Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Foundation Paper Piecing - Is a fancy paper worth the extra cost?

When I do my Foundation Paper Piecing, traditionally I have simply used plain printer paper that you can buy ever-so-cheaply from your local stationery store or supermarket. I have read other quilt blogs and noticed that some of them recommended using Vellum paper to do Foundation Paper Piecing, so I decided to give it a go. This is what I discovered:

The Cost

I went to Warehouse Stationery and purchased myself some of this:

The cost of buying Vellum Paper from the stationary store was much higher than using normal printer paper. Printer Paper costs around $5 NZD for 500 sheets. Buying Vellum Paper, on the other hand, cost me close to $10 NZD for only 10 sheets. So given the cost is so much higher (almost $1 per sheet) I had hoped that this would be a good investment and I would really enjoy using the vellum so the cost would not worry me.

Working with Vellum Paper

I got the Vellum Paper home and immediately printed off one of my patterns. It printed very well. The lines came out very clear and because it was slightly transparent, it was easy to see through and much easier to place my fabric correctly. It was also very stable. At this stage, I thought I was onto a winner.

However, I ran into difficulty because I found it was exceptionally slippery to work with compared to the other paper I use. To make matters worse, when I ironed my seams open, the vellum curled a lot, making it even more difficult to work with. This meant that it was harder to accurately trim my seams. Just to clarify - I did not use the steam function on my iron, I never do when I'm paper piecing as I just cannot risk the ink from the paper running and ruining my fabric, plus the only time that I have seen my normal printer paper curl, was after it got wet from some residual water on the ironing board. So a wet iron was not the problem.

Lastly, when I went to remove the vellum from the back of my block, it was both easy and difficult at the same time. At first, it seemed as if the vellum would tear as one piece a lot easier, which is great for removing the paper from the smaller sections. I liked this until I discovered that it had become brittle in places and when I was removing the vellum it was pulling a bit too much at the seams and straining the fabric around it. I felt like I was at risk of tearing my fabric or the stitches which I really did not like.


While I admit that some of the problems may have some simple solutions, for example, tightening up my stitches might help perforate the vellum more and cause less strain on the stitches, I still would not use vellum paper again. Quite simply between the cost of the paper, and the difficulty I had using it, from now on, I will stick to using my cheap printer paper.

I also note that my test may not have been equal in all aspects. Normally the printer paper I buy is 80gsm, whilst this was 90 gsm, it was the only vellum paper available in the store and I thought given it was only 10gsm different, the weight of the paper wouldn't be a problem, however maybe I am wrong.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, have you used vellum paper? What were your thoughts?

Happy Piecing!


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