Paper Piecing

Written by Abby Luttrell
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Paper piecing is the art of sewing fabric pieces together to create an original design on a quilting square. These squares are then sewn together to make the larger overall pattern of the quilt. Some of these quilting patterns are centuries old and date back to the first colonists in America. Other patterns have been created by gifted designers in modern times, as the popularity of quilting has taken hold in America in the last 20 years.

How Paper Piecing Creates a Quilting Square

To learn how to make a quilting square, you have to start with that square in a paper cutout. The idea is then to cut the fabric according to the shapes drawn on the paper. Starting with the shape marked number one, you sew that piece of fabric to the paper. You then cut out and sew shape number two, until all the shapes of that square's pattern have been sewn directly onto the paper.

You then trim each shape and sew the shapes together. You trim and flatten their seams. When you machine stitch the fabric to the paper, you can use 12 to 15 stitches per inch. These close stitches will help perforate the paper and allow easy removal later.

When all the shapes have been sewn together, you will turn over your piece of paper and find the design on the other side. At this point you can either tear away the paper, or leave it on to stabilize the fabric until all the quilting squares are sewn together. The first paper piecing is the most difficult. Concentrate on getting that first square right, and then all the succeeding squares will be much easier.


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