Thursday, March 17, 2011

Paper piecing, part one

I am making a wall hanging right now that is all paper piecing, and I decided to show how I like to paper piece. There are probably about a hundred different ways to do it, some probably better than others. Some take more expensive materials than I use (wash out stabilizers...). Here is the way I find the cheapest and the easiest!

After you find the pattern you want to use, you will need to make as many copies as the number of blocks you plan to make. I have used regular copier paper in the past, but it is pretty hard to pick out when you are done, and sometimes I have felt like I was
pulling my stitches way more than I wanted to just to get all the little pieces of paper out. I bought some tracing paper at Walmart and cut it into 8 1/2 X 11 sized sheets and it worked in my printer (whew!). I did change the paper setting for my printer to the lightest, flimsiest stuff I could find. I think I told it that I was doing transparencies, and that worked. You will have to find what works best for your printer.

Next, cut your patterns apart on the outside boundaries. Now don't cut all those little pieces out! Just cut on the big rectangle that surrounds the smaller pieces. You are going to sew on those other lines!! With your pattern there will be some directions that will tell you what size and shapes of fabric pieces to cut out for each block. Cut out all your fabric pieces, and you are ready to begin!

For my first piece, I have found that sometimes it slips around a little bit. I use a washable glue stick, and I put a little glue on wrong side of the pattern piece (not the fabric), you are going to be sewing on the right side. Now line up your fabric over your light box, and press the pattern down so that it sticks, and you have at least 1/4 inch seam allowance around that first piece.
Take the second piece of fabric and lay it on top of your first piece, right sides together. Flip everything over and sew it right on the printed line on the paper.
You are going to press this piece back, and here is the tricky part. You now need to have 1/4 inch seam allowance left around this second piece so you can continue to sew on the next pieces. I actually double check this prior to sewing anything. Before I sew, I gently fold the fabric back on the seam line where I am going to sew (like I am pressing the fabric) and check to make sure there is enough seam allowance. Then I can make any adjustments before I have sewn it down! That is the key!!
If the piece is sewn down incorrectly, when you press the piece back, you won't have a seam allowance all the way around. That will cause big problems! Picking out a seam on tracing paper is a painstaking process, and sometimes your tracing paper is ruined...then it is back to the printer to print out another piece. When I am sewing I use a stitch length of about 1.8. This is small enough to hold the pieces pretty well, but big enough that I can still see the stitches if I need to pick something out (which happens more often than I would like to admit!).

To be continued...

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