Beginning Paper Piecing, Midnight at the Oasis QAL

Basic Paper Piecing Tutorial
Are you ready to sew your medallion for our Quilt-Along?
On my last post, I posted basic instructions for converting your center triangle blocks for the Midnight at the Oasis pattern into paper foundation patterns for piecing. Here I will show how I pieced the triangles using the foundations that I drafted. 
These techniques can be used for any basic paper or foundation pieced block.
You will need to make four of the triangles pictured above to complete your center medallion block.
copy and  cut out the patterns
1. make four copies of the foundation patterns (above). Cut out the patterns outside the seam allowance (dashed) lines.
label patterns with numbers
if desired, label the pieces with numbers to indicate the order in which they will be pieced. On pre-made patterns, the numbers are printed on the patterns for you. 
2. choose fabrics to correspond with the numbered spots on the patterns. You can piece them randomly with a variety of colors, or plan the placement of specific colors or prints. 
**some people dislike paper piecing due to the amount of fabric that is wasted during the process. To reduce the waste and simplify the process, you may like to make templates. Simply copy your pattern onto an extra sheet of paper and cut out the shapes on the sewing lines. Use the shapes as templates to cut out pieces of fabric. It is very important to add a minimum of 1/2 inch on all sides of the template when you cut them out of fabric. This is shown in photos on This Post**
3. choose one foundation pattern to start piecing. Place the pattern face down on sewing surface, so that the numbers and sewing lines are face down (left, photo below).
place pattern face down as on the Left
4. place the fabric scrap (or template) you have chosen for position #1 over the paper pattern (right side of fabric facing up, above left) so that it completely covers the area of the position #1 triangle plus seam allowance on all three sides (orange fabric above)
5. place the fabric you have chosen for position two on on top of fabric one, right sides facing:
white and orange fabrics are Right Sides Facing
make sure white fabric will cover intended area two once it is sewn
**it is wise at this point to hold the fabrics together at the seam line as if they are sewn and open them to ensure that fabric two (white) is positioned so that it will completely cover the #2 triangle on the pattern once it is sewn, opened and pressed**
6. return fabrics to right-sides-facing position. If needed, pin the fabric and paper layers together. Turn the entire unit over so that you are now looking at the right side of the pattern (you can see the numbers and lines). You are now looking at the WRONG side of fabric #1 (the orange piece)
turn unit over so you can see sewing lines and numbers
6. place the entire unit on sewing machine. You will only be sewing along the line that separates triangles #1 and #2 on your pattern. Reduce your stitch length so that stitches are very close, I use 1.5 on my Pfaff machine.
start sewing just outside the outer pattern line
7. start the seam just two stitches outside of the outer pattern sewing line, not at the outer seam allowance (dashed) line. See above.
Continue sewing along line between pieces #1 and #2
finish seam two stitches past the pattern line
8. cut thread and remove pattern/fabric unit. If needed, trim seam allowance to 1/4″ prior to pressing.
Photo below shows the piece we just sewed (orange and white) with fabrics opened and pressed. The unit on the right shows a seam that has been sewn and trimmed to 1/4″ seam. It is ready to be opened and pressed.
9. now it is time to add the fabric for position #3. Place the pattern face down on the sewing surface. You should be looking at the right sides of the white and orange fabrics and the back of the foundation pattern.
place fabric #3 right sides facing fabric #2
Place fabric #3 (yellow) with right sides facing fabric #2 (white). Estimate the location of the seam line between #2 and #3 and position the yellow fabric so that it will cover the #3 space once it is sewn, opened and pressed. 
**At this point, Fabric #3 WILL NOT be covering the pattern space for #3. It will cover the #3 space once it is sewn and opened.

I like to hold the unit up to a window or light source so that I can see the position of the fabric I am adding (yellow) relative to the foundation pattern. This allows me to make sure I have good coverage for seam allowance. 
In the photo above, I can see that when I sew along the line between #2 and #3, I will leave approximately 1/4″ seam allowance.
10. Place this unit on the sewing machine and sew along the line between spaces #2 and #3 on the paper pattern. Open and press. It should look like this:
foundation pattern with pieces #1, #2, #3 sewn on and pressed
11. Add the fabric for position #4 in the same way:
place fabric right sides facing, ensure adequate seam allowance

**Remember: at this point the fabric #4 (blue) is not covering position #4 on the pattern. It is placed right sides facing with the white (#2) fabric. Once it is sewn, opened and pressed, it will then cover position #4.

turn unit over and prepare to sew along line between #2 and #4

sewn seam trimmed to 1/4″

front of pieced unit will all fabrics sewn in place
Now all the numbered spaces on the pattern are covered by their assigned fabrics. Turn the pattern over so that you are looking at the back of your fabrics, the front of the foundation pattern:
the back of the fabrics, front of the foundation pattern

 12. place the quarter-inch line of a ruler on the solid, outer sewing line of the pattern:

use rotary cutter to cut along the dashed line. This lease the quarter-inch seam allowance on the pieced unit. Once trimmed, your pieced unit should look like this:

Use the steps to piece all of the triangle foundation patterns
make four of each component

13. sew the components together to form pyramid units
Isn’t this exciting? Paper piecing gets kind of a bad rep. for being a pain in the rear, but I am betting if you try this, you will love the results.
Even if you aren’t making the Midnight quilt with me, I hope this is a useful tutorial that you can apply to any paper piecing project you might tackle.
since all of this came out of my own head (with two wild boys pirating in the background), please let me know if I have not written something clearly.
happy sewing,
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7 thoughts on “Basic Paper Piecing Tutorial

  1. these instructions look so clear. Will have to give this a try in the next few days! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Margy Mc says:

    I can’t believe this looks so easy. I am about to make squares for a swap and THIS fantastic tutorial will absolutely help me.

  3. This is a great tutorial Sharon – I will link to it in my post on Friday if that’s okay?

  4. mc says:

    Thank you for your last two posts, i now know where/how to start!

  5. Great idea! Thanks for the tutoruial! I think i´ll give it a try! 🙂

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