How NOT to Paper Piece

Paper piecing, like free motion quilting, takes practice.  Your first attempts should be with scrap fabric.  Save yourself some time and check out all the dumb mistakes I made so you won’t make them too.

Now brace yourself for some real idiocy.

1. Most paper patterns come with the seam allowance included, but mine did not. After chopping seam allowances off of several blocks, I realized it would be a good idea to add lines for a 1/4″ seam allowance on all the paper pieces. Once the seam allowance is gone, not even a seam ripper can fix your block. You have to trash it and start over.

2. Make sure your pieces are large enough to fit over the space allowed for them PLUS the seam allowance. My pieces came up short a few times, so I ripped them out and started using larger scraps.

Here is photo of both of these blunders- in one block! Yes, this was an actual double screw-up, not something I created for illustrative purposes. I had forgotten to draw a seam allowance on the left side of the block and hacked the allowance off with the rotary cutter. At first I didn’t notice and kept adding pieces- such as the white one on the top right that is too small and doesn’t cover the entire seam allowance. Hopefully my disaster will help you avoid one of your own.

How not to paper piece

3. Now here is a really ridiculous thing I hope you never do –  or at least never admit to doing. After sewing the seam for a new piece, turn the block over and open out the new piece to make sure it covers the whole space allotted for it. But remember to fold the new piece back down before you fold back the paper to trim the seam allowance. Otherwise you will be left with something like this and that’s just embarrassing.


Don’t let my fumbling scare you! I suppose it is possible to get through life without knowing how to paper piece. But with this technique under your belt you can breeze through complicated designs with lots of points,curves and tiny little pieces. Now that you know what NOT to do, there’s no reason to wait!

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One Response to “How NOT to Paper Piece”

  1. Diane Says:

    actually it just scares the crap out of me and I won’t do paper piecing for a long long time. But I will get my blog up to date :

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