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I am very interested in ordering your pattern for the Nativity scene. I have done very little paper piecing so I would consider myself a beginner. I'm wondering if this pattern would be considered difficult to do? I wasn't sure what the skill level would need to be to complete it. I'd appreciate your opinion/suggestion.

     I think of Paper Panache patterns as intermediate. If you can do other paper piecing, my designs are the same, but you could find more, smaller pieces. Once in a while I get an email from a person who started her paper piecing career with one of my patterns. It all depends on the pattern and the person, and whether they are determined or discourage easily.
     I suggest starting with one of my free patterns and reading through the howtos. Choose one that you think might stretch you a little bit. Doing a small block in conjunction with my instructions will definitely give you a better idea.  The free mystery block is another starting possibility, and is usually available.
     If possible, find, observe and befriend others who paper piece, perhaps at a guild. When you see how smoothly the operation can proceed, any fear may melt away. 


    Patterns printed by way of photocopier or laser printer may transfer ink/toner. The hot iron meets the ink/toner on the pattern--the toner melts, gets on your iron, and can be wiped onto your fabric. You will have to be careful if you have printed your patterns this way. You can help to get much of the excess toner off of the pattern before using by pressing the pattern, printed side down, on successive sheets of white paper before you cut it up into sections.

     Patterns printed on an inkjet printer may or may not be water-fast. I recommend that you always use a dry iron when pressing. Do not wet patterns after sewing in an effort to remove paper without testing first. Spotting of fabrics could occur.

Do I treat the heavy broken black line on the pattern as I would an unbroken heavy black line?? In other words, do I cut along that broken line as I would cut along a heavy unbroken black line?

     Yes, you treat the broken heavy lines just like the solid heavy lines. Broken lines indicate the edges of a unit, and units are meant to break down large areas into smaller, logical chunks. The sections of a unit will be put back together just like patterns without units. It should become clearer when you review the piecing order. 

I am going to make a red hat t-towel for a friend but am wondering what is meant by the arrows on the pattern. Can you pls. advise! Thanks!

     Two arrowheads pointing at each other (or one arrowhead pointing at a seamline) indicate where two points in the pattern should meet. These two points are specifically pinned together when sewing sections together. If you look at the drawing or photo of the finished pattern, you can see why you'd want those spots to meet. Please see the How-to.

Do you have any recommendations of when to remove the paper? I had a bit of trouble where the sewing lines converged and I had very small triangles! Also, when sewing pieces together, like the six pieces of the snowflakes, I ended up removing the pieces on the inner points before sewing. Otherwise I tended to pull on fabric with my tweezers! I didn't notice a real difference in accuracy, as long as I was careful to include enough fabric for a 1/4 inch seam.

     Personally, I almost always remove paper when I am all done with the project. I will remove some pieces as I go if I no longer need their edges for sewing. You could also remove paper before sections are sewn together if you draw around the edges of the sections first in order to preserve the seamline. 
     If you use a small machine stitch (~14 st/inch), most of the paper should tear out easily. I use a seam ripper to loosen the edges of those little triangles you mentioned (without touching the stitching), and I try not to pull on the stitching too much. If the little triangle is really resistant, I leave it! I figure it will come out in the wash, as I wash all my quilts. I'd only make a special effort if it is clearly in a spot where quilting needs to be done.

My question is how do you deal with the bulk of the seams? Any suggestion?

     The bulky seams in detailed paper piecing is an excellent reason to learn how to machine quilt! However, there are two ways I deal with bulk in the seam allowances:
     1) When joining sections together that seem bulky or do not want to lay flat, I press these seams open. (The only place a 1/4" seam allowance is required is around the outside of each pattern piece, when sections are joined together.)
     2) When adding fabric to a section (paper piecing), I often cut paper-pieced seams with smaller seam allowances, 3/16" to 1/8" when the pieces get smaller and/or closer together. This cuts down on the amount of fabric in the area.

    3) If I do any hand quilting, I am not adverse to surface quilting where necessary. This may mean a little aesthetic attention to the back where stitches don't go all the way through.

Linda, I saw the pattern The Frog Family which has frogs and dragonflies. It suggests tablerunners, placemats, etc. but not quilts. I could adapt but would rather have a pattern that includes instructions for a quilt. Do you know if this pattern could be made into a quilt? I need a frog pattern to make a quilt for my daughter-in-law.  

     Sure, this pattern could be made into a quilt in a million different ways! 
     Most of my patterns are only starting points. I don't do a lot of things with borders, or full scenes. People make the pieces they like and then combine them with other blocks, settings, borders, etc. into the quilts they want. I have only done half the thinking, which is a philosophy I quite agree with.
     The frog family pattern contains a "fill-in triangle" on the sheet. These will help take a hexagon to another shape, but not necessarily a square one. Another option is to add pieces, or redesign the sides of the patterns into a square before cutting the pattern apart for piecing.
     It is nice when you can find a pattern that has it all right in the package, but, still--I don't think most people find exactly what they want. 
     Perhaps you know another quilter in a guild or elsewhere who could help lead you into putting together something special! 

Linda, I've really enjoyed your site and am using several of your patterns, both purchased (both nativities) and freebees (bald eagle). But I don't understand the mystery blocks. Can you explain??    ...Are the mystery blocks what they sound like – blocks you design of various things that don’t become apparent until after you’ve made the block??

