Paper piecing pictorial

With the upcoming quilt along I thought it only fitting to add a pictorial.  There are paper piecing tutorials all over the internet and I have read quite a few, even watched many videos on YouTube. Honestly, this is a combo of tips I have taken and combined that work for me. None are wrong, it all comes down to what works best for you. This is what works best for me. The paper pieced pattern is Mosaic Quilt, the QAL pattern that will start on Feb 14.

1. Trim assorted geese fabric in 2″ strips

My precutting involves cutting fabric into workable sized strips. For the Mosaic Quilt a 2″ strip is prefect. I’d rather spend the times sewing then cutting.

2.Template, add a 1/4 ruler, sky or background fabric, your colored fabric for the geese, and Elmers washable glue stick, disappearing purple.
3. Add a dab of your glue stick in the center of patch one. Glue shown is more than what was needed, for photos sake I added more.
4. Geese fabric, wrong side up for this patch, lay the template on top of the geese fabric making certain the fabric will cover the entire patch with at least 1/4″ to spare.
5. Line your turning cardstock with the line between patch 1 and 2 on the template.
6. Turn your template over cardstock.
7. Place your add a 1/4 ruler against the fold of the template and trim.
8. Trimmed
9. Lay out your sky/background fabric. With template still turned, line your trimmed geese fabric up to the edge of your sky fabric.
10. Take to your machine. Begin sewing a few stitches before your stitch line, the line between patch 1 and 2. When you reach the stitch line, lock the stitch then continue to the end of the stitch line. Lock the stitch at the end of the stitch line then continue sewing to the trim line.
11. Flip and press your sky fabric.
12. After trimming sky strip that extends past the template line the cardstock on the line between patches 1 and 3.
13. Turn template, lay add a 1/4 ruler against the folded template and trim.
14. Folded template, excess fabric trimmed. Lay out sky fabric, line up geese fabric on template with the sky fabric and take to machine.

The first fabric patch on any paper pieced template will be wrong side to the paper. Every additional patch you add will be right sides together.

15. Yes that’s oil on the template, grr, but it does make the stitches stand out. Note how I began before and extending beyond the stitch line.
16. Flip fabric and press.
17. Line your cardstock up on the line between your first geese and the bottom of the 2nd. Turn template gently so you pull the paper away from the stitches without the template ripping beyond these few stitches.
18. Flip on cardstock and trim with the add a 1/4 ruler .
19. Trimmed. Line up your colored geese fabric with the trimmed line.

This should have read:Line up your colored geese fabric with your seam allowance.

20. Take to machine and stitch. Again, note how my stitches begin before and after the stitch lines.
21. Place cardstock on the line between patches 4 and 5. Flip paper over cardstock, and trim excess with add a 1/4 ruler.
22. Trimmed
23. Again, line up the trimmed edge with the sky fabric. Take to machine and stitch.
24. This shows the fabric side of sky and geese lined up.
25. After stitching, flip fabric and press. Have you noticed how I am using the previous trimmed edge of the sky fabric? The previous trim left the sky fabric angled. I am using that angled edge to my advantage to avoid more fabric (waste) from trimmed off. The next time I use this sky fabric I will put the longest point to the outside edge of the template where I begin my stitching.
26. Use the cardstock for turning the template on every line.
27. Flip and trim
28. Add a 1/4 ruler against turned template, trim.
29.Trimmed edge I will line up with the sky fabric.
30. Line up the fabric, take to machine and stitch.
31. Line up the cardstock between the 2nd and 3rd geese. Flip template.
32. Trim
33. Second geese complete. You will follow these directions for all geese templates. At this point it doesn’t really matter how straight your outside trimming is as long as the fabric patches cover the shape on the template out to the trim line.
34. Completed template
35. Front view of completed template
36. Now for trimming your templates. The stick is pointing to the trim line. The outside line is the trim line, the inside line is the stitch line. Right now we are concerned with that trim line.
37. Using your ruler, locate the 1/4″ line on the ruler. Place that line on the stitch line, not the trim line. We want to make sure we get a true 1/4″ seam allowance past that stitch line. Once you have confirmed your ruler 1/4″ line is laying on the stitch line, trim along the ruler.
38. Template is now trimmed. My stitch line is still in tact. You can see a hint here and there of the trim line, glad I didn’t try to line my ruler up on the trim line.
39. Front of trimmed template. All the wonky fabric edges gone, all fabric covers the shapes on the template and my stitches extend to the edge of the template. See the last sky patch in the top right hand corner, how it is raised a little? This patch may be an issue when I am joining the templates to form my block. Remember that Elmers glue stick we used to hold the first patch of fabric in place while we sewed the 1st geese patch on? Well, I will be adding a dot of the glue stick to hold this patch in place. The glue stick isn’t a must but it sure makes our job easier.

