Saturday, July 24, 2010


Or, "Oh my stars! Why don't my paper-pieced blocks come out the right size, or match up???"

I'm no expert, but I am happy to share what I've leaned about paper piecing from trial and error through the years. I hope you find it helpful.

There are many fine tutorials on-line about paper piecing, but I'm including some of the finer points that I didn't come upon for years. Maybe it can save someone some headaches! These are tips from many various sources.

I am not affiliated with any products, but I do highly suggest using Carol Doak Foundation Paper and the Add A Quarter Ruler. I always use both. I pretty much follow the directions on the Add A Quarter ruler for its usage. In this tutorial I use it with an index card. For larger blocks I use a strip of template plastic instead of the index card.

For this tutorial, I'm using a very simple, 8-piece, 6.5" UF (unfinished) size block. But the techniques shown here will cover all you need to get those tiny blocks with a zillion pieces to come out better too. Notice I said "better." I don't claim to be perfect! My blocks certianly aren't always just right!

Let's get started!

First things first. Print your pattern. As I said, I use Carol Doak's Foundation Paper for this, which I buy at the big store with a coupon. Yes, you can go cheaper. However this paper won't shrink when you iron it (you can imagine how that affects finished size!) and it won't jam your printer. It was meant for this, and worth it, I think.

Then take the time to measure your printed pattern. This line should be 1". OOPS!!! It's 7/8". Will that 1/8" make much difference? YES! Stop right here, and correct this!

The most common reason this happens is that when you printed your pattern, your printer was set to 'Page scaling: fit the page,' or something like that. It should be set to "Page scaling: none."

Unless you don't care what size your block turns out, you must fix this and make sure that little line measures correctly. They are there for a reason, LOL! So, back to the printer for me.

Now it measures right on! It's out of focus, so it might be hard for you to see, but trust me, it's exactly 1".

Use a highlighter to mark all around the outside edges of your pattern. You'll see why later. This is a tip I learned from the Dear Jane's.

Unless your pattern is all in one piece (rare) you will need to cut it into sections and work on one at a time.

To begin, you need a piece of fabric large enough to cover your #1 piece on your pattern. Pin it to the back of the paper, with the right side of the fabric facing out. Hold it up to a light if needed, to make sure it covers all it should.

In this photo you see the paper side, once I have that first piece in place. I'm going to place an index card right along that seam line, and then fold the pattern back, against the index card.

This photo shows the pattern folded back against the index card, right on the seam line. Notice I have flipped the block in this picture. The pin is at the bottom here, under the folded paper.

Trim the seam allowance with your Add A Quarter ruler.

Position your next fabric right sides together with the fabric on the back. Flip it to make sure it will cover where it needs too.

Personally, I don't worry about using the smallest possible piece of fabric. I will use the trimmings later in crumb blocks or my DGD's will use them for play. I hate it when I sew and then find the piece is too short. Avoid that frustration by not being a fabric miser at this stage, especially at first.

Once you are sure it will cover, fold the pattern back and trim the seam allowance with your Add A Quarter ruler. Flip the paper out flat and stitch the seam.

Continue on this way piecing the entire section.

I always get up and press every seam with my iron. I know you'll see directions saying a finger press is fine, or to use one of those wooden pressers, or to place your iron and ironing surface in arm's reach so you don't have to get up to press.

I don't do that. First, I do not want to sit at my machine for long stretches without getting up. Sitting for long time isn't good for you. Getting up and moving is one of the biggest advantages of machine work, over hand work in my opinion. Second, I like a nice, iron-pressed seam. It all turns out better that way.

Some of us were taught that you don't need to backstitch, or otherwise fasten seams when paper piecing. I beg to differ! How disappointing it is to have a block fall apart when you remove the paper, and that is why it does. Seams that cross the outer edge of the section have a better chance of holding up (but why chance it?), however, seams that end in the middle of the section and will be met by another seam going the opposite direction REALLY need to be secure!

I use the tack feature on my Janome. But if you don't have that feature on your machine, take a few backstitches, or when removing from the machine, tie the ends of the thread together. Do something to hold that seam!

The seam I'm about to sew in this picture is what I'm talking about. I will need to tack when I come to the end of the seam.

This is the back of one section completed. No outside edges are trimmed yet. I need to make two the same for this pattern. Some patterns have many different sections, but the technique is the same.

This is what the front looks like at this stage.

Here I am trimming the seam allowance that isn't highlighted. It's an interior seam of the block, so I need to trim it before proceeding. I line the ruler up with my 1/4" line of my ruler on the seam line of the paper. I will cut with the edge of the ruler. If it lines up perfectly with the cutting line on the paper, good for you! You have a perfect seam to work with here. But if not, don't worry about it. Trim with the ruler, ignoring the cutting line on the paper. Just line up that seam line with the 1/4" on the ruler. You get a perfect 1/4" seam allowance to work with too!

Here's the back, trimmed.

Here's the right side.

Here are my two halves ready to join. Notice I have a nice trimmed seam to work with in the center, but my outer edges of both the paper and fabric have extra sticking out.

