Let’s start with a bold statement: paper piecing is way easier as patchwork, applique or any other quilting technique. This might be because it’s the first technique my mother taught me, but that is not all (my first block was a paper piece log cabin block). There are some key benefits to paper piecing. Paper piecing works by sewing fabric onto a background. This makes it much easier to be precise because the exact lines where you sew are on the background. Also. it is easier to work with really tiny pieces because the background gives some structure to place them on. In patchwork, the tiny pieces often get lost in the seams, which makes them tricky to work with. With paper piecing the seams are hidden between the background and the front. So with paper piecing, there is less confusion all-round.
Since I’m using this quilt as an icon I thought it time to finally tell all about the sewing of the rose quilt pattern I made for my mother. In order to do that I updated the post about the pattern, which you can read here: How to make a rose quilt design. The quilt is 30 by 30 centimetre. My mother is making a bigger one and I can’t wait to see how her’s is going to look. I’m even having visions of making it even bigger and turning it into a huge bedspread quilt consisting of only this rose in a modern quilting way. I wonder if that would work as well.
There were many individual sections to sew with this pattern. In the picture below you can see very well how small some of the pieces got. I started with straight columns, but while sewing and drafting the pattern it came to be I had to divide up more pieces. It became important to make some very good notes, to not get lost. Also, if I had to sub-divide a sector I sewed the pieces together before sewing other sections to keep pieces together. This had the added benefit of seeing the picture materialize, while still working on it.
How to do paper piecing
For paper piecing, there are many different methods and materials used, as is evident with a quick google of this technique. Especially for the background fabric, many different materials are suggested. I will do a more extensive post about the material I used centred around my Dear Jane quilt later. However, I will tell you a bit about it now as well in this post. The background material used are nappy liners for cotton diapers. This might sound a bit odd, but they are the best I’ve tried so far. Here are some benefits:
- Both machine and hand paper piecing works because the diaper liners are pliable and easy to sew through.
- You can leave them on your quilt.
- they are see-through, which means you can transfer the pattern on them directly from a book or your computer.
- They are cheap and can be bought in bulk online pretty much everywhere where there are eco-friendly people around who use cotton diapers.
That sounds ideal right! Unfortunately, when I started this rose I had gone through all my diaper liners and hadn’t tried looking them up online yet (sometimes it takes a long time to find obvious solutions). Anyway, in the time I was making this rose I was experimenting with various materials I could buy in local shops. Those were mainly throwaway cleaning wipes. Those had some downsides: there was texture on wipes, which makes accurate sewing and drawing tricky; they smelled like citron, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing I suppose, but strange; and some stretched like maniacs. The cleaning wipes I ended up using were doable in the end, but I am very happy to have discovered you can order the nappy liners online. In my experimentation days with the background fabrics I bought loads of different materials to try, so projects will appear for a while here using novel background materials… Another thing I learned from this paper piece project is the pen you use to draw on the background. I used a marker which smudged on the fabric.
– What are novel materials you are using not from a quilt shop?
In the end, I managed to sew all the different sections, as you can see in the picture below. By the time I had sewed all the individual sections by hand this project had been going on for years, so my anticipation to finish was high. Therefore, I decided to put my principles aside and to join the sections by machine. Yes, I used to refuse machine sewing out of principle. However, I also didn’t own a sewing machine when I made that resolution, so that made it easier to be principled. Now I do have a sewing machine, and now I see that there is a time and a place for every quilting technique available. I personally really enjoy sewing by hand, and I would never stop doing that, but I also see the skill and beauty in machine sewing.
In the end, I am very pleased with the result. Especially considering it was the second pattern I ever made. The first one was an owl I made into a shoulder bag. What do you think of it? Any suggestions what to do with it as well? So far this project didn’t progress beyond the foundation piecing. I guess I am a bit afraid to finish it and mess it up in the process.
– Do you have experience with foundation piecing or drafting your own patterns? If you do let me know! I am very curious to see what you came up with.
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