Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Paper-Piecing - my initial comments

As promised, I said I’d offer a tutorial on paper-piecing a pineapple block and I have posted that. In the process, I realized I had slightly changed my approach for this particular pattern which deviates from the standard paper-piecing (or at least, the standard I know) and that led me to feel the need to post another tutorial for paper-piecing (“PP” from here on out) a NY Beauty block. That tutorial is a little more traditional in how paper-piecing should go, at least, as I understand it.

Wouldn’t you know, when I started working on that tutorial I realized there were two important steps many don’t talk about when PP. How do you measure and cut fabric if there’s no instructions, if you are just randomly choosing one of those free blocks online to practice with and how do you "tear" the paper? Well, I realized a 3rd & 4th mini-tutorial on what I do might be helpful. If even one person finds them useful, besides myself, then I’m thrilled!

A couple credits before I get carried away. I learned the method of PP for the NY Beauty blcok from the television show Fons and Porter last year. I cannot tell you the episode or the actual show but it might have been a Mariner’s Compass they were working on at the time. It made sense to me and this tutorial is a watered down, step by step, adaptation of what I learned from the show.

The pattern for the pineapple block came from the book, “quick-method Quilts with Style,” a Leisure Arts Publication.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Paper-piecing - Pineapple Block

Starting notes:
A) The instructions for the quilt with this block directed me to perforate the tracing paper, 12 pieces at a time, with the sewing machine (no thread while doing this, please). It worked like a charm. Traced the pattern to the larger tracing paper once then pinned that to 12 pieces of tracing paper and created dotted lines with the machine until I had the total amount of paper patterns I needed.

B) It’s also important to note, the instructions for the quilt tell you to add piece by piece and trim but it didn’t (unless they are in the back or something where I haven’t yet looked) advise on how to do that which is why it might have taken me 30 pieces and 3 days to figure out what worked for me. –wink-
C) Unlike standard PP, this one is done, for me, with the paper pattern on the bottom and fabric on the top. This reduces the required “flipping” by two. I have not tried it with other PP blocks but it might work on some, just depends, I think, on the actual block. NY Beauty would NOT be one.
D) The instructions advised me to cut strips, corner triangles and center squares to a specific size. Those are what I’m using here and in the interest of not infringing on the copyright of the pattern, I will not disclose those measurements for this blog entry. Thank you for understanding. I’m not entirely sure of the laws but I do not want to take any chances.

On to the tutorial.

1) Start with the pattern provided from the book or your own. Most have the first fabric block labeled as #1 but in this example, the center square, the first piece of fabric needed, is not labeled at all and only the next piece of fabric is labeled “1.”

2) Pin on middle fabric square, right side up, being sure the fabric extends ¼” outside all four lines of the square on the pattern.

3) Take the fabric color strip for space 1 and align the edges of it and the square, right sides together.

4) Sew ¼” from the edge the length of the center square fabric and no more. Take off machine.

5) Fold strip over on itself, from the last sewn stitch and align edges.
Then cut off excess fabric and set aside.

6) Finger press open.

7) Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 for the remaining sides of the center square sewing ONLY the distance of the center square fabric length and no further.

8) When finished, it should look something like this.

9) Dry press the seams to set them after each round. Don’t leave iron on fabric/pattern too long, you don’t want any scorching or burning b/c of the paper.

10) Now, the fun part, at least it is for this person! Turn over pattern so fabric is underneath and place over a cutting mat.

11) Fold the pattern back along the line between the fabric sewn on and the space for section 5. Place a ruler along the folded pattern and measure ¼” out from it.
12) Cut ¼” away from pattern line (this is your seam allowance.)
13) Rotate and repeat for the next 3 spaces (#s 6, 7, and 8.)
Note: If sewed seam extends past where you are trying to fold
you can:
a) gently tear the paper away from that spot until you can fold it, or
b) rip out the stitch(es) until the fold can lay flat.

14) Double check your next color against your pattern and then grab the next strip in the color design scheme.

