Some time back I bought a book on the history of food. I didn’t get very far into the book before I came across something rather basic that I knew historically was totally inaccurate. Usually when I’m reading an informative book and something like that happens, I discard the book because I figure if I can’t trust them to get something fairly basic or well known right then there are probably other things I don’t know about that are inaccurate too.
Well, here was a useless book which I could have thrown away, but I happened to notice that the paper was of the sort that would tear somewhat easily. As some of you know, I’ve been trying to shop my own stuff – to reuse and repurpose things I have rather than buying. So, it occurred to me that this might be useful for paper piecing. The pages were a little small for my style (smaller than a phone book), but they weren’t smudgy, so I decided to give it a go.
It worked out quite well, I thought.
For this block I made the piece of paper square. I put a yellow strip in the middle and built it out on each side. (I’ll give a link to show you how to do this.) I did draw some lines to help myself line the first strip up, but this may not be necessary.
I trimmed it down to the size of the paper (use scissors or a rotary cutter) and then I tore the paper off the back. You can see that it came off in decent sized pieces without much trouble.
Normally, for constructing a quilt, I wouldn’t take the paper off till I was ready to sew the edges together, or perhaps even till after I’d sewed the squares together. These strips are running at an angle and on most or all of them the bias is on the edge. In this case, it might be better to sew the squares together with the paper intact.
This is a great way to use up scraps. You might make it totally scrappy and sew the pieces on in random patterns, or you could make all the center strips of one color and make a “secondary” pattern with them based on how you put them together. You could also border every square or you could put four together and border them to make blocks. The options are limited only by your imagination. :-)
Here is a picture of a beautiful string quilt made in a similar manner. (I don’t know if she used paper.)
Here is a video showing how to do this. Quilting with Scraps – Make the String Quilt! This is done by Jenny Doane and the Missouri Star Quilt Company. She is selling the papers for this project, but you can certainly do it on any paper that is of a good tearing quality.
If you don’t have a book you want to dedicate to this project and you don’t want to pay for the 10” squares she’s selling, you might look for a book at a second hand store or yard sale. Of course, you won’t be able to actually tear to paper to see if it will tear well, but a cheap paper back with that roughish kind of paper that you probably know from experience tears easily is what you’re looking for. I bought a larger book for this purpose at a used book store. It is an outdated study aid for an art test and is probably about 8X10” in size.
With this method you are making the quilt according to your own specifications, so you can make a 1/4” seam allowance on the edges when you trim the blocks, or you can just cut it at the edge of the paper as I did. You can also leave the pages their original size. I’ve started another scrap quilt idea using the pages from the smaller book and I’m using them at their original size and shape. (Hopefully I will show you what I’m making at some point. It is also a project designed to use up scraps.)