Paper-Piecing Tutorial

Saturday, October 31, 2009

O.K. First, let me just say that I just realized that I only posted twice last month! I'm really embarrassed. I really have been thinking about posting, but have just been trying to get some things done around my house. Like, oh I don't know, maybe PATTERNS...Halloween costumes. That kind of stuff. I've had a few set backs with my patterns, but am really thinking next week I'll get them back. I'm so close. So stay tuned. I'll be doing some giveaways as soon as I get them back.

So. Because of my desperate need for something worth while to post about, I decided to put together this little tutorial for you. A little somethin' I've been wanting to do for a while now. Some of you may have never tried paper-piecing. Maybe it seems too complicated? But it's not. It's really quite easy and fun and things just turn out so exact. So I think you should all give it a try. Here's a tutorial for those of you who are intimidated by paper-piecing.

You will need:

* a pattern

* some fabric

* a glue stick

* scissors

* ironing board & iron

* sewing machine

*rotary cutter, mat & ruler

For this tutorial, we will be paper-piecing a star.
(Click here to see one example of what you could do with this star)

Here's what the finished product will look like:

Here's the pattern:

(Reduce or enlarge to achieve the desired size.)

This star has three sections. To begin, you will need to cut out of each of the 3 paper pattern sections outside of the dashed line.

Paper-piece patterns are always numbered in the order you should go. So you always start with piece #1. This is the easy piece! Using a dot of glue, you will adhere a piece of fabric to the back side of piece #1 (with the right side of the fabric facing out). Make sure your fabric fully covers all of piece #1 - all the way past the dashed lines. It's better to use pieces of fabric that are quite a bit bigger than the actual size on paper. With all of the angles it's easy to mis-interpret the size you need, so bigger is better. You'll trim later.

Now, for piece #2 (keep in mind that you will be sewing on the line that connects pieces 1 & 2). Lay piece of fabric #2 on top of piece #1 (with right sides together).

Hold it up to the light so you can check to make sure that after it is sewed and opened up that all of piece #2 will be covered with piece #2 fabric. Notice in the picture above, that the edge of the yellow fabric will barely cover the line between pieces #1 and #2. If that happens, just adjust the yellow fabric up a little so that it will be at least a 1/4" above that line for your seam allowance. When it looks like it will cover all of piece #2, then you can sew on the line between those two pieces. Use a very small stitch length when paper-pieceing. This will perforate the paper so that when it comes time to take off the paper, it will tear off super easily.

Check to make sure the piece you just sewed on covers the entire piece #2 all the way out to the dashed lines. Then trim off any excess past your 1/4" seam allowance.

Iron the fabric open. Repeat that process for piece #3.

Trim off any threads.

Trim 1/4" outside of the dashed lines.

Now you can carefully tear off the paper.

Now you have to sew all three sections together. Just line up the top points/edges of the sections. Sew the sections together two at a time.

* Remember to turn your stitch length back to it's regular setting when you sew the three sections together.

Trim any "Dog-ears" off of the block. Make sure you square everything up and that you leave 1/4" away from the points of the star. You don't want to cut those babies off.
There. You did it! You paper-pieced a star. Of course there are other designs you can paper-piece too. A log cabin is a great one for beginners. Try this star and more.

I hope this tutorial helps. Let me know what you think of it!


  1. Thank you very much for this tutorial. I've already printed the pattern and will follow step by step your instructions. When it's finished, I'll come back to show you. Thank you again. Rachel D.

  2. Thanks for this tutorial, I'll try it this week-end and send you some photos!

  3. Thank you so much for this. I just want to learn how to do it this way expertly because I have MS and find that cutting fabric exactly doesn't actually work if your hands are shaking hehehe.
    American by birth and MOUTH but British in every other way


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