Friday, February 8, 2013

Paper Piecing - Things That Make You Go Ahhh!

Holly and Brenda were over last weekend.  Holly is joining our Perfect Paper Piecing group and wanted to get caught up with the rest of the gals.  This is her first block and she did a great job!

In the process of teaching her, there are a few things that I think will be very helpful to discuss about paper piecing for the group in general.

Normally, your goal is to cut your fabric on the straight of the grain, this means that you are keeping the warps and wefts squared to your pattern.  This is not always possible in quilting, but there are methods designed to assist you in that process.  Well in paper piecing it doesn't can put that fabric on your block any way that suits you!  Glorious!!!

When you cut a piece of fabric against the grain or diagonal to the grain, it will become stretchy, you see this in Bias Tape and it serves an important purpose in garment construction.  It does not serve you well in quilting.   It becomes very difficult to work with a stretchy piece on the outside of a block or your quilt.  That is when you will see rippling occur and the frustration will set in.  Paper Piecing helps to eliminate that by securing the fabric to an unyielding backing.

Paper piecing let's you use fabrics that are perhaps, not on the straight of grain.  You may be fussy cutting a design as Holly did around her center pieces.  If you tried to sew these in a traditional piecing method, you would in all likelihood  have rippled seams and your piece would not lay flat.  Paper piecing gives you that freedom to use those off grain bits and still have an amazing outcome.

That being said, the pieces that are toward the outside of your block, may not be on grain.  To preserve the integrity of your block, to keep it from rippling in your finished quilt:  LEAVE YOUR PAPER ON YOUR BLOCK until your quilt top is finished.  I know it's tempting to pull it all apart, but you will thank me later.

The next thing I want to discuss is Pressing your fabric as you are sewing.  First, make sure you are working with a smoothly pressed piece of fabric to begin with.  Then, once you have stitched it to your piece, FINGER PRESS YOUR SEAM OPEN, BEFORE YOU GO TO THE IRON. Make sure you have opened the seam out all the way.  This is critical to getting a perfect block.  DON'T SCRUB YOUR FABRIC WITH THE IRON, that isn't necessary. 

When you are piecing your four blocks together to make the 12.5 inch quilt block, you will be matching up the solid lines.  Carefully cutting, 1/4 inch away from those solid lines will help you line them up accurately.  If you are questioning your cutting skills, then once you have your blocks ready to stitch, put a pin through the corner on the intersection of the solid black lines.  Make sure that pin is perpendicular to your paper pieced block and then take a bit of tap and wrap it over the edge to keep them aligned.  Do this on both corners and then stitch on the solid line.  When you open out your piece, press your seams in ONE direction.  Repeat for the remaining two blocks.  Now when you match these two block segments together your seams should nestle against each other in opposite directions.  Put a pin perpendicular through the intersection to check the line up and tape it as before.  Remember to stitch on the solid line.   As you are stitching, when you come to a place in that solid line where things are intersecting, it's important for you to stitch just on the outside of that solid line.  This will ensure that when you open your piece all intersections will be perfect.

Back to pressing...Okay, now that you have stitched the two block segments together to form the 12.5 inch block, you need to press this seam open, it will help to reduce the bulk.

I hope these tips help you.  Remember to join our Flickr group so we can see your work and you can view and comment on work posted by others in the group.  Please keep your comments positive and encouraging.  There is a section for discussions in which you can post questions or start a discussion about anything you wish.  I will post links to all the patterns in the discussions.
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