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Posted by on Nov 26, 2013 in Cardmaking 201, Stars and Stamps, Tutorial | 19 comments

Tutorial: Patterns for Paper Piecing

The new “Missing You” stamp set from Hero Arts is a great little set for paper piecing….and a little study in patterned paper might help us pick out the best papers to try using! This is a Scrap-Wrangler-approved post!

Every stamped image will be a little different – the amount of open space, the amount of detail, and the style of image will all have an impact on what papers work best. But shown here are some examples of what NOT to choose, as well as some that work nicely.

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Checkered patterns are challenging – the lines in the patterns detract from the stamped image lines.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””]2This pattern is a medium size – so the image shows up, but this is still a bit busy.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end id=”” class=”” style=””]5Argyle – especially a large one like this, creates odd shapes within the image.

[ezcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””] 4Large graphical patterns confuse the eye – especially with this much contrast in color.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””]
6The red and white is a tiny bit better, but the large white dots fight the eyeballs for attention.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end id=”” class=”” style=””] 7Crazy patterns can sometimes be fun…but too much pattern can be simply too much pattern.

[ezcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””]12The large circles in the pattern are about the same size and shape as the stamped image’s body! The colors may match, but the moose practically vanishes.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””]

9This pattern is smaller, but still very busy – if it had fewer colors it might work better than this.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end id=”” class=”” style=””]

10 Here’s a pattern that works great – the tiny dots provide interest without detracting from the image. [/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””]

11A simple pattern with lines can work really well for light areas in paper piecing.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””]

14The tiny polkadots allow for a little bit pattern – but the image lines are clearly seen![/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end id=”” class=”” style=””]13This denim is both a tiny pattern – and it’s mostly one color, which helps a lot with the readability of the image.[/ezcol_1third_end]

[ezcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””]15Tone on tone patterns clearly work best for readability of an image![/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””]
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Now that the images are cut out and assembled, you can see how large vs small patterns work. Note that these are all against a white background right now – putting color behind them, not to mention pattern, can complicate it even more.

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16The body on this little moose looks great – the large polkadots on the antlers and eyes confuse things a little. White eyes would help a lot here.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””]17 The body and antlers are the same color – so it’s a little hard to see the difference between the two. But at least the dark tone-on-tone pattern looks great.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end id=”” class=”” style=””]18

This little guy looks pretty good – tiny pattern on the body, and light for the eyes and antlers.[/ezcol_1third_end]

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19These patterns do well together – a good contrast between the body and antlers; the paper the antlers were stamped on has stars in it, but the stamping avoded the stars – so the grid is nicely unobtrusive.[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””]
Finally – here’s one combining multiple patterns. The body is that small pattern, and the feet, ears, and nose are the much simpler denim pattern. [/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end id=”” class=”” style=””]Note that the googlie eyes in the one to the left are different sizes -but they’re not the really thick ones, which can be hard for OWH cards. Also be very sure you use good glue – let them dry a few days, then bend the cards to see if they pop off or not, before mailing them to OWH. [/ezcol_1third_end]

Placing pieced images on patterns can be as challenging as choosing the papers to stamp on in the first place! At OWH we’ve seen lots of images that virtually “disappear” into crazy patterns that are far too similar to the image on them. Let’s look at some hard-to-work-with combos, then talk about what works well.

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This multicolor argyle is a visually confusing pattern – be very careful using a cut out image against something with lots of colors.[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]

8The large circles in the pattern are about the same size and shape as the stamped image’s body! The colors may match, but the moose practically vanishes.[/ezcol_1half_end]

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22 A busy pattern like this – or strips of different papers – can cause a little cutout image to disappear visually.[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]
23A simple tone-on-tone dot pattern complements these busy patterns well. The paper in that body is growing on me slowly![/ezcol_1half_end]

[ezcol_1half id=”” class=”” style=””]24The colors go well together on these, so as long as the body is in a simple portion of the snowflake pattern, it can work.[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]25The dark body against this simple dot pattern shows up perfectly![/ezcol_1half_end]
Now it’s time to walk through some ideas for simplifying the fussycutting of a layered image like this! Let’s start with the main pattern – this red with white stars.


