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How To Paper Piece A Quilt Block

Paper piecing is also known as foundation piecing. It refers to the process of sewing quilt patchwork onto a foundation template. Most times, this foundation is a piece of paper on which designs are already drawn. This method of quilting has been in existence for ages. It has only recently made a resurgence in popularity. When you know what you are doing, using this method makes sure that the quilts you make are perfect.

How To Paper Piece A Quilt Block?

You start by drawing or painting quilt designs on paper. You will then sew your fabric directly onto the paper making a quilt block.

Paper piecing a quilt block is a great skill to learn as a quilter. It helps to make intricate designs on quilts easily. It helps to make small blocks of quilting patches and difficult angles to sew. It is also useful for non-experienced quilters to learn how to sew perfectly.

Steps To Paper Piece A Quilt Block

  1. Select the type of paper you want to use for this technique. There are different types of paper foundations used to make a quilt block.
  2. Print out or draw the designs you want to make your quilting block with on the paper.
  3. Starting from the end of the paper near you, pin your first fabric on the design you have created. You will pin this fabric on the back of the printing paper along the pattern lines drawn. For better visibility, you may have to lift your template or paper foundation to the light.
  4. Pin the fabric that makes the next shape on the paper and flip over slightly to mark the seam allowance.
  5. Sew these two pieces together.
  6. Continue placing the fabric onto the patterns as placed on the paper and sewing them in.
  7. When you are done piecing all your blocks, you can now rip off the paper from your quilting blocks. Do this gently to avoid removing the stitches. Ripping the paper is easier if you perforate it before you sew. Use a rotary cutter for accurate cutting.
  8. Press the whole finished block.
  9. You are now ready to sew your patchwork onto a quilt backing.

Foundation Materials In Paper Piecing

As mentioned earlier, paper piecing is also known as foundation piecing. This is because fabrics are built onto design foundations that have already been prepared.

There are different types of foundation materials. You could use the paper or other fabrics as your foundation. Some foundations are permanent while others are temporary. Different quilters have different preferences for the piecing foundations they use.

Permanent foundations as the name suggests are part of the quilt while temporary foundations can be removed. When you use permanent foundations, you can use longer stitches and they keep the quilt blocks stable. On the other hand, permanent foundations are not favored by many quilters because they make the block bulky.

Advantages Of Paper Piecing Quilting Blocks

Makes Sewing Quilting Blocks Easy

Many times, quilters are not able to produce perfect shapes, designs, and angles. Paper piecing is one of the techniques that make this possible. As you are tracing your sewing on a foundation, you can follow along in sewing difficult angles and designs perfectly.

Provides Stability To The Fabric During Sewing

When tracing your sewing along a foundation ensures that you don’t have to make errors. As a quilter, you are not worried about your fabric warping or the seams of your designs not aligning. This is because you are following an already laid foundation. If you make an error, and, deviate from the image, you can always correct your sewing immediately.

Sew Small Pieces

If you have small patterns that you want to sew onto a piece of fabric, paper piecing will make it possible. Normally, this would be difficult. However, tracing the small designs from a paper foundation makes it easy to carry out.

Enhances Accuracy

If you are a beginner quilter, paper piecing is one of the ways you can use to make accurate stitches and designs. You already have your designs printed on paper. All you need to is trace as is on the paper. You don’t have to worry about difficult angles to make, sew your fabric along the already made template lines.

Different Types Of Foundation Paper

There are different types of paper one can use for paper piecing quilting blocks. It all depends on your preference and budget. Some of these papers are fancier and more expensive than others. You can also go for the ordinary printing paper as your foundation of choice.

Disadvantages Of Paper Piecing Quilting Blocks

Fabric Wastage

When you make paper piecing your ideal method of making quilting blocks, prepare to waste lots of fabric. You need a longer fabric to trace on the paper design template. Once you have finished creating your quilting block, you then cut off the excess fabric. Usually, a lot of fabric goes to waste in this method.

To avoid wasting fabric, you can reuse it within the quilt or for other projects. Make sure to cut properly when you do.

It Is Hard To Learn

We have mentioned that paper piecing is easy to do. However, it is quite hard to learn how to do it perfectly. You will waste lots of paper and fabric in your learning process. You will stitch and unstitch several times as you try to get the design as made. Once you have perfected the skill, it will be your quickest method to make uniquely designed quilting blocks.

It Is Large And Bulky

The foundation paper you use to trace your quilting block designs may just be one layer. However, when it comes to the fabrics you are using, you may end up with a bulky end product. Also, you may need more than one paper to make the designs. This means sewing the papers together which increases the thickness of the fabrics and seams made on the fabric. In the end, you may have to many seams within the design. Making the quilting block made to have too many pieces of fabric, seams, stitches, and threads.

Factors To Consider When Paper Piecing Quilting Blocks

To Use Permanent Or Removable Foundation Materials

For removable foundation paper, the ordinary copier paper is the best you can use. It is firm enough to withstand the sewing pressure, and, easy to remove when you are done. If you like, you can opt for the more expensive and thinner temporary foundations.

For a permanent foundation, you can use muslin or non-woven interfacing. If you are making large and heavy projects, it is best to go for the permanent foundation materials.

Removing Foundations

This is an important aspect of paper piecing. Removing the foundation badly may cause you to repeat the whole process of sewing. As such it is important to remove your foundations carefully. Make sure that this is the last thing you do, having finished making your blocks. When removing the foundation, take your time to make sure that your stitches remain in place.

Embellish Your Paper Pieced Blocks

If you are going to embellish your finished paper pieced blocks, you need to arrange for it before you start sewing. Include the embellishing designs and patterns in the paper foundations before you start sewing. Once your fabrics are sewn in place, you can now start to embellish your blocks. Add your decorative designs as already designed on the foundation.

Print Size Accuracy

Always check on the foundation paper to make sure it corresponds to its stated size. This ensures that the patterns you will be sewing are the proper size. When you confirm this before you start sewing, you can adjust your printer to print out designs in the correct sizes. This helps to make the right size of the quilt blocks you want to use.


Hello, I am Jessica Flores, and you are welcome to my website. I am a professional fashion designer and a seamstress. I always carried a passion for craftwork. My love for craft grew along with time. I have spent years researching and practicing in this field to gather colossal experience.

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