Fall into a QAL: Block 8 Autumn Leaf

Welcome to Block 8 of the Fall Into a QAL, a mystery quilt along by Partners in Design.

If you'd like to quilt along with us, click here to learn more.

The eighth block in our quilt along was designed by me and it's an autumn leaf!

I love fall, especially autumn leaves, because they remind me of my wedding day. Fall was at it's peak that day, and as we rode from the church to our reception in a horse-driven carriage, I remember most of all the beautiful fall leaves surrounding us with color.

So of course I had to create an autumn leaf block for our quilt along! Click the button below to download the pattern.

My pattern uses foundation paper-piecing for its construction and includes two versions. Choose the version that suits you best.

Version A - Confident Beginner

Version B - Beginner

If you’ve never paper-pieced before--no worries! I'll show you how.

My Fabric Pull for This Block

I made the two sample blocks shown above several months ago, when I created the pattern for the quilt along. Since then I've changed the colors I'm using in my quilt so I decided to resew the blocks.

To remind you, here are my blocks so far.

I've got four dark backgrounds so far and three light ones, so I decided my Autumn Leaf block should use a light green background to balance things out.

Here's my fabric pull for the Version A: Confident Beginner block (shown below on the left). For the Version B: Beginner block (shown on the right) I decided to use only two greens, both dark, for my background. I thought that way you could see four different blocks and get an idea of how you'd like your block to look.

The pattern calls for a range of greens, yellows, oranges, and reds but of course you can make your leaf look however you want!

Paper Piecing: A Quick Tutorial

As I said, my block uses foundation paper-piecing. For some of you, paper piecing is the P word and something you may not be looking forward to. All I ask is that you give me the chance--I know I can make it doable. And who knows? You may discover that you love it!

First let me step you through the process in case paper piecing is new to you, then I'll share some tips for success.

1. Place fabric a1 on the back (unprinted side) of the foundation

If needed, hold the foundation up to the window to make sure Fabric A1 covers the A1 spot, with 1/4" to spare on all sides. Pin it in place from the front.

2. Place a piece of cardstock on the line between a1 and a2.

Flip the foundation paper back over the cardstock.

Step 2.jpg

3. Butt the Add-a-quarter ruler up against the cardstock and trim.

4. Place fabric A2 on top of fabric a1, right sides together.

Pin right on the stitching line between A1 and A2, and check to make sure A2 will cover its spot with 1/4" all around. Hold it up to the window if needed.

5. Stitch on the line between A1 and A2

Use a shorter stitch length to make the foundation paper easier to remove later on. I use 1.8. Start stitching just before the start of the line, and end your stitching just after the other end.

I also change to a larger needle (at least 80, but  90 or 100 is better) that's strong and pointy--a Jeans (Denim) or a Topstitch needle is perfect for this. You want a good strong pointy needle to piece the foundation paper and make it easier to remove later on.

6. Fold back fabric A2 and press.

Then simply repeat for all the fabrics in that section. For example, place the cardstock on the line between A2 and A3, then fold back the paper foundation, butt up the Add-a-Quarter ruler and trim. Align Fabric A3 on top of Fabric A2 RST, pin on the seam line and check its placement. If Fabric A3 covers it's space with 1/4" to spare, sew on the line between A2 and A3. Press Fabric A3 back, then start all over with A4, A5, and so on until the section is done.

7. When you've sewn all the fabrics in a section, trim it.

Use a ruler to measure 1/4" seam allowance all around and trim.

8. After all the sections of a block are paper pieced, sew them together and remove the papers.

Sew the sections together in the order given in the pattern. These photos should help you get it right.

By the way, I keep the foundations on until the block is done. I pin at the corners and along the seam allowances as printed on the foundations to ensure that my sections go together correctly.

Version A: Confident Beginner Layout Part 1

Version A: Confident Beginner Layout Part 2

Version B: Beginner Layout

Need more help with paper-piecing? I've got another tutorial here.

Paper Piecing: Tips for Success

Now that you know how to paper piece, let me back up a bit and provide you with some specific tips for success.

  • First, like all things quilting, paper piecing is more enjoyable with the right tools. So the first thing you should do is get some foundation paper to print out your block foundations. Don't be tempted to use printer paper (copy paper). Believe me, I've gone down that road and it's not fun. Printer paper is simply too thick and too hard to remove from your block after you get it pieced. The result of using printer paper is often a bunch of ripped out seams and tiny bits of paper you can't remove. I recommend using Carol Doak's Foundation Paper, but there are many reputable brands out there for you to use.

Looking for a cheaper alternative? Try children's drawing paper (newsprint). It's thin and printable, so it's good for foundation paper piecing.

  • Another tool I highly recommend is an Add-A-Quarter ruler. Along with a simple piece of cardstock such as a greeting card or something similar, this ruler enables you to accurately trim your seam allowance to 1/4" so you can easily place the next fabric for piecing. Placing your fabrics correctly helps you avoid that thing all paper piecers dread---having to rip out the seam!
  • Still, things happen and you may need to rip out a seam or two. What you don't want to happen is to also rip up your paper foundation. So here's a tool you must have in your toolbox: Scotch Brand tape. Scotch Brand won't melt and can be removed, making it ideal for this purpose.

So if you make a mistake, tape the seam on the printed side of the foundation, then rip out the seam from the other side. The tape will keep the foundation from ripping too. To resew the seam, sew right through the tape then remove it right away if you want. (I find that it mostly goes away by itself when I remove the foundation papers so I just leave it.)

  • For pinning, I like to use flower-head pins because they lay flat. Since you often fold the fabric over the pin to test its size, the flatness of flower-head pins makes them ideal for use in paper-piecing.
  • For piecing, I like to use a size 80, 90, 0r 100 Jeans (Denim) or Topstitching needle because they are strong and pierce the foundation cleanly..

