“My Birds” Paper Pieced Block

Welcome to my hive, lovely little bees!

I have few requirements for my blocks. I like all colors at some time or another so no worries about using the wrong one. Solid fabrics are not required, but ok to use. My blocks must have a black or very, very dark background. The birds are to be the brightest colors you want to use. I prefer the background to be the same fabric but the birds can be all different (or the same). I used a rainbow combination for this tutorial but anything bright goes!

I created the pattern in EQ7 and made it into a PDF for ease of use.  Please do not sell this pattern as I am giving it to you. You may use the items made from my pattern however you would like!

When you print the PDF pattern, select “no scaling” so that the pattern prints out at the correct size. The block should measure 8 inches across both sides (we will add the seam allowance to bring it up to 8 1/2 inches).To prepare your pattern, cut the margins down to a quarter inch on each side.

To make trimming and folding the block easier as you go, fold all the lines. I crease them away from myself the first time because I find it’s easier to get a more precise line this way. Then fold the lines back the other way. Crease the lines all the way across the paper, even if the lines stop before your crease would end. Your paper should look like third picture when you’re finished.

Start with a piece of fabric bigger than your beginning piece (1.)  The pieced are marked in the order sewn, beginning with A1. You can pin the piece of fabric to the paper or use a dab of washable glue to hold it in place.  Next, lay a strip of fabric over the first piece on the blank side of paper on top of your first piece of fabric, making sure the new piece will be bigger than the A2 piece. I usually measure the widest point in my next piece and add an inch for seam allowances.(2.) Turn the paper over and begin your seam on the line between A1 and A2. Stop sewing at the end of the printed line, taking a few back stitches to anchor them in place. (4)

Turn the paper over and press the piece open. Add another strip of fabric to the other side of your beginning piece, making sure the piece will be big enough to cover the area for A3 (5)  Turn over to the printed side and sew the seam between A1 and A3. Turn the paper over and press the seam open again. (6) Fold the paper back exposing the edges of the seam allowance and trim to 1/4 inch (7).  Trim the outer edges even to the paper and it should look like picture 8.

I cut a square of fabric in half to create my “birds”. You can see in picture 9 that I have plenty of fabric to account for seam allowances when I trim it down. But in picture 10, you’ll notice that one piece of the previous row isn’t as wide as it should’ve been. As long as there’s enough to catch it in the next seam without much fear of it fraying loose later, it should be fine. I had enough to safely secure my pieces in the next round! (11) Keep adding pieces and trimming down to 1/4 inch seam allowances as you follow the numbers on the printed side. (12) Yes, I know I messed up the Roy G. Biv. I hope OCDers won’t hold it against me!

Keep your stitches along the lines, backstitching a couple as you begin and end the stitching line. (13) Press the piece back (14). Fold the paper back to trim down the seam allowance (15) Unfold and proceed to the next numbered piece (16).

Once all the pieces have been sewn down to the paper, the printed side should look like this (17). The other side should be similar to this (18) and now you can begin removing your paper pattern. The shorter the stitch length, the easier it is to tear the paper away, but be careful! (19) You don’t want to pull any stitches apart (20). Tear the pieces away in the reverse order of how they were sewn.

If there are any tiny bits of paper left in a seam, don’t worry. They will work their way out (sometimes they don’t but I don’t mind!)

I made the pinky-orange block first to make sure I liked the idea and it’s a good example of what a block looks like made from just 2 fabrics. I’m very excited to see what you all come up with!