Best paper for paper piecing? 3 choices to make before you sew

Paper-pieced block from Learn to Paper PieceWhat’s the best paper for paper piecing? There are several choices out there, and choices are great—it’s fun to experiment to see what works best for you. That’s exactly what Scott Hansen, owner of Blue Nickel Studios and one of the designers featured in The Splendid Sampler, was exploring when we met him at Spring Quilt Market. He was kind enough to sit with us for a minute and talk to us about the options.

Copy paper: Scott says, “Copy paper is okay to use, but it’s pretty thick and can be tough to tear through. It’s also kind of hard to see through copy paper to the other side, which is important because you want to see the numbers on the pattern when you’re sewing. And of course, copy paper is really easy to find.”

Copy paper printed with Scott’s block pattern from The Splendid Sampler

Newsprint (like our Papers for Foundation Piecing): Scott says, “Newsprint tears well, and you can also see through it more easily than copy paper. It’s also easy to find at your local quilt shop or online.”

From A Paper-Pieced Garden
A block paper pieced with our Papers for Foundation Piecing (find the squirrel pattern here)

Vellum: Scott says, “With Vellum, you can easily see through to the other side, which is important—you can see through to the numbers on the back of the pattern when sewing. Vellum tears better than copy paper, but not at easily as newsprint. It’s also harder to find than copy paper or newsprint.”

Seeing through to the back side of vellum

A final tip from Scott: “One of the most important things you can do when paper piecing is use a really tight, tight stitch—13 to 16 stitches per inch. I also backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam to make sure seams don’t pull apart when sewing.”

Bobbin Chase block by Scott HansenHere’s Scott’s fun Bobbin Chase block featured in The Splendid Sampler—and yes, it’s paper pieced! Of his block, Scott says, “I designed Bobbin Chase just after my mother’s death. I was in a very nostalgic mood, thinking back to the 1980s when I created counted cross-stitch projects. The four ‘bobbins’ in Bobbin Chase are a nod to the cardboard winders I used to wind floss onto when I was stitching (akin to winding thread onto bobbins).”

You’ll find 21 paper-pieced blocks in The Splendid Sampler, and a total of 100 blocks overall. Patchwork, appliqué, embroidery—so many choices! And when you’re done choosing and making your favorite blocks, you can feature them in a beautiful sampler quilt like this one:

100-Block Sampler quilt
100-Block Sampler, 80″ × 80″. Assembled by Melanie Barrett and quilted by Debby Brown.

Can you spot Scott’s Bobbin Chase block in the quilt above? It’s there with all 100 blocks from The Splendid Sampler!

If you make Scott’s block, be sure to tag him at #bluenickelstudios and #urbanfolkquilts so he can see and share. You can also download a coloring page of Scott’s block to play around with color placement before you sew.

Papers for Foundation PiecingWant to give Scott’s paper-pieced block a whirl? Pick up The Splendid Sampler and a pack of our Papers for Foundation Piecing. We offered our papers for the first time in 1998 and it’s still the go-to foundation-piecing paper for thousands of quilters. At only $14.99 for 100 sheets, it’ll keep you in paper-piecing mode for 100 blocks . . . or more!

Which kinds of paper have you tried for paper piecing: copy paper, newsprint, vellum, our Papers for Foundation Piecing? Tell us your experience in the comments!




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