Now, even though you now know the secret to ripping out a seam, it's always best to avoid it whenever possible. There are several things you can do avoid ripping out seams.

  • First, make sure your foundations are the right size before starting. I've included a 1" square on each foundation, so measure each page to make each one printed at the right size. If needed, turn off any Scaling options and print at 100%.

Sometimes, the pattern won't print from your web browser. So if you have problems printing the pattern, save the pattern on your computer first then try printing it again.

Also, if you are sewing Version A - Confident Beginner, you must tape the two parts of section G together. Lay the two registration marks on top of one another to align the sections.

  • Be sure to cut your fabric pieces large enough to cover the area each fabric needs to occupy, plus a generous 1/4" all around. My pattern tells you what size to cut your pieces so at least half of this is taken care of. Even so, if you don't place the fabrics correctly on the pattern, you can still end up with fabric that doesn't cover the space it needs to.
  • So be sure to align your fabrics correctly before sewing. To do that, remember to always place the next fabric on top of the previous fabric, right sides together. There's nothing more aggravating then sewing your piece and realizing one of the fabrics is upside down!

Now when placing your two fabrics together (right sides together of course <grin>) you normally center the next fabric on the previous fabric. Sometimes because of the angle of the line you are sewing on however, you might need to offset the fabric you are placing just a little instead of centering it on the previous fabric.

Here are some photos that should help you place your pieces correctly for my Autumn Leaf block. The ones not shown are centered on the previous fabric.

Placing B1 and B2 - Version B Beginner

Placing B1 and B2 - Version B Beginner

Placing C1 and C2 - Version B Beginner

Placing D4 - Version B Beginner

Placing E1 and E2 - Version B Beginner

Placing F1 and F2 - Version B Beginner

Placing D1 and D2 - Version A Confident Beginner

Placing E1 and E2 - Version A Confident Beginner

Placing F1 and F2 - Version A Confident Beginner

Placing G5 - Version A Confident Beginner

Placing H1 and H2 - Version A Confident Beginner

  • Perhaps most importantly, always pin your two fabrics right along the seam line, and then test your fabric placement by flipping the new fabric over your pin and verifying that once sewn, it will cover its area with 1/4" to spare on all sides.

A Paper Piecing Checklist

Here's a quick check list of things to keep in mind when sewing.

  • Use a short stitch length (1.8) and a Jeans/Denim or Topstitching needle that's at least size 80.
  • Place fabrics RST
  • Align fabric correctly, then pin and test that it covers the right spot before sewing.
  • Trim your seam allowance to help you align the next fabric--just be sure to flip the foundation back over your cardstock before trimming so you don't cut it!
  • Stitch the areas in order--start with A1, then A2, A3, A4 and so on.
  • Stitch the sections together in the order given in the pattern. Use the seam allowances on the foundation papers to help you align the sections properly.
  • Remove your foundation papers after the block is sewn

That's all my tips! If you have any questions while making this block, feel free to post them here in the comments. Just be sure to enter an email address when prompted so I can get back to you quickly.

My Quilt So Far

Here are my eight quilt blocks, plus the extra block I made. Aren't they looking good together?

Visit the other hosts!

Visit the other hosts if you want to see their versions of my Autumn Leaf block and gather ideas for your own version. Here are the hosts:

Abbie at Sparkle On
April at JANDA Bend Quilts
Bobbi at Snowy Days Quilting
Jennifer at The Inquiring Quilter
Karen at Tu-Na Quilts, Travels and Eats
Sherry at Powered by Quilting
Vanda at Quilting with Vanda

If you want to see the schedule for the quilt along and the list of block designers, click here.

How Do I Enter the Giveaway?

First, you must be 18 years old to enter. Then, to enter the Autumn Leaf block giveaway simply make the block and post it in one of these three places before the deadline.

  • On Instagram, with the hashtags #fallintoaqal #inquiringquilter #autumnleafblock
  • In our private Facebook group
  • To the linky at the bottom of this post

You have until Monday, September 3rd at 11:59 pm EST to post your block for a chance to win this awesome prize package—a six month subscription to Make Modern magazine! Every issue contains 10 to 14 modern quilt patterns plus feature articles from quilters all over the globe.

On Tuesday, September 4th be sure to come back here for the next block in our quilt along!

You can follow me on social media or sign up for my newsletter if you’d like a reminder when the next block is posted. You’ll find all the ways to follow me at the top of my sidebar. If you have any general questions about the quilt along or would like to see the complete schedule, click the Fall into a QAL tab above.

A Special thank-you to our sponsors

The Final Grand prize package for our quilt along will be announced October 16th.

And We Have a Winner!

I know for a lot of you, my Autumn Leaf block was a real challenge because it was paper-pieced. But you pulled through it together--offering help and encouragement along the way and the result was a collection of the most beautiful blocks--each unique and lovely, just like real leaves. In the end, 72 of you made my block! Thank you so much! For a designer this experience couldn't have been better.

And now for the winner! I've collected all the entries from Facebook, Instagram, and the linky on my blog and used a random number generator to select a winner. And the winner is...Edith Stewart! Congratulations Edith! Email me here and I'll make sure your Modern Magazine subscription is started right away.

I've included a photo of Edith's block in case you missed it. Isn't it wonderful?

Island Batik Great Outdoors Blog Hop continues this week!

Great Outdoors Blog Hop.jpg


The Great Outdoors Blog Hop continues this week with great giveaways. Click here to see the schedule for this week.

My day on the blog hop is Wednesday, so please come back!






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Tell me...what is your favorite memory of fall?

I really appreciate your comments. Please leave an email address so I can thank you personally!

I really appreciate your comments. Please leave an email address so I can thank you personally!