A quilt design inspired by an amazing public art installation at the Rocky Ridge Recreation Facility (YMCA). The pattern for this quilt is available at my norulesquilting Etsy store or from me directly.
Following is a photo tutorial on preparing the patterns and paper piecing the blocks. As always, my big caveat is that the methodology shown here is my preferred technique. There are other ways to do paper piecing, so feel free to use a different method. These notes are intended to help someone who is perhaps a bit less experienced with the process.
Thanks to all my pattern testers. Your suggestions were very helpful. And thanks to hubby, once again, who always seems to be able to assist with technical issues and I'll be getting him to do the cover pix, once my test quilt has been finished.
These notes are in addition to, not instead of, the pattern instructions, so please read the pattern instructions carefully before proceeding.
I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to print the foundation paper pieces at 100%. Be sure to check this setting on your print job each time as I have heard of some people having issues with their printer going back to a default setting less than 100%.
Print one page with a test square and measure it to be sure you are printing at the correct scale. Once satisfied that the 1" x 1" square prints out at one inch (above), then proceed with your print job. If your printer is giving you grief, I suggest taking the file to a professional print shop to have the foundation patterns printed.
I developed the pattern so that it can be printed on standard 8.5" x 11" computer paper with your home printer. I use 20 lb paper and it works very well.
Joining the Pattern Pieces
A number of foundation paper pattern pieces and fabric templates are too big to fit on a standard 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper so must be joined.
Trim one side on the "join line" (above).
Match the two sides such that the trimmed piece butts up to the join line on the second side. Tape them together.
Above - an example of a template join.
Trim the pattern and template pieces.
I use my rotary cutter to separate the pattern pieces and trim them down. Notice that I don't trim them right down to the cutting line. Leave some extra paper outside the cutting lines.
Cutting Fabric for the FPP Blocks
How to use the Templates
Above are the templates for the smallest set of geese. The method is the same for all sizes. Separate the templates into the goose colour and background colour. My smallest geese are white. These are the templates I need for the white fabric. I laid them out to determine the largest measurement. You can see it is A4. Note: I used solids that don't have a right or wrong side, but if you are using a print or another type of fabric that has a right and wrong side, put the fabric right side facing up (this is a single layer of fabric, not folded for 2 layers).
I cut a strip a bit wider than the actual width of A4. I have lots of fabric and this gives me some "wiggle room" - I won't have to worry about missing an edge or something.
Then I rough cut a set of triangles using A4 as my guide. Again, note that there is plenty of fabric outside the template.
Clip them all together once they are cut.
Moving on to the next piece... There is still a fair bit of the strip left so it can be used for the next piece, and the next.... For this one, I didn't want to fuss with figuring out efficient angles, I just cut rectangles so (above) I measured what I would need. The fabric width is plenty wide enough and the rectangles will need to be 2" deep.
Cut five and clip together.
Proceed in a similar manner with the remaining two pieces - cut rectangles a bit deeper than the size of the template. Clip them together.
Move on to the background pieces. Clip them together.
In an effort to stay organized (it's really helpful for paper piecing projects) I put each set of geese FPPs in it's own bag, along with the rectangles required to make the goose unit blocks.
You can cut and sew, cut and sew, or cut everything and then do all the sewing at once. I've done it both ways and it's whatever works best for your working style. For this quilt, I cut all the FPPs and rectangles before I started to sew because I wanted to test the pattern and fabric yardage.
Tools of the Trade
I set up a little ironing station beside my sewing machine.
This is my list of paper piecing tools:
- Add-a-quarter rulers - I have three sizes - 6", 12" and 18". The longer ones come in handy for the larger blocks but if you don't have the longer ones, slide your shorter one along as you go. Or don't use one at all - use your regular cutting ruler.
- Strip of template plastic - or go to the dollar store and pick up an IPC Chopping Mat. Much less expensive! If you don't have that, use some junk mail card stock. It's free and plentiful! This is used to fold the paper back for cutting.
- Light box - a "nice to have". I love mine and if you do any amount of paper piecing, I highly recommend getting one if you don't already have one. If you don't have one, and sit by a window, that would work, or hold the pieces up to your sewing light.
- Flower pins.
- Glue stick (oops - not shown in the pix).
- A small cutting mat.
- Rotary cutter.
Got all that? Now you're good to go!
I try hard to stay organized (I'm not particularly good at being organized, but it's relatively easy with the smallest set of geese - harder as they get larger and take up more space). I stacked the fabric pieces up beside their respective FPP pattern sections.
