Foundation paper piecing involves taking small scraps of fabric and machine stitching them to a paper template to create clever patchwork effects. It is a very accurate method of patchwork, which is especially useful for piecing unusual or awkward shapes and achieving crisp, clean lines. You use a foundation paper piecing template to build up your shape, piece by piece, sewing through the back of the paper template, following the order shown on the template. This means that the finished block will be a mirror image of the printed template.
How to Foundation Paper Piece
Foundation Paper Piecing is an easy technique that gives accurate results, and it works well with blocks that are small in size. The main concept behind Foundation Paper Piecing is to use a paper foundation to stitch your fabric block. After all of the blocks are completed and stitched together, you rip the paper off the back of the quilt block.
If you are new to foundation paper piecing, here are some tips to get you started and to achieve perfect results:
- Print out the paper pattern. It is important that the pattern is printed at the accurate size. Check your settings to make sure it is set to print at 100% or Actual size so your FPP templates are the correct size
- For each of the numbered sections on the pattern, cut a piece of fabric that completely covers the section with a generous seam allowance. It is better to have a piece that is too large than too small. It can be trimmed during the process.
- Sew with a small stitch length – 1.5 to 2. This makes it easier to remove the paper when the block is finished.
- ALWAYS sew on the line printed on the page. The fabric goes under the paper, away from you.
- Have a light source handy (window or light box) so you can check the fabric is lined up correctly before you sew.
- Start one or two stitches ahead of the intersection where you are supposed to begin and backstitch at the start and end of each line. Sew exactly on the line so all of your points line up perfectly.
- Use scissors to trim excess fabric from each section after it has been sewn.
- Press each seam as you sew so that it will sit flat. Do not use steam as it will affect the paper foundation.
- When all the blocks are completed, carefully remove the paper backing. Use tweezers to remove any small pieces of paper that are left behind.
- Always replace your needle after sewing on paper so you have a nice sharp needle for sewing the blocks together once the paper has been removed.
Equipment/Tools to make FPP Easier:
Foundation Paper Piecing Water Pen – fill the pen reservoir with water and then run the tip along the stitching line to penetrate and moisten the paper allowing it to tear away easily. These pens can be refilled and use over again to assist in removing paper.
Precision Tweezers – this pink tweezer set includes both flat nosed and pointed tweezers for removing stubborn bits of paper from under the seam.
You can find these items at Carolina Moore
Beginner Friendly FPP Patterns
I design a large range of FPP Quilt blocks. Patterns include a block in multiple sizes so you can quickly and easily construct a block to include in your your next project. They are great for incorporating in mini quilts, bags, placemat, pot holders, pillows and more.
Our easiest blocks include:
Twisted Log Cabin
If you love foundation paper piecing or want to learn this technique, check out our large range of foundation paper piecing quilt blocks and projects.