Kelly from kelbysews shows you how to make this sweet LOVE Mini-Quilt today, with paper-pieced letters. Kelly walks you through the process to help you paper-piece in no time. Download the LOVE letter templates for free, and find the entire alphabet in Kelly’s shop. Learn more about Kelly in her introduction, and stop by kelbysews for a daily dose of color and sewing fun.

Hi! I’m Kelly from kelbysews and I am SO crazy excited to be sharing a project on Sew,Mama,Sew!

This was my go-to blog for tip and tutorials when I started sewing two years ago and it’s an incredible thrill to post something of my own! *eeeeeep!* OK, I’ll try and contain my excitement and focus on the tutorial now… I’m going to share four of my wonky alphabet letters and you can find the complete alphabet in my Etsy shop if you’re inspired to do more.

Supplies:

  • 1. Scraps to make letters: I chose to use different colors for each letter, but a similar color for each piece within the same letter.
  • 2. Background fabric— Amount you need will depend on what size you print the letters. Anywhere from a FQ to a ½ yard.
  • 3. Computer paper for printed LOVE letters— For this tutorial, I printed mine at 50%, but my original wall hanging was done at 100%.
  • 4. Batting
  • 5. Fabric for binding— Amount will depend on what size letters you print.
  • 6. Coordinating pearl cotton or embroidery floss (optional).
  • 7. Seam ripper— Hey, I’m keeping it real here, you may have a boo-boo or two along the way.

If you’ve never tried paper piecing before, don’t be afraid! The great thing about this project is that it can be made with scraps so if you mess up it’s no big deal! Take you time, go slowly, read the directions a few times, and I’m sure you’ll do great!

First you will need to decide what size you would like to print the letters. The pattern is designed to print on a full 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper, but you can shrink or enlarge if you prefer. My original Mini was made with the full size letters, but for the purposes of this tutorial I decided to print them at 50% because it was easier to photograph. I print my letters out on regular old computer paper, but you can buy specialty paper piecing paper if you want. I’ve used the special kind and it was easier to remove at the end, but the computer paper works great too. You will need to paper piece four letters and I’m going to show you how to piece the “O” from start to finish.

Every letter has the pieces numbered in the order you will sew them. Those numbers followed by “(b)” indicates pieces where you need to use your background fabric. For the letter “O” the first piece we need is a background piece. Now here is where I err on the side of caution (or I’m just lazy, take your pick). I simply hack away at my background fabric and cut a piece much larger than I truly need. Your goal is to cut a piece of fabric that is ¼” larger on all sides than the shape you are covering. So when you hold your pattern piece up to the light, there is plenty of fabric extending around all sides of the “O.” I would rather overestimate than underestimate. Yes, this method produces more waste, but since I’m using scraps this does not bother me.

Now we need to check the size of piece 2. See? Plenty of room around all sides. Have you noticed how I’m checking the size by placing it on the back of the paper and holding it up to the light? Part of the reason for this is because all the fabric is going to stay there, on the back side! We will be stitching on the lines of the letters so I find it best not to even tempt fate by placing the fabric on the front, and risk accidentally sewing fabric to the front side. Keep your fabric on the back!

Next, place piece 2 RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER with the background fabric. Make sure the edges of both fabrics are at least ¼ “ above the line that separates area 1 and 2. Here is where things can go wrong. You want to pin or hold these two fabrics in place while you test to see that if you fold piece 2 up along the line that separates area 1 and 2, the piece 2 fabric will still cover the entire area. Can you see why I always cut my fabric quite a bit larger than I really need it? I’m much less worried about sewing the fabric in place only to discover I placed it at the wrong angle and it no longer covers the desired area.

A lot of people use pins to hold the fabrics in place while they sew; I’m not one of them. I just hold the fabric and paper in place and take it to my machine. Feel free to pin if you’re nervous about my laissez faire methods! Once you’re at the machine, set your stitch length to 1.0 or 1.2. You need a really short stitch length in order to make tearing the paper away at the end easier. This also means that mistakes are a big pain to take out so double check everything before you stitch! Stitch along the line that connects piece 1 and piece 2.

Go to your cutting board and fold back the paper along the line you just stitched. Place the ¼” mark of your ruler along the edge of the paper and trim off any fabric beyond the edge of the ruler. Do NOT trim off at the stitch/paper line! You want to have ¼” of fabric beyond the paper. You are creating perfect ¼” seams here.

See? There is still ¼” of fabric past my stitch line.

Fold piece to up into place and press.

Here is what it will look like in the light. Again– I can’t stress this enough– notice the ¼” seam?

Repeat the size check process with piece 3.

Repeat putting right sides together and ensuring you still have ¼” over the line you will sew. Remember to hold or pin the fabric in place and be certain piece 3 will still cover the desired area once stitched!

Sew along the line that connects piece 3 to the 1-2 unit you created.

Fold back the paper at the line you just sewed and trim so there is ¼” fabric left extending beyond the paper.

We have now a completed 1-2-3 unit.

Size check piece 4.

Place piece 4 right side down and check to make sure you still have 1/4″ above your stitch line.

Sew along the line that connects piece 4 to the 1-2-3 unit.

Fold back the paper along the stitch line, trim, and press piece 4 into place. You should now have something that looks like this.

Size check piece 5.

Place piece 5 right side down and make sure you still have your 1/4″ beyond your stitch line. Sew piece 5 to the 1-2-3-4 unit.

Yay! All the piece are sewn! You should have something like this.

Trim excess fabric. If making the full size version, simply trim anything beyond the paper. If you made the pattern smaller, trim along the outside line. If you shrink the pattern less than 50%, you will need to add 1/4″ seam allowance beyond the outside line.

Ta-da! Now repeat this process with the remaining three letters.

My completed letters. You can remove the paper at this point if you want. I left mine on until the letters were joined, but that is simply my personal preference.

Place the L and O right sides together and sew in place using 1/4″ seam.

Repeat with V and E. You can press seams open or you press L-O to one side and V-E to another. Your call.

Sew the L-O unit to the V-E unit.

Remove your paper!

If adding hand-stitching, use your ruler and a removable ink pen to draw a line 1/4″ from the edge of your letters.

Choose some coordinating floss or pearl. Baste your mini to some batting. I did not put my backing on yet because I did not want my hand stitching to show on the back but, again, that’s just personal preference.

Use a running stitch along the marked lines.

Hand-stitching is complete! Next, I basted the backing to my mini and stitched in the ditch between the letters–so the backing shows quilting in one large cross. After you finish quilting, trim off excess backing and batting and bind as usual. If you shrunk the letters, I would recommend using a more narrow binding.

So I hope you all enjoyed my tutorial and I hope some of your paper-piecing newbies will feel brave enough to try it out! I’m offering a special coupon code for all Sew,Mama,Sew! readers through February 14th. Enter code SEWMAMA for 14% off anything in my shop, including my entire Wonky Alphabet Pattern! Happy Valentine’s Day!