Paper piecing quilt blocks definitely requires concentration but it can open up a whole new world of quilt blocks that can’t be made by any other method – and the seams are always very accurate as well.
I’ve chosen to demonstrate paper piecing quilt blocks using a flying geese unit which can quite easily be made in several other ways, but it’s a nice simple block to introduce you to paper piecing if you haven’t tried it before. Click for template.
English Paper Piecing?
Just a word before I begin, though: when you hear ‘paper piecing’ you may think of the hexagon paper templates that you cover with fabric and then sew together. This is English Paper Piecing, or EPP, and it’s not what I want to look at today. The method that I am using today involves printing off a template of the required block and then sewing the fabric on to the paper. When complete, you can tear the paper from the back of the block and then use the block in the normal way.
For this block I have used three black rectangles 6.1/2″ by 2.1/2″ for the central triangles. For the smaller triangles I have used three 4.1/2″ squares cut along one diagonal.
Paper piecing quilt blocks
You can download the template here. Place a 6.1/2″ rectangle with right side up on the wrong side of the template. The photo shows the template held up to the light – it is easy to see the lines from the wrong side of the template.
Check where the lines go and trim the rectangle about 1/4″ from the seam lines. This may seem a little wasteful, but I prefer being able to trim the rectangle when it’s in place – I’d always rather have too much fabric and trim it rather than find that my fabric pieces dont’ quite cover the area they are intended for.
Place one of the triangles with right side down, lining up the edge of the triangle with the trimmed edge of the rectangle. Turn the template over and working on the right side sew along the seam – your needle is going through paper first and then two layers of fabric.
Begin sewing in the middle and sew towards the edge. Make sure that you sew across the lighter line of the seam allowance.
Flip the triangle up and press it up away from the rectangle.
Place the second triangle in the same colour with right side down on the other trimmed edge of the rectangle. Turn the template right side up and sew along the seam. Flip and press.
Make the second flying geese unit
So far I have made one flying geese unit but I hope you can see how simple it is to make paper pieced blocks in this way.
Trim the top edge of the flying geese unit about 1/4″ above the seam line. This is to enable the second rectangle to be correctly placed.
Place the second rectangle above the first flying geese unit. Flip it so that it’s right side down on top of the first unit and line up the two raw edge.
Turn the paper template right side up and sew the seam across the template. Flip and press. As before, check where the seam lines go and trim the top corners of the second rectangle. Add a triangle on either side, flip and press. In fact, before pressing it is a good idea to check the seam allowance where the triangle is sewn to the rectangle – if it’s much more than 1/4″, then trim it first before you flip and press the triangle.
Making the third flying geese unit
In the same way as above, add the third rectangle and then the two triangles.
I’m sure you’ll agree that it looks a total mess at the moment.
Turn the template right side down and line up your ruler with the thin seam allowance outside of the main block. Trim the block edges – what a difference that makes! You can see how accurate the seams are, giving perfect points to your triangles.
If you feel happy making a simple block like this using paper piecing techniques, then you’ll find that you can tackle many beautiful blocks that can’t be made using just squares and half square triangles.
I’m going to finish with a checklist:
Place fabric on the wrong side of the template.
Sew on the right side of the template (paper on top).
The first piece of fabric is placed right side up.
All the rest of the pieces are placed right side down, then flipped and pressed once the seam has been sewn.
Here’s the video:
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