Tutorial: Convert standard piecing templates into paper-piecing templates

Recently it was suggested that I write a tutorial on how to convert a traditional standard piecing template for a quilt block into a paper-pieced template. You might want to do this if the quilt block in question has lots of weird shapes or Y-seams (aka set-in seams). The block we’re going to work with for this tutorial is one I just whipped up.

conversion tutorial_export2 You can see there are some Y-seams in there. I would definitely want to convert this pattern to a paper-pieced template.

So here’s what you need for the tutorial –

1. The original traditional template pieces for this pattern. Download them here.

2. Download and install the Quilt Assistant Application from Cosman.nl.  Come back here when you’re done. This software is legit, I use it all the time, and it’s great. No worries! If you’re not super handy with a computer you might want to follow the quick tutorial here just to get rolling.

3. A ruler.

4. A calculator.

5. Your wits.

Here’s the original assembly map for the traditional piecing.


I spent absolutely hours writing this out in text and pictures, and it was just taking forEVER and honestly I don’t think it was very easy to understand. So I just did a video tutorial instead. Just make full use of the play/pause/position controls and replay whatever you missed as you go. Make sure you view it full screen and click the little gear to change to maximum HD quality.

Note: If you already know your block’s finished size skip to 4:30.

Here are some free PDF printing utilities for Windows.

And here are the standard DPI’s for your Quilt Assistant preferences.

  • Older Macs and cheaper monitors – 72 DPI
  • Newer Macs, some current PCs and more expensive monitors – 109 DPI
  • Retina display Macs – 144 DPI

Chances are your display uses one of these numbers, so try them first and see how they work before you deal with fiddly calculations.

Here are some quilt patterns I’ve tested and know they work well using this method.

  • Marcelle Medallion by Alexia Abegg (Just need to add one extra seam line, similar to the block in my video.)
  • Fireworks by Thimble Blossoms. Look below for how I converted this.
  • Swoon by Thimble Blossoms. Look below for how I converted this.

My Marcelle Medallion



My Fireworks Block

Here’s the top right corner for the fireworks pattern, so you can see how I cut it for paper piecing.

fireworks_export corner

Finished! #paperpieced #swoon2013 #swoonalong #architextures #indiansummer

My Swoon Block

If you want to convert the Swoon pattern yourself, here’s how I cut the top right corner. Hope it helps!



This tutorial came about due to a slight mishap on my blog last week, and Alexia Abegg was kind enough to offer a copy of her book for me to give away! Her Marcelle Medallion pattern would be an awesome traditional piecing pattern to convert to paper-piecing!




Got a question about the tutorial? Leave a comment here and I’ll answer it, I promise, even with all the giveaway entries!

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20 Responses to Tutorial: Convert standard piecing templates into paper-piecing templates

  1. Christina June 12, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    I can’t wait for Simply Style!

  2. Linda June 12, 2013 at 11:11 am #


  3. Lisa Mather June 12, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    I am looking forward to Simply Style and Acacia!

  4. Marla June 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    I convert images into paper piecing templates in powerpoint because I am fancy like that.

    I am not waiting for anything in particular to come out fabricwise because I have way too much already and need to sew through it some. But I hope Jay McCaroll does another line.

  5. Sarah June 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    Hmmm I keep seeing that edge fabric popping up everywhere 😉

  6. Linda June 12, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    Oh, I think I most definitely had better keep an eye on “Texas Lone Star State!” 🙂

  7. Stephanie A June 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    I can’t wait for “Tule” to come out as well as “Nordika”!

  8. Kimberlee June 12, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Currently I’m looking forward to Delightful by Swirly Girls for Michael Miller.

  9. Carey June 12, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    I cannot wait for “koi” by rashida coleman hale and the new line from allison glass.

  10. Gwendellyn June 13, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Thank you for the tutorial! I’ve been wanting to slowly make my way into drafting paper piecing patterns, and converting templates into paper piecing seems a good place to start 🙂

    Let’s see, I’m looking forward to Aneela Hoey’s new line…have you seen it yet?? And it’s called Hello Petal, too cute. Although, I have been eyeing Edges, it’s so watercolory and gorgeous. Thanks for the giveaway ♥

  11. Ann Dunn June 13, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    I’m having trouble using up fabric I already have. This isn’t an upcoming release but I am thinking about ways to use some Little Apples fabric. Thanks for the chance to win the book.

  12. Samantha June 13, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Really looking forward to Spooktacular. Non-holiday, Briar Rose or Waterfront Park.

  13. DeDe@DesignedDecor June 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    I admire you for being able to quilt, what a gift! Thanks so much for linking up to Let’s Connect Thursday!

  14. AmandaK@whatthebobbin June 14, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    Acacia. Thanks!

  15. Mary on Lake Pulaski June 14, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    I am looking forward to Koi by I Heart Linen.

  16. Becky Greene June 14, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    Great tips! I am enjoying paper piecing more and more. I am really looking forward to Barcelona by Zen Chic. Thanks for sharing and for the chance to win!!

  17. Tina in Boston June 15, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    I am looking forward to Koi by Rashida Coleman Hale !

  18. Nicole November 3, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    Thanks for the excellent tutorial. You are so clear in your instructions, I really appreciate the time you took to explain everything. Thanks so much!

    • Sarah B. November 3, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      Thanks so much Nicole, I’m so glad you liked it!


  1. Funday Monday - Aug. 5 2013 - Sweet Pouch Swap - Sew What, Sherlock? - February 2, 2014

    […] I made the Marcelle Medallion by simply shrinking my paper-pieced pattern down to a 6 inch finished block. My tutorial for converting traditional patterns to paper-pieced is here. […]

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