To some, this term Paper Piecing strikes terror or triggers a severe negative reaction. That is a shame because paper piecing is an awesome piecing technique that isn't the demon that it has been made out to be.
When you say paper piecing, most people think of English paper piecing, which connotes something old-fashioned and tedious. That is a shame because English paper piecing really isn't paper piecing in the truest sense of the technique. This technique is really template piecing. The paper serves as a template for making the hexagon shapes that are then hand sewn together. This is not the paper piecing I'm talking about.
The paper piecing I'm talking about is the use of paper to actually sew your block together to make a design. There is foundation paper piecing and freezer paper piecing. The benefit to learning paper piecing is the ability to create pictures without always relying on applique. With paper piecing--as the name suggests--the design is pieced and is, therefore, on the same playing field in your project, as you can see from this beautiful example form Lori Kennedy. You can download this free pattern by clicking here. The look of an appliqued owl would be very different. I love how the owl is part of the quilt and not on top of the quilt, which can only be achieved by paper piecing.
Another benefit to paper piecing is how accurate you can sew very intricate designs. The queen of paper piecing, of course, is Judy Niemeyer of Quiltworx. She has taken paper piecing to new heights!
I wouldn't suggest starting with a complex Quiltworx pattern, but it can certainly be a goal. Quiltworx does have a variety of patterns with some being more obtainable by a novice paper piecer. We are, in fact, in discussion with our area Judy Niemeyer Certified Instructor Melody Maskus to teach a simpler design from Quiltworx. Keep an eye out for a class later this year or early next year.
I found this fun beginner's book--Sew Cut Baby Animals--that is a great way to learn the art of paper piecing while creating fun items for a baby. The book offers ways to use the blocks other than just quilts.
We will be offering a few paper piecing classes in 2023. I personally love the technique because of its precision and have been known to take a traditional block and turn it into a paper pieced block.
Give it a try if you have never done paper piecing before. For those who have tried it and have PTSD from the experience, I invite you to try again. It truly is a great technique to add to your repertoire.