Basic Paper Piecing & A Free Pattern


Making a quilt is something I love to do!  It’s like a big puzzle to me and in the end you have something to keep warm with that could last generations.  In the past few years I’ve been learning different ways to make quilt blocks – one of which is paper piecing.  I’ve designed a couple of very simple blocks and thought I’d share one with y’all today.  I’ll also give you a little lesson in basic paper piecing.  Maybe this will encourage someone to take the leap into quilting or just to try a new technique!

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Basic Paper Piecing

The Nora Block

So, what is paper piecing?  Basically, you use a pattern printed on paper to guide the seams of the quilt block.  This can help you get sharper points and make more complicated patterns.  It also eliminates the need to cut out everything precisely before piecing.

The block I’m sharing today was part of a baby quilt I designed.  The baby’s name was Nora, so I named this the Nora-block.  I only used the block in certain areas on the original, but today I’ll show you how to make a larger block with the smaller block.

The block pattern is free to download, just click the link above or the one at the bottom of the post.  There will also be a picture of the finished Nora Quilt at the bottom!  : )



Printing the Blocks

My original quilt blocks were 5″ finished.  The one that’s downloadable today finishes at 4.5″.  I was trying to redesign the block so it could be made with a charm pack.  Did you know the diagonal across a square is longer than any of the sides?  Well I do – hello – drafting teacher!  Of course I didn’t think about that when I redesigned it & I haven’t had time to correct it, so that’s how that happened! ; p

Anyway!  You have to print out the block each time you want to use it.  I printed four for this tutorial.  You’ll also need the following:

  • scissors ~ Do not use fabric scissors to cut the paper with & vice versa!  The link is for 2 pairs of scissors.  Use one for paper & one for fabric.
  • rotary cutter & mat ~ I marked and cut my pieces out one by one for years.  If you plan on making quilts regularly, get the rotary cutter & mat.  It will change your quilting life!
  • quilt ruler ~ Any see thru ruler will work as long as it has 1/4″ markings.  The link above is a set with ruler.
  • postcard or cardstock ~ I’ll explain later in the post.
  • fabric ~ This is perfect for scrap busting!

Now that we have our supplies, let’s make stuff!

Starting the Block

First cut out the blocks – with paper scissors!  I usually cut on the outside of the seam line instead of directly on the seam line.  Either way works.

The numbers on the block indicate which part is first and so on.  Your fabric and paper should be placed WRONG sides together.  Let the edges of the fabric go past the line between 1 & 2 and the line between 1 & 3 about a 1/4″.  See picture 1 & 2 for front and back views.

Lay the piece of fabric for part 2 on top of the part 1 fabric, right sides together (Pic 3).  Align the edges that lay over the line between part 1 & 2 (Pic 4).  Pin all this together and take it to the sewing machine.

Align the machine needle with the first stitching line, which is the line between part 1 & 2.

Stitch across the line, back stitching at the beginning and end.

Flip it over and press the piece back.  Looks like I’ve made an error!

At the very right edge you can see the corner of the paper sticking out.  That should be covered!  What I should have done, is test that the fabric would work first.  You can pin it along the seam line and flip it to test, but usually I just lay it on top and overlap for the seam.

As the picture shows, I should have aligned the short end instead of the long end!  This is how you would start any paper pieced block – minus the error I made! ; )

Trimming the Seam

This is what the postcard/cardstock is for.  You need something thicker than regular paper but thinner that cardboard.  Align the edge of the postcard with the next seam line and use it to fold the paper back along the line (Pictures 1, 2, & 5) {My pictures go mixed up!  Oops!}

The edge of the ruler should be 1/4″ away from the edge of the folded paper.  This is why you need a see thru ruler (Pic 4).  Cut off the excess with the rotary cutter and now you have a 1/4″ seam ready for the next piece (Pic 3)!

Flip the block over and flatten the paper back out.  Align the next piece with the newly trimmed edge.

Turn the block back over & stitch along the next seam line.  Pin the pieces if needed.

Press the piece back.

Repeat the trimming process and add the next piece until all the pieces are attached.  Here’s a front and back view of with all pieces added.

Now use the ruler to square up all the corners.  Align the quarter marks with the seam line on the paper.  Trim the excess.

Hello paper pieced block!

Make four more blocks to join for the big block.  You can still use chain piecing for this, just pull the thread out at the end like so…

Making the Large Block

You can arrange the blocks in many different ways.  I decided to go with the layout under “winner”!

Once you decide on a layout, fold one piece on top of the other, right sides together.

Use the seam line to sew them together.

Before sewing the two halves together, remove the paper from the seams.  This keeps some bulk out of the seam when pressing & sewing.

Now sew the two halves together along the seam line.

Fold it out and press!  I will probably use this for a hot pad or mug rug.  : )  Also, you must remove the paper before quilting!  It usually comes of fairly easily because of the stitches.  It’s like perforated paper!

Here’s a picture {the only one I have!} of the finished Nora quilt.  I drew the name on the quilt and used free motion quilting to stitch it on.

I hope this was easy to understand!  Sometimes I think I get too detailed.  ; )  Y’all have a marvelous Monday!




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