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Thread: Let's Talk about Paper Piecing

  1. #1
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    Let's Talk about Paper Piecing

    I spent yesterday making 3 smallish blocks. This is my take on PP:

    It's messy! I had a table full of tiny scraps at the end of the day.
    A million little seams!
    Great precision!
    It's wasteful!
    After spending the whole day playing with them I started making mistakes- then
    realized I was tired and that was why.So I quit while I was ahead.

    I don't know if I like this technique or not.

    What say you?
    Thanks
    Susie

  2. #2
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    I occasionally do a small bit of precision paper piecing. It is too time consuming for me to do a lot of it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member sandrab64's Avatar
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    I think it depends on what project you’re doing. I like it in small doses in order to get a few difficult blocks just right. Not sure I want to tackle a large quilt that’s all PP but a small wall quilt would be just right. The more you do it the easier it gets.
    Sandra B

  4. #4
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    We all think and process things differently. I'm one of those who just doesn't get paper piecing... but I admire the precision and ability to do very complicated things. I have friends who are fiends at paper piecing but despite them showing me, I still just don't get it. I also don't like the waste but I've learned if I am not generous with the fabric I don't have quite enough so then I have to take out stitches or start over. With my vision issues I can't take out stitches very well anyway and besides, those friends told me to make tiny stitches.

    In my list of planned current projects I'm doing a contemporary quilt of a farm scene, there will be a few paper pieced blocks -- maybe 8-10, and most of it will be largish pieces of large-scale prints. Down at the bottom will be crops grown in Washington, so yes to potatoes and apples, but no to pineapples. There will be some roads, and after the quilt is quilted in an all-over chicken wire pattern using a lightly metallic thread, I will be putting in a number of embellishments like purchased tractor appliques, little bunny buttons hiding in the cabbage fabric. Stuff like that.

    The middle will be farm animals, mostly fabrics but with a paper pieced pig face, a mother hen with chicks, a horse face, etc. I've already made a large original barn block. There will be a morning glory print alongside the silo and then two tiny paper pieced hummingbirds. I think my big mistake was starting with the hummingbirds, I've made two failed attempts so far (four blocks total). I knew I'd be making these blocks multiple times and that this is something I really want to do but is also a learning project.

    Top part will be the horses, complete with a pieced rail fence (or at least the fence posts and grass will be pieced, the cross bars will be ribbon), a lake with waterfowl, and I think some other farms off in the distance, or maybe just mountains and trees.

    I think when I'm ready to start up with this again I should go with the larger pieces, like the pig and horse. I need some successes or at least "almost there" or "good enoughs".

  5. #5
    Super Member Doggramma's Avatar
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    It’s not my favorite. There’s no way I’d do it for a whole quilt. But I will do it for a few blocks in a quilt.
    Lori

    *********

  6. #6
    Super Member peaceandjoy's Avatar
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    I've tried a few blocks and believe that I have paper piecing dyslexia. For whatever reason, I get the fabric backwards. So after I sew the seam, I flip the fabric back aaannndd..... the fabric doesn't cover the area it needs to cover, but will have way too much in the seam allowance. Picking it out is a pain right in the neck bc I have, of course, shortened the stitch length so the paper will tear more easily when it's time to remove. In taking out the seam, the paper shreds, so i have to tape it back together to redo the seam. Which more than once, I do wrong again. Yeah. I pretty much gave up on that...

  7. #7
    Super Member humbird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iceblossom View Post
    We all think and process things differently. I'm one of those who just doesn't get paper piecing... but I admire the precision and ability to do very complicated things. I have friends who are fiends at paper piecing but despite them showing me, I still just don't get it. I also don't like the waste but I've learned if I am not generous with the fabric I don't have quite enough so then I have to take out stitches or start over. With my vision issues I can't take out stitches very well anyway and besides, those friends told me to make tiny stitches.

