Paper Piecing Quilt Instructions

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Paper piecing is a method of quilting where small or complex pieces are part of the quilt block. Quilters use the paper as a stabilizer and a pattern at the same time. Keep in mind before beginning any paper-pieced quilt project that this is an advanced quilting method and takes some time to master. Experiment with your paper piecing techniques using scrap fabrics before beginning work on your actual quilt. Start with an easy pattern to perfect your paper piecing techniques before taking on a larger and more difficult project.

The Pattern

Make sure your desired pattern comes with a printable, full-size copy of the block pattern. Most paper-pieced quilt patterns allow you to make copies of the pattern piece from the book. The pattern should have numbers telling you which piece to add first, second and so on. Use any type of paper for paper piecing--make sure that it fits into your printer and that you can easily see the printed design.

Print out one pattern piece for each block. For example, if your quilt has 30 blocks that are the same, print out 30 copies of the block pattern. The paper pattern is not reusable.

Prepare the Pattern

Fold along all the lines of the pattern on the piece of paper. This helps you to easily see where to place your next piece of fabric. You can fold all the pattern pieces all at once or just do one at a time as you work on the quilt. Unfolded pieces of paper are more easily stored.

Some paper-pieced patterns require you to work from the back side of the paper when doing all your sewing. This is a little difficult and sometimes you may need to hold the paper up to the light to help you get just the right placement of the fabric on the paper pattern piece.

Sewing Your Pattern

Place your first piece of fabric in the designated place on the paper. Make sure your fabric is bigger than the actual portion of the pattern to allow for overlapping of fabric and seam allowances. Use a straight pin to hold the first piece of fabric in place, but make sure the pin is out of the way of the next seam.

Set piece number 2 right side down on top of piece number 1. Make sure that when you sew it and unfold it, it will be in the proper place on the paper piecing. Sew the seam. Flip piece number 2 open and press with an iron.

Keep adding pieces in the order directed by the pattern. Iron each piece as you add it to make flat, neat seams.

Finishing the Block

Remove all the excess paper from the back of the pattern block. Trim the edges of the block to the appropriate size for the quilt block.


  • Creative Scraps, Quilting With Bits and Pieces, 2006

Photo Credits

  • Steve Baccon/Photodisc/Getty Images