Paper-Pieced quilts are on the rise, which isn’t all that shocking given the rush of new sewists and quilters we’ve welcomed to the fold since the pandemic shut us all indoors. Paper-Piecing, aka English Paper-Piecing and Machine Paper-Piecing (depending on whether you work by hand or with a machine, respectively) is an easy way to begin your adventure as a quilter. The results are vibrant and beautiful, and the designs impressively complex
With English Paper-Piecing in particular, all the sewing is done by hand. You simply wrap your fabric around cut shapes of paper and the paper lends integrity to your silhouettes (whether they are hexagons, squares, triangles, etc) to make them easier to sew together. This allows you to sew intricate designs and fiddly shapes with ease.
Machine Paper-Piecing follows a similar formula, but you’re sewing your fabric onto a paper template with a machine instead of by hand.
The Thimbles Quilts family loves paper-piecing. If you’ve visited us in person before, you’ve probably seen our favorites proudly displayed around the store.
Our first paper-pieced quilt projects were these adorable miniatures from Carol Doak’s 50 Little Paper-Pieced Blocks book.
This was our very first time paper-piecing and we had such a great time with it. We highly recommend paper-piecing miniatures—especially if you’re just starting out—because it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the technique without the overwhelming task of finishing a large piece.
This pretty abstract miniature nicely illustrates the kind of designs you can make with your fabric scraps.
Jane is a huge Carolyn McCormick fan, especially of her Flock of Feathered Stars Quilt and her many books and tools. She gets absolutely starry eyed if Ms. McCormick is present at the quilting events we attend and often asks, “Does she know she has a fan club?” She is the self-proclaimed president of Carolyn’s fan club! Looking at the quilt below, can you really blame her?
McCormick really understands the needs of paper-piecing quilters, and one of Jane’s favorite tools is her Add-a-Quarter and Add-an-Eighth rulers, which make it super easy to work with the tiny seam allowances in paper-piecing. The newest Add-a-Quarter Plus ruler even has a small lip to hold the fold without using a piece of cardstock, so it automatically creates the seam allowance. You can find all the Add-a-Quarter rulers here.
Customer and Thimbles Quilts sister Julie Hart shared her work in progress, a Judy Niemeyer quilt that looks like her 4th of July design.
Robin Gabriel, another Thimbles Quilts sister and customer, also shared her Judy Niemeyer quilt-in-progress. She says: “This is my very first JN quilt! Just finished piecing it in March. It still needs to be quilted, but here you go! I'm excited to do another. She sure knows how to write a pattern!”
We’ll give you a moment to catch your breath, because it is a stunner…
Now that we’ve whet your appetite for paper-pieced quilts, you should join us and Jodie Madison for our 4-day Tarnished Windmill extravaganza event!
We are so delighted to have Jodie with us for this special occasion. A Quiltworx-certified instructor with 9 years experience teaching Judy Niemeyer’s paper-piecing methods, Jodie will guide sewists through Judy Neimeyer’s methods for strategizing, cutting, and sewing paper-pieced quilts. Attendees have the option of working on two quilts (shown below): the Woodcarver’s Star (left) or Tarnished Windmill (right).
We can’t wait for this event! The Tarnished Windmill workshop runs from June 16 - June 19 and includes lunch and access to special Judy Niemeyer quilt patterns that you can only purchase at the event.
We expect to learn a lot, be inspired, make friends and dish about paper-piecing over lunch. Sign up to join us here!
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