Before jumping into the book, Southwest Modern: From Marfa to New Mexico (which is AMAZING), and before passing out a few paper piecing tips (less revolutionary, but hopefully helpful), I have a preface: Quilty friends, I may be adventurous when it comes to food, spelling errors and nicknames for my loved ones, but when it's time to learn a new sewing technique, I'm a major scaredy cat.
I don't want to be anxious in this way, but I can't seem to stop that flutter in my heart and the way the room spins in and out of focus when I think of really and truly struggling at sewing – which IS inevitable when you are learning something new! I love quilting so much and have gotten (dare I say?) really good at it. I don't want to struggle and potentially bite the dust!
So let me tell you, with my head held high, after over 16 years of quilting, I finally learned to paper piece.
[Pause for applause.]
This is something I cheerfully avoided and would have kept avoiding had I not tried the fantastic Zia Mini quilt pattern.
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I adore Kristi, author of Southwest Modern and founder of Initial K Studio, and was so excited to be included on her book release blog hop. When she sent out an email asking different bloggers to pick a project from her book, I flipped through the book multiple times, but kept circling back to her elegant and minimal Zia Mini.
Before looking at any of the instructions, I signed up to make it.
Lucky Spool Media, LLC: © 2017 Kurt Griesbach
Flash forward a week before my turn on the blog hop and I open her book to read the instructions.
Bum bum BUUUMMM!!! PAPER PIECING!! Crap! Crap! Crappity crap! All of the fear-induced excuses immediately began playing before my eyes like an old home video projector:
- "I don't have time to learn something totally new!"
- "Kristi is going to be so sad when she sees the terrible job I do making this mini!"
- "Paper piecing is stupid and I already know I'm going to HATE IT!"
I could keep going, but let's not dwell on that vicious little voice that likes to whisper negativity in my ear. Let's jump to the GLORIOUS ENDING! I, Suzy Quilts Williams, learned to paper piece. Not only that, I freakin' nailed it. [insert 20 flexing arm emojis]
The Zia Mini
Although I'd looooove to keep talking about how proud I am for making such a beautifully paper pieced mini, the true hero of this story is the Zia Mini quilt pattern. If you have never tried paper piecing, THIS SHOULD BE YOUR FIRST PROJECT.
Sorry to yell, I just didn't want you to skim the photos and miss that important bit. I personally believe that starting small is the best way to learn something new. There's very little commitment and you get the instant gratification of a fast finish.
Did I mention that Scrap is mad crushing on the Zia Mini too?
A Few Paper Piecing Tips
As a first timer, and with no paper piecing friends within a 30 minute radius, I looked to the Internet to guide me. I watched a couple video tutorials...some OK and some veeery confusing. After 20 minutes of searching, I found this one. It is clear, concise and uses a triangle pattern that is almost identical to the shapes made in the Zia Mini quilt pattern. WIN!
I watched the video three times before my mind stopped melting. I probably shouldn't admit to that...but if you're out there getting frustrated with learning this new skill, just know that I've been there and still came out on the other side.
More Paper Piecing Tips (which are probably obvious, but they weren't to me)
- Regular computer paper can work, but not well. I remember writing about this when I first blogged about paper piecing, but I've always been a rebel and a rule-breaker...even when it's my own rules. The pattern clearly states to use 20 lb. paper. Which, after using the 40 lb. from my printer, I know would have been a lot easier.
- Don't rip the paper until the end. Again...this is stated in the pattern....but again, I was like, "meh. I'm going to rip it the second my block looks like a block." If you do this, you miss out on some of the amazing paper pieced preciseness. HOWEVER, if you used regular computer paper, like me, it gets pretty hard to rip once you have multiple seems intersecting.
- Use a spray bottle of water. All of these tips could probably be ignored if you just followed the pattern and used 20 lb. paper and didn't rip it out until the very end, buuuuut, on the chance that you're a rabble-rouser like me and live on the dangerous side of life, dampening the paper with a spray bottle makes it a lot easier to rip off.
- Reduce your stitch length. I am adding this tip after getting a great reminder in the comments. I reduced my stitch length from the typical 2.5 I use for patchwork piecing to 1.5 and that helped keep my stitches secure while ripping my heavy duty rebel computer paper.
My Zia Mini Fabric
You could make this Zia Mini any way you like, but in my opinion, one of the aspects of the original design that make it such a striking quilt is the color gradient. In addition to the background fabric, the mini calls for 4 color fabrics. Since I was trying paper piecing for the first time I thought, "What the heck, let's use some fabric I designed too!" So, my quilty friends, not only are you witnessing my first foray into paper piecing, you're also seeing my first quilting project using an original fabric design. Pop the champagne, people!
Giveaway! [CLOSED] Get a FREE copy of Southwest Modern.
Interested in trying out this Zia Mini for yourself? I'm giving away a copy of Kristi's book and all you have to do is follow @initialkstudio on instagram and write a comment below! Tell me anything – your latest food obsession, your current sewing project, your newest fabric crush, and obvi, any paper piecing tips you have up your sleeve. 😉 I will pick a winner 24 hours later.
(FYI, I have to approve each comment, so if you leave a comment and don't see it up right away, it probably still worked, I just haven't gotten to it.)
Congrats to Nancy for winning the giveaway!
Check out the rest of the Southwest Modern blog hop tour here:
- March 8: Mathew Boudreaux of Mister Domestic
- March 9: Rebecca Bryan of Bryan House Quilts
- March 10: ME!
- March 11: Hillary Goodwin of Entropy Always Wins
- March 12: Michelle Wilkie of Factotum of Arts
- March 13: Christopher Thompson of The Tattooed Quilter
- March 14: Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft
- March 15: Sarah Thomas of Sariditty
- March 16: Karen Lewis of Karen Lewis Textiles