In the photos below I will try to explain a little on piecing with the strips and the angled edge.

40. Using that angled edge to our advantage when paper piecing with strips. In this photo I am adding patch #4 which is geese fabric. If you look at the angle of that geese and the angle of the fabric strip, they are a match. The point might extend a little too far. Even if they aren’t perfect, we can slide the template a little to the right and still have less waste then if we precut fabric into a rectangle that would cover the geese on the template.
41. Fabric and template flipped, over card stock of course.

When I slide that template up and over the geese fabric I want to be certain I have left at least 1/4″  seam allowance. If not I will have to rip stitches which usually means ripped paper template. Then you have to add a piece of tape to stabilize the template.

42. Stitched, flipped and pressed.

My template patch is covered and I still had a little fabric trimming to do so I would have a 1/4″ seam allowance. If I had cut my geese pieces in rectangles I would be cutting off and wasting that corner of fabric.  9 times out of 10, if I had cut the geese into triangles to cover the patch the bias would have distorted my fabric with all the handling.  If that weren’t bad enough, for paper piecing flying geese it has been my experience that I had to cut the triangles a lot larger than necessary. If I didn’t, after stitching and turning my fabric I would always have the point a little off and not enough fabric on one side to leave my 1/4″ seam. So I would end up ripping stitches and my template. Tape isn’t  the easiest thing to press over. It also makes it more difficult to remove the paper if your new seam goes through the tape. Instead of my waste can being heavy because it is filled with a lot of wasted fabric pieces, it’s light and filled with small strips of fabric and paper.  Almost like going from a dry fluffy cotton ball to a soaked cotton ball.

If you are new to paper piecing I hope you can take something from this pictorial and apply it to your own work. Whether you are new or experienced, if you feel I have left something out or would like me to expand on a photo please leave a comment or click on the “Contact” tab at the top of the page and send me a private message.

On Feb 14th the first download for the QAL will be available along with another pictorial for joining the templates. So, if you have ever wanted to try paper piecing but wasn’t sure where to begin you have found a starting point. Hope to see you join in and if you do, please share your photos.

Previous post on paper piecing
A couple more things to keep in mind, I starch and press my fabric prior to cutting.
Before trimming and joining template pieces I ALWAYS press on both the fabric and paper side of each template. (Do not add more starch)


  1. Hey Denise!! I have been paper piecing for a long time and I love it. I have never thought about or have seen this method of using strips vs having to cut out each piece first! This is genius!!! Thank you for spending so much time creating this tutorial!! It is awesome! I look forward to your quilt alomg!!

    1. No I haven’t seen It either but this is the 4 th quilt I have made piecing with strips. My waste pile is much smaller now. I do save some of the larger scraps because I can almost always use them somewhere else in the to. Thank you for the compliment on the tutorial. First I thought I may have over done it. Then questions my photo notes several times. I had to stop torturing myself and just post it. If you try strip piecing let me know how it worked out for you. Good or bad. Thank you for commenting and I hope you join in.

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