Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Paper Choices for Paper Piecing Quilt Blocks

I love Paper Piecing, especially complex blocks. Currently, I am making two Sizzle quilts, so I am getting lots of practice. I have written about paper piecing before--if you want lots of tips for this technique, Read this Tutorial.

The paper I use for piecing has to have certain qualities:

It has to be easy to print on a home printer
The ink cannot smear once dry
It has to be easy to sew on
It  has to be easy to press the sewn fabrics flat
It has to be easy to remove

I am testing 3 different "vellum" papers on a Sizzle block:

 Here are my results:

1. C&T Simple Foundations Translucent Vellum Paper--this is the product Becky Goldsmith recommends and it is included in the Accessory Kit for the Sizzle quilt, the 2019 Block of the Month for The Quilt Show.

   This is the medium weight of the 3 papers I am testing. It works well, is easy    to  run through my printer, the ink doesn't smear, and tears off pretty easily. It curls just a bit but not enough to be a problem.

2. Master's Touch Tracing Pad, 25 lb., 9" x 12"--bought at Hobby Lobby.
This is the thinnest of the 3 papers I am testing. I had to trim to 8.5" for the printer. Even though I separated each of the 8 sheets from the stack to "un-stick" them, each time I printed 8 copies, one page stuck to another and I had to re-print that one--and had one page printed on regular paper. The ink also smeared a bit even days after printing. It curled the most of the 3. It was easy to remove.

3. Vellum Paper Value Pack, bought from Amazon online. Amazon
This the thickest of the 3 papers I am testing. It printed easily, the ink did not smear but the thickness of the paper made it difficult to press the fabrics as they were added. It took a hard press to get the fabrics as flat as possible, without having a pleat at the seam. It was more difficult to remove than the other two papers, I really had to pull the paper away from the stitches.

I know a couple people who like to use lightweight tracing paper. They have to print one page at a time since the thin paper does not feed easily in their printers. This would be inconvenient for me--the printer is on the other side of the house from my studio where my computer is.

So, for now, I am sticking with the C&T vellum paper. It does what I need it to do and is dependable.

If you search online for "vellum" be aware there are many weights and levels of transparency. Much of the vellum I saw online was being marketed for Wedding Invitations--the little page that goes between the fancy papers. Those are most likely too thick and not transparent enough for paper piecing quilt blocks, especially complex designs like these.

This is half of a Sizzle Block, showing where a lot of seams come together. You can see it is important that the paper work well with this kind of project:

Paper Piecing allows for the kind of precision I just could not get with regular piecing. Here is the center of that block, finished:

If you have a paper you love, please let me know about it.

Le'ts quilt.



  1. New options crop up and you never know when something better will appear. I'm glad that the paper I use and recommend turned out to be the one you like working with too.

  2. I have a friend who does a lot of paper piecing and her recommendation to me what a child's sketch pad from the dollar store. It is newsprint. It does have to be trimmed but is cheap. She says it goes through the printer well but I haven't tried it myself yet.

    1. Thats exactly what I did Sherbert2995. I foundation pieced a queen size quilt of 6"squares. Each square had multiple pieces ...some as much as 200 pieces in the 6"square.Cheap as chips and so easy to print and remove!

  3. I am also doing two Sizzle quilts! I loved doing the first block so much I decided to do it in another colorway. The first block I did with the Vellum (C&T vellum you mentioned above). Personally, I was not a fan of vellum. It was good for the viewing part of it (you can see through it), but it was a bit too stiff for me and tended to get in my way after tearing the seam allowances out. By get in the way I mean it just didn't seem to stay where it should. On the second block I used some newsprint paper I already had (purchased it on Amazon ions states it is Roselle "White Newsprint Paper" and is 8.5" x 11" and there was 500 sheets in the ream. It was dirt cheap I remember. Anyways, I can honestly say that I wanted to WEEP with joy when I used the newsprint. It was AMAZING in every area except for the visual that I mentioned. It teared perfectly and I did not have to use any tweezers to get rid of remains that were stuck in the seam allowances, like the vellum. It stayed where it needed to after the seam sections were ripped out and this is what I plan to use from this point on. Honestly, the visual part is not a deal breaker for me because Becky has us cutting the pieces in a perfect size and the markings on the pattern are there so the visual isn't such an issue.

    I feel badly that I am not going with the vellum flow, but this newsprint was just so much better all around for me personally.

    Suzanne in VT

    1. No need to apologize, this is all about finding the product that works for you.
      You have convinced me to try my newsprint for the next block--anything that makes a quilter WEEP for joy deserves a try!

    2. What weight was your Roselle newsprint? Thanks.

    3. My newsprint is SchoolSmart newsprint, 500 pages/ream, from Amazon--it does not list the weight.

    4. Thanks, Barbara. I'll look for it.

    5. Me again! I reread your blog about the C&T vellum. Do you like the Vellum or the SchoolSmart newsprint better for foundation piecing? Thanks! I'm working on your coming to our guild - waiting on our pres to respond.

  4. Your Sizzle block is Stunning!!
    I buy newsprint by the ream on Amazon, too. It is my "go to" for all of the mini foundation piecing I do.
    I have purchased Sax brand. Maybe I will try one of these other brands--if I EVER run out of my 500 pages. LOL

  5. I have used regular copy paper, Carol Doak paper, which is like newsprint and the Simple Foundation vellum. For the block shown above, with so many seams, I am interested to find out which works best.

  6. I use regular copy paper and so far have had very good results even when making blocks with many very tiny pieces as in the dress in the first Splendid Sampler quilt. It fits my printer, doesn't smear, and when I remember to use a small stitch tears easily and it's cheap.

  7. Replies
    1. There is a method of foundation piecing with freezer paper that involves NOT sewing through the paper. Some people love it. With this method, freezer paper would be more expensive and take me longer to print--although you can buy 8.5" x 11" sheets of freezer paper ready to run through a printer.