some advice for beginners (a plea!)
I was one of the winners of the Amish house blocks a few months ago, and I’m almost done putting them together for one of my nephews. I have definitely run into some frustration, though, so I wanted to mention a few paper-piecing tips for those who may not have done much of it before…
First, you really do need to make sure that there is something close to a 1/4″ seam allowance! Look at the two pictures below — the seam allowance starts out too small and tapers down to nothing… this means that the first time the quilt is washed it will come apart. There are no fairies who are going to magically fix this for you, so you really need to look at your blocks before you send them out or put them into your own quilts.When paper piecing it is necessary to use smaller stitches so that they don’t pull as much when you tear the paper off. This will keep your stitching neater and help keep the block together at the edges.
Next, if you decided to do a row of stitching around the block when you’re done, to stabilize it, please make sure that the stitching is inside the seam allowance. Otherwise, it will show and someone will have to go back and pull out your stitches later on.
When you are doing paper piecing, it is important to continue your stitching past the seam allowance (some people backstitch, and that’s okay, too) but if you stop stitching right at the edge of the piece you’re adding, a few stitches will come undone when you tear the paper off, and then you will end up with a very “delicate” piece of work. I had to re-sew the edges of a whole bunch of houses because the seams had “disappeared” for the last 1/2″.
And a general bit of advice — if you are sewing on black and other dark fabrics, please do not use white thread. It will show everywhere a seam is pressed. Please use gray or something darker.
Unfortunately I didn’t notice that there were a few houses with no seam allowance before I sewed them all together — so I need to un-sew a few and make new ones. I hope to have the finished top to show off by this evening!
Especially when you are trying paper foundation piecing for the first time, it’s important to check AFTER you remover the paper, to make sure that you have adequate seam allowances. It’s easy to make that mistake until you get the hang of it.
The Block Lotto is meant to be Beginner-Friendly and in that respect, blocks are not expected to be perfect, BUT they are expected to be usable. If you make a block that you wouldn’t be able to use yourself in a quilt, PLEASE don’t send it on to someone else . . . it’s just not the nice thing to do.