Adventures in Paper Piecing

For the longest time I’ve avoided paper piecing when I quilt – all those tiny pieces looked way too intimidating. But, for Christmas this year, I wanted to make some very specific quilt-related gifts that called for minute detail. After doing an extensive Google search and finding some really great free paper piecing patterns and video tutorials, I dove in – and ended up with three gifts that I loved making and giving.


First, I tackled the beloved Olaf using this pattern (which has been super popular on instagram & for good reason. The patter is well written with clear and easy to construct pieces). Considering I only had to rip-out and redo one section on my first attempt, I’m calling this one a win. I adore how it came out and couldn’t be more pleased with my first-ever paper pieced quilted envelope pillow. Plus, the designer of this pattern created an entire Frozen line – well worth checking out if you have any Frozen fans on your own gift lists. PaperPiecing_3

Next, I attempted to paper piece the King for Jamie who, as you might remember, is a super-fan. I used this pattern and only altered the color scheme. Since it was a Christmas gift, I wanted to use the red-jumpsuit elvis with the white accent – so I removed the blue “ascot” pieces in the pattern and just used the skin color to show an open front jumpsuit. Of all of my paper piecing attempts, this one was the most difficult. That area just under his chin gave me fits. But, all in all, I’m really pleased with how it turned out and it makes the perfect addition to go with the Elvis quilt I gave Jamie for her birthday.PaperPiecing_2The final bit of paper piecing I completed before Christmas was the Snoopy block. (Pattern here) My Mom is an avid Snoopy fan, and this block is destined to be part of a wall hanging for her. Unfortunately, I ran out of that background fabric and was unable to complete the other blocks in the series before Christmas. Woodstock was pretty tricky because of his size, and I did accidentally sew is head on backwards the first time through, so the pattern wasn’t the absolute easiest, but it was manageable and Mom loved it. She’s pretty excited to get the finished product – if I could only source some more of that fabric! I used several large pieces from my stash and none of them had a viable selvage with print information. I’m thinking that I’m just going to resort to using scrappy blues in the same value for the rest of the blocks.

After dealing with these three projects, I can safely say that I am no longer afraid of the paper piecing project. In fact, I’ve added several to my to-sew list for 2015. I’m so glad that I found these patterns and gave them a shot. I will say, the tools and machine settings make all the difference. I traced each of these patterns onto the non-slick side of freezer paper. I then colored each section to make sure I’d use the correct fabric for each piece. It’s a more time consuming this way – but totally worth the effort. I also shortened my stitch length when sewing the fabric together – this help tremendously when tearing off the freezer paper at the end (but was a pain when I had to rip out seams and start over on some pieces – so go slow and double check yourself before you sew anything down). Also, I will say that this method used more fabric than I thought it would. I expected to be able to do some serious stash busting, but unless you align your fabric perfectly, you’ll be short when you flip it over. For me, it just became easier to use slightly larger pieces and trim them back after they were sewn together – if that makes sense. Anyway, when in doubt, cut a larger piece than you think you’ll need.

Have you tried any new methods to a crafting favorite? Do you have any paper piecing tips/tricks you could share with me?


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