Wild Summer Creature – easy paper piecing tutorial for a butterfly mini quilt


August always feel wild to me. Rebelliously hot weather, end-of-summer reckless activities, and ‘devil may care’ resistance to what is ultimately coming – the return to civilized, structured, and scheduled life.


Our civilized, structured, and scheduled life starts next week, but that wild August feeling inspired me to design a wild paper pieced moth for you. Don’t worry if you’ve never tried foundation paper piecing before – I’ll teach you a technique that is easy and foolproof.

We’ve had some amazing designers contribute to this free mini quilt pattern series, so if you’re just joining us now you can find all of our previous mini quilts in the menu bar at the top of the page and on my Mini Quilt Pinterest Board.

Here is an image of our paper pieced Wild Summer Creature. Choose print fabrics if you want feathery blended seam edges like in my mini quilt, or choose solids if you would like crisp and bold edges as you see in the drawing above.

Wild Summer Creature Mini Quilt Pattern & Instructions

Download the paper piecing pattern for the Wild Summer Creature mini quilt here.

Cut list for the paper pieced moth:

From 4 different wing fabrics, cut:

  • 4 strips 2 1/2” x 4” (A1, B1, C1, D1)

  • 4 strips 1 3/4” x 4 1/2” (A2, B2, C2, D2)

  • 4 strips 1 3/4” x 4 1/2” (A3, B3, C3, D3)

  • 4 strips 2” x 4 1/2” (A4, B4, C4, D4)

From the moth body fabric, cut:

  • 1 strip 2 1/2” x 4” (E1)

From the background fabric, cut:

  • 4 strips 2” x 3” (A5, B5, C5, D5)

  • 2 squares 2 1/2” x 2 1/2” (E2, E3)

Also cut the following border strips:

  • 2 strips 2” x 6 1/2”

  • 2 strips 2” x 11”

For my method, you will also need:

  • a 10” x 12” piece of backing fabric

  • 1 strip 2 1/2” x 42” for binding

  • a glue stick (regular school glue will work, or a special fabric glue stick)

  • a strip of cardstock (or a postcard, large business card, etc.)

  • paper to print up the paper piecing pattern (I used regular printer paper this time, but special paper made for piecing is nice too because it tears away more easily)

Note: paper piecing patterns don’t always include cut lists, because some sewists like to grab from their scrap pile and use pieces that are simply ‘big enough.’ If that’s you – great! You’ll only need to worry about cutting the border strips to a specific size.

Feel free to sew this mini quilt using your favorite foundation paper piecing method. If you want to see my favorite method, read on! Paper piecing is not very intuitive when you are first learning, so I’m going to use a ton of pictures to help explain it.

I first learned this method in a guild-sponsored class, but I forgot everything as soon as I got home, lol! Watching Carol Doak’s video class Mastering Foundation Paper Piecing taught me everything again, and then it stuck. I highly recommend it. 🙂

Foundation paper piece the wing sections:

1. Print out the paper piecing pattern. Cut out the 5 sections, cutting about 1/8” away from the light gray lines.

2. Start with the square section with ‘A’s on it. Smear a little bit of glue on the back (unprinted) side behind the ‘A1’ section. Then place the A1 strip of fabric against the back, covering the bottom of the piece. The wrong side of the fabric should be lightly glued to the wrong side of the paper pattern.

3. Use the strip of cardstock to crease the paper (folding it forward against the cardstock) along the line between sections A1 and A2.

With the paper still folded forward along the line, line up your ruler with the 1/4” markings along the paper and cut so that the fabric extends 1/4” from the folded paper.

Unfold the paper. The 3rd photo above shows what the back of the piece should look like.

4. Place the A2 strip of fabric against the A1 piece right sides together, along the cut edge. Center the A2 strip against the A1 piece. Pin in place from the printed side.

On the printed side of the paper, sew as accurately as you can along the A1/A2 line.  Since this line touches the seam allowances (the space between the light gray line and the bold inner lines of the pattern), I like to start sewing in the seam allowance and sew all the way across the paper.

Tip: use a small stitch length such as 1.3-1.5. This will perforate the paper better to make it easier to remove later.

5. After sewing across the paper along line A1/A2, press the A2 strip of fabric back.

6. Working in sequential order, next crease the A2/A3 line. With the paper folded back, trim the fabric 1/4” away from the fold in the paper.

Place the A3 strip of fabric against the cut line, right sides together. This time, line the fabric up against the lower side of the cut edge so when it is pressed back it will cover the A3 section of the pattern. Hold the piece up to a window or lamp to help you see where the lines are, if needed.

7. When sewing the A2/A3 line, it is important not to sew into the section labeled A5. So either start or end sewing on the intersection that looks like a ‘T’. Sew all the way across the A2/A3 line (and through the seam allowance, if desired). Then press the fabric back against the paper.



8. Follow the same steps to crease the A3/A4 line, trim the fabric away 1/4” past the fold, and center the A4 strip of fabric against the cut edge. Stitch along the A3/A4 line (and across the seam allowances if desired). Fold the A4 strip of fabric back and press.

9. Crease the A5 line, and trim away the fabric 1/4” past the creased edge.

10. Place the A5 piece along the cut edges so that when folded back it will cover the A5 corner section. Pin in place and stitch across the line, as before. Unfold and press.

10. Trim the piece along the light gray lines.

Important: Do not cut away the seam allowances by cutting along the bold lines. Just trim along the light gray lines.

Your first wing section is done – yay!

Repeat steps 1-10 above with the B, C, and D sections of the wings.

Then click here to finish your mini quilt in Part 2!

Make sure to check out all my free mini quilt patterns!

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Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