Foundation Paper Piecing

 

20170209_084530-2 My favorite, so far!

As mentioned in my last post, quilting has become one of my very favorite pastimes. One of the new skills I have been working on is foundation paper piecing. It creates perfect points and is like working a puzzle (something else I like). Well, it is like working a puzzle only backwards!

There are many tutorials available online (linked here is a free tutorial from Craftsy), so I am not going to try to teach you anything new here, just give you a few pointers and hints from my growing experience.

  1. Start with a simple pattern! Getting the hang of when to place the pattern and fabric right side together or not is the first thing to understand. It requires that backward thinking at first…at least for me. Again, this link (Craftsy) is a very simple straight-forward and basic pattern. You can find lots of free patterns online too. Check out Pinterest.
  2. Selecting solid fabrics can help. In the beginning, selecting solid-colored fabrics will help, as it makes no difference about right side out or in. That said, you will still have to learn to deal with prints at some point, so perhaps mix in a couple of them in your early work.20170201_114708
  3. More on fabrics…be sure to use preshrunk cottons. If they shrink after the fact, or even as you press them, you will be very unhappy.
  4. Don’t try to scrimp on the fabric too much…especially when you are learning. I hate to waste and I am cheap, but it is very disappointing to find that you have stitched your seam and the fabric does not cover the area required. You will get better as you practice! Then you can try to save!
  5. About specialty fabrics and fussy cutting…this is fun and works on many paper-piecing patterns. However, be sure to THINK and rethink your plan and placement. I find that the first piece is the easiest to fussy cut. When you hold your pattern and fabric to the light, you will easily be able to see where your design will fall in that first section.  20170208_123210-2
  6. Learn to LOVE your seam ripper! That sounds intimidating, I know. I hate to rip out and would often prefer to start over, but you will very likely make some mistakes. I would hate to think that I am the only one!
  7. In order to avoid the seam ripper though, think before you stitch! You have heard “measure twice, cut once”…well, this calls for hold it up, look at it three times, fold it back to get a rough idea, think again, then sew.
  8. Speaking of sewing those seams…a tiny stitch is recommended so that the paper will be perforated well and tear off easily. I use a setting of 1.5 on my machine. That will vary with different machines, but that trusty seam ripper barely fits into those helpful tiny stitches. I have tried other longer stitch lengths and the smaller ones do tear off more easily. However, I suggest that you start out with a bit larger stitch in the early stages and go smaller as your confidence grows.
  9. More about the seams…most quilting directions do not encourage you to back stitch at the beginning and end of seams. This is just my opinion (and I don’t always do it), but if you secure the beginning and end of the seam with a fix stitch or even one back stitch, it can help when you tear off the paper. You see, the tearing process can cause some of your stitches to come out and when you are working with 1/4″ or scant 1/4″ seams, there is not much room for error. It also bears consideration about the possibility of ripping out…securing the ends of the seams can make that more difficult too. On more detailed patterns, some of the seams might only be about 1/2″, so if you lose any of those stitches, your seam is almost gone!
  10. More on seams…trim as you go. Where the layers build up the project can get quite thick, so carefully trim your seams to 1/4″, as you go. CAREFULLY! Again, this is backward thinking, so don’t cut off the part that will fold back to be the finished pattern! I have done it! That requires ripping out AND redoing!
  11. About the paper. I can’t tell you much here. Let’s face it, as I said, I am cheap, so I use printer paper. It IS thicker and does not tear as easily. You can purchase special papers for this at around $10 per pack of 25 sheets. I will probably do that the next time I can take advantage of a sale. Some quilters mention using freezer paper. The more detail in the pattern and the smaller the pieces, the more this matters.
  12. How to finish these items? I am getting a collection of paper-pieced goodies and have not decided what to do with them yet. They can be used in any way you would use fabric. They are typically quilted…think blocks, wall hangings, table runners, place mats, hot pads, mug rugs…the list is endless. If you are particularly crafty, you might use them to embellish bags, clothing, and more.

Finishing with some simple hand embroidery is also fun and adds interest.

Another saying that applies here is “slow and steady wins the race”! If you are considering trying foundation paper piecing, I do encourage you to give it a go. It is fun and once you get it, you may be just as hooked as I am!

Have you already tried it? What was your outcome?

(all images ©Valorie Webster; patterns not mine)

 

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8 thoughts on “Foundation Paper Piecing

  1. What beautiful little pieces of art these are delightful! I’ve been doing some paper piecing myself- its more transportable. Hand stitching seems more relaxing than machine stitching somehow x lovely post.

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