Machine quilting is a real piece of work - literally!

It involves making many pieces of fabric that get sewn together on a regular sewing or quilting machine to create a beautiful quilt top which is then quilted on a bigger machine like the Grace Q'nique 15 Pro Midarm.

Pretty obvious, right?

But did you know there are three different piecing methods for putting together that gorgeous quilt top?

When you’re creating a design or pattern that’s more intricate and has a lot of angles and corners that must be precisely cut and sewn for the design to turn out correctly, piecing is a critical step.

Here are three different types of piecing that you can try for success with the more detailed quilt patterns and how they differ!

What Is Piecing Anyway?

Piecing is the term for stitching together the different fabric pieces that make your quilt top once fully assembled.

Many patterns involve only cutting out geometric shapes and stitching them together on your quilting machine.

Other more creative and detailed patterns require cutting and assembly irregular shapes or even shapes with many angles that have to line up perfectly or the pattern effect could be ruined.

In these latter instances, you’d use a piecing technique that works as a guide or template to stitch the pieces together more accurately than if the many pieces were taken straight to the machine.

Using piecing, you have much greater control over the precision of the design so you won’t end up disappointed when corners don’t meet or angles are off.

Three Different Types of Piecing

Depending on the pattern you are making and how challenging your angles and shapes are to stitch together on a quilting machine, you can use one of these three main piecing techniques:

  1. English Paper Piecing (EPP) - Also called English Piecing, this is a hand-stitching method preferred for piecing hexagon and 6-sided diamond shapes. The shape is cut out on thick paper or cardboard, fabric is hand-cut to be slightly larger and then wrapped, pressed, and stitched around the template to maintain precise angles. After the shapes are assembled, the template is pulled out of the middle.
  2. Foundation Paper Piecing - This is a piecing method that can be done by hand or with a machine. It involves using something other than paper for a template, such as muslin, stabilizer, or some other fabric that will be left in the quilt top. After the pieces are stitched together against or around the template, the template is left in place to add stability to strip or string blocks and other blocks made from many smaller pieces.
  3. Machine Paper Piecing (MPP) - This is a piecing method that uses a paper template on which the fabric pieces are machine sewn and pressed, then the template is peeled or torn off afterward.

Which Piecing Method Is For You?

While all three of these methods can technically be used at any time for making a quilt top, there are times when you’d want to leave the added bulk of a foundation template in and others when you wouldn’t.

EPP is easy to do when making intricate corners with a quilting machine can get challenging while MPP is great for when you want to use a template but don’t want to stitch by hand.

Either way, use the one that’s right for you.

If you’ve never done foolproof piecing these ways, prepare to see the quality of your finished quilt top patterns go up a notch!