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Paper Piecing Heirloom Seasons

Technique Tuesday - Paper Piecing

Kathryn Bost


Paper piecing is a fun technique that allows quilters to create odd angles and geometric shapes in their designs to form larger patterns. In order to recreate this traditional quilting effect in-the-hoop, we use our folded fabric technique.

Paper piecing uses standard appliqué in addition to folded fabric. Each folded fabric piece gives the appliqué elements added multi-dimensional interest and appeal. The geometric shapes may seem random, until you use a matching thread for the final satin stitch. This will help tie together the subject and give a clean, visually fascinating effect!

The Paper Piecing Process

3 basic steps to paper piecing

As mentioned above, the steps to follow when paper piecing are similar to our folded fabric technique, the difference is that paper piecing is specific to appliqués.  The basic steps are as follows:

1. Cornerstone Fabric: We call the first appliqué in the folded fabric technique as a "cornerstone", meaning that this is identified as a standard appliqué that the rest of the folds build upon.

2. Folding Stitch: After you overlap a piece of fabric over the cornerstone fabric, a folding stitch is run across the edge. This secures the fabric in place so you can then fold the fabric over, hiding the seam and leaving a clean, finished edge.

3. Trim & Repeat: After the folded fabric is tacked down, you'll need to trim away the excess material around the stitches. Make sure top not trim the fabric outside of the block, as this will be used for a seam allowance later. We recommend using curve tipped scissors to get in close to the stitches. 

After you've repeated these steps for all the paper piecing elements, a satin stitch outline will run around all of the main objects in the design, tying it all together and covering exposed fabric edges. Once all of these steps have finished, you'll have a finished piece with hidden seams like the image below:

Quilt Block from Paper Piecing Florals

remarkable results

We have plenty of collections that utilize the paper piecing technique beautifully! Take a peek at the details in these stunning examples:

Want to try Paper piecing?

Check out some of these collections: