Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Ok, I admit it, I am math-challenged. I hate having to figure out measurements and worry about an accurate seam allowance. I'm a "ruler tapper". I don't trust the numbers I see so I have to count the squares with my finger to be sure. After 10 years of quilting, I can sew an accurate, or at least consistent seam allowance, but with paper piecing I don't have to worry about it.

The last class I took was about 9 years ago and was a paper piecing class. From the moment I learned the technique, I KNEW this was how I wanted to make every quilt for the rest of my life. Even if I want to make someone else's design, the first thing I think about is whether I can paper piece it or not. Then, if I decide I can, I redraw the design in my computer, print out the foundations and off I go. Most of the time, the design is actually simpler and can be done with less pieces by paper piecing than by rotary cutting the shapes. For example, I saw a pattern that was done with half square triangles that looked like diamond shapes when they were pieced. The design resembled the flights on an arrow, but by doing it with half square triangles, there were twice as many seams. That means more fabric, more matching and more chances for bad intersections when matching.

There are some patterns that really can't be sewn using any other technique unless you enjoy driving yourself crazy. Consider the Mariner's Compass. Can you imagine cutting all those points out with a rotary cutter and templates and thinking you will ever get it together right? I can't. Or the New York Beauty block? I love both of those designs but would never attempt either if it weren't possible to paper piece them.

What about miniatures? The quilt I posted a picture of in my last post had pieces that are less than 3/8" square. There might be someone out there who would be able to put that together with templates, but I can assure you, it wouldn't be me.

I think you owe it to yourself to at least try this technique. Its not for everyone, I suppose, but if you have a good teacher and the desire to learn something new, it might end up being your favorite technique, too.

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