Paper-piecing tip: cut fabric pieces to the right size every time

Quilting 101: paper-piecing tip

Isn’t it amazing what you can do with paper piecing? Using the technique, you can:

  • Sew the tiniest pieces with amazing accuracy: simply machine stitch on the lines.
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  • Nevermind the straight of grain—the paper stabilizes fabric so well that you can safely sew on the bias.
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  • Turn designs with reputations for fussiness (like “Mariner’s Compass” below) into easy blocks to sew by number.

Mariner's Compass paper-pieced quilt
“Mariner’s Compass,” from
Showstopping Quilts to Foundation Piece

Simply rotary cut oversized pieces of fabric, pin them to the patterns, and stitch along the lines—it’s that easy!

Of course, every technique has a learning curve. One tricky spot for paper piecing can be cutting fabrics to the right size, so they overlap pattern pieces by at least ¼". But don’t worry—you don’t need to measure dimensions or attempt to remember what you learned in your high school geometry class. Just sew by number and rely on this quick trick from favorite author Nancy Mahoney.

Paper-piecing tip: cut fabric pieces to the right size every time 

from Quilt Block Bonanza by Nancy Mahoney

When making a paper-pieced block, I always make an extra photocopy of the block. Next, using a rotary cutter, I cut out the pattern pieces from the extra copy, on what would be the stitching line. Then I use the paper templates to rough cut each piece from the wrong side of the fabric, making sure to include at least a ¼" seam allowance on all sides of each template.

Paper-piecing tip: cut fabric pieces to the right size every time 

Ready to give paper piecing a try—or take your skills to the next level? Browse these fun eBooks!

Quilt-Block BonanzaQuilt Block Bonanza: 50 Paper-Pieced Designs by Nancy Mahoney

Create 50 classic 5″ blocks with the ease and accuracy of paper piecing. You’ll be wowed by the spectacular secondary patterns that emerge from a single block design.

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From Quilt-Block Bonanza
Example of block and quilt plan from
Quilt Block Bonanza

See sample pages + all 50 block designs >

Paper-Pieced Mini QuiltsPaper-Pieced Mini Quilts by Wendy Vosters

Even beginners can stitch perfect points in these little patchwork wonders. Paper piece designs in strips rather than blocks for fast, fabulous results.

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Projects from Paper-Pieced Mini Quilts
Projects from
Paper-Pieced Mini Quilts

See a super-cute mini Christmas tree quilt + 17 more projects >

Showstopping Quilts to Foundation PieceShowstopping Quilts to Foundation Piece by Tricia Lund and Judy Pollard

Create awe-inspiring traditional quilts with impeccably pieced results! Use paper piecing to make even the most intricate blocks—and stitch stunning quilts fit for a family legacy.

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Projects from Showstopping Quilts to Foundation Piece
Projects from
Showstopping Quilts to Foundation Piece

Paper piece "New York Beauty," "Mariner’s Compass," "Lost Ships," and more >

Papers for Foundation PiecingDon’t forget the paper!
Paper piecing is always more successful when you have the proper tools. Our Papers for Foundation Piecing work on almost any home printer or photocopier and tear easily when the time comes to remove the paper from your project.

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What’s the last block or motif you paper pieced? Tell us in the comments!

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