Our technical expert Sarah Griffiths shows you the basics of Foundation Paper Piecing. It’s easy when you know how!
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
For each block, you’ll need to make a paper template to piece. Cut a square of paper to the exact size you want your finished blocks to be (with no outer seam allowance). Divide each square up into sections using a ruler and pencil, and cut the sections apart. Then draw one or two straight lines across each piece of the block. The lines can meet, but keep them from crossing over each other (Fig a).
You can line up your pieces again to see how the finished block will look. Keep in mind that the final design will be a mirror image of the drawn block.
When you’re first starting, use simple shapes like squares, triangles or rectangles of even sizes (Fig b). Once you get the hang of this method, you can use lots of different shapes and sizes. As you get more confident, you can also add more lines to make more sections to piece.
The photos for each step show the front and back of the layered pieces.
Start with a piece of fabric in the centre section, on the back of your paper template. Make sure the fabric overlaps the surrounding lines by at least in. Also make sure the fabric is at least in larger than the outer paper edges. Place a second piece of fabric on top, also overlapping its entire area by in. Pin along the drawn line between the two sections.
Fold back the outer section of fabric along your pinned line, so it’s RST with the centre fabric. Pin in place through both layers of fabric and the paper. Try to only pin the top layer of the outer section of fabric, because this will make the next step easier.
Remove the pin from the drawn line. Your fabrics should be held in place just by the pin from the previous step. Carefully unfold the edge of the outer section fabric, so the two pieces are completely RST. Flip your template paper side up and sew along the drawn line between the two sections, extending the line at least in outside the paper edges. Make sure you shorten your stitch length to about 1.5, which will help to perforate the paper.
Fold the paper back along the sewn line. With the paper side up, line up the in mark of your ruler and trim the seam. Press the fabric open, over the paper.
Fold the paper back along the remaining drawn line. Trim the remaining edge of the centre fabric in away from the fold in the paper.
Using the edge of the trimmed centre fabric as a guide, place the next piece of fabric RST with the centre piece. Pin along the line and fold the fabric out to check it will cover the entire outer section plus in all the way around. Then flip over and sew along the line as before.
Piece the remaining sections of your block using the same method, then line them up in order. Then trim the side edges where the sections will join (just the long sides in this example), leaving a in seam outside the edge of the paper.
Join the sections together, press and remove the papers by carefully tearing along the seam lines. Square up your block to the desired size.
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