2015 Block of the Month - Month 9

Category: Quilts

Paper Piecing is an essential technique for any quiltmaker to learn. Using Paper Piecing techniques, you can make complicated designs with sharp points that line up perfectly. Use either the beginner or experienced templates to make your alphabet and number blocks.

Paper Piecing, also referred to as Foundation Piecing or Foundation Paper Piecing, is a great way to make accurate blocks. For this final month you’ll be making two blocks – an alphabet block and a number block. If you are a beginner quilter, use the basic blocks, which will come together quickly and allow you to make an A and a 1. The more advanced blocks include 3 numbers/letters, smaller pieces, and have more sections. If you’re an intermediate or advanced quilter, try out the advanced patterns for a challenge!

paper pieced letters block

Start by printing a pattern 1 and a pattern 2. You can print them on regular copy paper, but there are special paper piecing papers you can purchase that are great to use. Your sewing machine will stitch through them easier, and they are easier to tear off after they are complete.

Basic Pattern 1 – Letter A
Advanced Pattern 1 – ABC

Basic Pattern 2 – Number 1
Advanced Pattern 2 – 1 2 3

When choosing the fabrics to use for paper piecing, it is easier to avoid directional prints (a print that has an identifiable up/down), and stripes. Anything that would not look right if it does not line up right. Solids and all-over prints work best.

Tape the pattern pieces together. For the advanced patterns, cut apart the sections. You will notice that the patterns look backwards, this is correct – your finished block will not be backwards.

When paper piecing, you want to shorten your stitch length. This will add more stability to the seam, which is important when you rip out the papers. It will also add more perforation, which makes it easier to rip the paper out when the block is complete.

We are going to start with the letter A. Start with two pieces of fabric, for section 1 and 2. I’m using the dark fabric for the letter, and the light fabric for the background. Use two strips that are larger than the sections they are going to fill. When first paper piecing, use larger pieces – as you get better, you’ll be able to use smaller pieces. Place the fabrics right sides together, with the background piece on top. Line up the top edge of the two fabrics, cover with the pattern piece.

right sides together under foundation paper

Make sure the fabric sticks out over the line between sections 1 and 2 at least a quarter of an inch – more is fine. Stitch along this line, extending your stitching about 1/2″ on each side of the line – making it longer on each side.

stitch between sections

Fold back the paper to expose the seam allowance. Trim to 1/4″, then press the dark fabric open.

trim to quarter inch

Section 3 is the center triangle. Line up a piece of light (background) fabric larger than this triangle so that it is at least 1/4″ above the line, and right-sides-together with the dark fabric. You might need to lift the fabrics to see the line. Or you can hold up your fabric/paper to the light to see through the layers.

line up next piece

Follow the same steps – stitching on the line, extending your stitches to 1/2″ before and after the line, then trimming the fabric.

Complete your block by adding fabrics in number order, placing each one carefully before stitching. If you find that you make a mistake, no big deal! Rip out the seam and place it again.

stitched letter A block

If you’re doing an advanced pattern, complete all the sections, then square them up and piece them together.

paper pieced numbers block

Once the block is complete, square it up to 12.5×12.5

stitched number 1 block

Remember – we’re making 2 of these blocks! After you finish these, you’ll have all 12 blocks ready to put together!