Paper Piecing a 3-D Looking Pillow




Introduction: Paper Piecing a 3-D Looking Pillow

About: I like to make things more simple with easily available resources. My favorite quote: A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a…

Paper Piecing, also known as Foundation piecing, is a method of quilting in which paper pieces cut to the required pattern are used to stabilize the fabric for stitching. These paper patterns helps in creating many quilt blocks of same size, each with precise, sharp points and perfectly matching intersections. The paper patterns are removed after stitching all the blocks together before finishing with the backing.

This is my first ever venture into the world of quilting. I have to go through so many articles and videos on youtube to understand how it is done. With this design, I think I have learned all basics of the art of paper piecing

This Instructable will provide you step-by-step instructions on paper piecing a three dimensional looking pillow you see in the picture here.

Step 1: Back to Basics: Draw Your Design First

It is design time...

To get a proper 3-D look, you will have to make blocks of three diamond shaped pieces stitched together. Each diamond shape will be of two equilateral triangles combined together to form the pattern, having 120o obtuse angle and 60acute angle as shown in the sketch. The top piece of a block will be of lighter color and the sides will be dark of varying colors.

  • The complete pattern will have three blocks lengthwise and two blocks width-wise. Additional edge pieces will make a rectangular quilted piece.
  • Measure your existing or newly bought pillow form and note down the length and width.
  • With reference to the design you made, find out the actual measure of sides required to cover the pillow form. In my case, it worked out to be 10 centimeters
  • So, my diamond shaped piece will have sides of 10 centimeters each.
  • Make a template using a thick paper to a diamond shape having 10 centimeter sides.
  • You need to add 1 to 1.25 centimeters on all sides for cutting the fabric, to be folded over the paper pattern
  • Make another template for cutting fabric with about 1 to 1.25 centimeters extra on all sides. You can see the templates I have made for paper piecing and for cutting fabric in the pictures here.

Step 2: Tools and Materials Required

Tools Required

  • A ruler for measuring and drawing straight lines
  • Craft knife for cutting paper patterns
  • Stapler for fixing paper pattern with fabric
  • Marker pen
  • Pencil
  • Scissors for cutting fabric and thread
  • Needles for stitching
  • A protractor to measure the angles
  • An electric iron for pressing

Materials Required

  • Five different colored fabric pieces about half a meter length each for the pattern
  • A small length of light colored printed fabric for the edges (leftovers will do)
  • White muslin cloth, half a meter for baking
  • Red or any dark colored cloth, half a meter for the back side
  • Thick papers of A4 size about 7 numbers
  • Thread for sewing

Some tips on selecting the fabric

  • Use cotton fabric only for all your paper piecing works
  • Buy enough fabric one time. You may not get matching fabric at a latter date.
  • The fabric for the pattern should have small printed design. Fabric with large prints won't give you the desired effect
  • Use lighter shade for the top and darker shades for the sides

Step 3: Paper Pattern for Stabilization

You can use any type of paper to be used as stabilizer. The paper you use should give you a clear edge for stitching and also it should be flexible enough when stitching more than two pieces together to form a block.  A4 copying paper, tracing paper and even news papers are also used by experienced persons. However, as I am new to this craft, I have used papers slightly thicker than the A4 copying paper.

With the help of the template you have already made, draw patterns on the paper and cut with the crafting knife. Here you can see the patterns I have cut for the main blocks as well for the edges.

Step 4: Make Fabric Pieces With Paper Inserts

Make fabric pieces with paper inserts

  • Place template for cutting fabric on the wrong side of the cloth
  • Cut required number of fabric pieces of different colors. You can use scissors or Rotary cutters with cutting boards
  • Place a diamond shaped paper piece on the wrong side of the fabric
  • Fold the edges of fabric over the paper piece
  • Using a hot iron press the edges. Do not move the electric iron over the cloth, just press the edges down
  • Using a stapler, staple the edges to the fabric
  • Trim the edges of fabric protruding out
  • Now you have paper pieced fabric ready for sewing
  • You can also make the edge pieces with the respective fabric and paper pattern

Few people use pins and needles to hold down the fabric with the paper, but I feel using stapler pins are better than pins and needles as they hold both the fabric and paper firmly and also they do not pierce you accidentally

Step 5: Blocks to Be Stitched With Patterns

Here you can see in the pictures, the arrangement of two different types of blocks to be stitched together with the paper inserted fabric pieces.

The first block consists of yellow on top with dark green and blue on the sides. The second block is of yellow on top with maroon and red at the sides

Step 6: Stitch the Pieces Together to Form Blocks

  • Hold two pieces together so that the paper inserts facing out
  • Stitch both pieces together using the paper insert as a guide
  • Make small stitches without piercing the paper. You can make about 10 to 12 stitches per inch.
  • Add the third piece also as per design and complete the block
  • Using a hot iron, press down the joints. Do not move the iron over the block, just press the joints down on both sides
  • Stitch all the blocks as per design including the edge pieces also before proceeding with final stitching of all pieces together

Step 7: See How They Look

Arrange all the stitched blocks including the edge pieces together and see how they look. You can make any modifications, like changing the color of edge pieces, before you finally stitch all blocks and pieces together

Step 8: Stitch All Pieces Together

You can proceed with stitching all pieces together one by one as per layout. Press down each and every joint with hot iron after stitching. (Do not move the press over the pieces, just press down)

Now paper piecing all the blocks and edges are complete.

Step 9: Add Backing

You need to add a backing cloth behind the quilted piece.

  • Measure and cut a white muslin cloth, leaving about an inch on all sides
  • Fold the edges exactly to match with the size of quilted block
  • Press down with hot iron
  • Insert paper pieces and fix them with stapler pins to the fabric
  • Stitch three sides of quilted piece with the backing, keeping the wrong sides out. Keep one side open so that the design can be turned over latter
  • Use hot iron on the joints to press it down

Step 10: Remove the Paper Piecings

Now it is time to remove all paper inserts from the quilted piece

  • Remove the stapler pins one by one using a pointed flat knife. Take care not to damage the fabric
  • Also remove the paper inserts simultaneously after removing the pins
  • Use hot iron to press down the additional fabric

Step 11: Hand-stitch the Baking to the Design

  • Turn inside out of the quilt through the opening left without stitching
  • Again use a hot iron to press down the quilted piece
  • Now you can close the side left without stitching
  • Hand-stitch the backing with the quilt along all the joints

Now your Paper pieced design is complete. You can use it as a wall hanging, as a table spread or as a pillow cover. I have used this quilted piece to make a pillow cover

Step 12: Paper Piece the Back Cover

As the front portion of the pillow cover is completed, you can add the back cover now. I have used dark red colored muslin cloth for the back side and used paper pieces as inserts for a neat stitch. Again I have used stapler pins to hold down the paper inserts with the fabric

Step 13: Insert Pillow Form and Finish

Now you can insert your pillow form and make the final stitch... You can see both front and back sides of the finished pillow here.

Everything in making this 3-D looking paper pieced pillow is hand stitched. You can use square or rectangular pillow forms for paper piecing with various designs you like.

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    2 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Wow! What a fantastic first quilting project. It's beautiful. :D


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    thank you Jessy... youtube videos and many quilting web sites are very helpful for first timers