2 tricks for how to paper piece quilt blocks: video

From Learn to Paper PieceEver tried paper piecing? If you have, you know there’s no better technique for getting accuracy in your blocks. If you haven’t tried paper piecing, give it a shot! The benefit of pinpoint precision is worth a try.

There are a few tricks that make paper piecing easier and more enjoyable. We caught up with Oh Glory! author Kathy Flowers at Quilt Market, and she’s a big paper-piecing fan. She shares her two favorite tips for how to paper piece quilt blocks in the video below:


Viewing this post in email? Click here to view the video.

Kathy’s tips are must-haves when paper piecing for the first time or the 100th time! You can find the Add-A-Quarter ruler at your local quilt shop or online.

So, what wonderfully precise patchwork can you create with paper piecing? Take a peek:

Projects from Oh Glory!
Pretty and patriotic paper-pieced projects from Kathy’s book
Oh Glory!

Lobster Stew quilt
Nancy Mahoney’s colorful Lobster Stew quilt from her book
Learn to Paper Piece (can you imagine trying to sew these blocks without the magic of paper piecing?)

Garden Path quilt
This stunning Garden Path quilt from
A Paper-Pieced Garden by Maaike Bakker and Francoise Maarse

Serenity quilt
This small-and-scrappy Serenity quilt from
Little Gems by Connie Kauffman

Mariner's Compass quilt
This jaw-dropping Mariner’s Compass quilt from Showstopping Quilts to Foundation Piece by Tricia Lund and Judy Pollard

Do you consider yourself a paper piecer?

  • Yes, I love those perfect points, stick-straight angles—and fewer pins!
  • I’ve paper pieced before, but I’m still a beginner.
  • Never tried it—but I do like the sound of precise patchwork!

Tell us about your paper-piecing proficiency in the comments!

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68 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I’ve paper pieced before, but I’m still a beginner. It gives perfect results, it is just slower. I like it when other people paper piece for me.

    —Kay Menefee on August 14, 2017
  • Yes, I love the accuracy and I’ve paper pieced many times. I do find it much slower so I usually do smaller projects. I knew these two tips, so maybe I’ve graduated from beginner!

    —MoeWest on August 14, 2017
  • I make miniature blocks for tiny quilts. I use paper piecing for complicated blocks. It gives amazing results! Thank you for the video.

    —Loretta B on August 14, 2017
  • I highly recommend using newsprint instead of thicker paper. You only need to lower your stitch length down to 2.0 which makes it easier to take stitches out if need be. You can buy it in reams of 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper for very little money. Also, when you fold back the fabric for trimming the seam allowance, lay a recipe card under the fold as that will give you a nice stiff edge to lay your ruler on. You really don’t need to buy an "Add a Quarter" ruler; you can use any ruler that has a 1/4″ line on it. Last, but not least, don’t let the comments that paper piecing wastes a lot of fabric scare you off. Every time you sew, there will be a certain amount of waste! If it helps you make a block you wouldn’t otherwise tackle, a little bit of waste is worth it.

    —Janet Espeleta on August 14, 2017
  • Have just completed my first paper-pieced project, a table runner with tulips. I enjoyed it and look forward to using the technique in the future. I love the "Lobster Stew" quilt shown!

    —Audrey on August 14, 2017
  • Done some paper piecing but still feel like a beginner

    —Marie Walton on August 14, 2017
  • I’ve had the opportunity to piece 3 Judy Neimeyer paper pieced quilts. 2 of them were raffle quilts made for our quilt guild. Paper piecing may take more time but the precision is unparalleled!

    —Linda Brandhagen on August 14, 2017
  • I am a big fan of paper piecing, especially for those complicated blocks!

    —Martha Morgan on August 14, 2017
  • Yes I love those perfect points, stick straight angles–and fewer pins! It is the only time that all my points and angles come out perfect. The only part of the process that I don’t like is tearing off the paper at the end– oh for young kids or grandkids again.

    —Pat Brich on August 14, 2017
  • I love paper piecing.

    —Mary Lou Palmer on August 14, 2017
  • I’ve paper pieced before, but I’m definitely still a beginner.

    —Joy Dickson on August 14, 2017
  • I really like paper piecing for things like mariners compass and any patterns with small pieces and sharp points.

    —Peggy on August 14, 2017
  • I kept getting things backward on my first paper piecing efforts! lesson learned: do learn on scraps first! I love the Mariner’s Compass, and paperpiecing makes the most sense for those. And seeing your Garden Path quilt, yummy!

    —Sharon Schipper on August 14, 2017
  • I really like paper piecing because you never end up with distorted sections from handling the bias of the fabric too much.

    —Terry on August 14, 2017
  • I love paper piecing to get far better blocks when they have tiny points( feathered stars) and odd shapes.

