Monday, August 9, 2010

I Hate Paper Piecing!

I was going to post about how much I HATE paper piecing. I get so frustrated and it seems like it should be so easy! But I took a step back, a deep breath and walked away from the machine. And instead of taking pen to paper right then and there, like I should have, I let myself calm down and my frustration passed.

A few days later when I sat back down at my machine I ended up with this…


And I must say I am pleased with the result. So, while I might hate paper piecing, I do love the end result so it’s kind of a catch 22. I think my problems with paper piecing start with my brain. I am not a mathematical person. I am a creative type. That’s why I write and make TV shows for a living. I wish I were good at math. I always loved science but struggled in class because of the math. It’s simply not the way my brain functions. And I know there’s really not math involved in paper piecing, per se, but it’s just figuring out the angles and that’s where my brain starts to fry. I suppose the frustration stems from me thinking that I’ve place the fabric at the right angle and then I sew and it’s off so I have to rip out stitches and try it again, sometimes multiple times, until I get it right.

In between the screams and the ripped stitches I did find a few new techniques that ended up helping me as I got further along. I am, by no means, an expert at paper piecing – nor do I ever think I will be – but I did make some new discoveries that helped me as I worked.


First of all, I must admit that Mollie is a dear woman for sending an abundance of white fabric for these blocks. These blocks are for her in the Red and Aqua 2 Bee. Having extra fabric really makes all the difference. But I was conservative with my cuts because I knew I wanted to make two blocks for her and I didn’t want to run out of the white fabric. When all was said and done I had plenty of white left over. But I cannot stress enough that paper piecing isn’t the place to be conservative with fabric; having an abundance is helpful, but not thrifty.


Since I struggle with the angles when I’m paper piecing I finger press my seams to try and get the fabric nestled in at the correct angle, and this helps but I also started machine basting the pieced together. I know this creates an extra step, but since I am not proficient at paper piecing yet this really helped me when I had to rip out the stitches. I found it far easier to machine baste my fabric together, check to make sure it fit properly and then stitch over my basting stitches to secure in place. Then if I HAD to rip out stitches and start again it was much easier.

Also, chalk is my friend. I tried using chalk to mark the lines on my fabric to help with the layout. Any thing to get it right! And I don’t know about you, but I always iron in between pieces. My iron is always on and at the ready. It helps keep the lines cleaner and sharper.


At the end of the day I am really, truly happy with how these blocks for Mollie turned out. And joining a bee has been so rewarding in ways I never expected. I love the challenge of learning a new technique and pushing my sewing skills to the next level. As much as I bitch, moan and complain about paper piecing I will happily attack the next one that comes my way because with every block I further my skills and hopefully learn something new that will make the next one easier. And frankly, the end result makes it all worth it… almost.

1 comment:

  1. I love the blocks. I, too, extremely dislike paper piecing but the end result is always so perfect. I guess it's worth the pain in the brain!