Find your match points. What are they? Points on both sections that are supposed to line up, such as seams and center points on this block. Insert a pin straight through the pattern and fabric of one section, then go through the fabric and paper of the other section, coming out at the opposite match point. Look at both sides. The pin needs to enter and exit at match points. The pins stick out perpendicular to the block, holding the match point perfectly in place.

In this block I need to line up my center match point and both edge match points. Some patterns have more. Always match the seams and anywhere else it is supposed to line up.

Here are my three pins sticking out. It's out of focus and looks like 6! Yikes! I need a new camera!

Leave the sticking out pins in place while you insert pins flush with the fabric to hold the match points.

Then remove the sticking out pins that are perpendicular to the fabric. Leave the pins that are flush with the block in place for sewing.

Here's the back of my block, after stitching.

It is well-worth investing in a square ruler the unfinished size of your blocks. I prefer the ones that center the block and have the 1/4" seam allowance all around the outside (some have 1/2" extra on 2 sides instead, which makes it harder to center).

Center the ruler over the back side of your square. If the edges line up perfectly with the cutting line of the block paper, good for you! My block is a few threads short on all four sides. I will follow the ruler to trim my block, not the cutting line on the paper. That's why I built in that extra fabric all around the outside of the block -- just in case!

Trim, using the centered ruler. It should match the cutting line of the paper pattern at the edge, but if not, don't worry. Follow the ruler edge.

Remove the paper carefully.

Because I used that tack stitch, my seams are secure, even when removing the paper.

And here's my finished block, perfectly sized and with a nice match point in the center!

I do hope you find this helpful. Email me if you have questions.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Here's a photo of all of my Local Houses. Each is unique. The trees vary, as do the sea/sky/land. But what's most obviously different are the quilters in the windows.

These were so fun to make. I've sent them in, but now I'm eager to get the swapped blocks of the others in the group back. I'm curious how they are representing their local areas.

I know that the novely food swapped blocks are in the mail, winging their way back. So stay tuned to see what arrives.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


My Pay It Forward gift from Terry, from Terry's Life Blog, arrived yesterday. It is so cute, old-fashioned, and traditional. Just the sort of thing I love! This wall hanging has buttons, a pinkeep, and a ribbon to tie on scissors. It has a comfortable, scrappy look, and is hand-quilted! Thanks so much, Terry.

Pay It Forward is where you sign up on someone's blog to make and send out to three takers on your blog. You receive one homemade gift from the person who posted. I've already sent mine out. They were the needle cases I posted about a month or so ago.

Terry also included this precious card with The Quilter's Prayer. Lovely!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


These are all the FQs, card, notes, etc. that I received for my birthday, from the gals in my Birthday Fat Quarter Swap. I requested fabrics that represented the sender or their area, and I received such a fun variety -- everything from lighthouses, Australian animals, French fabrics, British fabric, flowers, batiks, etc., etc. What fun! Thanks to all the participants!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Micki, over at Irish Muses Blog, is having a give away in honor of her 2 year blogiversary. Check it out!

Friday, July 9, 2010


This gorgeous hand-made bag was wrapped in that magenta FQ. My Dear Jane Secret Sister really spoils me!!!

I've done cathedral windows before, but this is cathedral windows gone modern. They are large, in yummy colors, and adorned with contrast quilting stitches. My Secret Sister is not only VERY talented, she's VERY generous.

I'm a luck girl!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Today is my birthday. It's a day I share with Ringo Star! But he is older than I am! These are my gifts from my on-line friends. In the basket are all my squishies of fat quarters from a FQ birthday swap I'm in. In front is my BD gift from my Dear Jane Secret Pal.

I'll be opening later. Come back to see what I got. I'm sure it's wonderful!

Monday, July 5, 2010


As we celebrate the "4th of July" weekend, I hope we are thinking about what it stands for, Independence Day.

Sophie, on Sophie Junction blog asked how long it had been since we read the Declaration of Independence. I had to admit for me, the whole thing, quite a few years. So here it is, and I ask you the same thing. How long has it been since you read it?

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Here in the U.S.A. we are celebrating Independence Day this weekend. This flag is flying over our dune, looking out over Lake Superior.

I know the perspective of the photo makes it look although the flag would touch the ground without the wind, but I assure you that's not the case. It is flying over a hill and is in the air at all times, LOL!

Hope everyone has time for some patriotic spirit this weekend, whether it's a family picnic, stitching some red/white/blue or whatever. We'll be doing the small town parade and later the firework over the bay here. A good old-fashioned 4th.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


The Block Lotto block for July is Fireworks. Now you may see astericks, snowflakes, or whatever. But we are calliing them Fireworks in honor of Independence Day in the USA and Canada Day in Canada, and for anyone one else who does fireworks in July.

Since all blocks are Liberated this year, the fireworks are cut at odd angles, making each different and giving each their own personality. They go together extremely fast!

I'm only making these two this month, and I'm donating my chances, as I've won twice in recent months. Donated blocks/chances go to newbies and/or to those who've never won. If you are interested in Block Lotto, or in seeing more about it, click the button on my sidebar, way down.