Paper Piecing

While many are panicking, I’m sitting back.  It’s not that I don’t believe the virus deserves consideration, it’s that I live rural…to be honest, I don’t encounter a lot of people who travel.  I’m a homebody girl.  Yes, I know I could easily get COVID-19, but I’m really not expecting it to come to me…but if it does, I’m preparing for quarantine.  (this is said entirely tongue and cheek)  While others are chasing down toilet paper…I’m chasing down projects (as if I don’t have enough already).  I saw these on Mary’s Country Threads blog.  Aren’t these little house pincushions so cute??  Mary said that Connie is teaching a class and she’s giving out these to the people in class.  The participants have to put the sand in the pincushion and stitch them shut but seriously, how cute?!


..and what a precious gift!?  Can you imagine making that many and gifting them all?  Connie is a sweetheart for sure.

Mary and Connie are selling the pattern.  You can find it HERE.  I jokingly thought to myself if my childcare has to close, I could make a few of these on my time off and be ahead on Christmas gifts.  I did order the pattern.  I just can’t believe how cute they are.  Aren’t Connie’s colors awesome??

I sent a note to Mary and Connie requesting the pattern.  It’s $5.  Info is in the link above….anyway, the note I wrote was this…
“I’m sure I didn’t know how to paper piece when this pattern first came out.  I do now, so I need the pattern”.

I do adore the houses….Who knows if I’ll ever get to them but if I do, I’ll have the pattern.

That got me thinking as to how paper piecing evolved for me.  I had hated it….I had done a wall hanging with tulips.  I loved the finished work but hated the paper piecing.  It was too putzy for me.

Then I made this quilt….It is Crab Apples from Bonnie Hunter’s book

Crabapple
Here it is finished.  This is one of the first quilts that I really went scrappy with.

crabApple-1
I loved it scrappy and loved the finished quilt…however, I hated most everything about making this quilt.
I hated having to  paper piece.
I put the sewing machine needle through my finger sewing the blocks together.
broke the needle threader on my machine making the quilt.

In reality, all that was paper pieced on this quilt is the “tree trunk”.

crabApple-2
I look at that now and LAUGH…that’s hardly paper piecing!!!

After that, my next paper piece project was this….I know, WOW, right?!  How does one go from hating paper piecing to tackling a LARGE quilt that is entirely paper pieced.  Two answers:
1- I wanted to.
2- I learned a trick from Bonnie Hunter to print the paper pieced pattern onto tracing paper.  I could see through it and it made all the difference.


These were intensely pieced.  Each block is only 5″.


It took me a LONG time.  It’s a quilt I am most proud of as far as accomplishments go.

I really do want to go on and make another large paper pieced quilt.  I have two in mind.  I’ve worked on a few blocks of each.  One is my own design and the other is Bonnie Hunter’s Wild and Goosey.

I think it’s so interesting how quilting skills evolve.  15 years ago there is no way I would have touch paper piecing.  Now, I’m looking forward to a paper piecing project.  I often think that learning something new is two fold….you have to really want to and there has to come a point where something clicks.  For me, that “click” was Bonnie Hunter saying to use tracing paper.  It really did make all the difference for me.  I could see through the fabric and through the paper and see the line.  I could see that the piece I was adding was in seam allowance and once I sewed, everything would be okay.

I did a little how-to HERE.

I’m really proud of myself for sticking with is and learning the skill of paper piecing.  I’m so thankful that something “clicked” and I figured it out.

Now I wish something would click and I’d enjoy applique.  So far I’ve tried but never loved it.  Is there a quilting skill you wish would “click”?

I’m looking forward to the little houses….and I’m so thankful that I didn’t give up on paper piecing.

18 thoughts on “Paper Piecing

  1. Beth

    The skill that recently clicked for me and made a big difference was webbing a quilt. For some, I couldn’t figure out how to start. One day, a quilting friend said the first steps out loud and it clicked.

  2. Karen Erickson

    I love paper piecing and I needed a simple project that wouldn’t require a lot of thinking. So I prepared the paper pieced Storm At Sea using my stash. Got it all prepped in Feb. I had a total knee replacement on the March 2, so only 16 days out. I didn’t have a care in the world to embroider, sew or even read… not until 2 days ago. Bam!! I pulled out my 201 knee lift, got everything set up and I was whooped!! So yesterday I sewed about an hour,,, whooped again, but today I got 3 small blocks done. And whooped again… I’ll get there eventually, but it sure felt good to sew. Enjoy those projects!!!

  3. Rebecca Smith

    I am hoping curved seams will click for me. I have been intimidated by them for so long and this year is going to be the year I learn!

