My local quilt guild recently offered a paper-piecing class with Penny Layman (author of The Paper-Pieced Home) and I was thrilled to be able to attend. Look what I made!
One of the class’s organizers expressed surprise that I had signed up, since she was under the impression that I already knew how to paper piece. Well, the truth is that I only SORT OF know how to paper piece. I took a beginners class once upon a time, but it was a struggle (the teacher was great, my mind just couldn’t make sense of it all!) And I’m making a big paper pieced quilt (below; it’s one of several dozen WIPs in my studio). But, that pattern is really quite simple because it’s made almost entirely from 2-1/2″ strips of fabric.
And so, I’m truly not an expert. I’m probably not even intermediate! And here’s the thing, even if I were, I’d probably still take that class. Why? Because I’m going to learn SOMETHING, I’m going to have a good time (quilters are the best), and I’m happy to support other quilters by taking their classes.
I loved making my soda bottle and drink block. I set it into a big background as I plan to make a long pillow out of it. I had A LOT less trouble putting this together than similar blocks that I have tried over the years. Total confidence boost. I swear, sometimes a person just needs to be taught a thing four times in four different ways! Penny was a wonderful teacher and I had a blast hanging out with members of the Ann Arbor and Detroit Modern Quilt Guilds.
Alright, now speaking of paper piecing. I hope you guys have noticed the recent release of this book:
The publisher sent me a free copy of this book. I was so excited when they offered this title to me because I had been lusting after this book! As you can see, I hopped right in and made a block! What a great offering this book is! There aren’t many paper piecing books out there that focus on using the process to make these beautiful, precise repeated blocks. It’s such a crisp style. The most similar book I can think of is Vintage Quilt Revival, but not all of those quilts are paper pieced.
Paper-pieceing is so great for making these precision blocks. It really takes the pressure off of the maker to do everything so exactly right; you work from the paper template and the precision comes from there! I’ve already hopped in and made a block from Dackson’s Autumn Jubilee pattern. I had no troubles except for the outside corners of the block–I think I’m going to lose my points when I join this block to its neighbors; I’ll have to look back and see what I might have done wrong before I make another block.
I recommend this book. The instructions are very clear & the tables for the fabric cutting are great! The quilts are pretty and I think there’s a ton of room to play with color and value placement to make them look different and dynamic. Also, I like spying on how her quilts are quilted…lots of responsiveness to the patchwork without overwhelming it.
I will say that Dackson’s preferences in tools varies a bit from mine. I really like using vellum, not copy paper; I like to trim with my add-a-quarter ruler & a rotary cutter, not scissors; and I prefer a steamy iron to a finger press. But listen…my way isn’t necessarily the right way, it’s just what works best for me and there’s nothing about Dackson’s patterns that prevents one from using their preferred tools on them! In her book, you get your money’s worth with the patterns and templates. The templates are on a CD, so you can print them at home on the paper of your choice.
By the way, I recently watched Carolyn Friedlander’s Creative Bug class on paper piecing and discovered that she also likes to use a steamy iron on her blocks; this is generally frowned upon, but I find that it helps me immensely. What a joy to find that it’s not just me who steams her paper-pieced blocks! As Friedlander mentions, you just want to make sure the steam isn’t messing with your paper. If you learn better from videos than books, check out Carolyn’s class. I think her class works best if you have your computer set up near your sewing area and you stop the class and complete each step as Carolyn describes it / gives instructions.
Do you like foundation paper piecing? How did you learn? Any favorite blocks, books. or patterns I should know about?
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Full disclosure: Links to Amazon and Creative Bug are affiliate links. I get a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you click from my page and then purchase. I appreciate your using my links should you buy, but there’s absolutely no obligation. As mentioned in the post, Dackson’s book was provided to me at no cost. All opinions are my own and are honest.