Its November and that means another block for the Texas Monthly Block of the Month program! This BOM is hosted by Stitchin' Heaven and I am thrilled to share tutorials for the blocks each month.
Monthth 2 is all about Paper Piecing some beautiful Texas Flowers! And I will be the first to say, I am no paper piecing expert. But luckily, these aren't to complex and a great way to get started in paper piecing. If you are new to Paper Piecing, I would highly recommend the Learn to Paper Piece book by Nancy Mahoney. It really is a great step by step guide and wonderful to refer back to, as sometimes you forget little things when it has been a while since you paper pieced. So, with that, let's get started on this month's 5 Paper Pieced Flower Blocks.
The Paper Pieced Flower Blocks
STEP 1 - CUTTING
First off, you want to gather your Paper Piecing supplies. You will need a rotary cutter, seam ripper, and thread scissors, like normal. But you will also want to get an Add a Quarter Ruler
, as well as a straight edge that is fairly thick for a folding tool. I use a piece of Template Plastic, but a thin cardboard (like the back of a charm square bundle) will work too ;) And with your tools gathered, you are ready to start cutting.
Begin by cutting out all of the pieces in the instructions for each of the 5 flowers. This is just like cutting out a normal quilt. I highly recommend writting the piece Label (ie A1, A2 ect. ) on the wrong side of each piece you cut. This just makes it easier when you are paper piecing so you don't have to remeasure each piece to make sure you are using the right one. I also placed all the pieces for each flower back in the labeled bag after they were cut so I didn't mix them up.
Then you will need to copy your patterns onto a thin paper. You can use regular paper, or thin tracing paper, or special foundation paper
. Just copy your patterns and then trim them about 1/4" away from the outside line on each of the parts of the pattern. Place each of the patter pieces with their appropriate flower bag so you don't mix them up.
STEP 2 - PIECING THE BLOCK
And with that, you are ready to start Paper Piecing!!! As, I said, I am no expert, but I am going to share a step by step tutorial of how I find it easiest to paper piece. I hope you find it helpful and if you have any Paper Piecing tidbits you want to share, please feel free to add them to the comments.
Grab your paper pattern, and your first Piece of fabric. That will be the one labeled A1. Place the fabric so it is covering the A-1 portion of the pattern with the Wrong side of the Fabric to the Wrong side of the paper. (So if you flip it over, you will see the right side of the fabric facing out.) Pin the fabric in place, but put the pin in so that it is not over the A1-A2 line where you will be working.
Now, align your folding tool on the A1-A2 line and fold the pattern over the folding tool, making a crease along the A1-A2 line and extending to the end of the pattern. (You will leave the paper folded over, I just wanted to show the crease in this picture)
With the paper folded over the folding tool, align your Add A Quarter ruler along the creased edge, locking the grove of the ruler on the crease. This will leave the edge of the ruler hanging 1/4" over the crease line. Trim along the edge of the ruler. This gives you an aligning guide for your next piece of fabric.
So now you can align your A2 piece of fabric along the trimmed edge of the A-1 piece of fabric with right sides together. You want to center the A2 piece of fabric so it is fully covering the A1 piece of fabric from top to bottom.
Now it's time to stitch. You always want to lower your stitch length when paper piecing as you will be pulling and tearing and basically manhandling this poor pattern and fabric. You will stitch directly on the A1-A2 line. Start off the paper, and stitch on the line, and then stitch a few more stitches past the edge of the line. This just helps keep things in place and ensures all the seams will be locked. Clip your threads and then move to the ironing board.
Flip your A2 fabric piece over and press it towards the A-2 piece. When Paper piecing, you always press toward the larger number piece. And you are almost done with the first piece, just one last thing!!!
Most Importantly, hold the pattern up to the light, and make sure that the piece you just added is fully covering the intended space in the pattern. If it is, great, you can move on to the next piece. If it isn't, time for a little seam ripping then realign your piece up or down as needed and resew. Just don't start your next piece until you are sure the piece you just added is right. (And sorry, Somehow I totally forgot to take a picture of this after adding the first piece, so I had to take one rather down the line, but you get the idea ;)
And now you are ready to repeat the process moving on to the Third piece of fabric over the third part of the pattern. So let's go over it again, just to make sure we got it down. Place your folding tool on to the A2-A3 line and make a crease along the line and extending off the paper. You will have to tear the paper slightly over the previously stitched line.
Now align your Add a Quarter Ruler with the crease line and trim a 1/4" away along the edge of the ruler. This will trim parts of both the A1 and A2 fabrics.
Now center and align your A3 fabric on to the newly trimmed A1 fabric with right sides together.
Stitch directly on the A1-A3 line, using a shorted stitch length and beginning off the paper and stitching a few stitches past the end of the line.
Then press towards the A3 fabric and hold the entire pattern up to the light to ensure that you have fabric covering the entire portion of the A3 pattern. Simple as that. Now just keep repeating the process until you have stitched all of the fabrics for the pattern A1 through A7 always pressing towards the larger number and double checking your fabric covers the intended pattern area.
Paper piece all 3 parts of the flower block. Once all three parts are paper pieced, trim along the outer marking on the pattern. Be sure to trim along the outer marking as it is your seam allowance and you don't want to accidently cut that off.
And now, it is just like putting a regular quilt block together. Go ahead and leave the paper in your pieces for the time being.
Align your seam allowances as well as the places where the seams align on the blocks, like where the stem meets the flower and where the top of the flower meets the center of the flower. Because of the bulk with the paper and the piecing, I like to pin at every section, even if this is just a straight seam as the paper tens to make the pieces want to shift when sewing. Stitch a 1/4" line along the pinned edge, this should be directly over the inner line on your pattern.
With both seams stitched, you can now remove the paper. I find it helpful at this point to use a seam ripper to poke a little hole in the paper along a seam line to get it started ripping. Just a little tidbit. I also like to watch a good movie at this part, as it is a little tedious :) Once all the paper has been removed, press the final two seams open.
And just like that, you have Paper Pieced a beautiful Texas Flower block!!! Repeat for all 5 of your blocks and enjoy ;)
And I know, that made it sound super easy, but here are a few more helpful hints I found when working with some of the tricky angles. Paper piecing becomes a little more complicated when the angels get funny, and you aren't quite sure where is the best place to align your piece.
So if I am having trouble with a piece, or just not sure I have aligned it correctly, I like to "check before I sew". To do this, I place a pin perpendicular and a 1/4" in from the edge. If it is a small seam I just use one pin, but if it is longer, I will use more pinning all along the 1/4" in from the edge. This gives me a little "cheat" seam.
Then I finger press the piece of fabric over the pinned edge, basically allowing me to see where it is going to align on the pattern.
Now, just like checking before, I hold it up to the light and see if the fabric is completely covering the intended space. If it is, I simply remove the pins and stitch on the line. If it isn't, I unpin, and shift the fabric up or down slightly as needed, and then recheck until the fabric is right where I need it. I find this saves me a lot of unpicking. And once you get the hang of paper piecing, you will quickly find this isn't necessary for all pieces, just some of the trickier angle ones, (Like those next big white background squares ;)
And one other thing I find very helpful once you get the hang of Paper Piecing is chain stitching! The thing I most struggle with paper piecing is how slow it is, so if you can work on multiple pieces as once, even if you have to raise your presser foot and pull your threads to get to the next piece, it still saves times and makes less of a thread mess.
And that is it for Texas Monthly, Month 2 :)
If you have any questions on this tutorial, please don't hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment.
Hope y'all enjoy making this month's blocks and maybe even learned a few paper piecing tidbits along the way. Looking forward to Next Month!