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Make Your Own Paper Piecing Kit

I've been going quilt crazy lately. It's possibly my new sewing machine (eek!) but it may be scrolling through all the amazing pattern books Leisure Arts publishes. I've got some machine quilts planned that I'll talk about in my next post but today I want to talk to you about paper piecing. Specifically, how to put together a little on-the-go box that will knock your quilt out in no time.

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English paper piecing is a tradition quilting technique that involves wrapping a scrap of fabric around a pre-cut piece of paper. It's a very precise form of hand quilting that is waaaay easier than it sounds and a great way to get your feet wet in hand making quilts. The most traditional type of paper piecing is the hexagon shape, which I'm currently working with. There are tons and tons of different patterns though and I'll be sure to link to some of our books at the end of this post.

I'm actually going to make a series of posts about this technique as I work my way through my quilt. So if you've ever thought about giving paper piecing a try - now's the time!

You need just a few things to get started:

  • You're paper pieces (duh)
  • Fabric pieces cut to 1/4" larger than your paper pieces
  • A contrasting color thread for basting
  • A coordinating thread for sewing your pieces together
  • small scissors
  • A hand quilting needle
  • pins

That's it! Not bad, right? You'll also want a little box to keep your project in. Mine's a pencil box. I think I got it from the dollar store. Any little box will do, just make sure it closes well enough that you don't end up with little hexes strewn in the bottom of your purse.

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You may notice that all my hexes are gray. I know, right? This little quilt is a gift for my art professor and her favorite color is gray. In fact, her entire house is gray. She'll actually love the idea of this kind of intricate hand work in a monochromatic color scheme. Personally, I'd rather use every color ever. To each their own, I suppose.

One last tip before I send you on your way to get your kits together - where to get all those little paper hexes. Well, I've done some little hex appliques on pillows before (a great way to get started with paper piecing without committing to a whole quilt). There are lots of places on the internet that will give you printable sheets of hexes in various sizes that you can spend hours and hours cutting out. It's as annoying as it sounds. Believe me. This time, since I knew I was making a bajillion hexes, I went to my local craft store and picked up a hexagon shaped paper punch. It's amazing. Really. And they have several sizes available.

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I used a coupon and I think it cost around $10. If you're doing a shape other than hexagons, this obviously won't work. But I'm all about cutting corners where I can.

I use cheap card stock that I got in a pack of 50 for my paper. It's a little thicker than regular copy paper, which is nice because it holds the form while I manipulate my fabric, but it's not so thick it's hard to pin through. Lots of quilters use freezer paper but I find this is what works for me.

Ok. Off you go. Get your supplies together and I'll be back next week to talk about my favorite way to baste those little guys and sew them together. In the meantime, be sure to check out all the awesome paper piecing quilting books we have available. Here are a few of my favorites:

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