Learning to Paper Piece
Okay, for those of you who want to learn paper piecing, but are as stumped as I was when I first tried to learn, here is a step by step tutorial to help you figure it out.
This is what we’re making:
It’s a fancy mushroom, to go with the patterns I’ll be posting in the next 2 tutorials.
Print out 3 – One to cut your pieces from, one to sew, one to follow as your guide.
First, cut out your pieces. Make sure your fabric is right side down, as the finished block will be the opposite of the pattern (doesn’t matter for this particular pattern though)
ALSO – add at least 1/4″ seam allowance around every piece. Better still make it a 1/2″ just to be on the safe side. (I’m lazy when cutting, I often just eyeball it so having the extra wiggle room saves my butt from having to cut another piece. This is where all of those beautiful scrap pieces of fabric that are too small to do any substantial project come into play Yippie! 😀
oh yeah, a little side note: I really wanted to use that dark brown fabric, but only had itty bits of it. So I sewed them together to make a piece large enough for the stem of the mushroom. This stuff never gets noticed in pieced pieces.
Alright, now take your pattern and lay it face down on the table:
Take piece #1 and lay it on top of the pattern, right side up:
Right, ok so how the heck can I tell if it’s in the right spot?
The dang pattern’s upside down….
So, now we tack that first piece down. You can either pin it to the paper, or sew it on. For this first piece ONLY, sew a line a little ways into the section for piece #2, but still catching the fabric. Oh, you need to flip the whole thing over, so your fabric is laying under the pattern, which is now right side up and in your sewing machine.
BIG NOTE: set your stitch length a bit shorter than usual to help perforate the paper so it tears out easily. Except when working a complex pattern with a bunch of small pieces. You really don’t want those bits of paper falling out before you’re ready.
Here’s how this step looks when you’re done:
Now, take piece #2, and lay it right side down on top of piece #1, and line up the seam allowance above the stitching line on the pattern… Um..what??
Ok, take a look see:
Hold it up to the light if you need to. For complex patterns with small pieces I usually pin my pieces down so they don’t shift when I flip the pattern over to sew.
Now sew the line between piece #1 and piece #2:
NOTE: Be really accurate, sew exactly on the line, start and stop exactly where the line does. This will help keep the finished block looking like it supposed to. Trust me, I learned the exceedingly frustrating way.
Flip and press your seam. Now I switched the iron over to my left hand so I could take the picture with my right. THIS IRON PLACEMENT IS WRONG. Always start on the base fabric, and slide the iron over onto the new piece. This keeps the seams ironed nicely and your pieces fitting properly over the pattern.
Ok, so now where are we… ah right, place piece number 3 face down on top of piece number two lining up the edges. Hmm, need to check the placement?
Flip ‘er over and sew the line between #2 and #3:
Then flip it over again, and press your seam..the proper way not this weird way:
Okay, getting the idea? So now line up piece #4:
Don’t forget to put that sucker FACE DOWN. I’ve mucked that part up sooo many times. The seam ripper is my friend.
Stitching piece #4 here:
Hey, were nearly done!
Ok, so now I’m sure you can do piece #5 on your own. *wildly cheering you on*
But just in case, here’s piece #6 going down (which is essentially the same as #5):
….and getting sewn:
Press that puppy and look! The sewings all done 😀
So, while you have those lovely straight edges of your pattern still attached, trim your seams to keep a good 1/4″ seam allowance.
Now comes the fun part, tearing out the paper! Now it sometimes helps to crease the paper first and tear slowly. Some people also spray the paper lightly with a water bottle. You really don’t want to tear out your beautiful stitching as well.
And whaddaya know, you’re all done. Easy as pie!