to the saying “Before Prozac there was quilting”, I often patch my sorrows in
my quilt room. When I need respite but cannot get away from home, the answer to
my frayed nerves is almost always a paper-piecing project (applique’ is my next
choice), in the form of a small wall hanging or simply finding a way to add it
to a current project. It is precisely the repetition and attention required at
each step which takes my mind away from worries, relaxes stressed muscles, and
heals wounds as it demands time – a healer in its own right. The result is
always perfect points, a perfection not easily attained in any other aspect of
life without exertion of considerably greater effort than just sewing a
straight line… The blocks look like they were made by someone with a lot more
experience than me.
skill they would like to learn this year, a surprising number of respondents
mentioned paper-piecing, quickly adding they found the technique intimidating,
hair-pulling, demanding extreme precision. How could this be fun?
with other blocks, there is a series of steps to follow, and the only
requirement is that one sews straight on a marked line. Beyond that, repetition
is the name of the game!
the block, gathering and cutting the fabrics, I remind myself of four things:
fabrics are placed on the back side of the pattern and sewn on the front side of the pattern;
beyond the lines of the area to be covered by at least ¼ inch;
in sequential order (first seam will be on line between areas 1 and 2, second
seam between areas 2 and 3, and so on, depending on each design);
two or three stitches before and after each line to make sure entire line is
covered – these stitches are removed in the process of trimming the seam
allowances. Then, I run the simple steps through my mind before I actually
pattern will read backwards); place first fabric, right side up, over area
marked “1”; place second fabric onto first fabric, right sides together, and
pin; flip to front of pattern; sew on line between areas 1 and 2; remove pin;
align edge of postcard over next line
to be stitched (between areas 2 and 3, for example); fold pattern over
postcard; place add-a-quarter ruler over postcard; trim fabrics to ¼” seam
allowance; unfold pattern; flip to back; place next fabric on the edge you just
mentioned above, in addition to further brightening your day with its picture
of, perhaps, a beach and palm trees, provides a sturdy edge over which to fold
the paper and align the ruler as you trim the seam allowance.
blocks, I work as if in an assembly line, sewing the first area on all blocks,
then moving on to the next area, thus avoiding confusion and mistakes. After
all blocks are sewn together, music sees me through the process of removing the
paper. Finally, I stand back and marvel at the work. Perfection can be a silly
and time-wasting pursuit, yet it can be [unintentionally] achieved as
by-product of methodical work.
as concerned with the process of block construction, focusing instead on completing
the quilt and basking on its finished beauty. Others delight in taking time to
measure and cut with precision, sew with care, and square off blocks. Different strokes for different folks.
Regardless of your inclination, paper-piecing will please you with its simple
to follow method and eye-pleasing results. As a bonus, you may even save money
by reducing your contribution to the bottom line of pharmaceutical companies.
going to pieces… Which is yours?