Foundation piecing, also known as English
paper piecing, is a form of quilting that creates beautiful, unique designs. It’s
a great way to use those tiny scraps of fabric you’ve been hanging on to and can be a really
fun hobby. Let’s get started. What makes foundation piecing different than
traditional quilting? – It uses paper patterns
– You can stitch irregular fabric shapes together without the time consuming process of trying
to cut them out precisely – Points or design aspects should match up
perfectly – You can sew more complex quilting designs
– It’s an easier way to work with small fabric pieces The first thing you need is to get a pattern.
You can search online for free foundation piecing patterns or purchase patterns. For
beginners, start off with something simple. For each block you need, you will print out
one copy of your pattern. For example, if you need 20 of the same blocks, you need to
print 20 copies of your block pattern. You can print on regular printer paper but it’s
recommended you print on foundation paper or tissue paper because it’ll be easier
to work with. Also, look to see if your pattern pieces have
the seam allowance included. Or if it’s not included, add a line all the way around
for a ¼” seam allowance. Plan out your fabric selection beforehand.
You’ll notice your pattern will be split in different sections so you can write directly
on the pattern to keep track of which fabric will go where.
The most important part is cutting your fabric to ensure your pieces will be big enough.
The worst thing that could happen is the fabric will be too small. So at the beginning it’s
better to make your pieces bigger rather than try and cut more precisely. I lay my pattern on top of the fabric and
then roughly cut out a section. As you can see, I’m going way outside the finished
lines of my section. If you’re making several of the same blocks
with the same fabric, cut all your fabric pieces at once, instead of going back and
forth from cutting to sewing and then back to cutting again. To prep the pattern, I use a piece of cardstock
to fold a crease on all the internal lines within the pattern. You don’t have to do
this for the external seam allowance line. Now it’s time to start sewing our fabrics
together. Your pattern should have numbers or letters to indicate the order you sew your
fabric. So section 1 is for fabric choice 1. Flip the pattern over so you’re looking
at the backside of the pattern. Just a note, the fabric piecing will be happening on the
back of the pattern so realize when it’s done it may be the mirror image of what it
looks like on the front of the pattern. I’ll take fabric one and place it over section
1 with the right side of the fabric facing up. Because I cut the piece larger than the
section it should be going outside of my lines by more than a ¼”. Next, I’m going to take fabric #2 because
we’re going to sew 1 and 2 together for our first seam. It gets placed on fabric 1,
right sides together. This seems easy and basic but we need to make sure one we sew our seam connecting our fabric 2 and fabric 1 when these get pressed apart. Fabric 2 needs to cover it’s section of fabric 2. So to test this all I’m doing is just roughly placing fabric 2 and fabric 1 together. I’m now going to flip this over. And I can see that both fabrics are at least going past my stitch line, which is this line right here, by more than a 1/4″ Now to make sure that fabric 2 is going to cover section 2, I can fold along this line. And you can see that there is no fabric over on this section, so my placement of fabric 2 is a little off. I can adjust this. And it does not matter that these 2 edges are not perfectly lined up. But I can move it and again I wan’t fabric 2 to go past this other section, or my line between 2 and 3 by more than a 1/4″. So now I can place it. This side seems ok, I going to check this side and see if. Maybe it’s a little short, so it does look a little short. Maybe I’ll switch my fabric this way and it will fit a little bit better. This is just making these little adjustments to make sure that everything is going to work out perfectly. So I can check here, it looks like it is covering. It’s going past this line by 1/4″, so if that looks good, Im going to flip this back, grab a pin. Put in my straight pin And now I can take this to my sewing machine like this, knowing that things are going to work out. At your sewing machine, set your stitch length
to 1.5 and you can use either an all-purpose thread or a 100% cotton thread.
Place the pattern under your foot at the line between 1 and 2. I’m going to start a stitch
or two before the line and end a stitch or two after the line. Sew directly on your line
and don’t forget to backstitch. This is why you need a printout for each pattern because
you’re sewing on the paper and can’t reuse the pattern. At my cutting mat, I’m going to fold my
pattern directly on the stitch line and you should see your fabric. Lay your ruler so
it extends past the paper ¼” and trim your fabric with a rotary cutter. This will give
you your seam allowance. Do not cut next to the folded edge of the paper or you’ll end
up with no seam allowance. Once it’s trimmed, you can pull fabric 1
and 2 apart so you can see the right side of both fabrics. Use a Seam roller or a hot
iron to press the area flat. If you did it correctly, you can flip the
pattern over and each fabric should cover its respective area.
So with the first one done, I’ll move on to section 3. Place fabric 3 over fabric 2,
right sides together. Flip to the right side of the pattern. Fold
the pattern on the line between 2 and 3. Is section 3 of the pattern covering fabric 3
or do I need to adjust it? Once it looks good, put in a pin to hold. Then sew this line at your sewing machine. Take it to your mat, fold on this line again
and trim so you have ¼” for seam allowance past the folded edge of the pattern. Press the fabrics apart. And then repeat the
process for any fabric number sections you have after this.
Once you have the whole pattern filled, take it back to your mat with the pattern right
side up and trim around the whole pattern. Again, if your pattern doesn’t have the
¼” seam allowance around the outside, make sure to add this. If your fabric is difficult to cut around
the edge, because it keeps shifting, spray the fabric with a little bit of spray starch
before trimming. Once the whole thing is trimmed, spritz the
fabric with water and press with a hot iron and your first pattern is complete. Once you have all your patterns done, you
can now sew them together either by sewing your blocks together or if you have irregular
shapes or strips, consult your pattern directions. Pieces or blocks will be placed right sides
together, pinned and stitched directly on the seam allowance line. Once you have your pieces sewn together, you
can now remove the paper backing. To do this, you can pull to pop it from the stitches,
spritz with water to weaken the paper, and use your fingers or tweezers to pull it out.
This can be a time consuming process but it must be done.
When finished, you’ll have a completed quilt top and can continue to make your quilt using
traditional quilting methods of making your quilt sandwich. This type of quilting takes practice but you’ll
be amazed at the lovely designs you’ll be able to make with this process. We hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please
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