Paper Piecing: Perfection OR Persecution?

0.75x 1x 1.25x 1.5x 2x 0:0000:18:20 Paper Piecing: Perfection OR Persecution?


Episode Summary

Paper Piecing is a surprisingly controversial topic in the quilt community. Some people absolutely love the precise points and unique design options that come with the stitch and flip sewing method that paper piecing requires. Some people absolutely hate the counterintuitive assembly and the mess of dealing with paper afterward. The episode hits the highs and lows of paper piecing by hearing from several quilters about their experiences with this creative form.

Episode Notes

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Special thanks to  the following stitching sisters for sharing their comments

Chiquita Pearson

Bonita Nance

Carole Lyles Shaw

Tierney Davis Hogan

Michelle Ramsay

Lisa Rice

Vanessa Dodo Seriki

KJH Quilter

Read Full Transcript

Lisa Woolfork  0:13  

Hello stitchers. Welcome to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch,  the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.  

Hey, friends, hey. Welcome to this fat quarter episode. A fat quarter, if you don't know already, is a quarter yard of fabric that has a little bit of junk in the trunk if you know what I mean, a little badi-yadi-yadi. It's designed to be more useful for quilt projects such as applique, or craft projects that require a more robust piece of fabric. So a fat quarter is a more consolidated version of the traditional quarter yard of fabric. A quarter yard of fabric measures nine inches by 44 inches wide, typically for quilting, cotton's and that is not particularly useful if you are using paper piecing, for example, as a way to assemble your quilt. So instead of using that long, skinny rectangle, they use a fat quarter. And so this episode is our very first fat quarter episode. A fat quarter in the context of Stitch Please means that we are going to help you get your stitch together in about 18 and 22 minutes or less. That's right. Each fat quarter episode will be 18 to 22 minutes or less. So here we go. Today's episode is about paper piecing, a surprisingly controversial topic in the quilt community. Some people love it, some people hate it. And we are going to talk with quilters today who have graciously agreed to share their experiences. I hope you enjoyed their stories as much as I did. Thank you so much. And here we go.

Chiquita Pearson  3:23  

Hello, this is Chiquita Pearson, instagram handle @chi_quilta. Paper piecing is something I have a love hate relationship with. I love paper piecing because you can do intricate blocks that have nice, sharp points in blocks. They have a lot more detail, besides traditional blocks where you only use, you know, your squares, your half square triangles, rectangles, stuff like that. What I dislike about paper piecing, it probably could just be my technique, is I waste a lot of fabric because I don't know how many times I use a fabric for a specific section, stitch it and go to flip it and it's too short. So then I have to start all over again. And then depending on where I'm at in the pattern, I might have to start from square one. That is no fun. Another issue that I have, I'll say, I is sometimes I put the fabric on backwards, wrong size, I mean. My love hate relationship started with paper piecing when I had to do a commission Zeta quilt and I want to put four doves in the corner of this quilt. So I found this pattern. I guess a little bit advanced for me because I probably only did paper piece like one other time and it was probably something but four little sections. So I tackled this after probably doing six doves. I got four good ones. And I learned a lot from that. But, don't knock it until you try it.

Bonita Nance  5:17  

Bonita Nance, on Instagram I'm @nancebenita. I identify as a modern quilter. I love bright and beautiful fabrics and batiks are my favorite. I'm a third generation sewist, creator, and designer and sharer. I've been sewing for over 50 years and quilting for 21. I'm a seeker of skill building and that's what drew me to quilting. I wanted to create my own things, utilizing the different skills and techniques that you get from quilting. I love foundation paper piecing, aka fpp. It takes your skills and creations to the next level. It's the same concept as traditional piecing and quilting, but the precision is 99.9% guaranteed with fpp. My ultimate goal was to learn the skill and technique so I could apply it to my creations bring my perspective to the table or putting my stamp on things. In order to do that, I had to understand the what, why, and how. I participated in two 100 days 100 blocks fpp challenges, created a psalms quilt that was entirely fpp, and now am working with quilters gather, which brought my sewing and fpp skills into play. I am a believer that anyone can learn fpp you just have to seek out the right teacher to explain exactly what the book on fpp is trying to teach you. I looked at YouTube, read books and developed my own style and approach to fpp and I've never looked back. I really do enjoy it. I am really amazed at the product and the accuracy and that's my view on ftp. Thank you so much for listening.

Carole Lyles Shaw  7:08  

Hi this is Carole and you can find me on Instagram @CaroleLylesShaw, and that's Carole with an e. Idon't do a lot of paper piecing. I did write one paper pieced pattern of ... like most people I don't enjoy tearing out all the little tiny pieces of paper, but I find that if I use the cheapest copy paper around and shorten my stitch length those pieces of paper will come right out so when I want precision points, I will do some paper piecing. Thanks so much, have fun. Bye bye.