    In my list of planned current projects I'm doing a contemporary quilt of a farm scene, there will be a few paper pieced blocks -- maybe 8-10, and most of it will be largish pieces of large-scale prints. Down at the bottom will be crops grown in Washington, so yes to potatoes and apples, but no to pineapples. There will be some roads, and after the quilt is quilted in an all-over chicken wire pattern using a lightly metallic thread, I will be putting in a number of embellishments like purchased tractor appliques, little bunny buttons hiding in the cabbage fabric. Stuff like that.

    The middle will be farm animals, mostly fabrics but with a paper pieced pig face, a mother hen with chicks, a horse face, etc. I've already made a large original barn block. There will be a morning glory print alongside the silo and then two tiny paper pieced hummingbirds. I think my big mistake was starting with the hummingbirds, I've made two failed attempts so far (four blocks total). I knew I'd be making these blocks multiple times and that this is something I really want to do but is also a learning project.

    Top part will be the horses, complete with a pieced rail fence (or at least the fence posts and grass will be pieced, the cross bars will be ribbon), a lake with waterfowl, and I think some other farms off in the distance, or maybe just mountains and trees.

    I think when I'm ready to start up with this again I should go with the larger pieces, like the pig and horse. I need some successes or at least "almost there" or "good enoughs".
    Wow Iceblossom, this sounds like quite an undertaking! I hope you post photos of the work in progress, and the finished quilt. Sounds lovely. A labor of love!

  8. #8
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    I don't mind PP and for some blocks/patterns I would not attempt without PP. But I never PP simple blocks. I save PP mostly for blocks that have odd angles or require precision like Mariners compass, NYB, curved flying geese, etc. And I have to admit there are some amazing PP patterns out there for animals and flowers (check out http://www.silverliningsoriginals.com/b.html ). These types of designs/blocks would be darn near impossible to do without PP. I have also found I do best with PP when I stick with batiks where it is very difficult to tell the right side or wrong side of the fabric so if you have that mirror image problem as peaceandjoy mentions it isn't an issue.

  9. #9
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    I've gotten much more fond of PP after coming up with a different method. I don't have near the waste and it takes a lot less time. I don't use my "add a quarter" ruler at all.

    I still don't like removing the papers that much, but I like it much better than removing stabilizer from machine embroidery projects!
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

  10. #10
    DJ
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    I have my own technique and don't mind doing it. I can understand why some people just can't wrap their head around it.

  11. #11
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    Totally agree with feline.

    I enjoy what PP allows me to do! PP was my first introduction into quilting (I took a class). I totally failed trying to use a rotary cutter but when I made some awesome NYB blocks, my fellow classmates were blown away!!

    Since then I have mastered using a rotary cutter and most of my quilts are pieced. But every so often, I will make a PP wall hanging or small project because I enjoy the challenge and detail of PP patterns (that would be impossible or very challenging to piece).

  12. #12
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    sometime, PP is the only way to go. But I use the fold back method and don't sew through the paper... eliminating the tear off. works for me.
    Nancy in western NY
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  13. #13
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    I agree with Feline about batiks. So easy!
    Yesterday I wasn't working with them. And yes, some blocks would be impossible to piece any other way.
    I haven't had trouble tearing the paper, whether it's computer or foundation types.
    As long as I make the stitches really small I haven't encountered any problems.

  14. #14
    Power Poster Onebyone's Avatar
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    The waste from paper piecing is not enough to fret over to me. I like the accuracy and perfect points of paper piecing. I switched to Stable Stuff years ago and don't remove it. I have always determined what is the most dreaded part of any thing I do and eliminate it or modify. Taking the paper off was the part I dreaded in paper piecing so I eliminated that part.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by humbird View Post
    Wow Iceblossom, this sounds like quite an undertaking! I hope you post photos of the work in progress, and the finished quilt. Sounds lovely. A labor of love!
    Well right now the fabric has been collected together as have the embellishments and even the quilting thread and pattern! I have a vision but it will be a long term process. Partly because this is not the way I usually work, any of the pictorial, contemporary, paper pieced, or embellished aspects! I think it will be roughly queen sized but we'll see how we go and it might end up more twin/couch, but still largish.

