inch larger than the finished block. Place a thin piece of batting over it and do the paper piecing as directed, sewing through the batting and backing foundation. This way, I have my quilting done at the same time and no quilting stitches on top to distort the design. Fold the foundation back from the finished block, sew the block to the next one, trim off excess batting and foundation from one side of the blocks. Stitch the excess foundation from the other block to sew them together. I make a row across, use the same method to sew the rows together. Takes a little longer, but saves a lot of time quilting, and looks so much better. - Audrey

For paper piecing: go to your local newspaper and ask to buy the end rolls of paper, sometimes they will just give them to you, a nice weight and tears away easily. Lots more on an end roll than you think, suitable for quilting groups or just you. - Faydell in Texas

When paper piecing, use sharp pointed tweezers to remove the paper when all is finished. - Peg in Tanzania, E. Africa

Use tracing paper for paper piecing. It is much easier to see through and tear away than freezer or typing paper. - Barbara in Texas

When you are foundation piecing, use plastic coated paper clips to hold two parts of a block together. Pins distort the paper and the block, and it is easier to remove the clips than it is to remove pins. - Hilary in Saskatchewan

I love paper-pieced projects. However, I had a hard time finding affordable, easy to tear & see through paper for the foundation. What I found was wax paper. The best way to use it is to iron off the wax between old news paper. ** ironing off wax is important** Other wise it is hard to write on. I also print on the ironed wax paper in my computer printer. I print patterns right on the wax paper. I like to scan my patterns into my computer then print the scanned image. It works wonderfully and tears easily. Oh and it is affordable too. The scanner also makes increasing & decreasing pattern sizes easy. Enjoy!! - Carollen in Massachusetts

When paper piecing, try to have ironing board set up behind you & lowered to the height of an office-type swivel chair. Easier to turn around. Don't have one...good suggestion for Christmas or birthday. - Dot in NSW Australia

When doing paper piecing with points or seams to match, machine baste the area or seam line.  You can leave it in or take it out when you have it sewn. - Judy in Indiana

Instead of buying expensive tissue paper for paper piecing, ask your doctor for the end of the rolls of table paper. They often throw out the last few feet and it works like a charm. You can even roll up your pattern tracings and keep them inside the roll, so they are ready when you want them. - Wendy in Ontario

For paper piecing paper, go to the kids school department and pick up a Doodle Tablet (9x12).  These papers are thin like "Big Chief" tablets and rip away easy, not to mention they 80 sheets for less than $2.00.  They go through your printer too.  it is the gray looking paper with no lines.  In fact, it reminds me of the feel of newspaper.   It works great, especially if you use a tiny stitch it just about comes off for you!  -Larisa Malone, TX Sew-and-Sew's Patterns

To make removing the paper foundation from paper-pieced projects easier, use lightweight paper and set your sewing machine's stitch length to a short setting.  This will make your foundation tear away much like a postage stamp and will prevent the block from being pulled out of shape.  -Kim Noblin, BlockCentral.com

Make several copies of a paper-piecing pattern a snap by using your sewing machine.  Lay the sheet of paper containing your foundation pattern on top of several sheets of plain paper and sew along the sewing lines with an unthreaded sewing machine.  The perforations in the paper will be your sewing lines for the paper piecing pattern.

Leave your paper foundations in place until all blocks have been sewn into a quilt top.  The result will be greater precision and less distortion due to fabric being stretched when the paper foundation is removed.

Use a short stitch length when sewing your fabric to the paper foundation, but use a regular stitch length when sewing blocks together.

Fabric foundations should be marked with a permanent marker to avoid "bleeding" onto the front of the block.  A Pigma pen is an excellent choice for this.

To make removing paper foundations easier, try lightly dampening the seam with a sponge.

When joining sub-units or blocks, use vinyl coated paperclips instead of pins.

Color code your foundation patterns for faster piecing.

Use an open toe or clear foot on your machine if you have difficulty seeing the lines on your foundation.

Machine-baste around the outer edges of your finished block, just inside the seam allowance.  This will keep your fabric pieces anchored when you join blocks.

If you use fabric as your foundation, cut the foundation square even with the grain of the fabric.

Test the accuracy of photocopied foundations by drawing a line measuring 1" somewhere outside of the foundation pattern.  Measure the photocopied line and make adjustments if necessary.

For greater accuracy when joining blocks with matching points, try basting the blocks before sewing.  Check for accuracy.  If all points are matching, sew again using a regular stitch.  If points don't match, remove the basting and try, try, again!

Quilt Tip Categories:

Applique  |  Basting  |  Batting  |  Binding  |  Design  |  Fabric  |  Hand Piecing  |  Hand Quilting  |  Healthy Tips  |  Pressing  |  Machine Piecing  |  Machine Quilting  |  Marking Tips  |  Miscellaneous Tips  |  Needles  |  Organization  |  Paper-Piecing  |  Quilt Care  |  Quilt Labels  |

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