A Quick Tutorial on Paper Piecing

I have been wanting to do this flying geese pattern for a while. This week I finally got my chance! Paper piecing the quilt block helps it come together quickly & efficiently. Below I have some do’s and don’ts for paper piecing Piece By Number‘s free circle of geese pattern. However, the tips should be applicable to any paper pieceing project.

The way this pattern is designed, you need to make 4 small blocks to create the one large block of a full circle.

So first you want to have all your supplies in 1 place for efficient assembly. Print off the pattern, get freezer paper ready, and have your fabric selection out.

Start by covering the pattern with the freezer paper. Carefully trace the pattern through the paper. I used a pencil because I was afraid pen would make marks on my iron that would later transfer onto my fabric. 
Make sure when you trace the pattern you label the pattern pieces! Some of these are very similar, so it could potentially cause a problem if they were switched by accident during assembly. I also marked which pieces were supposed to be background so I’d remember which color of fabric went with each pattern piece.

So cut out the individual pattern pieces, and iron them onto the designated fabric. MAKE SURE THAT YOU LEAVE ROOM FOR CUTTING SEAM ALLOWANCES. I sew with 1/4″ seam allowance, so that is the amount I left on when trimming the pattern pieces.

After cutting out the individual pieces, I like to iron them again, just to make sure the freezer paper isn’t partially lifted from the cutting process. When you iron them, just press down with the iron, eg. “press” instead of actually ironing, eg. making a “back and forth” motion with the iron over the fabric. If you actually iron rather than press, you could potentially stretch the fabric.

After pressing the pieces I like to lay them out next to the pattern in the proper assembly orientation, because this makes it easier for my brain to assess how each piece is sewed to the next.

Take piece #1 and piece #2 and sew them together. You can see in the photo below that I am sewing them together with the paper on them. The added stiffness gives you more control when sewing so it should be easier to sew these little pieces of fabric without stretching, slipping, or warping.

After you finish sewing them, just pull off the freezer paper. It is reusable, so you can use the same pattern pieces over and over and over again, just re-ironing them onto more fabric. Below you can see that I sewed through an edge of the freezer paper. This is really easy to do, & just another reminder of making sure that you give yourself adequate seam allowances. If you sew through the edge like I did, just lift the paper as much as you can, and then gently tear it away from the seam. Tearing it will be easier if you sew with a smaller stitch than used with regular sewing. Then press the sewn pieces flat.

Now here you can see what I did with my first block. I didn’t remove any freezer paper. I left it all on because I was afraid the pieces without it wouldn’t stay put & I would mess up the fine corners in this pattern. My fears were in vain & I gave myself a lot of extra work!

I was assembling this block the same way I just showed you, minus removing the paper after sewing each piece on. I actually cut the seam allowances into the freezer paper…Doing it this way, the block came together really really quickly! However, I lost all my saved time by having to sit down with a pin and pick at the paper to get it removed so the fabric would show. Boo. And the freezer paper was not salvageable for future use by any means! So don’t do this. It isn’t worth it.

If you do happen to sew over any paper, check inside the seams. Below, I lifted up part of a little strip of freezer paper that was inside the seam after I removed the paper from the top.

So just keep assembling piece by piece until you have 4 blocks sewn & you’re ready to assemble your circle!

For this block, I made 2 small blocks circling clockwise, and 2 circling counter clockwise. I just thought it would look neat if I did it that way.
It was fun playing with the different ways the little blocks could come together to form a larger design.

And here you have it, my finished flying geese circle. And no, I can’t seem to take a straight-on photo of it.

Paper piecing is really easy & projects come together quickly if you’re willing to take a little time at the beginning to prep the pattern & apply the freezer paper. Overall, I think the results make it worth it!


Filed under Quilt

3 responses to “A Quick Tutorial on Paper Piecing

  1. Lisa Ford

    It is funny that you posted this. I just tried paper piecing for the first time last night.

  2. Very informative–I was finally able to see it with the pictures (makes much more sense) today as Grandma’s computer wouldn’t show them. Good job!

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