Tierney Davis Hogan  8:03  

Hello this is Tierney Davis Hogan from and I want to share how I feel about foundation paper piecing. Now this is on foundation paper piecing, not the fun kind of paper piecing - english paper piecing - where you use the hexagons and it's fun handwork. I'm talking about the paper piecing with a foundation pattern where you have to do all these sorts of weird maneuvers, so I think that if you are bad in life and go to the underworld when you die, as your punishment, you will be made to do foundation paper piecing all day long. So warning: Live a good life, as that is way too terrible and eternal torture. So that's how I feel about foundation paper piecing. I don't particularly like it.

Michelle Ramsay  9:13  

Hi, this is Michelle Ramsay with Quilts Made With Love in Berea, Kentucky. My IG handle is quilts_madewithlove. I love foundation paper piecing. I've been doing it on and off for years and love the precise angles you could get with it. You can do designs that there's really just no other way to sew them. But the hard part about it is every time I do it for the first time after a few months, I have to relearn it. So the first few blocks that I make, I just know they're going to be backwards, flipped around the wrong side of the fabric, or something. But once i get the hang of it, it's great and I love doing it.

Lisa Rice  10:11  

Hey, it's Lisa Rice. And I thought I would try to find the very first pattern I used for paper piecing and in fact I did. It's in this book called Cups and Saucers. The copyright date is 1999. Yeah, I bought it in ... oh, I bought it in 2002, bought it in 2002. So I made this ... my very first paper piecing adventure was from a book. And it's, you know, you did your own pattern and from, from what is in the book, you made the pattern and then created the quilt. I created a wall hanging for my aunt, who, back then was in her 70s. She is now 91. And she has it hanging up in her kitchen. And I absolutely love seeing it. It's amazing the things that I didn't know about quilting and paper piecing back then. As I said, this is my very first project, doing something from a book with no one no person to teach me. But it turned out really well. And as I recall, I didn't make any mistakes. It was just very easy. It was a very easy book to follow - very easy instructions. So, fast forward, from 2002 to 2018, when I joined a bee in the DC Modern Quilt Guild. And that was a real eye opener for me because one of the very first squares to make was, like around... it was a circle, but that just doesn't do it justice - triangles within a circle and certain colors and so forth. And that made me cry. It was incredibly frustrating not to have step by step instructions. And mind you, I had not done any paper piecing between 2002 and 2018. So I was beyond rusty. And because I'd been quilting on and off during that period of time, I thought I could just remember, like riding a bike. Well, for me, paper piecing is not like riding a bike. I have to do it again and again and again and again to get it right. But that was ... it was a lot of fun. Although I can't even count how many times that I cut off, you know, paper or cut a piece of fabric that should have been saved, or whatever. My big lesson learned for paper piecing is to go ahead and use excess fabric. I don't try to economize when I'm trying to do a piece because inevitably, within three or four pieces, it'll be a mess.

I took a New York Beauty class with Sarah Bond, paper piecing, and Sarah has pretty incredible skills as far as instruction and she also does an awesome job on providing templates for fabric to cut. And the New York Beauty was a great way for me to step back into paper piecing after my crying. It was actually guild workshop and everyone would laugh about, there's no tears in paper piecing. And Sarah did get me over that hump. And to be honest, I absolutely love the way Sarah teaches and I love her patience, which is just overwhelming. And she taught me, I think, just to be more patient and kind with myself in paper piecing. I love the precision. I love being able to get great angles, I love the results. And I've taken the New York Beauty class three times, three times. I took it in 2018 or 19 and I took it in 19 and at the beginning of 20, maybe... I don't know, but I've taken it three times. Right now, my current paper piecing is the Around the World block of the month with Sheri Cilfaldi Morrill. I'm having a great time and some of those blocks are appearing on instagram. My january block is done and my february block is done. I hope that helps. Bye!

Vanessa Dodo Seriki  15:35  

My name is Vanessa. My IG handle is @sew_n_craft. I'm a huge fan of foundation paper piecing. For me, it's like creating the pieces to a puzzle and then sewing it all together and it's one of the most satisfying things to see how all of the pieces come together to create such beautiful pieces of art. So for me, I am a fan.

KJH Quilter  16:14  

Hey, Lisa! KJH Quilter here. So you want to know why don't like paper piecing. I don't enjoy the process. I think it's time consuming and messy. I can appreciate the precision aspect of it though. I would like to make a Mariners Compass someday, but outside of that, no it's it's not for me.

Lisa Woolfork  16:52  

You've been listening to a fat quarter episode of the stitch please podcast, where we help you get your stitch together in 18 to 22 minutes or less. Be sure to follow us on the socials @BlackWomenStitch on Instagram. You can chat with us every Thursday at 3pm, eastern standard time. On on Clubhouse, you can find us @BlackWomenStitch and we chat in that wonderful two-way platform from 3:45pm to 4:30pm, eastern standard time. So stop by and check us out and we will help you get your stitch together.

Transcribed by

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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