The other pieces have been cut out—but only the INNER pieces. the fussy cutting around those outside pieces doesn’t need to be done multiple times if you plan carefully. The antlers and feet have been simply cut from the blue; the eyes from white; and a second piece for the muzzle is ready to be popped. Pictured are “Power Tabs” from Tombow – they’re a type of glue dot, and are a nice thin adhesive to add a little dimension without too much.

B The denim has now been adhered with tape runners, and the power tabs are in place, ready to pop the eyes and muzzle.C

Here’s a close up view so you can see the moose before the final fussycutting begins.


Now the image is being trimmed out, and that outer edge only needs to be trimmed out this one time – rather than over and over as each color is created.E

The moose!G

Now to choose a pattern to place behind him. This star pattern is fun, but a little busy.H

Go for something tone-on-tone, and a light color—-that allows the little moose to pop!I

And now, the final card! The simple dot patterns allow lots of other details to be added to the card; if a really busy pattern had been selected for the background, it would be necessary to limit other details.K

And since I know someone will ask – here are the little decor embellishments on this card. These are SO THIN! I didn’t even know these existed til I was at Hero Arts. It’s so hard to tell when looking at websites, but I like these.prepdots

WHEW! That was long, but I hope it was helpful. Happy Paper Piecing!












  1. Thanks for the tips on fussy cutting. I never would have thought of that. I just cut and cut and…… love your final card!

  2. I have never tried paper piecing, but I think I may have to now since you made it look so easy!

  3. How do you cut such fine details with such large scissors?

  4. Can’t wait for my stamps to come so I can try!

  5. Great paper piecing tutorial!! Thank you for the tips on fussy cutting. That will be very time saving! 🙂

  6. Wow, that was a lot of stamping/cutting and taking photos! Thanks for all that work you did to help us learn about paper piecing. I have the Lil Hoot coming soon, which look easy to cut, so I’m looking through my papers for some that will work. Thanks again!

    • LOL I think that was a record number of photos to organize. Now I remember why I do videos instead! ha 🙂

  7. Thanks Sandy! Seeing the patterns side-by-side really helps me learn – fantastic tutorial! Thanks for taking the time to work up all these examples!

  8. Thank you for this tutorial Sandy. I’m a visual learner so this will help a lot! Great job.

  9. Wonderful tutorial, Sandy! I agree with cdebbie672–I’m also a visual learner, so just reading without the photos wouldn’t have helped me much. Thanks for all your hard work. Can’t wait for my stamps to arrive (hopefully later this week) so I can start working with them!

  10. Great tutorial, Sandy! Thanks for the visuals; all the patterned paper pics (Peter piper?) are so helpful and the cutting technique is genius! That’s why I never thought of it 😉

  11. Another tip is to go around the edges of the image (once it is fussycut) with a marker that matches the ink you stamped with so that you don’t get the contrast of white paper core stuff against the patterned paper or stamped edge.

  12. i haven’t had much trouble choosing the papers to use….but i have been bogged down by cutting all the little pieces. how smart to lay everything out first and fussy cut once! duh! thanks!

  13. This was so very helpful. I had been leaning against ordering the new sets because I don’t do the Copic thing. But, after seeing this, I’m definitely rethinking these adorable stamp sets.

  14. You have definitely given me something to think about. I am with Kristie…I just cut and cut…

  15. Thank you for all of the work you put into this and for all of the great tips like not having to fussy cut everything until you’re sure of what you’re going to piece and where. I’ll definitely be referring back to this!

  16. Wow! That was a lot of paper-piecing tips, but so very helpful. Thank you!

  17. I love paper piecing–I don’t do it enough! Thanks for the inspiration and ideas to help make these creations look nice!

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