I’m getting started a little early on March’s blocks because I know paper piecing might be new to some of my circle and I want to give you a little extra time.
I’ve been inspired by Amy from During Quiet Time. She created a beautiful block called Mosaic in response to the Economy Block Quilt-a-long that’s happening on blogs and Instagram right now. It’s a little bit bigger, a little bit more detailed, and has a great look to it, even though it’s actually fairly simple.
It is a pretty simple block in terms of paper piecing skills. There’s virtually nothing to match up and if you can sew on a line, you can paper piece. There are no segments to match up or bulky seams to worry about, just four 7″ quadrants.
Now, let me preface this: Just like sewing curves, there are a million and one methods and theories on the best way to paper piece. I’m a relatively lazy and inexact quilter so my methods are a bit more fast and loose than some others. I don’t use any special tools, I trim my seam allowances as I go with regular fabric scissors, I pin instead of glue, and I generally don’t stress too much about it. You can certainly buy an add-a-quarter ruler and measure all your seam allowances to be very exact if you’d like. I just don’t do it that way. I’ve linked to a couple of different videos at the bottom of this post and a set of written instructions. Each person has a different method. Just figure out what works for you. I will try to show some tips and tricks where I can that I think make it go together even easier.
Here are the details of the block:
Mosaic Block by Amy
Free Pattern on Craftsy Print four copies.
I use regular printer paper, nothing fancy, but if you had newsprint or paper piecing paper it might be worth a go.
You will make (4) 7″ quadrants that will be sewn together into a 14.5″ unfinished square.
Center (A1): Focal fabric or fussy cut
First round (A2-5): Color/Print
Second Round (A6-9): Low Volume Print
Third Round (A10-13): Color/Print
Fourth Round (A14-17): Low Volume Print
Each round should be made of a single fabric, fabrics should ideally not repeat within a quadrant.
For each quadrant you need:
Center (A1): If you cut your square on point – (1) 3.5″ square. If you cut your square straight on – (1) 4.5″ square
First round (A2-5): (2) 3.5″ squares cut in half diagonally to make (4) triangles
Second Round (A6-9): (2) 4.5″ squares cut in half diagonally to make (4) triangles
Third Round (A10-13): (4) 2.5″x7.5″ rectangles
Fourth Round (A14-17): (2) 3.5″ squares cut in half diagonally to make (4) triangles
Please stitch up the 4 quadrants, take off the paper, and sew the quadrants together to make one block. While I’d love two blocks from each of you, I know it’s a lot of work and might be sort of intimidating, so one is OK if that’s all you can do. I did mine over a several day period – cut one night, sewed a few here and there – and then put it all together.
Here are some tips and tricks to remember when paper piecing:
Consider clever groupings of fabric where possible. This block is affectionally nicknamed “birdbrained” – birds, feathers, more birds, and clouds. Notice I also matched colors – pink clouds with the pink background of the birds, teal with teal etc. Not all of my blocks were this successful but I tried to keep the colors in mind as I was making my fabric groupings.
It can be helpful to label your papers to remind you what goes where.
I prefer the “fold” method to see where my next seam will be instead of holding the block up to the light. I fold the paper over and give it a crease to see where to line up my next piece.
I like to sew opposite (non-crossing) seams in the same step. I also like to trim my seam allowances and dog ears before I press – I know my pieces are oversized and I feel comfortable doing this. You can either check by folding the paper over and feeling where the fabric is, or folding the fabric over the seam and holding the whole thing up to the light to make sure it covers.
Only sew a few stitches past the end of each line in most cases. The exceptions are the lines between A4 and A12; between A5 and A13; and the very corner pieces. On those, sew all the way through the seam allowances. It will make your block edges lie much flatter and it is easier to manage.
Shorten your stitch length. I used 1.5mm – this helps perforate the paper (making it easy to remove) and it helps keep things from unraveling. You could use a 2.0 to make it a bit easier if you have to rip something, but if that’s the case please be gentle when removing the paper.
Lastly, a lot of people would recommend a dry iron when doing paper piecing. I have a fairly rubbish iron that doesn’t get very hot, so I use a little bit of steam to help things along. The biggest risk you take is soaking your paper and having your ink bleed onto your fabric. That would be bad. If you use steam, be careful!
Resources and tutorials:
Paper piecing tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts:
Paper piecing tutorial by Crafty Gemini
Paper piecing tutorial by Ellison Lane Quilts