15) With right sides together, align the edges of the next strip along the just cut straight edge for section 5.

See how after you trim you end up with wonderful straight edges to set up your next round of sewing?

16) Sew starting ¼” from the intersecting edge line and ending ¼” from the next intersecting edge line.
Finger press open.

17) Move to the next strip color for space 6.
Repeat step 16 for each space on the block. For each “round,” you will sew on 4 strips. 1 round all cream (or one color) the next round cream and 2 other colors. Then the cream round again, and so on.

Notice how small this strip looks?
That’s because you want to use the entire strip of fabric completely. No waste. Just be sure it’s long enough to cover the space once it’s pressed open.

18) Now, the pattern suggests you continue to go to each space in numerical order. However, to save time, after this second round, I will sew both of one color then both of the next color on, then press open. Saves one small step of having to pick up a different color each time. For me, alternating can cause more error than not.

19) I also wait to press open until all 4 sections on the round until all are sewn and only then I press open with the iron.

20) Continue all the way around until you only have the triangle corners remaining.
Some progress.
21) Right sides together, align the corner edges and center the triangle by centering the top point of the triangle to the first round cream triangle point. It should be a fairly easy task if you’ve cut your edges, pressed, and sewn your seams straight. Sew on and press open.

22) To finish and get the block to the final size it’s intended to be, plus a remaining ¼” seam allowance down, you could flip it to fabric down and fold back along the outside edges, as you did with each section and rotary trim ¼” away from the fold.
I find this to be difficult given the long line and instead, with the paper up, I just line my ruler up on that outside line and cut my ¼” width.
Now, set this block aside (yes, paper and all) and work on more blocks until you are tired of sewing. When that happens, grab a glass of wine, take your paper-backed blocks, tweezers and something to hold the garbage to a comfy place to sit. I generally remove paper backing while I watch TV, usually sports. To see how to remove paper, pop over to my very short tutorial on that. I felt there were enough photos and instructions already here.

Paper-piecing - NY Beauty Block

A couple starting notes:
A) Some peoplefind it helpful to pre-perforate their pattern on the lines before sewing on the fabric. This can be useful to help you fold more easily, as instructed below, and tear away the paper pattern more easily. An example of the perforated pattern can be found on my pineapple block PP tutorial.
B) Decrease the size of your stitch length a little. My standard length is set at 2.5 and I reduce to 2.0. This helps keep the seam set when you pull the paper away at the end.

1) Take your first piece of fabric and your second piece of fabric and put them right sides together, along the long edge. With the B2 on the bottom, then the B1, then the pattern paper, print side up, hold all up to a light and be sure the fabric extends past the line between space B1 and space B2 by 1/4”. (picture to be posted soon)
2) Take to the machine and sew with paper on top. Start sewing directly at the line intersections
and finish down the line at the next intersections.
3) Take off machine, flip over and finger press seam open.
4) Turn back over and cut excess fabric off, as instructed below, before sewing on B3 fabric.
a) Fold pattern back on the line between B2 and B3.

b) Place your ruler on the fold measuring ¼” away from the fold,
c) trim off the excess fabric.
d) Unfold the pattern.
5) Take the B3 fabric and with right sides together with piece B2, matching edges, put pattern side up and sew along the line between B2 and B3.
Repeat steps 3
and 4 to remove excess fabric and continue in this manner until all B sections are sewn on.
You should end up with something like this.
6) Now, pin fabric to piece A, wrong side of fabric to back of paper pattern. Be sure fabric extends ¼” beyond the pattern lines.
If you trust yourself with scissors, use those to cut along the curved ¼” seam line (or ¼” away from pattern line if the distance isn’t already marked with a dotted line like in my pattern.) Cut BOTH pattern and fabric together.
If you are good with the rotary cutter, cut the same way. Looks like this.
Now do the same with section C
and trim around Section B.
7) Remove paper from the back of each section, tearing it off gently and using teasers to pull out small stuck pattern pieces.
Lastly, sew A, to B, and then to C to complete the block. Press to set and all done!