Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Facing East QAL Paper Piecing Tutorial

Are you making the Facing East Quilt with us? Just in case you are nervous about paper piecing, I wanted to show you how easy it is! In fact, it is almost easier than regular piecing. Think of it as painting by number....but with fabric.

Some important tools include very thin paper (you can use normal paper, thin paper just comes off more easily), an iron, a nearby lamp/window is suggested, and a ruler. Because there is a lot of ironing, I definitely suggest having an ironing station near your machine. That way, you don't have to get up and sit down so much.

So, cut out your pattern pieces. Be sure to leave a 1/4" seam allowance. Not all patterns have them built in around the edge. Luckily, the Facing East Templates do!

When you paper piece, you apply the fabric to each number in numerical order. So, for this pattern, we want to cut fabric pieces 1 and 2 first. Be sure to cut pieces that are a little larger than the area that they go on. In the pattern, Carolyn has you cut strips at specific widths. I suggest doing this because you don't have to think about how wide the strips need to be to cover each area, and you'll be likely to get full coverage each time. When you paper piece for the first time, a common error is misjudging how big your fabric should be. I always cut my pieces much larger than they need to be so that I don't have to pick out any seams.  

Once you have pieces one and two cut, you are going to sew them to the template. Here is where a lot of people get hung up. You want to apply the pieces to the wrong side of the template so that you can sew along the lines on the right side. My tip is to use a light or a window to get your placement correct. Hold the template up to the light with the fabric behind it. Now you can see if your fabric is overhanging the line you are going to sew on and at the right angle.

Once you get that set, sew down the line using a small stitch length. Again, a small stitch length is suggested to help the paper come of easily. The more you perforate the paper, the less you have to tug at it to get it to come off. I usually set mine at 1.5.

Another tip is to make sure you take one or two stitches over the lines that the seam intersects. This will ensure that when you go over those lines later, you will lock those seams. 

Once you finish your seam, fold the paper back and trim the seam allowance to a 1/4". This reduces the bulk in your block. After that, iron the seam open and flat. 

Simple, right? Now repeat the process. Lay your fabric for segment 3 over the area and cut your over-sized piece. 

Again, sew it on to the wrong side of the template. Here you may notice the importance of the light more. Piece two is likely much larger than it needs to be. If you line up piece 3 with the edge of piece 2, you will have a lot of waste or it may not be at the correct angle for your seam. Hold the paper up to the light and use the shadow of the fabric to help line it up with the line you are planning to stitch. If I had more hands, I would have taken a picture of this step. Unfortunately, I only have the two. 

Same process here. Fold the paper back, trim the seam down to 1/4", and iron piece 3 flat.

Continue this process with all of the segments. Soon, your blocks will start to come together! Above, you can see I have added piece 4.

When I paper piece, I do 4 or 5 blocks at a time. Sew pieces 1 and 2 on all 5 blocks, then move on to piece 3, and so on. This speeds up the process quite a bit.

I can't wait to see this finished! This pattern is so fun to use your creativity with. It has so much potential. I hope you quilt along with us on instagram! I can't wait to see your quilts in progress.

In other news, this girl bought her first car! I finally traded in the 1997 4runner (225,000 miles, been driving it for 11 years) for a 2008 4runner. Doubt I'll ever get another kind of car.


  1. Gorgeous blocks; very jealous of your HUGE car, but not so keen on your ironing board ;)

  2. Fabulous tutorial!!! And congrats on the new ride :) Looking forward to more of your blog :)
    XX! Lori


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