Saturday, August 8, 2015

Foundation Paper Piecing!

I am going to give a few quick tips for Foundation Paper Piecing. I love, love, love paper piecing. When I first started quilting and my 1/4 inch seam wasn't the stunning perfection it is today, Paper Piecing made it look perfect. You can use this technique for traditional pieced blocks too! A quick disclaimer though... If you are fabric stingy and hate waste you will need to get over that to do my way of Foundation Paper Piecing.
My colour palette inspiration!

Foundation Paper Piecing is a great way to use pieces that would otherwise be too small on quilting projects. But if you like a little more order and continuity to your quilts like I do you can find out what size pieces you need by measuring from the sewing line to the opposite side. You need to make sure you leave enough extra to account for human error and I like to leave 1/2 inch extra on all sides.

Some tools I find really useful for paper piecing at the add a 1/4 ruler, a fabric folding pen, sharp pointed tweezers, scotch tape and a small cutting mat! Plus all the other regular sewing tools.

I do a rough pre-cut of my fabric, some people make templates to make sure the size is right. I cut up one of the blocks for a template but I don't actually cut the fabric to the template size I just make sure the template fits on the fabric I have. To make sure that my rough cut will fit the size of the pieces I measure from the first line of sewing. When sewing piece 1 and 2 for example I measure from the line between section 1 and section 2 for both pieces. For piece 3 I measure from the sewing line between section 2 and 3.  I leave my pieces in rectangle form because well I just don't like to wast time cutting little pieces. (I save all my little cut off ends in scrap bags and we sell them in the store or if they are too small for most people to use some of our customers have started to save them to use in dog beds for the animal shelters! What a great way to use those little tiny bits.)

The important thing to remember with Foundation Paper Piecing is that you will be sewing from the wrong side. Your fabric will be on the bottom and the paper on the top.  To start sewing take piece 1 place it right side away from the paper making sure it covers the whole space and over laps into section 2 by at least a 1/4 inch. Use your scotch tape, I make sure to make it a little less sticky by putting in on and off the table a few times or off the back of my hand, tape the fabric to the paper. Don't put the tape in any of the  areas where you will be sewing or you will sew right through it. (Picking bits of tape off is not fun trust me!) Next take piece 2. Line it up along the edge of piece on with right sides together, I like to do a quick check to make sure when I sew it together it will in fact cover my next section. Slide the fabric along the edge of piece 1 until you are sure it will in fact cover the next section completely after sewing and tape to the paper.

Flip the paper and fabric over so you can see the printed pattern. Shorten your stitch length to 2. The smaller you stitch length the easier it will be to remove the paper later. Sew two or three stitches before the line and back stitch this will anchor your stitching, don't stitch more than that or you will cross into the next areas sewing space and it will cause issues, try to stay with in the coming seam allowance.

After you have sewn piece 1 and 2 along the line leave the fabric right sides together, you will now need to go to your cutting board. Fold the paper along the line between 1 and 2. Take your Add a 1/4 ruler and trim the fabric to 1/4 inch. This is your seam allowance, you should only need to do this step for piece 1 and 2.  Next fold the paper back flat, take your fabric folding pen and apply it to the sewn line and fold piece 2 over so right sides are out. Let this dry.

Next fold the paper along the line between section 2 and 3. Take your add a 1/4 ruler, butt it against the fold and trim the excess fabric. Once you have trimmed this you will then have an accurate edge to place piece 3. Fold the paper back to flat. Line piece 3 along the cut line, make sure it will cover the next area and tape to the paper. Sew along the line anchoring the stitches at the start and end. Repeat until all the pieces are add.
Trimming down along the line between 2 and 3!
Adding piece 3!
Once all the pieces are added to the paper. Take it to your ironing board and give it a final heated press. After everything is laying flat, sew 1/2 away from the outer edge of the design with a basting stitch. This will keep everything tidy while you sew the rest of the parts together. Trim off any further excessive fabric or paper.

Sew the pieces together in numerical and alphabetical order. You will now need to remove the paper, the larger pieces should come off fairly easy. The seam allowance papers will be tougher tweezers will help get the paper out.

Come back and check out the final finish soon!

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