A Guide to Paper Piecing Patterns

Paper piecing is the technique used by quilters to get accurate seams when small pieces of fabrics are joined to create a particular design. Paper piecing patterns are drawn on a foundation, which is often paper. The fabric pieces are then sewn in the required order.

Each piece is stitched to other pieces through this foundation. Once the quilt block is complete, the paper is removed. That is why thinner paper is a better choice. The type of paper used could be freezer paper, newsprint or printer paper.

Besides paper, muslin is also used when a strong foundation as in fancy or difficult fabrics, such as, Crazy Quilts or String Piecing Quilts is needed. Here, piecing these designs does not involve a set order, making paper piecing patterns unnecessary.

Paper Piecing is also known as "Foundation Piecing" or "Foundation Paper Piecing". The English paper piecing technique is similar but not exactly paper piecing. This technique needs some basic skills in quilting and is therefore unlikely to suit beginners. For experienced quilters, it is a fast and accurate way of quilting.

Why use paper piece?

  • The first and the most obvious advantage is that paper piecing patterns makes fabric measurement and templates unnecessary.
  • Both simple and intricate designs can be easily and accurately pieced. You can create sharp points without worries of matching corners.
  • Odd shapes or angles are easier to handle because the foundation stabilizes them as you work.
  • And since the foundation stabilizes the block, paper piecing is a good choice in stretchy, slippery or delicate fabrics.
  • Generally, this method strengthens the fabrics, making it easier to achieve beautiful results even with the most difficult material.

Materials

Paper piecing patterns does not require a too much by way of investment in terms of time or equipment. It uses tools and materials commonly used by all quilters. That includes a sewing machine, scissors or rotary cutter, fabrics for block construction, a mat, hot iron and printed foundation paper.

Your sewing machine must be properly set for paper piecing patterns. For best results use a smaller stitch length of around 12-18 stitches per inch. The needle should be strong enough to pierce both fabric and paper without making a big hole. A 90/14 sewing needle should suit your needs.


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