I started with the B section. You can start with any section. They all have to be completed before the block can be made so it doesn't matter which one you start with.
Draw a line 1/4" into B2 from the B1 sewing line (above).
It would be difficult to sew B1 without doing a rough angular cut parallel to the trim line. So this was the next thing I did (above).
Lay the fabric piece for B1 over the FPP section B1 on the non-printed side of the pattern. This is where the light table comes in handy. B1 should be placed such that the sewing edge lines up on the 1/4" line that was drawn. Then lay the B2 piece, right sides together, with the B1 piece. This should also line up on the drawn line (above).
Holding the pieces in place, flip the pattern over and stitch the two fabric pieces to the paper on the stitching line between B1 and B2 (above).
From the fabric side, press the B2 piece over such that it is now laying over the B2 section on the pattern piece (above).
Place the template plastic along the stitching line between B2 and B3. Fold the paper back along the plastic. Place the add-a-quarter ruler along the edge of the fold and trim the B2 piece such that there is now 1/4" of fabric beyond the stitching line between B2 and B3. I missed getting a pix of that step but will have it in the example below for section A. Above is the result of trimming.
Place the B3 fabric along the trimmed edge of B2, right sides together (above). Flip, stitch on the stitching line between B2 and B3.
Press the B3 fabric such that is covers the B3 section on the pattern (above).
This is what it looks like from the back (above). It's pretty goofy looking at this stage.
Trim it along the outside cutting lines (above). Paper piecing is not a fabric efficient way to make a quilt! There are lots of bits that just go in the garbage - but the result is worth the extra fabric, in my humble opinion.
Here is the trimmed section B from the right side (above).
Now make all the others and trim.
The process is exactly the same as above, but section A has 4 sub-sections, not 3.
A2 on A1.
Flip and stitch.
Fold back on stitching line between A2 and A3.
Here is the pix I missed for the B section example (above). Place the add-a-quarter ruler along the template plastic and trim.
Trimmed and ready for A3 (above).
A3 lined up along trimmed edge.
Fold back on the stitching line between A1 and A4. Trim using add-a-quarter ruler.
Line up section A4, flip, stitch and press.
(Edit a couple of months later: notice that I have two pencil lines on this piece. One of them is an error. Only the line between sections 1 and 2 should be there.)
Trim the section.
Proceed with Section C in the same manner:
Line up fabric, flip, stitch, press, trim, repeat.
Making the Block
Here are the three sections in place. Now it's time to stitch them together.
I want the intersecting white sections to line up as perfectly as possible. To do this, I stick a pin through the intersecting points on one section piece, then locate the corresponding point on the adjoining section (above and below). I wiggle the two sections until the two pinholes are tightly aligned.
Once satisfied with the alignment, I clip them together (pinning could cause a shift).
Take the clipped section to the machine and stitch an inch or so along the intersection points. Yes - I leave the paper on for this.
Check that the two white sections line up perfectly (above). Once satisfied, proceed to stitch the entire seam. If not satisfied with the match, remove the stitches and repeat the process until you are satisfied.
This is the first seam completed (above). Use the same process for each seam. It may seem like a bit of extra work, but it's worth it to get a really nice match on your seams.
And, tah dah! Finished blocks ready for quilt top assembly.
A Few Additional Tips.
- Sometimes I use a glue stick to hold the section 1 piece on the paper. In these examples, I did not do that, but I did when I got to the bigger blocks.
- As shown below, I used a flower pin to hold the pieces in place on the next size. The bigger pieces shift more readily when being flipped and taken to the machine. The flower pins are long and flat so will not distort the placement, and are easy to leave in while stitching as long as they are placed away from the presser foot path.
- I don't always use templates for paper piecing. Often I have just cut the initial strip and used that - cutting as I go. This works well for solids or fabric where there is no discernible difference between right and wrong side of the fabric (the fabric can be flipped to maximize efficiency). Give it a try and see what you think. The nice thing about the templates is that it's easy to do all the cutting up front and then get on with the sewing.
- I usually leave the paper on until I absolutely don't need it. I'll rip out enough to stitch some seams together for the quilt top (depends on the seam), but for the actual FPP block, I will leave all the paper on. Once the quilt top is assembled, I'll take the paper off while I'm watching TV. Keep a pair of tweezers handy to pull off all the tiny pieces. Why leave the paper on? It keeps the sections and then the block nice and stable. Many of the edges will not be on the fabric grain-line and could stretch out of shape with handling. The paper will help prevent this. Also, the stitching lines are marked, which makes stitching easy and reduces the risk of stitching over points.