Practically Paper Piecing - My Project

My project for the Practically Paper Piecing Blog Hop is a table topper that is a mixture of paper pieced leaves on a block pieced background.

As I'm relatively new to paper piecing I decided to do a mixed project of traditional piecing and paper piecing.  The leaves are paper pieced in multi-toned bali prints and the background is made of different tones of green with a little gold thrown in for good measure.

I wanted the leaves to really stick out from the background, thats why I created the background in solids.   Also I wanted the leaves to have texture so they are individually paper pieced and then applied to the background as raw edge appliqué.  I decided on raw edge because I want this table topper to eventually have even more texture after it's washed and the raw edge of the leaves will then fray.  Also I machine appliquéd the leaves using four different decorative stitches (all leaf patterns).  I've been trying to use the multitude of wonderful decorative stitch options on my sewing machine instead of just using nothing but straight and zigzag stitching.  Also the decorative stitches add additional texture and visual interest.

The paper piecing leaves pattern were taken from the latest edition of Quiltmakers magazine article entitled Pile O Leaves by the designer Caroline Reardon.  I'm not going to reproduce it here because I don't want to violate copyright laws.  If you're interested in getting the pattern, please either download a digital copy of the magazine onto your iPad or get one at the news agent.
Lots of leaves, lots of cutting

Once I cut all the pattern pieces, I needed to decide on fabric.  That was easy.  I've had this jelly roll of Bali batiks for ages with no plan in mind for what to do with them.  The greens were perfect for this project.

After I got myself into the zone of paper piecing the leaves went pretty quickly.  I didn't make all the leaves I cut as I realised I went too nuts on cutting so many, so I just kept going until I knew I could get a nice grouping of four clusters.  This was approximately 14 leaves when I was done.  Fourteen was plenty really because by the time I hit ten I was pretty sick of leaves!

I've found that if you have a mini iron that many people use for appliqué, this is the time to pull it out and use it.  It will save lots of burns to your fingers as the leaves are pretty small and a regular sized iron is just too big to use without eventually getting burned.

A finished leaf

A bunch of finished leaves

Next I cut all the blocks for the background.  I cut all of them 6 inches by 6 inches and used a mix of green solids with one gold solid.

As I pieced the the blocks together in rows I ensured I pressed the seams open to reduce the bulk when finished.  As this is going to be a table topper I want it to lay as flat as possible once it's quilted.

Once the background blocks were pieced I arranged the leaves in a rough circular fashion in clusters of four.  I ensured there was an open space in the centre to put a decoration or bowl.

All I had to do then is appliqué the leaves on and it was done - at least to the point of finishing the top.  I've yet to quilt it - which I'll do soon and post a picture when finished.  I'll keep the quilting pretty simple so as not to take away from the impact of the leaves.

And that's it - my new table topper!


  1. Love it. I've never tried paper piecing, perhaps someday. I made a quilt at a quilt retreat this summer in similar colors to your table topper. I had a lot of batiks I wanted to use up. As it went together the quilt's name became obvious. I call it "Sunburnt Country" (from the poem) because it just looked SO Australian.

  2. That is a great table topper! I love the leaves - the batik fabrics work perfectly! Oh and well done for persisting to 14 leaves (I probably would have quit after 4 haha!)

  3. Looks lovely mckenna! Finished for Sunday? ;)

  4. Your topper turned out lovely. I need to try and use more of my machines decorative stitches too...Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wow, what a beautiful pattern! I reckon you should make it autumn colours next and send it my way :P

  6. Great project. I like the decorative stitching.


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