    —Judi on August 14, 2017
  • I love paper piecing to get far better blocks when they have tiny points( feathered stars) and odd shapes.

    —Judi on August 14, 2017
  • I’ve done a few blocks from Carol Doak’s book. I learned by taking an online class from her. I’m still a beginner but love to paper piece as a alternate technique.

    —Sharon Beeghly on August 14, 2017
  • Thanks for giving me a game plan. Was quilting on material with no game plan- know with a plan will do the five panels in five days. Have grandkids that would love a new quilt. I am new at this quilting with the machine!

    Judy on August 14, 2017
  • I have paper pieced an entire quilt before and a few smaller projects. I really enjoy the accuracy and hope to do more in the near future.

    —Joanne O'Neal on August 14, 2017
  • I like to do autograph quilts with paper-piecing. Each block has a white strip in the middle for people to sign. Leave the paper in and they have a more solid space to sign. After they are signed, then you sew them together.

    That is a great idea, Judy, thank you for sharing it! –Jenny

    —Judy Purcell on August 14, 2017
  • I currently have 3 Judy Neimeyer paper piecing projects started with one almost done. I find paper piecing slow and challenging. But I love the look of paper pieced blocks.

    —Frances Claassens on August 14, 2017
  • Yes, I am a paper piecer, not the fanciest, but it makes so many patterns easier. I like to learn by videos, takes a lot of repetition for it to sink in!! Kathy in colo

    —kathy pfaltzgraff on August 14, 2017
  • Have used paper piecing twice and like the accuracy, but still just a beginner.

    —Linda Brennan on August 14, 2017
  • I’ve tried it before, but I’m still a beginner. I love the mariner’s compass quilt. It is absolutely gorgeous!

    Robyn Ramos on August 14, 2017
  • Paper piecing was the first quilting technique that I learned when I started making quilts after 30 plus years of making garments and window treatments. As others have commented, it does take longer, but the precision results can’t be beat and you don’t have to worry grain lines for your fabric pieces. As noted in another comment, the paper provides some stabilization and distortion is almost a non issue. It is definitely my preferred method when sharp points and precision is paramount. For me, it is a good way to use up smaller scraps and "waste" from other projects that would otherwise be discarded. I also have had fun designing my own blocks. Once you paper piece enough, you get an understanding of how the sequence of building a block works. You can really have some fun with it and adapt this technique to other "standard" pieced blocks.

    —Marty on August 14, 2017
  • Really like the precise points!!! Also a great way to use extra tidbits (scraps)

    —Denise on August 14, 2017
  • Yes, I’ve paper pieced before, but I’m still a beginner.

    —Christine Prager on August 14, 2017
  • Yes, I love paper piecing..I have been doing it for years.

    —Pauline on August 14, 2017
  • No, I have never paper-pieced but I want to learn.

    —carol on August 14, 2017
  • I love to paper piece. My current project is Moonglow by Jenny Beyer. All paper pieced. So much fun!

    —Vicki Adkins on August 14, 2017
  • I love paper piecing, have done several paper pieced mini quilts. They get a little tricky but are so worth it in the end. Am working on a string quilt now that has a paper foundation, such a good way to use up those scraps.

    —connie b on August 14, 2017
  • I’ve tried it, but am still a beginner. I find the process really burdens my store of patience.

    —Sandy May on August 14, 2017
  • I love paper piecing! It was an absolute life saver when I did Jen Kingwell’s Small World quilt. I would never have been able to complete that quilt without it.

    —Melissa Gerber on August 14, 2017
  • I love ❤️ Paper Piecing. Such perfect points. Have several books on the subject. Just need more time for all the projects, I want to made.

    Matilde e valle on August 14, 2017
  • I am a traditional hand quilter.I expect every point to be perfect. I cut precisely and on grain(off -grain can show after washing) and mark my seam allowance. These I can do quickly. Paper piecing is too tedious for me. It seems like a waste of paper, but for those of you who like it and it helps you be precise on a machine, that’s great. That is why I never pieced on a machine.

    —Sara Bates on August 14, 2017
  • I’ve been a paper pieced for years. Love, love, love it.

    —Roberta on August 14, 2017
  • Love paper piecing.

    —Kerry Grose on August 14, 2017
  • I love paper piecing and the history of it. It is a life saver when sewing some quilt blocks. My 9 year old granddaughter and I are paper piecing some placemats together and she is astounded when we finish a block. Love that it uses up scraps.

    —Ellen on August 14, 2017
  • I have paper pieced before; by the time I finish my current project (Arcadia Avenue) I hope to be a bit more than a beginner.

    —Beth on August 14, 2017
  • Yes, I love paper piecing, and have taught several others how to paper piece. One lady says she is now addicted.

