Paper, Fabric, Scissors


When I showed my Post-it Notes quilt doodles a couple of weeks ago,  I had a couple of people comment about using paper to design quilts. I love using paper to test ideas, or in even for quilting. Here's a few examples of how I've used paper in my sewing adventures. 

I have a Drunkards Path quilt top that I made ages ago, Lots of bright lurid fabrics that I love but I've never got around to quilting it. Sometimes I get it out to finish but I think it needs something else to give it some pop! I hadn't learnt about value when I put these fabrics together. One day I had the idea I could sew a giant daisy onto it. Rather than cutting into fabrics I used newspaper to come up with my design. I simply pinned the shapes into position on my design wall. It was quick and easy to try different petal and leaf shapes  and get the curve of the stem just right.

Once I was happy with the shape and size it was time to see how it would look in colour. I grabbed my big pad of colourful paper that I found in a bargain shop and started cutting. 
The final design - A big Blue Mountain Daisy!

I never got around to making my big daisy in fabric. I wasn't sure if I really liked it with the background. It would be really fun on a liberated low volume background but that's another quilt for another day. I packed it all away and moved onto something else. The great thing about using paper, I didn't waste any fabric and I have the templates ready for a big flower when I do decide to sew one. 


Using paper shapes was very handy when deciding what flowers to put in the pockets on my Denim Garden quilt. I sat down with a cup of tea and without thinking too much I cut out different flowers shapes and ideas. I then took them to my design wall and auditioned different ideas in the pockets. It really helped me distribute the different flower styles. I was also able to use the paper silhouettes as templates for the wool felt.

It's interesting to see how those shapes developed into the final flowers. I also have quite a few left over flower shapes, no doubt they'll come in handy for other quilts.


 Here's a paper trick I've actually been using this week as I quilt my Octopus's Garden quilt. Rather than mark my quilts for quilting with a pen or pencil I'll use masking tape for straight lines... and paper circles for curves and circles. I use light weight paper, cut out the desired size circle, pin it on and then stitch around it. The quilt police might say the stitched circles aren't perfectly round but they're round enough for me!

I used this method to quilt all the different size circles on my Summer Bubbles quilt. 


So have you got any handy tips for using paper with quilting or even crochet or knitting? 

Paper, Fabric, Scissors

42 comments

  1. No, but I love all yours. I have used paper templates to quilt before, much better than marking the quilt top.

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  2. I just loved your blue daisy on that bright quilt - looked fabulous!

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  3. I used paper templates to lay out shapes when I made my "lucy's tree" quilt. I was using fabric by Saffron Craig and it was too precious (to me) to make a mistake. I like your idea for using templates to hand quilt around.

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  4. Great idea with the paper templates....and I think your circles look fine!

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  5. Love your idea of usig paper shapes to quilt around. You are so clever.

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  6. what a great idea, especially for the circles. I have never worked out how to quilt those!

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  7. You are a clever girl! I would never have thought to do that! And quilting around a paper circle is pure genius!

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  8. I've done the same thing before, quilting around paper and I often use paper for my applique templates, although I do love to play directly from my stash.:) LOVE your big blue daisy! Maybe someday you'll find a home for it!

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  9. Wow, you've got some great ideas there! Using the paper to test shapes/sizes for applique is great. Gwen Marston had us do that in her applique class too.

    I absolutely LOVE your big blue daisy!! I hope you'll do something with that one day.

    The circle quilting with paper templates is a good trick to remember. Your circles look perfect from here!

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  10. I've ironed freezer paper shapes to a quilt and free motioned around them. Peel off and press on again and again. No marking to remove! All good.

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  11. I have NONE, but have filed away all your fantastic ideas!!

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  12. Brilliant, Rachael! I think you have given me the answer for my bee blocks!

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  13. What a great post. Very helpful as I have never thought to use paper shapes to assist with design! And a great idea for marking simple quilting shapes, I will be trying these ideas!!

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  14. It's so funny when I first saw the flower with the newspaper I thought you were using text print for it. Nathan would've been a really cute idea with all the wonderful colors in the background.

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  15. Oooh, smart thinking! I used paper flowers for my denim garden rip off cushion, to check sizes and things, but I used plain A4, since I'm too cheap to buy newspapers, and don't have time to read them ;o) My mum supplies me with old flip chart pads if I want to go bigger

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  16. wow - you are so clever! I love all of these ideas.
    I really really like your giant blue daisy, it's so whimsical and unexpected. maybe you'll pull it back out one day.
    I have never thought of using paper as quilting guides - genius!!
    I use freezer paper mostly, but will give regular paper another look -

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  17. It is great to see some of your creative process! I use paper all the time, especially when I want to see how the scale of a design will work "in real life." I think it is great for applique, because you can move all the pieces around to find the best arrangement. Or not! But it is no harm done if it doesn't work out, so I think with less at stake, it gives you more room to try new things and be more creative.

