Thursday, 2 February 2012

Paper piecing (for Facebook's Textile Arts)

 NB: For Jane Austen fans, I've found out that the Chawton House Museum do a blog, and have put a link on the right sidebar. Currently showing and talking about bonnets.

Following a posting on Facebook, I'm showing a little bit about English Patchwork, which is done over papers.

These photos and processes were for the Life (Measures of Time) quilt which was done last year, but I'm using the same methods for the new Life piece, so I hope you won't mind the re-hashed posting! (Those amongst you who follow DMTV can get better instructions here, as I know Laura's done a great video of this method - you may have to rummage in the archive though!)

To begin with, you need a pattern. By this I simply mean a drawing, photocopy, etc of what you want to piece.

This shape on the left is a small triangle from a larger photocopy, and very handily, the printed side is coloured so that I can tell the front and back of the piece; this is important as you will see below.  (The brown paper underneath it, with all the pencil marks is just to help me remember which bit goes where and is not to do with the piecing.)

Once you have decided on a pattern, and drawn it out neatly, you will need to cut out the individual shapes from it ( -or a copy of it, if you want to keep the original in tact.) I strongly advise you to do this one at a time, and not the whole thing at once! Mark the reverse side with a pencil or something so you can tell which is the front side and which is the reverse.

I've been thinking about making myself a little stamp with arrows on it, so I can mark the front and back, and which way is up, easily and quickly.

Lay your pattern piece on your fabric. IMPORTANT: You put the paper piece on the reverse of the fabric, AND you turn over the paper piece over so the wrong side is facing up. If you've marked the reverse, this bit is easier.

Pin your shape into place, and cut the fabric about 1/2 to 1cm bigger than your paper shape. Thread a needle in a colour that will show up well, and simply fold the material over the paper shape, and baste into place. It should be done so that the material is firmly held but not pulled tightly.

Pay particular attention to corners. I like to put a definite stitch into the corners so I can be sure the shape is right, and all is held firm.

The basted shape should look something like this. As you can see, I don't think there's any need to be overly fussy about your stitches at this point!

You can achieve piecing with really irregular or awkward shapes using this method. In this photo the front of the piece is now visible and I've held it next to it's partner so you can see how the pieces will fit together.

It's now a matter of using an overstitch to piece the shapes together. Take care with this to ensure a good fit. Make your stitches small and even if you can.

Tips: try not to sew through the papers themselves, and start your overstitching away from the corner and sew into it, then, sew back along the seam. This way you don't see lots of ends and it makes the finished piece smoother.

The photo shows the seam when it's stitched. I've finished off by going back over my sewn edge to secure and neaten the corner and ensure there will be no flapping threads on the front.

This is now the reverse of the piece. The papers are still in place and will be until I finish.

The front of the piece. Because the papers are still there, it looks a little stiff.

When completed, remove tacking, remove papers, and press.

I couldn't have joined these shapes in any other way.

It's also worth remembering that if you want your finished piece to end up at a particular size to fit into something else, you will need to slightly shave every paper piece before wrapping it in it's fabric. That may seem a real pain, but if you think about it, each piece of paper fits it's neighbour exactly. If you put fabric around the shape it increases it's size very very slightly. Putting lots of slightly larger pieces together will make the finished piece marginally bigger.  This may not matter, but it's worth bearing in mind.

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