Adventures in Paper Piecing

Starry Path

I have had the bug to create some scrappy stars for quite some time. Since I had finished a few UFOs (unfinished objects), I felt like I earned the right to start another project…which may or may not become another UFO in the stack! I went online looking at all sorts of star blocks. I’m not really sure what I was thinking given my hatred for angles. I just love how they look finished!

I found this block called Starry Path 2 and it looked right up my alley. I sort of disregarded the fact that it was a paper pieced block. How hard could it be, right? First, I would highly recommend to those that have never done paper piecing, read some directions. Which I didn’t. I figured I would just cut all the pattern pieces out, cut the fabric 1/4″ bigger than all the pieces, and sew them together in the right number order. In theory, that works. In reality, things just did.not.line.up.straight. At the end of the day my block would not lay flat.

Attempt #2. I read the directions and did the paper piecing. It still took me an hour to make the block you see above and I was ripping stuff out left and right. And I wasted quite a bit of fabric. But my block actually worked! I’m not sure if I have it in me to make enough of these for even a small wall quilt. That was my original plan. Maybe over time. Maybe this is destined to become part of a pillow….

Any words of encouragement from paper piecing experts?



  1. Reply


    February 22, 2011

    I’ve no advice, as I’ve never tried paper piecing being a new quilter myself. But I just wanted to tell you that I think your block is beautiful. Well done for persevering through the difficult patch there 🙂

  2. Reply


    February 22, 2011

    That turned out great! I have yet to try paper piecing, but will have to sometime soon!

  3. Reply


    February 22, 2011

    I LOVE paper piecing! I’m far from an expert, but I love the fact that you don’t have to worry about accurate cutting. Just cut large, sew on the line, and it’ll turn out great. I think you just have to get out of the traditional-piecing mindset, and then you’ll enjoy it more and it will go faster. Don’t worry so much about cutting the pieces—accept that you’ll waste some fabric doing it this way. Cut big chunks (bigger than you THINK you need), make sure you lay them on the paper at the correct angle, and you’re good to go.

  4. Reply


    February 22, 2011

    I did quite a bit of paper piecing several years ago. You don’t even have to worry about following grainlines, since the paper stabilizes the fabric. Blocks always turn out perfectly no matter how intricate they may seem. Keep working with it, it’s fun and you will get much faster. A block like the one you did will take you less than 10 minutes 🙂

    • Reply


      February 23, 2011

      10 minutes – well that is encouraging!

  5. Reply


    February 22, 2011

    As always, great choice of fabrics Faith! I’d love to hear about good tips you get on paper piecing –

  6. Reply

    Kris McCorvey

    February 22, 2011

    Faith – What a wonderful choice of fabrics and the block is really interesting. I find paper piecing to be really easy to do. It really makes precision piecing a breeze. While you can see that in the smaller triangles you have preserved the 1/4 inch seam allowance; on the larger triangles, not so much! Your points in the middle line up so expertly with a little practice I think you will be praising paper piecing. It does tend to waste a little fabric, but you always need to be checking underneath to make sure that your fabric extends where you need it to. Good luck and a quilt would be so lovely!

  7. Reply


    February 22, 2011

    Love the colors. The pattern is cool too. I think you can easily make a lap quilt with the pattern. Though a throw pillow or 2 would be super cute. With results like yours, I may have to give paper piecing another go. No matter what you do with the block it will be cute.

  8. Reply

    Rachel at Stitched in Color

    February 22, 2011

    I know nothing, but that star design is striking. Something about it borders are harsh. I really like the rainbow you brought to it.

  9. Reply


    February 22, 2011

    The most frustrating thing is that sometimes you feel like you are working upside down and backwards. You think in your brain that the angle is going one way and when you put the fabric down, it’s going the wrong way. The one thing that helped me was to trace the trickier pieces on freezer paper, iron it on the fabric(I’ll check whether it is ironed to the right or wrong side–that would make a big difference, otherwise you will be cutting it wrong–again–and it’s been a long time so I don’t quite remember). Anyway, then cut 1/2 inch all the way around. It ensures that the angle will be going the correct way and the size will be more than enough.

    • Reply


      February 23, 2011

      Yes! The backwards upside down things is what is getting to me and causing a lot of ripping out of stitches. I’m sure once I get into the swing of things my mind would flip a switch and it wouldn’t be so confusing for me.

  10. Reply


    February 23, 2011

    What a fun block with life-celebrating colors! I had the same experience, myself, when I first did paper piecing a couple of years ago. Hated it, actually. Well, a couple of months ago I stumbled onto a pattern of a quilt I loved so much, I had to try the paper piecing world again. So glad I bit the bullet!

    The technique taught in this pattern is much, much easier than any other method I’d tried. In fact, I was so happy with it, that I worked up a “tutorial” just yesterday with lots of pictures. I felt it was fine to do that since the “author” has the basic instructions posted online, anyway. Why don’t you take a look and see if it’s any different from the method your instructions gave?

    The only thing I didn’t address is cutting the fabric out for the pieces – the pattern comes with a cutting template that significantly reduces fabric waste. No more huge rectangles for every section with tons of overage.

    Nice to “meet” you! Hope you don’t mind me leaving a comment – was just surfing the blogs that blogs I follow follow. . . ;D Mine’s quite young, so I’d be honored by your visit. Have a nice day!

    • Reply


      February 23, 2011

      Oh thank you for the link – I am going to definitely check out your tutorial!

  11. Reply


    February 23, 2011

    You know, thinking about cutting out the fabric and the method I posted about –

    As someone has mentioned, we don’t need to worry about the grain lines. If you were making several blocks of the same design, here is what I would do:

    Print out the foundation papers with an extra one so I could cut one apart into the separate pieces. (I’d number the pieces first if they weren’t already – at least on the cut-aparts and one of the foundations.)

    Stack the fabrics RIGHT SIDE UP for each piece and lay the pattern piece RIGHT SIDE UP on top of them.

    Cut around the pattern piece with a good 1/2″ allowance. (I would perhaps give myself 3/4″ allowance for the fist few blocks. After that, you’ll be confident enough for the narrower allowance.)

    I’d cut them all out and clip each section together with a dog clip. (And with the pattern piece on top so I know where it’ll go.)

  12. Reply


    February 23, 2011

    I’ve never tried paper piecing. Thanks for the tip on reading the instructions first….I would probably do the same thing you did and not read them and get very frustrated 🙂 Great job on this!

  13. Reply


    February 27, 2011

    I just tried this myself on Thursday. . yours looks awesome. I can’t wait to see what you try next.

  14. Reply


    March 1, 2011

    You are very brave to go for this…and the results are stunning….and thanks to Lynette for the link and good advice.

  15. Reply


    March 19, 2011

    Patience grasshopper! It is like anything new….it takes a bit of time and practise to get it right. Your block looks fabulous!