Saturday, January 12, 2013

Paper Piecing 2013 Block #1 Constellation

Class will Start on January 18th at 9am until noon.
We will meet at the LDS Church in the Cultural Hall
20895 Todd Valley Rd, Foresthill, CA

Bring your lunch and any unfinished projects, we can work on those in the afternoon.

Materials List:  Bring your sewing machine, your power cord and foot peddle, a power strip if you have one.  Fabric for the first class will be provided.  Bring, rotary cutter, mat, 6 x 12 inch quilt ruler, glue stick, scotch tape, scissors, bobbin and thread, extra sewing machine needle, in case yours breaks.

Paper Piecing, why do we do it?  Paper piecing allows you to easily sew blocks that would otherwise be very difficult.  Can you imagine trying to get perfect crispy points with out it?  I can't.  

What is it?  Simply put, it's the use of a foundation upon which fabric pieces are sewn in a particular order.   Once completed, the paper is torn away.

To start this first block off, you will need 4 fabrics.  Fat Quarters are fine, you are only going to use a strip off each one, so you'll have plenty to make several blocks with just 4 fat quarters.  

This is our pattern for our first block, it is called Constellation.  Each block will be 6.5" square and when 4 are sewn together that finished block size will be 12.5 inches square.  It will finish to 12 inches in a quilt.

(copies will be provided in the class you do not need to print out the pattern) If you are printing your own, make sure that your printer is set to actual size and print one sample first to make sure the little square = 1 inch.  You will need 5 copies to make one block.  (yes, I know that there are only 4 blocks in a square, we will be using one for a pattern to cut our fabric)  Cut your 5th block into pieces, they are numbered.  Find #1 and cut 4 pieces of fabric 1/2 inch larger on all sides than your pattern piece.  Always give yourself extra.  You can trim it away easier than you can add to it!

Take four of your blocks and cut them out along the outside square, a 1/4" seam allowance has already been added.  Stack your squares.  We are going to remove the thread from our sewing machine, bobbin thread also and we are going to stitch along all of the lines, including the outside lines.  Please stay on the line.  If you are having difficulty holding your paper together, try a little piece of tape over a couple places.  You can clip through it after you are finished.  Make sure you sew all the lines to pre-perforate your paper.

I like to use a glue stick for the first piece, you can use any paper glue stick, or a fabric basing glue stick.  A tiny dab will do, we are just securing the fabric to the paper so it doesn't move.  Put your little dab in the middle of the section, not on the perforations.

I have a light box, which will allow me to see my fabric under my paper, if you don't have one then just hold your piece up to the light or a window to make sure that it covers the stitching lines by at least 1/4 inch all the way around.  (you can get one of those inexpensive small florescent lights that you can plug in near your machine and lay flat on the table to use as a light box, even a small battery operated one will work)

You can take your pattern piece #2 and again, cut 4 pieces that are 1/2 inch larger than your pattern piece.  

Your piece should be large enough to cover the next segment in the block and still have plenty to trim off.

lay your square with the fabric, right side up and the printed side of your paper should be down.

Place your next piece right on top of your first piece RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.  Take a small piece of tape and place it where shown.  Keep it far enough away from your seam that you will not be sewing through it.  (some people pin, I don't like to pin because you are sewing on the opposite side, it's bulky and you chance hitting a pin with your needle.  Tape makes for easier and more accurate piecing)

Carefully, Flip your square back over...we sew on this side, on the printed lines.

Start from the outside edge and stitch in on this first line.  

A shortened stitch length will help your paper tear off easier but it also makes it very difficult to tear out a the paper really makes a difference here.  Make sure you stitch on the line.

End your stitching just past the line three stitches or so.

Fold your paper back along the perforated line to expose your seam, if you taped it, remove the tape before you do this.

Trim your seam to 1/4 inch.

Open your paper back out, turn it over, open out your fabric, press.

This is an optional step for lining up a directional fabric.    This method will let you use a directional fabric and have all of your pieces exactly the same on each part of your block.  First cut out the pattern piece and placed a couple pieces of double stick tape (like you use for scrap booking) on the back of the pattern piece. This will hold it in place on your fabric.  Put the fabric on the light box, right side down.  Carefully line up the center of the directional piece so that it looks the way you want it in the finished block.  The tape will hold the pattern piece in place, you can move it to your cutting board and cut it with a 1/4 inch seam allowance all the way around.

Before proceeding, you would again, fold back your next stitching line and trim your fabric to 1/4 inch away from that edge.  Line your next piece up with right sides together.  Again, use the double sided tape as you can see above and place the next piece, right sides together lining up the seam.  The tape is back from the stitching line, so you are not stitching through the tape.  Stitch from the printed side, along the line on the paper going from the large edge of the strip to the pointed end.

Fold your piece out and press.  Fold back the next seam line and trim your fabric to 1/4 inch beyond that, just as you did before.

Do the same for the last piece and you should have 4 squares finished, trim them to the outside line of your pattern, which will provide you with a perfect 1/4 inch seam when you put them together.

Lets looks at some of the ways that we can put this block together!

I love Stars...totally my favorite!

Windmill is always fun

This would be an interesting border for a quilt I think, or a very modern block.

Another star.

Below are multiples, created in mosaic maker to see what they might look like as a quilt.

You can see how this might be an attractive border piece as well...

Paper Piecing, the possibilities are endless!


  1. I just love this idea of pattern...will sure going to do this. All kinds of variation in arranging the four sizes...yes! Cool as Karen said. Thank you.

  2. So glad to have found your blog on Flickr. :) Going to like following along. This SBC block #2 was my first FPP. Was a little difficult. I am in Stockton.. small world! Is Foresthill near Auburn?