Tutorial on Paper Piecing: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Tutorial on Paper Piecing: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

The Basics of Paper Piecing

What is Paper Piecing?

Paper piecing, also known as foundation piecing, is a quilting technique that involves sewing fabric pieces onto a paper template. This method allows for precise and intricate designs that may be difficult to achieve using traditional piecing techniques.

Getting Started with Paper Piecing

Before delving into your paper piecing project, it is important to gather the necessary materials. You will need fabric scraps, a paper piecing template, a sewing machine, thread, and basic sewing tools such as scissors and pins.

Beginners may find it helpful to start with a simple pattern, such as a basic geometric shape, to become familiar with the technique.

Step-by-Step Paper Piecing Process

1. Prepare the template: Print or trace the paper piecing template onto lightweight paper or foundation paper. Cut out the individual sections, ensuring you leave a seam allowance around each piece.

2. Select fabric scraps: Choose fabrics that complement your design. It’s helpful to use fabrics with contrasting colors and patterns to create visual interest.

3. Start sewing: Begin with section 1 of your template. Place a fabric scrap right side up on the back of the template, aligning it with the edge of the section. Hold it in place with a pin.

4. Continue adding fabric: Take section 2 of your template and place it right sides together with section 1. Sew along the printed line between sections 1 and 2. Fold the paper back and trim the excess fabric to create a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

5. Repeat and complete the pattern: Follow the same process for the remaining sections of the template. Trim any excess fabric and press the block after each section is complete.

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Troubleshooting and Tips

Dealing with Bulky Seams

If you find that your paper pieced block has bulky seams, try trimming the excess fabric in the seam allowance. This will reduce bulk and make it easier to press the block flat.

Additionally, pressing your seams open rather than to one side can help reduce bulk and create a flatter, more professional-looking block.

Selecting the Right Paper

Using the appropriate paper is crucial for successful paper piecing. While regular printer paper can be used, using foundation paper specifically designed for paper piecing is recommended. Foundation paper is thinner, making it easier to remove after the block is complete.

Some quilters also prefer using newsprint or vellum as they are lightweight and tear away easily.

Fussy Cutting for Stunning Designs

Fussy cutting is a technique where you strategically choose fabric pieces to highlight a specific design or motif. This technique can enhance the visual impact of your paper pieced block, creating stunning results.

Consider fussy cutting when working on paper piecing projects with fabrics that feature intricate patterns or motifs.


Q: Can I reuse paper templates for multiple projects?

A: While it is possible to reuse paper templates, it is generally recommended to use a fresh template for each project. Reusing templates can lead to inaccuracies, especially if the paper starts to warp or get damaged. It is best to start each project with a clean template for optimal results.

Q: How do I remove the paper after completing the block?

A: To remove the paper from your completed block, score the seam lines lightly with a pin or the edge of a ruler. This will weaken the paper fibers and make it easier to tear away without damaging the fabric. Gently remove the paper, ensuring you do not accidentally rip any stitches in the process.

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Q: Can I wash paper-pieced blocks?

A: While paper pieced blocks can be washed, it is important to remove the paper before doing so. The paper can become weak and may disintegrate when exposed to water, causing the block to lose its shape.

Q: Are there alternative methods to paper piecing?

A: Yes, there are alternative methods to paper piecing, such as traditional piecing or using templates made from plastic or acrylic. Each method has its own advantages and suitability for different projects. Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you.

Q: Can I use decorative stitches with paper piecing?

A: Absolutely! Decorative stitches can add an extra touch of creativity and uniqueness to your paper pieced blocks. Experiment with different stitch patterns, such as zigzag or decorative embroidery stitches, to enhance the overall aesthetic of your project.

Q: How can I resize a paper piecing pattern?

A: Resizing a paper piecing pattern can be done by adjusting the scale when printing or by manually enlarging or reducing the template using a photocopier. Keep in mind that resizing a pattern may require additional adjustments to the seam allowances or fabric pieces to ensure a proper fit.


Congratulations on completing this tutorial on paper piecing! Now that you have mastered the basics, you can explore more complex designs and create beautiful quilt blocks using this technique.

If you’re hungry for more quilting knowledge, be sure to check out our other articles on advanced paper piecing techniques, tips for choosing fabric combinations, and inspiring project ideas. Happy quilting!

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