Paper Piecing tutorial pt 1


Tutorial on how I paper piece using strips.

Today I am going to speak with you about :

  • Tool list
  • Cutting templates from sheets and organization.
  • Fabric



  • You will need a hot iron. Preferably no steam since paper is involved.
  • Add-A-Quarter Ruler.  ™ If you do not have one you can use a see through ruler with a clear 1/4″ line.
  • Elmers  Washable School Glue or pins. The glue will make sense when we begin to join the completed templates.
  • Elmers Glue Stick (I prefer purple). For securing your first patch on each template.
  • Card stock for turning, such as a post card. I use the 3 x 5 photo paper that comes with ink cartridges.
  • Rotary cutter and mat will speed the process but you could get by with scissors.
  • I prefer 50 wt cotton thread for paper piecing. Keep in mind heavier thread, heavier seams.
  • A clear ruler with a well defined 1/4″  line
  • The paper I choose to use for printing templates is newsprint from my local office supply because it rips more cleanly. You can however use regular printer paper. Thanks for the question Roseanne.


The fabric I am using is from Island  Batik Stash Builders. Stash  builders are rolls of 5″  fabric. Each roll contains 4 strips in various colors and are packaged in rolls of 5. Therefor each pack contains roughly 2 3/4 yards. They are great for scrappy projects or applique.

For the background I am using Custard by Island Batik. It is a lovely lovely fabric and may replace my favorite muslin as my go to background fabric.


Fabrics unrolled and sorted.

Find the value in your fabric and sort, dark, medium and light. Not required, just my process.


Stack according to value.


Are you planning on going scrappy or using the darkest fabrics on the border and go lighter as you move towards the center?

Organizing fabric tips

Let’s assume you want to start with your lightest shade in the medallion and gradually go darker as you move out to the border. Most cell phones have a monochrome feature. Take a photo of your fabric with that feature on and begin sorting your fabric by values into 5 stacks, whitest value to black.  Take as many photos and rearrange until you are satisfied with each stack. If may help to do as I did above and begin with 3 stacks. Then snap a photo and sort again and again until you have 5 stacks.

For a scrappy finish you can follow the same organizing tips above.

Once you are satisfied, let’s move to the templates.



When printing templates it will save sorting time if you do not collate. Print to actual size.

  • I recommend you print 1 copy of each non-template page. Then, print the correct number of copies noted on each template page, do not collate.  For instance, if your template sheets are pages 6-10 and you need 4 copies your printer settings will be: 1) under number of copies add number four  2) uncheck the collate box 3) print to actual size 4) click page range and type 6 space – space 10 (example 6 – 10) . This will ensure all templates are printed with the same setting. If you are new to paper piecing you may want to print an extra copy of each page just in case. It is also helpful to make a note somewhere on the pattern of any changes you have made to the printer setting to reference if you need to print additional templates.
  • It’s helpful to print a test page. Measure the red 1″ line on the template sheets, it should measure 1″. If it does not you have 2 choices. Adjust your printer settings and print again or use them.  In this case your finished size may be smaller or larger than the specified size given on the pattern. You will also want to be certain the line measures the same on each template sheet. If one page measures 3/4″ every page should measure 3/4″ or you will be wasting your time piecing them.


Separate the template sheets according to page numbers.

  • Stack like sheets together in same direction. For instance, stack all of page 6 together.
  • Cut templates from sheet outside the cut line, I like to use a clear 18″ ruler for this and cut (for instance) all page 6’s with one pass. Just make sure the paper stack does not shift or you risk cutting into the templates.
  • As you cut stack large geese, stack medium geese, stack small geese, stack medallion , stack right border, stack left border and clip each stack together. Trimming of the templates does not have to be perfect as long as you trim outside the cut line.

Pair your 5 stacks of fabric with each quilt section. Large geese, medium geese, small geese, medallion, right/left border.

Further organizing

Find part 2 here

Tutorial 2 will cover cutting fabric. Once your fabric is cut you can further organize it for piecing.

Watch for it on Monday, April 6th: My first video tutorial.

  • Measuring templates for cutting strips
  • How to paper piece with strips

Join me every Thursday for Put your foot down and link your current project or recent finish.


put your foot down


  1. Hi Denise, your instructions are very clear. I like your tip about using your camera’s black and white feature to determine the value of your fabric. I’m afraid that I’ve only gotten as far as printing up the pattern. Hopefully I will have time to join you soon.
    Thanks so much for linking up to Free Motion Mavericks!

  2. Wow I just found your blog this morning. I was looking for something to get my creative mojo going. I think this is it. I’m off to get my notebook. I need to study what you have given in round one. Thank you so much.

    1. Thank you Sarah. I have 1 video complete and another to do this weekend for the tutorial. Email me info on your link up and I’ll share it Thursday in Put your foot down.

  3. Hi Denise! I’m not a paper piecer but I am going to follow this with interest. I do have a block that I’d like to PP . . . but it looks a bit hard. Do you have a preference on the type of paper you use? ~smile~ Roseanne

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