Saturday, 4 February 2012

A quilt for Allison.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of a quilt I made years ago, and Allison commented that she wanted to learn to do patchwork but was put off by the math involved. So I promised her that I would do a little instruction on an easy way to start patchwork by Paper Piecing. There are heaps of traditional designs that can be adapted to this method, but I'm using a simple line design.

So here we go....

The great thing about paper piecing is that you don't need any special tools. Just a good pair of scissors, a ruler, and your sewing machine.

The basic idea with making a patchwork block this way, is that you sew the fabric pieces to a paper design. There is no need to cut the fabric to an exact size, as they are trimmed to size once sewn to the paper. I've just used a basic design of wobbly lines, with a mix of red fabrics with various patterns for visual texture.

This is a design that is based on a simple 4 x 4 inch square, with the end of each line finishing in 1 inch intervals. This will make it much easier to join the blocks together and match up the individual colour bands. 

You will notice that I have labelled each band 1 through to 7. This is the order I will add the fabric strips.

Cut a piece of fabric for band 1. Each strip of fabric needs to be more than 1/4 inch bigger than the band of pattern, on all sides. You will see this makes your seam allowance later in the process.

On the wrong side of the paper design lay the fabric for band 1 & band 2 right sides together. Position the fabric so that it covers the design line between band 1 and 2.

Stitch along the design line, including at least 1/4 on both end of the design line. I've used a #2 stitch on my machine.

Trim the excess fabric from the seam, leaving about 1/4 inch allowance. Open the fabric and press flat.

Continue until all bands are complete. If you are working with a design that has curves like these, you may find the need to snip the seams to allow the fabric to spread open on the curves.

Trim the block to remove the excess fabric, and allowing the 1/4 inch seam allowance.

As the fabric hasn't all been cut on the straight grain, it's important to leave the paper in place until the blocks are sewn together. This gives the block stability, and is less likely to move out of shape.

Once you have sewn the blocks together, and have pressed the seams flat (not separate as in dressmaking), you can pull the paper away from the block. You will see that the needle has perforated the paper, and it will come away fairly easily.

Don't stress if a little of the paper remains, as it won't make any impact to your finished quilt

I'm still working on my blocks, but I'm liking the way it looks so far. I'll show you when I've finished the piecing.  (By the way, the photos have come out far more raspberry than the red it actually is.)




  1. You little ripper, Midge!! I'm emailing this to myself so I can read it again tomorrow.

    Do you use a normal sewing machine needle if you are sewing through paper?

    PS, I think this is the first time ever that anyone ever dedicated a blog post to me. I'm quietly chuffed and ever so grateful for you trying to help me.


    1. My pleasure Allison. With regards to the needle, just use a standard needle but you may find it gets blunt more quickly than normal.

      Perhaps start with a design without curves first, until you get the hang of it.

      Can't wait to see how you get on.

  2. Beautiful blocks! I've had some instructions for making a log cabin block just like this for a while - I really must get round to making it up. Seems like such an easy way to start quilting.


Thanks so much for commenting. I love hearing from you, and appreciate your input.


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