Welcome to my tutorial on how to do foundation paper piecing! FPP is my favorite quilting technique because of the bold and eye-catching geometric shapes that are possible using it.
An important thing to remember with FPP is that you are constructing the block mirrored from what's printed. Therefore, the wrong side of the fabric should only touch the unprinted side of the paper. In this example I use solids so it's not quite as obvious.
Materials you will need to FPP:
- Your foundation paper piecing pattern printed at 100%
- Rotary cutter
- Sewing machine set between 1.2-1.6mm stitch length
- Cutting mat
Note: This foundation paper piecing tutorial uses one of the templates from my Skye block, but the technique can be applied to any foundation paper piecing pattern you'd like to try.
Step 1: Cut out your template slightly outside the dashed lines.
Tip: Use an old rotary cutter blade for this task and make quick work of all the templates. I usually can do them all at the same time in a stack, making several passes with my blade per side.
Step 2: Fold your template, printed sides together, on the solid line between Section 1 and Section 2.
Step 3: Place your Section 1 fabric piece on the unprinted side of the paper (wrong side down), ensuring that the piece covers the entirety of its area and 1/4" beyond all sides. It should also extend at least 1/4" over the crease.
Step 4: Without unfolding your paper, place your Section 2 fabric piece on top of the Section 1 fabric piece, right sides together. Ensure that the piece covers all of Section 2 and goes beyond by 1/4" on all sides and the crease. By aligning the two fabric pieces while the paper is folded, we make sure that it will be in the correct position after sewing together and unfolding. Pin in place (through the paper layer on top only).
Step 5: Gently unfold the paper, keeping the fabric pieces pinned to the paper layer on top. Flip to the printed side and sew on the solid line between Section 1 and Section 2. Make sure that your stitch length is approximately 1.4mm. For every seam you sew, start and stop your stitches slightly beyond the ends of the lines, and backstitch to secure in place.
Unpin and check that the fabric pieces were sewn in correctly and cover both areas when unfolded.
Step 6: Fold the paper back printed sides together on the line between Section 1 and Section 2. Trim the excess fabric 1/4" away from the crease. Open the fabric and press with a dry iron. Avoid ironing on the paper if possible.
Tip: I like to use the Add-A-Quarter Ruler for trimming the seam allowance. It has a tiny ridge that catches on the crease of the fabric so it's very easy and quick to align.
Step 7: Fold the paper printed sides together on the solid line between Section 2 and Section 3.
Step 8: Trim 1/4" away from the crease.
Step 9: Align the fabric piece intended for Section 3. It should be aligned right sides together with the existing fabrics. Note that at this stage it should not cover Section 3.
To ensure it's aligned correctly, fold the paper printed sides together with the fabric on top. While folded, the Section 3 fabric piece should entirely cover Section 3.
Tip: With areas that do not have an angle between them, I find the folding step unnecessary. It's most useful when there's an angle and you are unsure of how the fabric will be aligned when it's unfolded (like between Section 1 and Section 2).
Step 10: Sew on the solid line between the prior fabrics and Section 3. Unfold the Section 3 fabric and press open.
Step 11: Fold the paper printed sides together along the solid line between Section 3 and Section 4.
Step 12: Trim 1/4" away from the crease.
Step 13: Keeping the paper folded, align the Section 4 fabric piece right sides together to the just-trimmed seam allowance. Ensure that the fabric piece covers the entire area of Section 4 and extends 1/4" beyond all sides.
Step 14: Unfold the paper and sew on the solid line between Section 3 and Section 4, starting and stopping slightly beyond the line and securing with a backstitch on both ends.
Step 15: Unfold the Section 4 fabric piece and press open.
Step 16: Fold the paper printed sides together between Sections 3 & 4 and Section 5.
Step 17: Trim 1/4" away from the crease.
Step 18: Unfold the paper.
Step 19: Place the Section 5 fabric piece right sides together with Section 3. Make sure that when the fabric piece is unfolded it will cover the entirety of Section 5 and extend 1/4" beyond all sides.
Step 20: Sew on the solid line between Section 3 & 4 and Section 5, starting and stopping slightly beyond the line and securing with a backstitch on both ends.
Step 21: Unfold the fabric and press open.
Step 22: Fold the paper printed sides together on the solid line between Section 5 and Section 6.
Step 23: Trim 1/4" away from the crease.
Step 24: Unfold the paper and align the Section 6 fabric piece right sides together with the Section 5 fabric. Make sure that when the fabric piece is unfolded it will cover the entirety of Section 6 and extend 1/4" on all sides.
Step 25: Sew on the solid line between Section 5 and Section 6, starting and stopping slightly beyond the line and securing with a backstitch on both ends.
Step 26: Unfold the fabric and press open.
Step 27: Trim on the dashed lines around the template. I use a regular ruler for this step.
Once you have all your sub-blocks constructed, it's time to construct the entire block.
Step 28: Align your blocks in the correct arrangement in preparation for sewing together.
Step 29: Place the templates together (fabric sides together) and match the long edges. See the zoomed-in image to see exactly how the two templates need to be aligned to each other.
Note that the inside corner of the narrow end is aligned exactly with the edge of the yellow piece. The same is true for the other end.
Step 30: Sew on the solid line between the two templates, extending the seam at the beginning and end to the inside corners. Unfold the templates, then remove all papers.
Tip: Use tweezers if you have a hard time getting paper bits out of tiny crevices.
Step 31: Sew the two halves of the block together. Since the last seam is a regular 1/4" seam, it's nice to have the paper removed by this point.
And that's how to assemble one Skye block! If this is your first time foundation paper piecing I highly recommend to make a test block with some scrap fabric.
The Skye pattern is an intermediate pattern and will be available early March. The PDF pattern will include fabric requirements, cutting instructions, and the templates.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this tutorial gives you the confidence to try FPP!