    —stephanie woodward on August 14, 2017
  • Paper pieced several items but still a beginner.

    —Lena T on August 14, 2017
  • Still a beginner….with Dorothy’s help, got great results!!!!

    —jackie norwood on August 14, 2017
  • Yes I love paper piecing. The accuracy is fantastic & once you get the hang of the fabric being on the back there is no stopping you. I have made some very intricate paper pieces items for my kids & loved it. I think it is like painting by numbers, but with fabric….very enjoyable.

    —suzanne on August 14, 2017
  • Still a beginner! Can’t wait to try and get better!

    elr on August 14, 2017
  • Yes, I frequently paper piece, especially miniature quilts.

    —Mary Howard on August 14, 2017
  • I am a very beginner; in fact, I have yet to piece my first quilt top! (I like to try to read everything I can on something before trying it, but in good quilting fashion, I’ve already started building a stash!) I have seen things on paper-piecing, and it looks—OOOOHHH!—very scary! As with all else quilting, I want to learn!

    —Teri Gailey on August 14, 2017
  • Yes I love it especially for really small pieces

    —Linda on August 15, 2017
  • I just took a class with Nancy Mahoney! I’m looking forward to a chance to use this technique on a quilt.

    That’s awesome, Margaret – we 💕💕💕 Nancy! –Jenny

    —Margaret on August 15, 2017
  • i do like paper piecing but have gotten the paper caught into seams as I still am not sure when is best to remove. It does add stability when combining several components

    —Sue on August 15, 2017
  • I am a beginner even tho I have pieced two projects.

    —Gloria on August 15, 2017
  • One of my first quilting projects was to paper piece 96 – 6″ log cabin squares for a quilt I was giving my daughter for Christmas. Needless to say, I got pretty proficient. Love the looks of paper piecing and would love to try other patterns.

    —Janet on August 15, 2017
  • I learned to paper piece last year, and just finished a small row quilt in rich batiks, with a couple of rows of log cabins, a couple of rows of Bonnie Hunter’s "wild and goosey", a row of various trees and houses, and a row of tulips. It was a good practice project, and the colours make me smile.

    —Carol Johnson on August 15, 2017
  • I do paper piecing occasionally. I’m okay with it. I do love the look you can get with pp.

    —Janine A. on August 16, 2017
  • I’ve never tried it. Not yet, anyway!

    —bookboxer on August 18, 2017
  • I’ve never tried it but I would really like to learn.

    —Maria on August 18, 2017
  • I have done a few paper pieced projects – love the circle of geese! It does take time and you really have to concentrate, but hope to perfect my skills the more I use it.

    —Carole on August 18, 2017
  • Blocks are so nice and crisp! I need to do more with it.

    —Lynne Treimer on August 18, 2017
  • Have tried paper piecing but still a newbie. Love the precision.

    —Louise Mease on August 18, 2017
  • I’ve paper pieced several projects, would still consider myself a beginner. But I love the results!

    —Pearl on August 19, 2017
  • tried p.p. a couple of times. Once by hand–not too bad but slow. Several other times and because I am already upside down and back-words have trouble with upside down an back-word. Plan on trying again soon.

    —shirley marvin on August 19, 2017
  • I love paper piecing . The sharp points in my stars.

    —elizajane on August 19, 2017
  • I consider myself an accomplished paper piecer. However, I use freezer paper and do not sew through the paper. The patterns are reusable and there is no tedious paper removal!

    —Linda Towers on August 20, 2017
  • I love paper piecing. It doesn’t necessarily need to be slower than regular piecing if you organize yourself first and that also seems to help control the wast for me. Note, I seldom get organized…I’m not in a hurry.

    —Kris on August 20, 2017
  • I am a traditional hand quilter.I expect every point to be perfect. I cut precisely and on grain(off -grain can show after washing) and mark my seam allowance. These I can do quickly. Paper piecing is too tedious for me. It seems like a waste of paper, but for those of you who like it and it helps you be precise on a machine, that’s great. That is why I never pieced on a machine.

    happy wheels on August 21, 2017
  • I have never tried paper piecing ~ but it’s on my quilting bucket list!

    —Gail on August 21, 2017
  • I’m definitely a novice paper piecer, but love the precision and encourage other quilters to try it when they say "It looks so nice, but I think it’s too hard".

    —Beverly on August 22, 2017
  • I took a class at my local quilt shop and we did blocks from The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s. It was my first attempt at paper piecing. Really enjoyed it.

    —Judith Campo on August 24, 2017
  • I have one paper pieced project i started a number of years ago. After watching the video i must get it out and try to finish it. I enjoyed paper piecing and then for some reason never finished.

    —Carol on January 26, 2018

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