A few weeks ago, I took a class at one of our local sewing centers, Sharman's. It was a class to learn how to machine paper piece. To be honest, before I took the class, I wasn't too sure what that was. I googled it before class but that didn't really help.
We had a great teacher. She used the book "Show Me How to Paper Piece" by Carol Doak. The first time she explained the process, I was completely lost but after a couple of minutes of following her directions, I realized that this is the best thing ever! I love doing it. It's so cool, not that hard and the end results look like you really spent oodles of time on it when maybe you just spent 30 minutes. I love things that make hard things easy. Also, you don't have to cut pieces of fabric exactly the size you need. You can just cut pieces that are big enough and then trim them later.
Since taking this class, I watched a video online of someone paper piecing, and she was cutting each piece of fabric precisely the size she would need. It involved measuring and rotary cutting and was just a big obsessive compulsive deal. It almost made me cry. Why would anyone do it such a hard way when you can just randomly cut the fabric into shapes that are big enough and then trim? I'm even saving pieces I've trimmed that are large enough to reuse.
This is the heart I paper pieced. Then I made it into a little pillow Christmas ornament by sewing a back on it and stuffing it. You could also sew several of these together to make a real pillow or even a quilt. The pattern can be enlarged so that if you're making a quilt, you don't have to make so many tiny hearts.
This is the second heart that I started working on in class. I'm since finished it but haven't stuff it yet.
This is what the pattern looks like. You actually sew the little pieces of fabric on the paper, following the lines. Each area is numbered (1,2,3, etc) according to where you put the next piece of fabric. At the end, you just rip the paper off.
I have since ordered myself a big ol' pattern book that has 365 patterns in it. :)