Monday, 13 October 2014

Why Super-size Paper Piecing?

While I struggled with computer software a few weeks ago, trying to make the elephant pattern as big as I possibly could, I found myself wondering whether it was worth it.

Is it just a gimmick to super size patterns, does it add something to the design? 
Or does it just limit the uses of the pattern and make the whole thing cumbersome and impractical?

I will admit that there were two reasons that I decided to enlarge my first super sized block- the big bear.

Initially it was a purely practical decision. I panicked about all the detail that I had put into the nose area of my bear design. I knew that the piecing would become insane and bulky but I was reluctant to compromise on the design.

That was the practical reason, but behind that thinking, there was the realisation that the bear would look amazing if it was big. I could see that it was a pattern with drama and impact, and I knew that by enlarging the pattern this would only be increased.

What I didn't realise was the difference to fabric selection that the big size makes. Suddenly a whole world of fabric selection opened its door.

Where I tend to limit myself to blender fabrics or fabrics with small scale designs for 12 inch paper pieced blocks, I discovered that by making everything bigger, it means that patterned fabric is less of a distraction.

Most large scale prints such as Tula Pink or Anna Maria Horner would be lost on small paper pieced blocks, but they are in their element in these large patterns. Fussy cutting fun features into the design becomes more of a possibility. Busy prints are less overwhelming.
Because a bear needs a pair of zebras on his leg don't you think!?

Suddenly fabric selection becomes more exciting and also a little bit more difficult.
These blocks have the potential to become a bit less mundane and a lot more artistic.
They allow you to really take advantage of the medium that you are working with- beautiful fabric.

Judging by the number of people who have bought and sewn the big bear, I can say with confidence that I am not the only one who sees the potential in big paper pieced designs. I love seeing the interpretations that you are all producing.

You can be assured that not every pattern will be super-sized, but where I feel that it will add to the finished result, I will definitely produce more super-sized patterns- I hope you approve!

Oh and before you ask, the elephant designs are both close to being released. I just need to hear back from a couple more testers and make a few adjustments.


  1. I looooove the elephant patterns!!! I have always wished I could use my favorite fabrics in pp blocks, but they are almost always too large of a print for that use. You can be sure I will get the elephant blocks and make the crap out of them!

  2. Yes! Love that you get the big impact and get to use big bold fabric with these big blocks! They go from amazing to super striking! Funny how things evolve :) As always, love your work x

  3. I think regular or 12.5 inch blocks have an awesome place for bee blocks and to fit in with other "standard" blocks. However, the graphic impact of a large one is just fantastic. There is also more ability to interplay different block sizes, use them as a mini or as a center of a medallion quilt. And there's always that something special about super small or super large blocks :)

  4. I've taken PP patterns to the printer and made them larger because I have a hard time with those tiny pieces, so I love the big size of your bear. It really shows off the fabrics!

  5. Supersize blocks are a fantastic idea, not a gimmick! I am just waiting for a chance to make that bear and now I want to make the elephants too!

  6. I love the idea of large paper piecing patterns. I think a lot of people struggle with what to do with their paper pieced blocks once they are finished, and making the block itself larger opens up immediate options--center for a medallion style quilt, individual mini quilt wall hanging, panel for a bag, etc.

  7. Wonderful seeing your creations both big and small, they are all fabulous.

  8. Really love these designs - the bigger patterns are a great opportunity to show off some of those beautiful large scale prints!

  9. Oh I can't wait for the elephants! My new little guy has an elephant snuggle blanket and one of these would make the perfect wall art to hang above his crib (that is blank now... unexpected third child's nursery to a tee : P) And I agree with you whole heartedy about the fabric choices component - it's nice to open up to a whole new set of scales to choose from, Juliet!


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