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Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

April 25, 2008

Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial
Paper piecing generally involves sewing fabric pieces directly to a piece of paper to create a quilt block. It makes for perfectly crisp looking piecing of sometimes intricate quilt blocks. The down side is having to remove the paper off the back of the block when you’re all done. A total pain as far as I’m concerned.

Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial
Enter freezer paper. Freezer paper is available at most grocery stores right along side the plastic wrap and foils. It is white paper with a plastic coating on one side. You know the plastic side because it’s shiny. The dull side can be written on and printed on. I think it should be renamed quilting paper because not only is it good for appliqué, but it’s great for paper piecing now, too. I’d done paper piecing a little, but this freezer paper technique was just explained to me, so I went home and figured it out.

I’m making a block from the Dear Jane book for this tutorial (K12 – Doris’s Dilemma to be exact). These are 4 1/2″ inches finished, so it’s helpful to be precise. To start, cut yourself a piece of freezer paper (FP) a little larger than the size of your finished block plus your seam allowance. You can either trace your design, or draft it directly onto the paper. It’s also possible to print directly onto the FP if you cut a piece the size of printer paper, and you’re lucky enough to have your design on the computer. Remember the lines are your sewing lines, so for the outside of the block I like to draw a ligher line to note where my seam allowance ends.
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

(I actually traced, but ended up re-drawing this block myself because I wasn’t happy with the exact draft in the book). I find it helpful to number the pieces in the order they will be sewn, and even sometimes note the color of the piece.
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

Create folds on your first sewing line(s), folding just inside of the line.
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

Select a piece of fabric that will cover the first piece. Keeping in mind the lines are sewing lines, pick a piece that is large enough to include seam allowances.
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

Hold the fabric piece in place on the FP with the wrong side of the fabric to the shiny side of the FP. Using your iron on a med-high setting with no steam, and pressing on the DULL side of the FP, press the piece onto the FP.

Fold the FP along your first sewing line, gently loosening just the seam allowance. Line up a ruler on the fold, and trim at 1/4″ so that you have a perfect 1/4″ seam allowance.
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

Line up your #2 fabric piece with the first, right sides together, matching the raw edges.
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

Holding that #2 piece in place, flip the whole thing over. Now you are going to sew with your needle right up against the fold of the FP. The goal is to sew as close as possible to the fold without actually perforating the paper.
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

Open up the pieces and finger press the seam open. This is pretty important, because you’re otherwise pressing blindly through the FP! Press the seam open – again, ironing on the DULL side of the FP. If the paper sticks to your ironing board it’s no problem, as the FP does not leave residue on fabric and can be used multiple times. If you iron the shiny side of the paper it will make a mess on your iron! Either way, I try to use the tip or side of my iron and just get the piece and seam that I need pressed.
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

Fold the freezer paper on the second sewing line. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4″, and line up your third fabric piece. Flip it over, and sew right next to the fold again.
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

Open up your pieces again, finger press, then press with the iron. Once it’s pressed open, double check to make sure that your pieces are large enough to cover seam allowances. Next, fold the paper on your next sewing line(s). Loosen just the seam allowance, and trim to 1/4″. Continue with the next fabric pieces in the same fashion as above.
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

Repeat. Repeat. Isn’t this fun? And it’s looking great!
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

Here’s our finished block, all pressed to the freezer paper. Flip it over. Now trim. DON’T FORGET YOUR SEAM ALLOWANCE!! Do not cut on your finished sewing line!!
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

Carefully pull the freezer paper away from the back of our block. The raw edges of the fabric and seams have a tendency to ravel with all the sticking abuse (but they do with ripping paper off too!).
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

Look how pretty my back side is (teehee!). And there is my beautifully pieced block all finished!
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial K12 Doris's Dilemma

Hope that this tutorial is helpful to you and you enjoy the process. Happy freezer paper piecing!
Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2012 4:57 pm

    Thanks for posting this tutorial! I linked it on my blog to explain the very same method that I’d learned in a quilting demo… yours was the only tutorial that clearly explains it!

  2. August 20, 2012 3:37 am

    I’m just beginning to learn to quilt. This tutorial is FANTASTIC! I haven’t sewn for 40 yrs. and this was so clear that I tried a block and it worked!! The edges met where they should.
    Thanks so much.

  3. December 6, 2012 7:29 am

    The DJ captured my heart a very long time ago and I’ve yet to do one block.

    Thank you for sharing your expertise so graciously and for making the process of FP and DJ easier to understand.

    My first PP was about 48 pieces … and, of course, finished, except for edges – shown on my eBoard.

  4. March 28, 2014 5:14 pm

    I just purchased the Dear Jane book and Love Letters from the Civil War – both paper piecing. I recently went to a 3 day retreat with my quilting guild and fell in love with paper piecing. When I got ready to begin tracing the patterns in either book I found that the pieces were not numbered!!! Is there somewhere that I might be able to purchase copies already numbers and/or where would I find this.

    Your article on freezer paper is a great help – I’ve been practicing while I await a reply.

    • Wendy permalink*
      March 28, 2014 8:02 pm

      I do not know of where you could find numbered pieces. It just takes a bit of reasoning it out, and sometimes dividing the block into smaller pieces so that it builds on itself. I was working on the Dear Jane quilt with Flickr groups, and this blog is very helpful with block construction:

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