It's Paper Piecing for the 21st Century

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"Flying Beauty"

48 x 48

Quilted by:  Elizabeth Swan

Swan Quilting

Paper piecing continues to be one of many quiltings' challenges. There are so many variables and so many ways to get it wrong, right?

Wrong!  I've taken the mystery out of paper piecing by making it easy to do and much faster and efficient.  But you'll have to be the judge of that.

The New York Beauty block has always been a very popular class, but it really didn't highlight paper piecing in a way that would enable you to adapt it for other patterns.

By adding the flying geese units and filling up some of the negative space, you have a much more complex version of the classic pattern.  Also, the geese units give you a chance to really practice paper piecing.

Since there are so many moving parts to this pattern, the class is offered in two sessions, one week apart.  The first session focuses on cutting and piecing the individual units that make up the block.  The second session is all about sewing accurate curves and putting the blocks together.


Your pre-cut strips (see below) and any extra fabric


Sewing machine with a new needle, thread and pre-wound bobbin, regular piecing foot and 1/4" foot 

Pins, and just in case, a seam ripper

Rotary cutter (with a new blade) and ruler - 6"x12" works fine

Small cutting mat 9" x 12" is fine

Pencil or pen

Highlighter (Pink, green, blue, orange, but NOT yellow)

Two different-colored Sharpies

Add-A-Quarter ruler (the longer the better)

Paper and  fabric scissors

Invisible Scotch Tape (any brand)

A BRAND NEW Elmer's Disappearing Purple Glue Stick (preferred)or any washable, acid free glue stick            

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If you don't feel like reading all of the following stuff, just skip to the last paragraph.
First of all, it makes the paper piecing process much easier and the pattern preparation much faster.  When I first developed my method of paper piecing I used regular copy paper because I wanted to eliminate the need to purchase special papers.  However, in the early years I experimented with all different kinds of paper and discovered 17lb vellum.  It was perfect for the process.  And when I taught live classes I supplied the vellum patterns as part of the class materials.

Then came virtual classes and you all needed to print your own patterns.  Copy paper is easily available and almost everyone has copy paper.  It works, but there's more pattern prep to do because copy paper isn't smooth and isn't translucent.  For most of my patterns, copy paper is just fine because the patterns don't have lots of segments.  "Flying Beauty" blocks have many segments and regular copy paper doesn't quite cut it.  Thus, the need for vellum.

You can look for your own 17# vellum, but it's rare to find the 17# vellum in a local store, which is why I've provided links to order online.  The links I've supplied are brands that I've used before and I can definitely say that they are my favorites.  If you choose to look for your own, make sure it's 17#, 8-1.5" x 11" and feeds through your printer smoothly.  Also, if you've never taken one of my classes before, you'll just have to trust that whichever quantity you order, one sheet of paper goes a long way, and I can show you how to make it last forever.
So the bottom line is this...get the vellum.  It goes through the printer the same as copy paper  You'll find it changes everything and streamlines the process, eliminating time.  There are links above for 100 sheets, 50 sheets or 30 sheets.  The 100 sheet option is the most economical, and order early to make sure you have your vellum in time for class.

17lb Translucent Vellum 8 1/2" x 11"*

To order 100 sheets click here

To order 50 sheets click here

To order 30 sheets click here


I think what makes this quilt so striking is the use of only 3 fabrics in the same color family.  The dark, medium and light fabrics give the quilt a dimensional kind of look.  And if you're familiar with my quilts, you'll know that I love illusions and dimension.

Now, that doesn't mean you have to follow my lead.  I've done mock ups in different colors and they work great.  My choice of colors was merely a personal preference.  Yours will be your preference.  Refer to the diagrams below.

Each finished block measures about 9" x 9"

The wall hanging measures about 36" x 36" without borders.

A Thought...

Sometimes you might want to just choose some random fabrics from your stash and cut  some of the required pieces.  Use those for class and then decide if you'd like to continue with your project in your "good" fabric.  The templates tell you how many pieces of each shape you need per block and also for the entire project.

Cutting Specs

Start with 2 yards of your dark fabric and 1.5 yards of your light and medium fabrics.  And you'll have some fabric left over in case you need it, or for inner and outer borders.

Since every piece in the quilt is cut using templates, you'll start by cutting one strip of each of your fabrics first.  The width of the strips and the number of individual pieces you'll need are printed on the templates.  This is one of the only projects where I cut one strip at a time, cut out the pieces from the templates, piece as many units as I can, and then cut another strip.

The pattern represents 1/4 of a "whole" beauty block.  There are four "Beautys" in the quilt which means you'll need to make 16 blocks. Also, there a couple of layouts that I like, so there are no quilt top assembly instructions.  We'll talk about that in the second session of the class.

The patterns and templates will be emailed to you a few days before the class.

Before the class, cut the following (selvage to selvage or WOF)

If you're following the template suggestions, your "Rays", "Goose" , "Pie Shape" and "L Shape" fabrics are your darkest color.

Dark Fabric:

For your "Rays" cut one strip 5-3/4"

For your "Goose"s cut one strip 2-1/4"

For your "Pie Shaped" cut one strip 3-1/4"

For your "L Shape" cut one strip 4-1/2"

Light and Medium Fabric:

For "Goose Background"  cut one strip each at 2-3/4"

For the "Arc Background" cut one strip each at 5-3/4" .