Paper Piecing

This tutorial is designed to show technique for intermediate to advanced foundation piecing.

Find a Tutorial for Beginner Paper Piecing Here

These instructions are for making block # 14   from the book "Reach for the Stars" by Brenda Henning,   but the technique can be used for any foundation pieced block with oddly shaped pieces.

supplies needed:

"Reach for the Stars" book
Foundation papers (I use "perfect piecing" packaged papers by June Taylor)
rotary cutter and fabric scissors
paper scissors and pencil

scraps of black and gray for outer ring of points and background
fat quarter (or large scraps) of dark and light greens, pink and red, yellow and gold, and floral

copy the template patterns on page 36 four times on foundation papers
copy the template pattern once on regular paper

Making the blocks:
From the regular paper copy of the templates, cut out the template for unit A and cut apart the pieces as shown below:

Notice that Units D and A are identical and Units C and B are identical, being the reverse of A and D.
On the RIGHT side of each template, label pieces 5 and 6 each with an A and D so that you know that you must cut those fabrics with the template face up. Label the back of each of those with C and B. When the template is laid on the fabric with that side up, you will get the reverse pieces.
Note: pieces 1 and 4 are identical for all units, they are not directional. Piece 3 is the reverse of 2.

cut the four units apart from each other from template papers. Arrange them in stacks in this order: A, B, D, C
this is the order in which the units will be sewn together once you have finished piecing them individually.
Decide which fabrics will be used for the pieces. For Example, for piece 1, I used a black; pieces 2, 3 are gray; piece 4, floral; piece 5 is yellow on units A, D and gold on units B, C;
piece 6 is different for each unit, making the overlapping green and red star (A: dark green, B: pink; D: red, C: light green)

use the paper shapes for each piece as a template to cut fabric, adding 1/2 inch minimum all the way around the piece. Be sure to cut the angles accurately, see below:

cut sixteen of each:
piece 1 from black
piece 4 from floral
piece 2 from gray
piece 3 from gray (reverse of piece 2, turn the template over to make a reverse piece)

cut eight of each:
piece 5 from yellow (place template 5 with side labelled A, D face up on the WRONG SIDE of the fabric)
piece 5 from gold (place template 5 with the side labelled B, C up on the WRONG SIDE of fabric)

cut four of each:
piece 6 ("A" side up on wrong side of fabric) from dark green and red
piece 6 ("B" side up on wrong side of fabric) from light green and pink

start piecing by turning your foundation paper so that you are looking at the WRONG SIDE. Place a black triangle (right side of fabric facing you) so that it completely covers the space 1 on the foundation paper, with overhang on all three sides for seam allowance. Place a gray piece 2, rights side facing the black so that approximately 1/4 inch overhangs the line between pieces 1 and 2 on the foundation. See above photo.
Turn the entire unit over, being careful to keep the fabrics in place. Check that the black is covering the space for piece 1 and overhangs on all sides. You are now looking at the right side of your foundation pattern (and the wrong side of the black fabric). Sew along the printed line that divides pieces 1 and two as shown below:
After sewing, turn the unit over (if needed, trim seem allowance), fold the gray triangle back and press. The gray triangle must cover the entire space for piece 2 and overhang the edge at least 1/4 inch. The edges will not line up with the printed lines of your foundation. Don't worry, you want them to hang over and will trim later.
Repeat for the second gray triangle, piece 3, as above. Press this piece after sewing as with the first.
Add piece 4 in same fashion, placing the floral triangle with the shortest side lined up along unsewn edge of black piece 1, right sides of fabrics together. Turn the unit over, sew the printed line. Trim the seam allowance if needed, and press the floral fabric down so that it covers the space on the foundation for piece 4, as shown above. Make Sixteen of these units.

Divide the foundation units you have started into four groups, A, B, C, and D. Refer back to your color scheme so that you place the next fabrics (colors) on the correct units.
Start with the foundation pieces for units B and C:
Place one gold piece 5 triangle, right sides together, with the shorter of the long sides lined up with the left edge of the floral fabric as shown below. The gold piece must be placed so that a larger portion hangs over the wide end of the piece (left on the photo below), so that when the piece is folded back after sewing, it covers the entire area of piece 5 on the template plus seam allowance.
Turn the unit over and sew the printed line between pieces 4 and 5. Open the fabric, ensure good coverage and adequate seam allowance all around and press. Repeat to make four each of the B and C units and then repeat using the yellow piece 5 to make four each of the A and D units. Press all.

The last piece, #6, is added in the same way. Again, make sure that, when placing the fabric triangle prior to sewing, that there is generous hangover on the end toward the center of the block to ensure that, when folded back and pressed, the fabric completely covers the space with adequate seam allowance.
Make four each: Dark green A, pink B, Red D, light green C. Press all.

Lay out the sixteen units in order (A, B, D, C), to form four quarter circles:
See to it that the colors come together as you planned (gold/yellow, pink/red).
Trim all the foundations along the printed outer line (double check: make sure you are cutting on the cutting line, which leaves seam allowance, and NOT on the sewing line)

 Place an A unit and a B unit right sides together and sew using quarter inch seam (printed line on foundation). Repeat with a D and C unit. Remove the foundation paper strips on the outside of this seam and press open as shown below:
Place the pieced A/B unit right sides together with the D/B unit, ensuring proper color/fabrics are lined up so that the units will still be in order once sewn. Sew the units together, remove the foundation paper strips and press the seam open. You now have 1/4 of the compass complete:

Repeat steps to make four of these units.

At this point, you may choose to cut four background templates that are pieced to the outer curve and form the corner to make the block square. The background template is on page 65 of the book.

Or, you may piece all four units together to form a complete circle, then set this into a single piece of background fabric (tutorial for setting a circle will follow)
Please don't hesitate to email me with questions or leave comments if you find an error or bit that is difficult to understand. I hope you enjoy making these amazing blocks!

Related tutorial: Piecing "bumpy" curves

1 comment:

  1. Its a beautiful job you have done, thanks for sharing.


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