     Here is some general info about the mystery blocks from the FAQs page.
     Initially, the Mystery Blocks are free. They are pretty random in subject matter, meaning there is no theme. They are not meant to go together, although sometimes people manage to make some of them work together in one quilt.
     I don't give a finished picture. The pieces are separated on the printed pages so you can't tell what they form. There is no background shading on the pieces. (On my saleable patterns, the whole pattern is one piece before cutting apart, and there is shading in the background to help you see the image.) 
     Some people cut out the pieces of the mystery, arrange them on a table like a puzzle, color them in or make out the design as best they can and then make decisions about fabric and color from there (and/or whether to do it at all, I'm sure). The real adventurous types cut it out, use my suggestions for color, and just start sewing. They find out what it is when they sew it together. 
     (Which one are you? :)

     Update: After 24 years, I ceased offering mystery blocks as of November 2021. The last, MB#100, is still available for free here.

In November I ordered the pattern O Holy Night from you...I'm anxious to start this project. I have a few questions which I hope you can help me with:
1. After completing the piecing, how do you suggest that the project be finished? Should it be machine quilted? Hand quilted? 
2. If it is to be quilted, do you suggest using batting? Should the entire project be lined?
3. Is there supposed to be a border/sashing?
4. After the project is completed, should a dowel rod be used to display it?
The piecing instructions were quite complete, but there were no finishing instructions included with my pattern. I wondered if a sheet of finishing instructions was omitted from my packet. Any advice/help you can give me is appreciated.

     Ah, finishing! It is true, this is where I leave quiltmakers to their own devices and presume they will supply their own happy ending. 
     Many people add simple frame borders to the designs, a narrow and a wide, or incorporate the blocks into some other design they have in mind (say, a bed quilt). Or maybe they add a paper pieced border they've collected.

     It appears that most paper piecers are also machine quilters. In paper piecing there are a ton of seams, many bulky, which makes machine quilting a lot easier than hand quilting. I personally would do at least a minimal amount of quilting, by machine or by hand, to stabilize the project, with at least a thin batting.
     I would ask an experienced quilter about advice on hanging. Yes, I have used a dowel, but I prefer a flatter piece of wood with holes drilled in both ends. This allows the quilt to hang a little more flatly at the top than it would over a dowel. The holes in the ends I use to hang on the wall over nails.
I hope these ideas and suggestions are useful to you!



I was wondering what your opinion is regarding prewashing fabrics for paper piecing projects? 

     Well, you've caught me, because I have not prewashed fabrics for a few years. This is because I only make samples these days, and I am cavalier about what happens with the samples. 
     HOWEVER, if I am making a finished quilt for myself or others, I WOULD prewash all my fabrics. In my world, I definitely want every quilt to be machine washable. The other two reasons:
     1. Get rid of excess dye. Perhaps I am out of date, but back when I was washing fabrics, there was often a lot of excess dye in the darker fabrics, and I didn't want to take a chance that some fabric would dye all the others.
     2. Shrinkage. I imagine this still happens with cottons. Some people like the extra shrinkage around their quilt stitches after a first wash, but I worried about having to trust every fabric to shrink the same. 



I am interested in the paper pieced DWR quilt. I would like to make a queen size, and I notice that the pattern is 40x40. I would assume I could make it larger, but is that doable, and how would I do it?

     When I originally designed the double wedding ring patterns, I did not take into consideration the possibility of using them to make queen- or king-size bed quilts (!). The foundation sets I was offering did not have the correct proportion of outer to inner blocks to even consider the idea.
      In order to make a queen size quilt yourself, you will need to draw up your own layout based on the information in the pattern, and then print the foundations you need. Enlarging the pattern would probably be useful. (It is allowed because it is your personal project, and I trust you won't be selling any pattern based on it.) If you use photocopies, be sure to check that they will go together nicely:Tape four sections together to check for size and squareness before using. I also strongly suggest that you sew a few sample sections before you commit to such a large project. This should give you an idea how much time and effort the project will entail, because at the present ring size, say 10x10 blocks, there would be something like 400 sections (not pieces--there are lots more pieces), for either Double Wedding Ring version. Paper piecing is fast, but 400 sections is huge.


     When I started printing patterns back in the 90s, I contacted designers and asked what paper they were using for their saleable patterns. And I heard...Crickets. No one would share :( ! Hence, I learned to like the body of plain old 20-lb. copy paper, and I have used it only for years. "Butcher" or freezer paper is also nice because when you press it, it sticks to the fabric to hold it in place. There are specialty papers sold for foundation piecing that are lightweight, easy to see through, and easy to tear--depends on whether you want to spend money or not. I don't personally use them, so I'm afraid I can't recommend any particular product.

Will you be at Paducah? Will any vendors stock your patterns? Thank you!

     Thank you for asking. I'm sorry--I won't be at the show. I am a bit of a hermit and did not enjoy participating at the 5-6 shows that I did do. I am the only one who stocks my patterns because [after waffling for many years over the possibility] I finally admitted that I did not want to spend loads of time in the printing/production of patterns to support wholesale. Fortunately, the website is just my size, and it is open 24 hours a day! :) 


In going through my patterns I found the summer sherbet pattern that I printed years ago. Just wondering how to calculate the amount of fabric needed since all I have is just the pattern. Can you help?

      I never made those calculations, since it was a free pattern, and presumably, made with scraps.

      The quick and dirty way you can ESTIMATE is to:

      1) Make a copy of a single block of the pattern;

      2) Cut every piece of the block apart and collect into color groups;

      3) Rule out a square about 9” x 12” (or larger if a large block);

      4) Place the pieces of one color group about 1” apart  and ½” from sides onto the square, starting at the bottom;

      5) Measure about how much of the 9”x12” they take up;

      6) If, say, they cover a  9”x3” area (with 1/2"-1" all around), then you need minimum of 27 sq. in.;

      7) Multiply this number by the number of blocks you’re planning to make;

      8) Add 10% to that number;

      9) Divide by the sq. in. in a quarter yard to see how many quarters or parts of quarters you might need (1/4 yd = 9x42=378)

      10) Buy a little more than that!

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Edited from email...


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