Thursday, 6 February 2014

January Bee Blocks aka Terrifying!

I'm behind on telling you about my Bee Blocks for the Global Scrap Bee.  I procrastinated on December's blocks and didn't even blog them.  Too bad, since they were adorable I Spy Polaroid blocks!  I did post them to my IG though. Our Queen Bee for January was Anna from Quilting Along the Grain.  Anna requested the Kaleidoscope Block by Rita at Red Pepper Quilts.  Oh and it is a paper piecing pattern!!  I have never done one of these.  I've been tempted by lots but never quite worked up the nerve to try one.  Honestly, without this push, I may have gone forever without trying it.

I was very nervous about attempting these blocks so I started by watching several videos and reading a handful of blog posts on paper piecing.  It seemed pretty straightforward so I printed out the templates and got started.  Oh, but wait!  This block has two pieces that need to be pieced together.  Nothing I read/watched said anything about that.  Hopefully, it won't cause too much trouble.

Attempt number one and I put my fabric on backwards.  Attempt number two and I didn't position the second piece right, which meant it didn't cover the whole surface it needed to.  No problem!  I expected a few botched attempts.  That's why I printed four templates right!

Attempt number three provided two successful halves!  And a mess when I joined them together.  I was starting to get pretty frustrated at this point but decided that maybe the fourth time would be the ticket.

I was wrong.  And near tears, I was so frustrated.  So I walked away for a few days.

On my second day paper piecing, I printed out 6 copies and sat down determined to get it right!  Attempt 5 was a failure at the joining stage.  I needed help.  I took a picture, posted to IG and begged for help from Rita.  She is awesome and immediately responded.  Over the next 20 minutes she sent me some tips and suggestions for getting my points to match up.

Attempt 6 yielded a successful block!  Attempt 7 another failure :(  Attempt 8 was also a success and I believe I figured out what I was doing wrong at this point!

I had hoped to make 4 blocks to send but at this point I was just done with paper piecing!  Since it was nearing February and our February Queen Bee, Aylin had already posted her block I took a peek.  And then sighed in relief.  She had chosen a relatively simple domino block.  I grabbed my low volume fabrics, got cutting and shortly had two sets of blocks finished.  I really needed a quick and easy finish, too.

How about you guys?  Any paper piecing horror stories?  Or any tips for a beginner paper piecer?


  1. Oh, Leigh Anne! Didn't you know that everyone starts PP by sewing their fabric on backwards? It's a rite of passage. :) The fiddly-ness of PP really does pay off in the long run when you get all those lovely precise points. I haven't had too much trouble with it as a technique, but I know at least one MMQG member that won't touch it with a ten foot pole. As for advice, be forewarned that it can become addictive and that it's a great project to work on when you've only got a short time to work. I have PP projects that I've put down for months (oh, let's face it... years) and have come back to without a hiccup.

  2. That's right...I HATE PP. I like the outcome of PP, but I just do not love the process. Great job, Leigh Anne!!

  3. Practice makes better. Sounds cliche, but its true when it comes to PP. The one trick I tell everyone - first sew the seam with a really big stitch size, much bigger than usual. Then flip over your piece and make sure its right, then sew with the super tiny stitch size you're supposed to use with the paper. That way, if its wrong, you're spending less time with your seam ripper. Also, until you're very very confident in it, use bigger than necessary pieces. There will be less frustration. But it will get better and even become addictive!! I promise!

  4. I love paper piecing! For me is the only way to get the points all perfect (or as close to perfect as humanly possible ;) ).
    I highly recommend you to check this post from the great Jennifer at Sewhooked ( She has a full (video) tutorial that walk you through all the steps of a pattern with quite challenging issues (weird angles, points, many pieces to put together, etc). She shares all her tips so it's a great thing to watch if you are a beginner! And don't give up!! It requires practice but now I am creating all my patterns in PP (also the traditional ones) because it allows me to be much much more precise even if I don't have a perfect 1/4 seam allowance or I don't cut the fabric perfectly straight! :)

  5. I must say, paper piecing is not my thing. I have done it, and would consider doing it again, but it looks like a lot of effort. You demonstrated great perseverance, and ended up with a great result. Now go work on something you truly love!

  6. This was maybe the second paper pieced block I tried, and it was the one that helped me get how to do it with less flailing and seam ripping:

    But I still put pieces on backwards at least once per block :) I haven't done tons of it yet, but I did a sampler quilt that had I think 5 or 6 paper pieced blocks, so I've managed to get comfortable with it.

    I like to fold the seam allowance under and then position the piece the way it'll be after it's sewn and folded in place to make sure it's right, and then I lay it out flat with the fold line lined up with the line on the paper.

  7. wish I had some words of wisdom to help, but alas, paper piecing has always been a trial and error for me. I do like it though :) Your February blocks look good too. I haven`t started this month`s blocks yet:(

  8. I haven't done any paper piecing yet, so I'm not a fount of wisdom, but I can give you a virtual high five for sticking with it!