There are a lot of great quilters and quilting patterns out there, whether you are a seasoned quilting professional, someone who enjoys it as a therapeutic hobby or are just beginning your quilting adventure. We've learned so many things through our journey of establishing MaMi's Country Quilts quilting shop, and we're going to share our favourite tool with you.
It is no secret that Paper Piecing can make quilting complex designs faster and funner. It also makes collaborating with fellow quilters easier. It makes group Quilts easier to create because paper piecing ensures that each block of the quilting pattern is consistently sized and shaped. String piecing is another excellent tool to use up loose string pieces, but we'll share more about string piecing another day. Today let's focus on the two most common types of paper piecing English Paper Piecing and Foundation Paper Piecing.
How to Start Paper Piecing
Take your Judy quilting pattern and draw it out on paper with precision. You can the more complicated patterns like Judy Neimeyer's patterns can be pretty complex and intricate. Think of piecing like paint-by-number or stained glass, and we are making templates out of paper for where each colour or patterned fabric piece goes. We strongly recommend the tool called "add a quarter" ruler, foundation paper such as Simple Foundations Translucent Vellum Paper Foundation Sheets and some a straight edge guide.
English Paper Piecing
English Paper Piecing puts your hand sewing skills to work and is used primarily in traditional patchwork quilting. To paper piece the English way, you take your paper pattern and cut the sections out. Think of it as creating a puzzle. Use the piece you cut out as a template for the fabric. The pieces of fabric should be cut about 1/4" larger than your paper template piece and don't need to be cut precisely to your pattern because you need to leave a margin for seam allowances. Wrap the excess over the pattern and use a tacking stitch to sew that fabric to the paper template. More contemporary quilting enthusiasts using glue pens or a glue stick will work too. You can use freezer paper, parchment paper, newsprint vellum, and even copy paper. We also sell paper specifically for paper piecing so that you don't have to do the tedious labour-intensive extraction once the pieces are sewn together by hand. The pieces of fabric are sewn together with tiny tight hand stitches. Remove the paper templates once the pieces are sewn together and save them paper pieces to be reused or discarded. Once finished, the pieces sewn together are then sewn to another fabric block into a larger pattern or quilt block.
Foundation Paper Piecing
On the other hand, Foundation Paper Piecing is generally done by sewing machine. This time the pattern is displayed directly on muslin fabric or another form of foundation. The pattern blocks are created by sewing the fabric patches directly to the muslin or foundation paper. We call this the stitch-and-flip method. The stitch-and-flip technique starts withdrawing a diagonal line across the wrong side of a square or rectangle and placing it in the corner of another piece of fabric with right sides together. Stitch along the line on the wrong side of the fabric, then trim and press the marked piece open after you've turned it to be laying correctly on the outside. Once the construction of the pattern block is completed, the Simple Foundations Translucent Vellum Paper (or whichever paper you used) is removed by carefully tearing it away, unless you used muslin fabric. This block of pieces is now ready to be sewn together to another fabric block into a larger pattern or quilt block.
Paper piecing techniques have their advantages, and both allow for professional, amateur, and beginner quilters to create stunning quits. We often use these techniques in our Judy Niemeyer quilting pattern courses, drop-in quilting classes, and 3-Day quilting retreats. Paper piecing allows for accuracy and precision so that anyone can create very complicated quilts. MaMi's is one of the three Judy Neimeyer Certified Shops in Canada that offers classes in paper piecing. Come learn with us, the Big Shop in a Small town, and we'll show you why quilting in Canada offers world class education with the small town feeling of friendship and fun.