Saturday, 5 November 2016

Paper Piecing – A Galaxy Full of Perfect Points

Thank you Coats & Clark for being a guest blogger and an amazing sponsor to CQA/ACC!

About our author:
Annette Millard is passionate about sewing and has worked in the sewing industry for many years. She is always happiest with needle, fabric and thread in her hands! She currently enjoys supporting the Coats & Clark community writing blog posts about products and projects for the Coats Sewing Secrets Blog.

Milky Way Quilt designed by Cheryl A. Adam
Beautiful, satisfying quilting is all about the points. But, those lovely little pieces that should match perfectly don’t always quite make it. I know many of us shudder when we think of Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP), but stay with me through this post. FPP is actually easy, fun and opens up a whole world of intricate piecing you thought you’d never be able to do. I have hints, tips and a video for you along with the gorgeous, free Milky Way Quilt Along from Coats and Clark!

Paper What?
While we’re accustomed to stitching fabric, most of us don’t use paper in our quilting. Until today, that is! In Foundation Paper Piecing, you’ll be creating perfect points by stitching fabric directly to a printed foundation paper template. The paper stays with your blocks until you stitch them together and then it’s removed. Intermediate quilters – prepare to be amazed!

Coats Paper Piecing Thread

Special Thread for a Magical Technique

Magical techniques call for great tools, so Coats Paper Piecing Thread is specifically designed to be just what you need. It’s a very fine, yet wonderfully strong Polyester thread that is perfect for reducing bulk in the fine points you’ll be creating. Put aside your stash of “regular” thread, head for the store and choose spools of Coats Dual Duty XP Paper Piecing thread.

When it’s time to remove your foundation paper, you don’t want your stitches ripping and pulling. This is the first place you’ll be glad you chose Coats Paper Piecing Thread! Combined with a shorter stitch length (about 1.5mm) and a size 80 Microtex needle, this strong, fine thread will keep those stitches right where they belong on your amazing block. And, once you’re ready to press and see how well your points fit and lay flat together, you’ll truly be grateful for the fine weight of Coats Paper Piecing Thread. Click here to learn more about this marvelous, specialized thread.

Milky Way Quilt Block One

Piece-ful Paper

The Milky Way Quilt Along Wall Hanging is created with Free Spirit’s beautiful Designer Essential Solids fabrics. But, what about the paper? You’ll be pleased to know that you won’t need anything special. Regular, inexpensive printer paper will work quite well! You may want to explore other paper options, too. Your local fabric store will have special Foundation Paper Piecing Papers and Freezer Papers that are made just for the technique. Whatever you choose, be sure it can be used in your home or copy store printer. Tracing paper may seem like a good idea, but printers will spit, growl and cease to print if you try use a paper that wasn’t designed for printing.

Sample Template (Visual only, download pattern for actual template)

So, you’ve chosen your fabrics, purchased Coats Paper Piecing Thread, settled on a paper and now it’s time to print and piece. The Milky Way Quilt PDFs include the Foundation Template on the last one to two pages of each block’s instructions. They’re designed to print on standard size printer paper so you can easily use what you already have at home. You’ll print four templates from each PDF to create a whole block template. Be sure to read through the printing instructions for Milky Way or any other Foundation Block you print. Your printer set-up makes a big difference and you’ll want to be sure you’re printing the template at the correct size.

Milky Way Quilt Block Two

Cut, Piece, Stitch and Smile

For standard quilt piecing, we steady our hands, take a deep breath and cut precise pieces so they will match perfectly. When you’re Foundation Paper Piecing, your fabrics will be cut in pieces large enough to cover the numbered sections on your printed paper foundation, but they don’t have to be precise. The Milky Way Quilt Along instructions suggest that you “roughly” cut your fabric pieces at least 1.27 cm larger than each section of the foundation template. And this, quilter friends, is one of the wonderful things about FPP – no precise cutting!

Fabric Cutting - from Sew Very Easy video

As you cut your fabric pieces, lay them on the blank side of the paper template and head for a nearby light source. Hold the paper up to the bright light to make sure your cut fabric is amply overlapping the template section. In Laura Ann Coia’s video she suggests printing a template you can cut apart and use as a cutting pattern. You’ll cut and sew your fabric pieces in number order beginning with sections one and two. Once those are cut it’s time to stitch from the printed side, following the line on the paper template.

Placing Fabric Pieces – from Sew Very Easy video

After stitching, you’ll trim the seam allowance to approximately a .635 cm seam allowance on “inside” pieces. It does not need to be a precisely trimmed seam allowance since it’s already stitched! But, the outer edges will be stitched to another block, so you’ll want an exact .635 cm seam allowance on all outside block edges to avoid assembly frustration.

Sew Very Easy Paper Piecing Video

Extra Help From a Trusted Quilting Friend

The Milky Way instructions are detailed and easy to understand. Follow them and they will be your FPP BFF – Foundation Paper Piecing Best Friend Forever! So you can see the steps in ‘live action”, Coats has also partnered with the super-fabulous Laura Ann Coia of Sew Very Easy for informational videos. There will be a companion video for each block! Click here to view Laura Ann’s first video, then be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss any of the series.

Milky Way Quilt Blocks in Sequence

Infinite Points and Beyond!

And now . . . you’re ready to soar off into quilting hyper-space with Coats Milky Way Quilt Along! Click here to learn about the Quilt Along and follow along with the block posts. Be sure to download the General Instructions and read them, too. The finished wall hanging size quilt consists of five blocks. Just perfect for a low-stress, first Paper Piecing Project!
Give Foundation Paper Piecing a try and have fun with it! The Milky Way Quilt Along is a great place to start and you can post your finished Milky Way blocks on the Make it Coats Facebook page or other social media sites- tag #CoatsQuiltAlong. It’s a terrific way to share your quilting joy and see what quilters from all over are doing, too. Coats and Clark will be there for you, so feel free to ask questions on the Sewing Secrets blog along the way. If you need a little extra confidence, click here to view another helpful Paper Piecing video from All People Quilt. There’s a whole new galaxy of perfect points and fabulous piecing open to you now – enjoy!


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