I’ve been paper piecing for a few years now, and I think there are little hints and tips that you pick up along the way. You know – the little things that make your paper piecing life just a tad bit easier. It seems like it’s my duty as a paper piecing fanatic to share some of these with you! So here are a couple of things that will make your paper piecing less of a chore.
Now we all know the basics – shorten your stitch length. I usually shorten mine down to 1.5 on my Bernina. Which is great for when it comes to tearing off the papers, but is a pain in the bum if you have to unpick it. If you do have a seam to sew that you’re a bit worried about (like when joining sections or angles), whack that stitch length up to max, use it as a basting stitch and then see how your pieces line up. If it’s all good, then you can resew it with the short stitch length. If it need unpicking, trust me, you’ll be glad you used a longer stitch!
I’ve actually done a tutorial year ago about how I piece angles. It’s still my go-to method for angles. You can always just get a large chunk of fabric and hope for the best, but I’ve found using this method is pretty accurate. You can see the tutorial here.
Now I also have a tutorial for those new to paper piecing about joining the sections together (which you can see here). But there’s one thing I mentioned briefly, that I think deserves a bit more attention – and that’s removing paper from the seam allowances as you join sections together.
You might be wondering why I’m making a song and dance about this – surely you can just remove the paper all at the end? Sure. You can. But. With this method, it’s a lot easier and you’re less likely to need tweezers to get the paper out of cross seams. Also your block lies flatter when your join the sections, less bulk, and it looks prettier. But the main bonus is it’s easier at the end when you’re removing the paper!
Here’s one I prepared earlier! You can see I have joined sections together in this photo. I like to take the paper off as soon as I’ve stitched the two sections together (so I do it while I’m still at the sewing machine, photos are just on my cutting mat for a better background!).
Here’s the seam allowance I’m talking about. To make it easier to tear off, fold it down first along the seam line, then tear it off.
You need to do this for both sides of the seam. So you’ll end up with two skinny bits of paper torn off for each seam.
Here’s how it looks when all the seam allowances are removed and the block has been ironed. You can see without the bulk in those seam allowances, the block lays quite flat.
But the best part of doing this as you go, is when you sew all the sections together, you don’t have tiny bits of paper caught in the cross seam. Those are not fun to try to remove!
Hopefully these tips will help with your paper piecing. I know not everyone loves the process as much as I (and that’s ok! Sometimes I like to regular piece too, believe it or not!), but these ought to make things go a little more smoothly and take some of the pain out of the technique!
And for the curious – this is the above block when it was finished. A little miniature Millennium Falcon, of course!
Good luck and happy paper piecing!