A Foundation Paper Piecing Primer

May 24, 2017By Mister DomesticQuilting, Tips & Tricks, Tutorial 9 Comments Opinion by Paid Consultant

So Foundation Paper Piecing is super-duper fun. It also allows for a consistent precision that is impossible to reproduce by machine piecing even on my best days. And the utility ranges from being able draw and reproduce a block with pen and paper to creating works of art in a paint-by-number fashion with fabric that blow my mind every time that I embark on one of those journeys. So, for those who are either intimidated, disinterested, or somewhere in between, this post will hopefully give you the tools to take the plunge with me into the world of Foundation Paper Piecing.

Machine Used

Brother CS7130 Stitch Computerized Sewing Machine (AKA Chet)

Materials and Supplies

  • Practice Quilt Block – FREE DOWNLOAD
  • Inkjet printer
  • Paper (standard, newsprint, or foundation paper)
  • Three different fabrics of your choice
  • All-Purpose Thread
  • Cutting mat, ruler & rotary cutter with sharp blade

I created this practice block in hopes that it’s simple enough for you to follow along, but also complicated enough for you to understand why this technique would be needed. And as stated in the supply list, you don’t need to go out and get special paper for your printer if you’re just starting out. However, if you end up loving this technique, I have found that newsprint or leave-in foundation paper are awesome sauce. For this tutorial, I’m using the foundation paper. Since you can see through it, it’ll be easier for you to follow.


Once you print out the block, use the rotary cuter and ruler to trim ¼” outside of the edge of the square. Foundation paper pieced patterns are numbered in the order that you are to place your fabric and sew. When you pre-cut your fabric for each section, make sure you have ample fabric extending beyond each border. Once you have your fabric, flip the printed block over and position the fabric for Section 1 onto the back of the block with the right side of the fabric facing up. Take the fabric for Section 2 and place it on top of Section 1 with the right side facing down, extending at least ¼” into Section 2. Flip the block over with the fabric in place and sew along the line between Section 1 & Section 2 using a stitch length of 1.6mm.

Place what you have just sewn onto your cutting mat with the paper side up. Now fold Section 2 of the paper on the seam line exposing the seam allowance. Using your rotary cutter and ruler, trim any excess beyond ¼”.

Flip the block fabric-side up and press open the fabric onto Section 2. You can choose to trim off the block-edge excess of the fabric at this point and as you go, or save it all for the end. Now with the fabric for Section 3, repeat the process from above.

Sections 4 and 5 are done using the same technique, but in case you need the visual, here are pictures for Section 4 (Section 5 looks exactly the same).

Using an iron, press the finished block and trim any excess fabric to the ¼” excess you left on the paper block.

So, okay this is one block and I’m sure that yours is fantabulous. But more than likely, any pattern that you use in the future will have you connecting multiple blocks. So, there are a couple steps/tips to know.

  1. Leave the paper in when sewing the two blocks together. Like you just align them together and then sew over the line of the block to connect the two.
  2. Remove the ¼” excess of the paper before you press the seam allowance either open or to the side.

So I hope this helped and will give some of y’all the extra oomph to give Foundation Paper Piecing a try. And for those experienced in FPP, feel free to leave any additional tips or suggestions in the comments that we can all share in and learn from.

I’d love to see photos of your Foundation Paper Piecing projects so be sure to share on Facebook and Instagram, tagging us at #StitchingSewcial, @Brothersews and @MisterDomestic.

Stay awesome,
Mathew

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9 Comments

  • Wow, that really takes the mystery out of paper piecing. I didn’t realize it was that simple. So many people act like its a huge project. However, that’s just like doing blocks in the hoop except here you sew the lines rather than waiting for the machine to do it.
    This answers a lot of questions I’ve had.

    Thanks!
    Tim

  • Thank you for sharing this technique. I wondered what paper piecing was all about and now I know. I am going to try it. Your instructions appear to be very well written and detailed for beginners.

    • Hi Susan,
      Thank you for your comment! Please DO give paper piecing a try and be sure to tag us when you post photos so we can follow along with your fun! A warning though… it can be a bit addictive!

      Happy Quilting!
      Kimberli

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