How To Do Paper Piecing

Paper piecing is a relatively new trend in paper crafts, mostly used by scrapbookers to create images that can't be found with stickers, stamps or diecuts. The art of paper piecing has long been used by quilters, however, to create intricate designs and patterns. It basically involves taking a pattern and cutting colored pieces of paper to fill it in. The paper pieces are then arranged and glued to the background, creating a colorful and personalized image.

Choosing a pattern is the most difficult part of paper piecing. There are a number of ways to get your patterns ready to go.

  • Paper piecing patterns can be purchased from craft stores or in book form at craft suppliers or booksellers. You can also find patterns online to print out.

  • If you want to create your own patterns, find an image that you want to use and make a paper copy of it with your printer, photocopier, or, if you're a talented artist, by hand. Scale the image down to a workable size, and then, using tracing paper, break it down into series of shapes that can be cut out of paper to duplicate the image. This becomes your template for the pattern, which can be transferred to thicker paper.
  • You can find images literally anywhere. Try websites, magazines, picture books, comics, clip art discs, coloring books and even maps or atlases.
  • Now it's on to the fun stuff! Here's how to get started with paper piecing.


    • Paper piecing pattern
    • Backing paper (use card stock, bristol board, or other thick paper)
    • Colored paper
    • Scissors
    • Pencil
    • Glue (for best results, use glue that can be repositioned without damaging the backing paper)

    1. Cut the pieces of your pattern out and label each one on the back in pencil. For example, if you're designing a flower, label each piece as "petal," "center," "stem," "leaf," etc.

  • Using each piece of the pattern that you've cut out, trace the outlines in their proper position onto the backing paper with pencil.
  • For each pattern piece, choose the color of paper you want to use and trace the piece onto the paper. Cut out each piece with scissors.
  • Arrange the pieces onto the backing paper, and then glue each one into its final position. Set the paper piecing aside to allow the glue to dry completely.
  • Tips:

    • For beginners, it's best to choose a pattern that doesn't feature too many small, fussy bits that will need careful attention. When you work your way up to these intricate patterns, you can use toothpicks or straws to help you nudge your paper bits in place.

  • If you're creating a paper piecing image that does require a lot of detail, you can cut out the larger shapes from colored paper and add the details with colored pencils or markers rather than cutting out tiny bits of paper to do the job if you wish.
  • Use paper that won't tear easily when you're gluing it down. Once the glue is added to the paper, it becomes fragile and easily ripped.
  • Smooth out each piece as you glue to make sure there won't be any wrinkles or air pockets.
  • You can add finishing touches to your projects with felt tip pens, glitter, beads, chalk or any other medium that will add dimension and detail.

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