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Creating with the Experts
Paper Piecing - Quilting Piece by Piece!

Paper piecing is a simple, tried-and-true hand piecing technique that results in uniform shapes and simplified joining of these shapes into blocks. The technique is easy to transport and can be done anywhere, which is probably part of the reason for its current resurgence. Imagine being able to piece a quilt top by hand during car, train, or plane trips, or even while waiting in a doctor's office, or at your child's after-school activity. It's becoming the method of choice for quilters on the go!

With that in mind, we asked JoAnne Louis of Paper Pieces for some advice. Paper Pieces is a leading source for precut shapes, patterns and related notions.

Paper Piecing Tips
  • Use good sharp needles. Keep your basting and whipping needles separate, basting dulls them quickly. Use the size of needle that fits your hand best.
  • Basting is a good time to use up old thread. Choose a color which contrasts with your fabric. Put knots on the right side of the fabric for easy removal. Use large stitches since they are temporary.
  • When whipping the pieces together match your thread to the darker fabric. If your stitches show, check that you are not sewing too tightly and stretching your fabric, loosen up a little.
  • Paper Piecing is portable. Have one (or more) projects cut out and ready to go. JoAnne keeps her projects organized so they're ready to grab and go!
  • Cut squares instead of hexagons from your fabric! This works for all shapes. Lay your paper piece on a cutting mat with a grid. Just cut to the next bigger ½" on all sides. The paper piece is the finished size.
  • Julie (JoAnne's coworker) offers this final tip: When basting, don't cut the thread after basting a piece, allow a couple inches of thread and starting basting the next piece. Chain piecing by hand! If they start to tangle, just cut them apart.