Paper Piecing Without Tears

That is, without tearing out the paper! Here’s the story:

My friend Elizabeth recently started a series of free FPP (Foundation Paper Pieced) New York Beauty blocks. She’s releasing one free block every Wednesday for the month of June, so if you’re interested, head over there:

Here’s my first block from her series:

Foundation Paper Pieced block designed by Elizabeth Eastman

Now back to the issue of what to use for foundation!

I recently saw water-soluble foundation paper at Studio Stitch and had to try it.

This paper is meant to dissolve in water and is intended for many uses, including foundation piecing. The 12 sheets were about $11. Like many Pellon products, it is also available by the yard if you can find a place to buy it from the bolt. The price on Amazon makes it look like it may cost less that way BUT will it run through my printer? I don’t know. At the very least I’d have to cut it into 8.5″ x 11″ sheets first.

The Pellon sheets did run through my printer without difficulty and the image quality was good.

I happily stitched the block and then turned to the issue of removing the paper.

I dampened the seams only, thinking to dissolve the paper there and then remove the pieces as I would if I were tearing it off traditional-style.

The paper turned into a soggy mess along the seams. The pieces did lift off pretty well, but paper pieces remained in the seams.

That said, the amount of paper left in the seams was small and it was very soft, not stiff like the usual FPP paper. I don’t think it will be a problem.

One final test for this paper! I stitched a scrap of the Pellon wash-away paper to a scrap of fabric. Then I put the fabric in a net bag, to simulate having it inside a quilt, and ran it through a gentle cycle wash as I would a finished quilt. Here’s how the back looked:

Back, after washing

This looks acceptable to me. I think the Pellon wash-away paper would work just fine.

Pellon Water Soluble Stabilizer

Pros: It works well in the printer, it does dissolve almost completely in water, it is transparent enough to use for tracing, I was able to glue it with water-soluble glue without problems.

Cons: A bit pricey (almost $1 a sheet). It is water soluble so don’t plan on using a steam iron! And the claim that it “dissolves completely” wasn’t entirely true, though I don’t think the small amount left in the stitching will matter.

However, this wash-away paper isn’t the only alternative to traditional newsprint-type FPP paper. More next week–please stay tuned!

12 thoughts on “Paper Piecing Without Tears

  1. Sorry Zippy my friend, I just don’t like the paper piecing method on soooo many levels. And the problematic & time consuming part of removing said paper, even if partially solved by your solution, is a biggie. Just saying…
    But then, those New York stars are ‘beauties’ that’s for sure! Enjoy your experimental piecing!

  2. Each attempt at paper piecing has been nothing but frustration for me. I once had a semi-good result on a block, but it took so long to complete. I love the NY Stars, but I am not up to trying again. Maybe one day… Thanks for posting about the water soluble pellon. I was wondering how effective it was.

    • It’s like a lot of other things: easier if you take a class with someone who tells you the secrets. I’m not much of a fan either, but there are times when nothing else is accurate enough. At least now I won’t have to tear paper!

  3. Fun to see my block in your fabrics–and such a good review of the stabilizer/paper/stuff. I think I’ll stick with vellum paper, as it tears off easily and doesn’t require that second step. I wrote a longer post this week about some of the tricks to the FPP technique. I used to dislike it too, but now I don’t mind it. Well, at least for New York Beauty blocks!

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