Paper piecing is a method of quilting in which you sew the fabric directly onto a paper pattern. Every time you sew on a new piece of fabric, you iron the seam and then add the next section to the quilt block. This quilting technique is a good way for you to use up scraps of fabric without having to do a lot of pre-cutting. Paper piecing is also a method used for patterns that can sometimes be difficult to get just right when simply sewing cut pieces of fabric together. Using the paper piecing method works well when sewing the tumbling block quilt.
Make as many paper copies of the quilt block as you want blocks in your finished quilt; regular paper works just fine. You cannot reuse the paper once you have sewn fabric onto it. Use two different templates, as found on the free quilting site quilterscache.com, to complete each block, or draw out your own template and make copies of it. Approximately 40 9-inch tumbling block sections are needed to make a lap-size quilt.
Cut your fabric into pieces that are manageable to work with, but are still about an inch bigger than the largest section on your templates. The shape of the fabric does not matter as long as it covers the sections on the paper. For best results, ensure that your fabric pieces are approximately 4 inches on all sides.
Choose the first fabric for your first block section. It does not matter which colour of fabric you choose first, just make sure that colour is always in the same position. Position the fabric at the back of the paper, with the right side of the fabric facing up. Hold the paper up to the light to make sure that the fabric completely covers the first section and pin the fabric to the paper, with just one pin in the middle, to hold it in place.
Position the next fabric colour on the back of the paper, overlapping the first piece where you will sew, with the right sides of the fabric together. Hold the paper up to the light again to make sure that the second piece of fabric is in the correct position. Pin the fabric into place.
Straight stitch the two pieces of fabric together using the lines on the front of the paper as a guide. Start a little bit before the line on the paper pattern and continue sewing three or four stitches past the end of the line, right though the paper. Remove the pins as you sew.
Iron each new seam after each addition to the block.
Continue adding the rest of the tumbling block pieces until you complete the section for that paper template. Remove the paper from the back of the block by tearing it away where it is now perforated from your sewing. Repeat the process, filling the remaining two sections of the template.
Combine your two different template sections to form an almost-square. Trim off the excess fabric to make a perfect square using a roller cutter, ruler and cutting mat.
Sew the squares together, using a straight stitch, to form the quilt top. Tie and finish as desired.
Working with paper piecing can be a little bit tricky at first. You are kind of working backwards, but once you get the hang of it, quilt blocks will go together very quickly. Watch a video of someone doing actual paper piecing if you are new to this technique. Ironing may seem like an unnecessary step, but it is very important. Ironing helps to press your seam, get the fabric out of the way for the next piece and help create sharp points at the tips of the blocks.
Tips and warnings
- Working with paper piecing can be a little bit tricky at first. You are kind of working backwards, but once you get the hang of it, quilt blocks will go together very quickly. Watch a video of someone doing actual paper piecing if you are new to this technique.
- Ironing may seem like an unnecessary step, but it is very important. Ironing helps to press your seam, get the fabric out of the way for the next piece and help create sharp points at the tips of the blocks.