Wednesday, July 17, 2013

the Joy of paper piecing

I always admired machine paper pieced blocks.  They're impressive, often incredible really.  So many little pieces, such complex designs and - wow - can they create incredible pictures!  Still for a long time, I didn't think I wanted to actually sew that.

the Joy of paper piecing

Over the years I've done a bit of machine paper piecing here and a bit there, gradually realizing it isn't "hard" or ridiculously tedious.  But, honestly, it was in making these blocks for the Penny Sampler that machine paper piecing wheedled it's way right into my heart. 

Teapot for the Penny Sampler

Why the change?  I think, for one, I was sabotaging myself by avoiding picture projects before.  I had machine paper pieced abstract shapes like stars and what not, but not still life art such as creatures or household objects.  While I loved to look at that type of thing, I couldn't imagine what I'd do with such creations.

Dala horse project

The Penny Sampler created a "need" for picture blocks because I was desperate to include the iconic Swedish Dala horse.  I also imagined teacups and a tea pot, because sewing such household pretties always tempted me.  My first "picture" machine paper pieced project was the teacup.  And that changed everything.

Teacup for the Penny Sampler

Everyone knows that the best part of sewing is choosing fabrics.  Well, the best part of machine paper piecing (at least for me) is that lots of independent pieces equals lots of chances to "draw" with fabric.  Selecting just the right fabrics for a stripe on a tea pot, the lip of a teacup rim, the saddle on a horse... heaven.

Small Diamonds for the Penny Sampler

Nowadays I'm finding myself sometimes choosing to paper piece even when I could piece traditionally.  Some little squares and most diamonds on the Penny Sampler are paper pieced.  With virtually no possibility of error and such pleasing results, it's easy to dismiss time spent ripping off papers afterwards as well worth the effort.  

Flower Pot project

Plus, these simple projects are great introductions for anyone new to paper piecing.  Our class is definitely appropriate for first-timers and somewhat-experienced alike.  The Flower Pot project is our most challenging block.  You should have heard Brandon grumbling when he drafted those templates.  LOL. 

So what about you?  Have you been avoiding machine paper piecing?  Does it seem too challenging, too finicky?  Or... have you already fallen in love?

47 comments:

  1. Good post - agree, agree, agree! I was actually kind of terrified of PP until I made one. Great blocks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love paper piecing! Totally agree with you that picking fabrics for all of the little pieces is so fun!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was scared at first but pleasantly surprised. Its not second nature yet so sometimes I put the fabric towards the wrong side and have to redo, but it is quickly becoming something I like... a lot. I definitely want more practice in it! I really cant wait to sign up for this!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I already did paper piecing and I think it's okay while fabric consuming. That's what bothers me. But I try to waste as little fabric as possible.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I just machine paper pieced my first project: 9 Rocky Road to Kansas blocks. It was a tad strange, but I have already done other projects like the curves class notecards and some mug rugs using improve foundation piecing so paper piecing wasn't completely foreign. I really enjoyed it too! And I have a difficult time making things with exact shapes and seam lines match up, but that was much easier using the paper and I loved it! Tearing the paper was tedious, but the end result was worth it! I'll post my little project in the flicker group if you want to see :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, do! I love that block. It was one of my first paper pieced experiences.

      Delete
  6. I love paper piecing! And I find if I spritz the paper with some water with a spray bottle and let it dry before removing, it pretty much just falls right off as it makes the paper so fragile. (Depending a bit on the paper you used, of course, I wouldn't recommend it on any paper that contains dyes).

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've completely avoided it! It looks too intricate for my bumbling self. But you piqued my interest here. I'm awfully tempted to do that class with you!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you will! It's more of a mental block than a difficult skill. I think you'll find it much easier than you think once you see how it works!

      Delete
  8. o man o man o man! I am so excited! cant wait for monday! loooove the flower pot block :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am really excited to learn paper-piecing. I purchased a pattern for an eternity knot a couple of months ago and have been sitting on it because I haven't taken a paper-piecing tutorial yet. And here you are offering a class with even more interesting blocks!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Gorgeous projects! Your choice of fabric for the teapot reminds me very much of the work of Esteri Tomula for Arabia decades ago here in Finland. I could fill my kitchen cupboards with her creations. And hi, I'm a newish reader of your blog, think I found it via Pink Chalk Fabrics and the sewing room article.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I was not a fan of paper piecing mostly because of the paper but then I watched an episode of the Quilt Show that featured Judy Mathieson who had her mariners compass quilt selected for the book 100 Best Quilts of the 20th Century. She demo'd a freezer paper method that results in no picking off of paper. I became a convert and have used that method ever since. Love your PP projects hi-lighted in this post!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have a lot of trouble with the spatial elements of paper piecing, despite some really awesome teachers trying to show me tricks to make it easier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm.. do you have trouble placing the new piece correctly to sew it in? I'd love to know more about what's been challenging for you.

      Delete
    2. My challenge has been thinking too much! My mind keeps saying, "Noooo THAT can't be right!" I am learning how to just sew on the line and turn off my brain. Something else I have learned is to use 'any side' Batiks for PP. Again trying to turn off my brain. I am getting there! A class I recently participated in added some decorative topstitching to some blocks. FUN!

