There are many ways to get things done. You can follow pattern instructions line by
line and never deviate, or you can be like me and improvise to make thing go
easier and more quickly. With paper
piecing there are many tricks you can use to speed the process and tools to use
to make things much easier.
instance, while visiting a friend in Cayman I was asked to show her how to
paper piece. She downloaded a pattern
for paper pieced square. The pattern
was then printed on regular copy paper.
There were no instructions. She
did not have all the tools I have for paper piecing so we just made it
work. It was definitely not as easy,
but she got it finished and it looked beautiful. However, if she were to have had the tools I
think help things along she would have been able to complete several squares in
the time one was completed.
all about speed and organization so I prefer to have helpers. I have most of my paper piecing tools in a
container to keep them all together. I know, I said I like organization. They are organized! Into one big pile in a container!
Here is what is in the container:
Jumbo paper clips
I use these to hold the cut templates on the
fabric. I put one clip on each section
which holds the template in place while cutting. Once they are cut then the fabrics and the
template are already clipped together.
Binder clips – I get a box of both the medium
These are used to clip together fabrics and
templates that are too thick for the paper clips. Of course you have to clip them after cutting
as the binder clips will get in the way if you clip them before cutting.
Template plastic – this is used to make a fold
I have two sizes of fold templates cut from
plastic that is 11” and another that is 18” wide. I use the one that is closest to the fold
size. When you are paper piecing, each
section is folded on the sew line. Thefirst paper piecing quilt I made I did not use a fold template. It was much harder to get the fold on theline and took more time. I also use this
fold template to stabilize the piece as I take it to the machine to stitch. This is very helpful for larger seams as it
will keep everything aligned as you move it from your cutting table to your
The glue is used on the first section of each
square. This will hold the fabric in
place. Once you have sewn the first seam
the glue is no longer necessary. I like
Sewline glue as it dries clear and soft.
I don’t even need to take the step to loosen the fabric from the glue
once the seam is sewn as it will easily loosen when you are removing the papers
when the square is complete.
The glue is also used when putting together the
curved pieces. All you do it run a
light line of glue along the seam allowance of the piece that lays flat. You then place the center of the curved piece
and match it to the center of the flat piece.
Then run your finger along the edge pressing the two together. No pins are needed and the fabrics are then
held together without puckers so you can sew them together and get a perfect
Add-A Quarter Ruler
The person who invented this gadget is a
genius! You could paper piece without
it like we did in Cayman, however using the add-a-quarter will keep the back
looking neat and also serves as a guide when placing the next fabric
piece. If your edge from the last section
was not an even ¼” then and you would need to take more time to make sure your
placement will result in the fabric covering the next section.
I have three sizes – 6”, 12” and 18” and use the
one closest to the size of the seam. If
you only want one, then opt for the larger size…but imagine using an 18” ruler
on a seam that is 1”! It will work, but
will slow you down.
I especially like the pink ones. Mine are yellow, my least favorite
color. I didn’t see any pink ones when Ibought mine.
Machine needles –
The smaller the needle the less paper is going
into your machine to clog up the feed dogs.
It really does make a difference when you are piecing thousands of seams
of paper. I like the 70’s as shown
I started using whatever thread I had that came
close to the color of the fabric. What I
found was that regular sewing threads are way to thick for paper piecing,
especially when you have multiple seams that meet. I now use a tread called "Bottom Line”. It is very thin and does not add bulk. I use either black or white. It’s so thin it just does not show on any
No Slip Ruler –
I like the Martelli’s 16x4”
rulerI use this ruler to trim the edges of the
completed squares. It holds the squarefirmly so you can cut without slipping.
The plastic rulers will slip on the paper which can cause devastating
I love the blue plastic "Press
Perfect” stiletto from CloverI don’t use this for pressing, I use it to
remove the paper from the back of the square.
The curved tip is perfect for lifting the papers without puncturing thefabric. I also have a metal stiletto
that I use for other stiletto things, but this fatter plastic one really makesremoving papers a breeze.
Flower Head pins –
I like these pins as the shank it much longer
than most other pins. When piecing two
completed squares together it can be necessary to weave the pin through the
fabrics to make sure they hold firmly while sewing. The flower tip is also easy to grab to pull
out before your run over it with your sewing machine. Besides, the flowers are cute.
Rotary cutter and NEW BLADES
I know, I was screaming on those last two
words. That is because it is really
important. A dull blade will not cut
the fabrics cleanly and will waste time as you need to go over the cut line
more than once. I suggest changing your
blade the moment you find a cut does not cut through. My favorite rotary cutter is made by
Kai. It is light and the blade
All of these tools except the glue, thread and needles can
be reused forever and on other projects.
Therefore the investment in the tools can be spread over many
quilts. If you are like me, paper piecing
will be a part of your life forever so why not get the right tools to do the
job. I’m think I’m going to put
together a tool kit for paper piecing on my website.
If you want further explanation of how I use any of the
tools mentioned, just let me know. I’d
be happy to explain further!