Friday, April 18, 2014

How to Pin Paper Pieced Quilt Blocks

Hello all! I'm sharing how to pin paper pieced quilt blocks to ensure accuracy and section matching. I'm showing you with a great new quilt block from Tartankiwi that I got to pattern test. We'll start with non-ironing and pinning in each section.

I don't find ironing paper piecing in each section necessary. I finger press it. That just means pushing on it, or pushing back and forth, like your fingertip is a tiny iron. Then push a pin through the new seam and bring it up through the middle of the new section. This holds the fabric in place until the new part is sewn or sections are joined. It also helps keep the seam "ironed" flat. This is what the pin looks like.

The best way to make sure the sections fit together and everything lines up is to pin before you sew. Place a pin through each end point of the section and any parts that need to line up exactly. This means the pin is sticking straight up and down into the air. I push all the pins about half way through the first piece then pick up the piece that needs to be joined. Put them right sides together with the pinned section in back and the section to be matched in front. I keep a finger between the sections to help line up each pin one by one. Push each pin through the corresponding point all the way through. 

Once all the points are lined up and pinned, hold the block in your left hand (if you're right handed) and pin the sections together. The new pins are horizontal and perpendicular to the section you're lining up. 
It can be a little tricky but is doable. (If you need more detailed pictures, let me know.) I place them close to the sewing line but far enough away so that the pins are totally clear of the sewing machine foot. This way the sections stay together and lined up without having to worry about moving pins while sewing. If you have to move the pins to sew, you risk moving the sections out of alignment.

If you need more help with pinning, or it's not clear what to do, just let me know. I'd be glad to help! Now a few notes about the egret.

There is a charm and realism to Juliet's quilt blocks that perfectly captures each animal.  It took me a while to decide what fabrics to use as there are actually a few different colors of egrets. There are the snowy white ones that have a gorgeous long cloud of feathers at times. The white ones can have dark beaks and legs, yellow beaks and legs or a mash up of the two. Then there are the grey and red egrets. They were all tempting but I settled on a yellow beak. I think it's a yellow Sketch fabric, but I may be wrong. The top part of the beak is a darker yellow than the bottom so that you can see the two pieces of the beak.See the pin on the bottom right that is pushed through the seam and brought up in the middle of the section?

Since I went with the yellow beak I picked a white bird. The Architexture text fabric for the body still reads as white, just with some visual interest. In the next picture I have the sections I've started to piece on the right and the fabric I've pre-cut on the left. When I want the piecing to go fast I pre-cut all the fabric ahead of time. You also get the special treat, ooh la la! , of seeing my current sewing space. This tre chic studio is my coffee table. I sit oh so elegantly on the floor whilst I piece.

See, I told you, such a treat. You're welcome.

There are some tiny pieces around the eye which makes for small pieces of paper to remove on the back. I can usually pinch the paper, then pull it off. If I can't quite pinch it or there's a stubborn corner piece I just grab a pin and slide it under to lift it up. I use a short stitch length, meaning the stitches are close together and small, which on my machine is about 1.75. This allows the paper to rip off easily without pulling the fabric so there's no distortion in the block.

Paper piecing allows for great accuracy and fantastic patterns that would otherwise be impossible. The yellow pieces around the eye are less than a sixteenth of an inch wide but they were easy to do with paper piecing. I highly recommend giving it a go if you haven't already. Are you working on any paper piecing or would like to be? Let's talk.

Linking up to Paper Piecing Part at Quiet Play and TGIFF at Blossom Heart Quilts, the finished project being pattern testing and setting up a pinning tutorial.


  1. This is beautiful, I love looking at Paper Piecing projects, just hate the fabric waste.

  2. Those are some tiny pieces around the eye! thank you for your tips

  3. Holy crap!!! That's so beautiful. And amazing!

    Excellent tips too!


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