      Delete
  13. I love paper piecing, but have only made a pincushion from a zakka book. It did turn out lovely, but I also joined a paper piecing BOM in January and I haven't made the first one. I'm so intimidated! I know I need to just do it, but, well, you know.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I and my partner have been designing a Paper Pieces SunBonnet Sue BOM. We both LOVE it!! We also include appliques in our blocks, but they are completely optional. I admit, I waste a LOT of fabric when I PP, but I LOVE it!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love paper piecing!! I get more accurate blocks. It grew on me.... until I loved it.

    Susie

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love the accuracy of paper piecing. I made a lap quilt of pineapple blocks a couple of years ago and I love it! You don't have to waste fabric if you cut your pieces for each shape. I can't wait to see this quilt put together. The fabrics really look like they will evoke that feeling of the Swedish culture

    ReplyDelete
  17. I will admit that last summer I machine pieced the diamonds on my handstitched quilt!!!!! It took some working out but I dpnt' think you could tell!!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I like paper piecing but I still have problems with getting my fabric cut right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't cut the fabric first. Just use a chunk. I have done it whole half yard pieces to avoid waste, but that can be a challenge too.

      Delete
  19. I tried my first paper piecing block (a union jack) a little while ago and absolutely loved the process and the points you can achieve using it ... there will be more paper piecing in my future I think ... looking forward to seeing your reveal on Monday :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love it, but I do it totally wrong! I don't know why doing it the right way confuses me! But it seems to always turn out nicely when I do it the wrong way! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh, now I'm so curious as to what "wrong" but working way you do!

      Delete
  21. PPing is a joy! Sharp points! Goofy shaped scraps with bias edges EVERYWHERE can be used very easily. Did I mention the sharp points you can get?!

    ReplyDelete
  22. these look amazing Rachel. I am longing to learn paper piecing. I don't think I can manage your class this time round what with the busyness of life, but if you offer it again I will definitely be in. Your creativity is so inspiring :-)

    ReplyDelete
  23. I haven't tried paper piecing because I don't like the thought of having to change my needle afterwards.
    Lazy I know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! It's the little things that wear us out =) I do keep a "paper" needle on hand for paper sewing. That way I don't have to keep sacrificing sharp new needles.

      Delete
    2. If you do a bunch of PPing at once, you may need to toss the needle anyway!

      Delete
  24. Great post, Rachel! I've always been scared of PP, mainly due to the (perceived) complexity and the fact that I hate to waste fabric. BUT, I finally took the plunge this past week with a simple freezer paper pieced block that I designed myself almost a year ago. I love the accuracy and the fact that there is very little fabric waste. And it's great to make something a little more complex than I'm used to.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Great post, Rachel! And I absolutely adore PPing. Early on I was somewhat self taught, then got some great help via Carol Doak's book, took a class using paper piecing for a Mariner's Compass and that sealed the deal. I love your designs!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Self taught just this week! Did an easy star pp block to take to local quilt shop for block "Lottery." The event for the quilters get together was a demonstration of pp. I learned so much! Now I think I really want to do more after learning some great "tricks" for successful pp. I love your pp flower pot!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I want you to know I've been online this morning buying fabric for my Penny Sampler quilt. You know, the pattern I haven't seen yet. The class I haven't secured a place in yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, that warms my heart! The quilt will be up on Monday =)

      Delete
  28. I'm another fan of the freezer paper piecing method, for a few reasons. By flipping the freezer paper back and holding it up to the light, I can be sure my fabric will cover the space it needs to. There's no ripping or needle changes because I never sew through the paper, only along the folded edge. Also, I can reuse my freezer paper foundations. I've used them as many as ten times before the sticky wore out. We're working on a charity quilt now that uses the Hole in the Barn Door block and I need to freezer paper piece three of my cow blocks (original design). It's fun to sew things that I'd never attempt without paper piecing!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Rachel paper pieced block was a Monster for me!!!!
    And the last month I made a perfect piecing with clear instrunction on a BOM I'm partecipating and I discovered I love paper piecing and it's incredible bacause I never thought that it's for me .... and of course I want your paper piecing instrunctions!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I use paper piecing when making crazy quilt blocks. I'm not sure if it is exactly paper piecing since I just use a piece of printer paper and fabric scraps, but it works.

    ReplyDelete
  31. i've just been doing some on the Skillbuilders BOM and yes i have fallen in love with how easy and precise it is without worrying about bias on triangles
    barbepriceatgmaildotcom

    ReplyDelete
  32. I always have to turn my brain inside out before I start a new paper-pieced block. But I love it and I think it is great for stars, double wedding rings, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Counting down the days till Monday!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Not sure if you have mentioned this Rachel, but use a small stitch length for machine PPing. Makes the paper removal much easier!

    AND...any kind of paper can be used...wrapping paper, newspaper, school papers. It doesn't have to be paper "for paper piecing."

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have avoided it. I am overwhelmed with where and how to start. :( I guess I just need ot take the plunge. :} maybe soon...

    ReplyDelete
  36. I LOVE what you can do with paper piecing BUT i have a hard time getting into the groove so get very frustrated (and curse a lot ;-). SO, I have to be in the "right place" to start pp projects. I do usually prefer the look of paper piecing to fused applique for pictorial blocks.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Well, you've convinced me, I think! I want to give it a go! I so know what you mean about the mental block. It was the same with free motion quilting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, very much the same mental block. But, in my experience actually learning and being able to FMQ is SO much harder.

      Delete

Related Posts with Thumbnails