    Getting closer to ten years ago now that I was diagnosed with my vision issues and I started purging my stash. As part of the process I was putting like with like and was really surprised when I ended up with an entire box of "farm". I'm looking forward to using all these diverse fabrics from cartoony to super realistic. And once the top is done, those remaining fabrics will be set free either given away or used in donation quilts -- win/win for all.

  16. #16
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I enjoy paper piecing, love Judy Niemeyer designs, don't see that much waste, and don't mind removing the paper. I'm a slob anyway when it comes to sewing. Thread and bits of fabric wind up all over the floor, and all over me. So I don't see any more of a mess with paper piecing than with other types of sewing. I occasionally sew a piece on upside down or in the wrong position, but that happens to me when I'm doing regular piecing too. I love the "wow" factor of a paper pieced quilt.

  17. #17
    Super Member Kassaundra's Avatar
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    I enjoy FPP and use it for the most complicated blocks, I would rather FPP a picture then applique one. I just learned the freezer paper method w/o any tearing of the paper I loved it, I will switch to that for all my FPP. I also don't see much waste at all, but then again I am an avid fussy cutter so maybe I am just "used" to more wasteful methods to get exactly what I want.
    "Never cruel, nor cowardly, never give up, never give in."

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  18. #18
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    I definitely do not like PP. I have tried it a couple of times and my left brain can't connect with my right brain! PP is backwards to me and I just can't understand it even tho' it does give you precise pieces. Good luck to you when you rest up and try it again.

  19. #19
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    I love paper piecing, My husband built a small and large light box for me. Our aunt couldn't figure it out. She said she would give me her pattern if I made 2 for her. So I whipped up 2.
    When I first started out I couldn't figure it out. I bought Alex Anderson's PP Book
    Last edited by Bueniebabe; 04-19-2019 at 10:10 AM.

  20. #20
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    The first time I Paper pieced a block I felt Very discouraged and frustrated- seemed like I wasted a whole fat quarter to end up with one 3” long spike. I vowed to never Paper Piece again. About 4 years later I found Carol Doak. And fell in love with her 50 Paper pieced state stars. Read all her tips, hints and tutorials. Decided to try it again. Learned to not waste hardly any fabric, made those 50 stars and was ( hooked* for the past 15 years it has been one of my very favorite techniques - right behind appliqué.
    my Reach for the Stars quilt—
    Attached Images Attached Images
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  21. #21
    Super Member rvsfan's Avatar
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    I hate PP. Enough said.
    rvsfan
    A Ricky Van Shelton fan

  22. #22
    Super Member IrishgalfromNJ's Avatar
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    I've only done a little bit of paper piecing using free patterns from Carol Doak to make decorative pieces for the house or the door, but I love the precise points you get. The more I do it the easier it gets for me.
    Everyone can't be Irish, somebody has to drive.

  23. #23
    Super Member cashs_mom's Avatar
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    I'm the same. It's a love/hate relationship depending on the day and what I'm PPing.

    I don't mind the waste. I just have trouble getting my mindset right for the backwards piecing that I feel I"m doing with PP. And sometimes while the precision is excellent, you end up with a lot of bulk in some areas.
    Patrice S

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  24. #24
    Super Member petthefabric's Avatar
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    Sometimes, it's just the best method for the project. However, I don't look to find them and usually avoid PP

  25. #25
    Super Member busy fingers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SusieQOH View Post
    I spent yesterday making 3 smallish blocks. This is my take on PP:

    It's messy! I had a table full of tiny scraps at the end of the day.
    A million little seams!
    Great precision!
    It's wasteful!
    After spending the whole day playing with them I started making mistakes- then
    realized I was tired and that was why.So I quit while I was ahead.

    I don't know if I like this technique or not.

    What say you?
    Thanks
    Susie
    Reading your post brings back such memories. I did stick with it and went on to make what is shown in my avatar and it is one of my favourites.


    Take a break , re-group and approach with fresh eyes. You may see it differently but do not beat yourself up about it if it is not for you.

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