Saturday, 12 March 2016

The "Right" Way to Paper Piece

I've been saddened a few times this week by people telling me that they have given up on paper piecing after well meaning quilters have told them that they are doing it "the wrong way". This makes me so mad, because in my opinion there are very few "wrong" ways to paper piece but thousands and thousands of right ways to do it.

Does your paper piecing fall apart straight away because you have skimped on your 1/4 inch allowance?- Then yes, you need to alter your methods.

Do your seams pop because you use large stitches and place too much strain on the seams when you remove the paper?- Yup, you guessed it! You need to alter your technique.

Do you have a build up of fabric on the back of your quilt because you are too lazy to trim your seam allowances, then perhaps you need to rethink your methods as quilting your work of art will be no fun at all!

Here's the kicker though... Do you paper piece using a method that was taught to you by an expert, but you have to unpick almost as much as you sew? Then I would suggest that you need to alter your methods too.

The thing is, it is all about finding a method that works for you.

Have a look at the paper piecing tutorials on youtube and blogs. Virtually all of them have variations. Some people precut their fabric accurately, others just wham a large piece of fabric on and hope for the best. Is one of those methods "the right way"? I'm sure that the quilting police would say that the first method is the best, but at the end of the day, does it matter? In this case, the same result is achieved no matter what you do (there is just a slightly smaller chance of having to resew if you cut your fabric more generously!)

I respect Diane of From Blank Pages immensely. She does amazing amazing paper piecing. I am constantly impressed with the beauty and precision of her work. She precuts her fabrics using cutting templates and every step of her process is accurate and precise. I WISH I could sew her way, but I can't! With the greatest respect in the world, it would drive me absolutely bonkers. I need to allow a lot more wiggle room and I am far more prone to making it up as I go along.

Does that mean that she is wrong? Of course not!
Does it mean that I am wrong- Absolutely not!

There are many other paper piecers, who paper piece using methods different to my own. I could go on to name them all and to analyse the differences between their technique and my own. But what would be the point?

We all do what works for us.

So lets all agree to disagree. Can we please encourage our fellow quilters rather than attacking them.

Yes, its good to help people improve their technique, but before you open your mouth, stop and think whether or not your advice is needed.

After all, quilting is supposed to be fun isn't it?!?

What about you? Have you been discouraged by well meaning advice?

(For those who are curious, the photos in this post are from another new pattern that is in the pipeline.)


  1. Great post! As a self taught quilter I have to agree 100% with everything you have said here. There is no such thing as the wrong way if it gives you the results you want and it works for you. When it comes to paper piecing I ddin't enjoy it at all until I had to tried out several methods and found the one that worked for me. Thankfully no one has ever made discouraging remarks to me about my methods, and if there were to I hope I would have enough confidence in myself and my sewing ability to just shrug them off. I'll happily adivse others but only if they ask for help and am happy to encourage people all I can. No one should ever be made to feel bad about doing something they enjoy.

  2. I'm not a precise quilter and I cut my pieces big for paper piecing. I know a few people who use a template to cut their pieces too and their work is lovely, but so is mine! I have lots of scraps after but it gives me peace of mind to know that everything is covered.
    This is a great post ~ it's too bad that some well meaning people discourage others from enjoying what they do because it doesn't fit in with what they (those well meaning people) do. I say whatever works for you, do it that way and if someone tells you you're doing it wrong, smile and say thank you and continue on!

  3. I'm with you, if it works for you then it is the right way for you. There are many ways to sew things.

  4. Juliet, you are amazing! Great post and I love paper piecing and learned by taking a Craftsy class by Carol Doak. I would never say anything to discourage another quilter and hate hearing about people that do! Everyone can march to the beat of their own drum, right! Now, let's get to that zebra of yours!! WOW and WAY COOL!!! Love your work!!!!.

  5. I've not tried paper piecing yet but will go with whatever works for me, just as I do for knitting and spinning. Both those crafts have people who will tell you you're doing it all wrong, I now say if it works it's not wrong.

  6. I agree with you whole-heartedly!

    I wrote four books in the mid90's of foundation pieced designs and have taught probably several hundred people to do this ... I was teaching a class once when one of my students showed me the method someone else had taught her. I laughed and said (in as friendly a way as I could) that was a precision way to approach the method but that I was not a precisionist.

    Later I overheard that student speak about me to a friend (she was eating lunch with and did not see me behind her) - she said I was 'snippy' because I laughed, I guess. Shrug.

    Whatever works well for you is fine - if you don't like what you are doing, try something else. NO white gloves.

    :) Linda

  7. Great post! I've been so glad to see foundation piecing come back around, something I used to do a lot of years ago. Your patterns are such fun. I hope those that have been discouraged try again!

  8. Wonderful post, Juliet! We need to encourage those interested, that paper piecing can be so rewarding. My method is similar to yours! Templates don't work for me either! I hope everyone gives this method of piecing a try...and another try!

  9. I love this so much!! It is so true! There is no wrong way to do it! Now I'm wracking my brain hoping I never made anyone feel like they were doing it wrong! I hope I haven't! I love that there are so many different methods so we can find the best way that works for us individually! Even though I may promote my methods, it's only because I've heard a lot of people say that they don't like paper piecing and it was a horrible experience! Makes me cry because I love paper piecing so much! lol! And it makes my day to hear people say that they tried something I suggested and they love it! Though it's not about right or wrong, it's all about helping each other out! (and about bringing more quilters to the paper piecing side!) ;)

    YOU are SO amazing!! And I feel the same way about you! I am ALWAYS in awe about the beautiful patterns and quilts and well, everything, that you make! Hugs!

  10. Wonderful post and your work is always amazing!


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