Interested in designing your own low poly quilt from a photograph or image? Check out Low Poly Quilt Making, Part 1: Design!
Welcome to Part 2 in my Low Poly Quilt Making series: constructing the quilt. As I briefly touched upon in Part 1, my technique for low poly quilts does not require prior knowledge of designing paper piecing templates. Your template can include whatever weird shapes you’d like, and in your design you don’t have to worry one bit about piecing Y-seams on your machine. Why? Because this technique features the best of both paper piecing approaches: the convenience and efficiency of machine piecing, and the versatility of EPP. I call it hybrid paper piecing.
Want to learn how? Here we go!
For this tutorial, I’ve designed my own little block. This block is simple and nice in that it’s a square shape, unlike most of the shapes in my Big Lebowski quilt from the previous post. You could conceivably foundation paper piece this with very little changes. But let’s pretend that it’s an oblong shape that has too many weird intersections to be paper pieced efficiently; in order to piece one of these gonzo shapes, we’d have to create so many little subsections to create the straight stitching lines. Today we’re not going to do that.
1. Divide up your shape
Usually, I choose a large chunk at a time that I’d like to piece together. When looking for good places to cut, I keep an eye out for any stitching lines that could be made via foundation paper piecing on the machine, and I try to keep those intact. (I still don’t worry about angles or Y-seams.) In the example below, the gray and two pinks can all be stitched together on a machine using paper piecing; they have two lines that run from one edge of the shape to the other and don’t cross. Same with the green and blue shapes. The gray is the “weird” shape out here; let’s take care of it first.
2. Cut out fabric for single pieces
Place your single-colored shape (the gray one, in this example) on your fabric, wrong sides together. Using a ruler (I like the Add-a-Quarter ruler for this part), trim 1/4″ seam allowance around the outside of the shape, including all inside and outside corners. Set aside.
3. Paper piece the multicolored chunks
Using traditional foundation paper piecing and your pattern piece you’ve just cut out, sew the colors together on each chunk.*
When finished, trim around the edge of each chunk with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Make sure to follow the corners and indentations from the angles around each shape.
4. Baste seam allowances
Now we shift to the English Paper Piecing part of the program. Surprise! Gather your single and multicolored chunks. (For single pieces, keep wrong sides together.) Using your favorite basting method, turn the seam allowance to the colored side of the paper, secure, and press. If you have any acute angles, make a small 1/8″ snip at the seam allowance to help them turn in.
I use glue for crisp and exact creases at the paper edge; this is also why using heavier card stock is a good choice, if possible.
5. Hand stitch pieces together
Place shapes together, corner to corner and right sides together, and stitch together with a tiny whipstitch. I recommend 60 wt thread because it’s lighter and thinner and easier to hide, but use whatever thread you usually use for EPP. Secure corners with several whipstitches for safety, then fold and bend pieces to match corresponding edges. If you’re piecing a large quilt, it’s often helpful to piece the shapes together into several large chunks, and then piece the chunks together at the very end. Press each seam after stitching to help shapes lay perfectly flat.
Once finished with the entire quilt, remove the paper. Voila: your very own hybrid paper pieced quilt top!
Pretty cool, huh? I got into a pretty sweet system when I was working on my quilt: I’d do a few chunks during the day while I was sitting at my machine, and then I’d switch into EPP mode and stitch them together at night in front of the TV. It was enough variety that I didn’t get bored with the process, and it was gratifying to see a quilt with such detail and intricacy come together in just a few weeks. Thanks for stopping by for the tutorial!
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