  4. Anita

    My first quilt project and class years ago was a storm at sea paper pieced wall hanging. Was it fun! I loved paper piecing then and still do. Appliqué is my favorite hand sewing thing to do. It’s very relaxing to do needle turn appliqué. I think I enjoy it because I cannot manage to get into cross-stitch so it gives me something to do while watching tv at night. I’ll have to try one of Bonnie Hunter’s paper pieced quilt patterns. I loved the two you did, Jo.

  5. Trish

    I am in the midst of my first paper pieced quilt. I saw somewhere to use notebook paper because a) it’s thin enough to see through easily, and b) it’s inexpensive. I like the tracing paper suggestion though. I’ll have to try that next.

  6. Judith Fairchild

    Jo, what clicked applique for me was sewing a flimsy material right sides together on the applique piece. Clipping the center of the flimsy and turning it to the back. Press and sew the applique in place. It’s a winner for me. I saw the idea on a Fons and Porter show. They had a guest who showed how it was done. Paper piecing just doesn’t work for me tried it and ruined to many pieces to want to try again. I tried tracing paper too.

  7. Cindy F

    I started hand piecing hexies but quit after a little while. I wanted to keep going but I found myself making a lot of whip stitches and I could see them no matter what I did which then meant I would have to worry about thread color. I kept trying to find photos of how to do it right but at the time I looked all the online tutorials didn’t have close enough photos for me to see clearly. I bought some double pins to try as I saw someone saying they helped her but I never did go back and try.

  8. LaNan Eldridge

    I want to be more confident doing English paper piecing. I do enjoy paper piecing and I have a couple projects in progress. My favorite is appliqué..either hand or machine. I relate it to my childhood coloring books! Maybe if you think about it that way it might help you! Really like your colorful pineapple quilt!

  9. Carla

    Cindy F, I have the same problem, but somehow, just by continuing to sew the hexies, I am getting better! I really am! Don’t give up!

  10. Ronda

    Jo, go to Lori Holt’s blog “Bee in My Bonnet” and read about some of her applique tips. She makes some amazing applique quilts.

  11. Linda P

    I am far from an expert appliquer, but I love it so much. When I retired my goal was to take several classes and try lots of different techniques… I’ve gotten better. My favorite is backbasting. I knew about it but had never really “gotten” it.. but once you do, you are hooked. If you want to visit about it… I’m here.

  12. Donna T

    I have done paper piecing but don’t really enjoy it. I have taken several appliqué classes and do not like doing it. I will just enjoy everyone’s appliqué!

  13. Miss Daisy

    I love applique , I use freezer paper and it works so good and you can use it again and again. I just want to make a quilt but can’t get motivated enough to even start , any ideas – Please !!!! Have a blessed week.

  14. Pam Thorne

    Thank you for the tip on paper piecing! I’ve been wanting to make Bonnie’s Wild and Goosey and have a whole container of corner triangles saved. I just ordered a ream of tracing paper so now I am all set to go!

  15. lynn bourgeois

    My challenge is to finish what I start. I will try any technique at least once. That leads me to keep starting new projects before I finish any. It’s really ok though, because I’m having such a lovely life doing these things. Hope you are enjoying a beautiful day. I don’t notice much difference in my daily routine with the covid 19 lockdown. I don’t go far rom home often, and I have lovely windows to watch the wildlife in our yard. We live quite deep in the country. This morning with the sunshine pouring into my space. it is a gift for me to savour.

  16. Stearns Carol

    Every day we should learn something new. those pin cushions are adorable. I have all the blocks made for crabapples but can’t find where I put them. I’ve been cleaning my room but they havent shown up yet.

  17. Janet R

    The pincushions are adorable. Your pineapple quilt is stunning!! That was a lot of work!

    I haven’t tried paper piecing. I love the look of a lot of projects that use it. Maybe someday I’ll try it.

  18. Marsha T

    To those interested in English Paper Piecing: I started EP piecing years ago using a product called “quilt patties”. Loved the patties absolutely hated the whip stitches. No matter how small I stitched, they showed more then I was happy seeing. Then I discovered the Linda Frantz invention Inklingo! You can Google “Inklingo” or her name, not sure it was appropriate to include url here, I am not affiliated with her site just an extremely happy user of her method. Her method prints the EP piecing patterns directly on the wrong side of fabric adhered to freezer paper for stability to run through your ink jet printer. The pieces are then cut out and are either hybrid pieced by sewing machine or hand stitched by hand on the 1/4” seam line that is already printed on the fabric – no whip stitches showing in the seams. I was hooked and followed her instructions on how to convert my work in progress. Once you master the printer learning curve – like I did – you will not look back only forward with a new love of EPP with no paper pieces involved. Check it out – the design possibilities are amazing and addicting! Hope this helps.

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