Over the years I have taken a class with Carol Doak, the go to authority on paper piecing, as well as reading my share of online tutorials on the topic. This has helped me hone my own paper piecing skills. However, none have helped me cope with how to handle the mirror image vision necessary to create a paper pieced block. So, now that I have a method that works for me, I thought I would share it with you.
Cautiously Optimistic is made up of 5 rows of 8 blocks. Every single block is different, unlike traditional quilts that are formed using repetitive blocks. So, how do I keep track of which fabric goes where? My working blue print is vital. See those tiny check marks in the working blue print (Fig. 1). Those tell me which blocks I have completed and which still need to be done. The numbers at the top and along the sides are a value guide for the fabric. Number 1 represents white on white fabrics and number 10 represents the nearly black fabrics.
Since the working blue print is printed out on an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of copier paper it is too small for my old eyes to work with. Therefore, I print out individual block guides. Figure 2 is the block I just finished. See those numbers? Don’t forget that 1 stands for white. Once I have printed out the block guide, I note which white through black fabric goes where, not specific fabrics, but their values along a gray scale.
I layout all the individual pieces that make up the block on a cookie sheet. Note, they are right side up and match the block guide.
Here’s where the magic takes place. That’s the cookie sheet from Fig. 3 in Fig. 4, but what happened to the fabric from Fig. 3? If you look around the edge of the cookie sheet, you should be able to spot a corner of a piece of fabric and a mustard colored border on the left and top. Flipping the fabric is like flipping an upside down cake onto a platter. You put the platter on top of the cake, hold it securely in place and flip.
Once the cookie sheet is removed you can see the mustard colored “platter” with the fabric on top. However, this time (Fig. 5) the fabric has reversed from right to left and right side up to back side up. The platter is a stiffened felt like fabric, sturdy enough to carry from my sewing table, to the iron station and over to the cutting mat.
Even with paper piecing pattern segments it is easy to get turned around. Note in Fig. 6 how the the type face or arrows remind me which way is up. Also the segments are placed in alphabetical order starting with A in the top left corner and finishing with I in the lower right hand corner.
The individual segments are sewn, then sewn together and every single piece is where it is supposed to be with a nary a muddle. Now to add it to the rest of Cautiously Optimistic, but that will have to wait until next week.
I am linking up with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Fridays.