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  18. I really love all your ideas, but that denim garden quilt is amazing! You are so creative!

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  19. Very nice! I love the blue daisy!

    I use paper all of the time. Tracing paper is one of my favorites. I love that I can see through it and often it will use it to help make sure my applique placement is right.

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  20. Those bothersome Quilt Police don't have any business around creativity. I'm glad you ignore them. While I have used paper, and freezer paper, as templates for quilting around, the thing I use paper for the most is scribbling down ideas for new projects. Any scrap or blank area is fair game. The challenge is in keeping them in one place and finding them when I need them!

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  21. Brilliant! I love your innovative spirit of using materials at hand to solve design dilemmas. Clever girl! Thanks for sharing your process with us.

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  22. Thanks for the great lessons! Love the paper plate idea!

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  23. I'm a little sad the Blue Mountain Daisy didn't make it onto the Lurid Drunkard's Path.
    Love your process, love your products!

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  24. That's a really good idea stitching round the circle shape : )

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  25. Brilliant idea - and one I'll be using from here on in ! Thanks for this post Rachael - you're such an inspiration!

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  26. Great post Rachael! I love the ideas here - especially the use of paper to 'audition' shapes. I try to recycle paper in EPP - often making the paper pieces from bits of card. I also make patterns - especially applique borders - from rolls of greaseproof paper.
    Hilda

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  27. You know what Rachael ? I really like the blue mountain daisy on that quilt. I think you should go for it !

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  28. Rachael you are so full of inspiration I love your energy

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  29. Rachael, What a great idea to use the paper templates for quilting lines. I have used them for applique but never for quilting. Great post!

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  30. OMG Rachael !!!! I love the big daisy !!!! You are so clever. I'm totally stealing this idea to fix one of my ufo's. Love Love Love it !!!! L xo

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  31. Mmmm this post really got me thinking...how do I use paper in my craft work? I've drafted sewing patterns on brown paper and baking paper when I've had nothing else. I use that thick card from book depository envelopes for templates and toilet rolls as bobbins for spun singles prior to plying (classy!). But my best paper in craft anecdote is my mum punching holes in paper with the pointy end of her knitting needle to keep track of her pattern rows. They were random scraps of paper and old envelopes but with their rows of punch marks, we knew they were important and never touched them. She'd punch that paper right through into the couch. Clearly she thought more about the knitting than the furniture!

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  32. Thanks so much for sharing this!!!! I loved seeing how you auditioned the flowers in your denim quilt. Did you take a picture because you photograph your quilts before the final layout? I do that a lot because the quilt always looks a little different on screen than in person so it helps me see how I wanted it laid out. I had no idea that you used paper to quilt circles. What a super brilliant idea because marking is not my favorite task. It seems to never show up enough for me. Now paper I could see easily!

    I don't use paper for anything except stacking my rows of blocks and keeping them organized and in order. So boring!

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  33. I love your big blue mountain daisy!!! I have never used paper but I need to give it a try.

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  34. The Big BlueDaisy is a great visual image.
    I have used paper in all the ways you describe and also strips of cereal boxes as templets for marking long strips. Long before rotary cutters and jelly rolls.

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  35. Very clever, thanks for the great tips! I love it when people offer good solutions that don't require buying things!

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  36. I thought the big flower with the coloured paper was actually fabric and my immediate reaction was 'wow, that is fantastic' so you HAVE to do it!!

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  37. That's a great idea for using the paper circles instead of marking each one. The quilting police can go fly a kite ;-) I like the large flower that you created and that's a good way to try out a design before committing fabric to it.

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  38. Love your Blue Mountain Daisy Racharl! And what a great idea to use paper!

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  39. Fantastic ideas! Love the blue daisy but I am sure when you are ready to finish that quilt you will have a perfect solution. I just adore the riot of colour in that quilt.
    I made a couple of table runner for Christmas presents and used a Hera marker from Clover to mark the straight lines. It was great.

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  40. I love the big daisy you pinned onto your Drunkard's Path quilt. It just makes the quilt for me. Hope you make it with fabric one day soon. I always use masking tape for quilting straight lines and I have quilted around pinned paper templates before although I have found this quite hard to do. I always hand quilt, never managed to master the machine quilting technique. Love hand quilting anyway so I'm happy with the slower pace! You really have a great eye for colour combinations, an artist with fabrics as your medium.

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  41. Paper! What a great idea! Thank you. I love the giant daisy on that super bright drunkards path!

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