Foundation Paper Piecing (or FPP as it's commonly known as) used to be a really intimidating concept for me. Did you notice I am using past tense here? It is no longer intimidating. Are you new to FPP? With these foundation paper piecing tips + tricks that I've learned, hopefully you'll be a pro at FPP in no time!
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This foundation paper piecing tips + tricks post is going to use the Heart of Love pattern from the Kinfolk Quilt.
Taping Foundation Paper Piecing Templates Together
This particular block is large, finishing at 16" x 16" (for the Kinfolk quilt) or having the option to finish at 20" x 20" for a wall quilt or pillow. Therefore, this FPP block comes printed on six different pages.
Printing at 100% is key! Printers should not be set up as "print to scale" for this project. To ensure template pages are printing correctly, print one page and then measure the 1" test square with a ruler as seen below.
Once all six pages have been printed out, it is time to tape them together!
To tape pages together for foundation paper piecing, washi tape or painters tape both work well because it is easily repositioned. Scotch tape also works.
When lining up pages to be taped together, line up the lines along the margins of the pages as well as the heart shape lines.
Just a note: when taping pages together, the edges of the pages will be uneven (as shown in the photo below):
Another tip: make sure not to tape over the sewing lines inside of the heart!
After all six pages are taped together, it is time to cut on the outer dashed line.
Now it is time to start sewing! (This is the fun part!)
Foundation Paper Piecing Tips + Tricks - Placement
Because I'm by no means an expert in foundation paper piecing, below are two great comprehensive resources:
To begin, turn template face down. Gather fabrics for sections 1 and 2 (FPP templates should be numbered in the order in which sections are sewn). The Heart of Love pieces are all generously oversized to allow for some wiggle room when piecing. Go ahead and grab some quilting pins, too.
Place piece 1 FACE UP so that it covers section 1 with at least ¼" overlap on all sides. (the light peach fabric in the photo below is piece 1).
To better see the sections you're working with, it helps to either hold the template paper up to a window. Using a light box is also handy.
Once placement of piece 1 is verified, place a pin through piece 1 and the paper template below. Make sure pin is place away from the line separating sections 1 and 2, since that will be the line that is sewn on.
Place piece 2 (the fuchsia print in the photo below) FACE DOWN (so that piece 1 and 2 are now right sides together).
Make sure it is just overlapping the line separating section 1 and section 2 (this is the line that will be sewn on).
The following step is the step that saved me from ripping out SO many seams.
I found that it was extremely helpful for me to place pins along the line to be sewn to "audition" the seam before sewing.
If you have never ripped out FPP seams, it's not fun. FPP stitch length is very short compared to traditional piecing, so ripping out those teeny, tiny stitches is not ideal.
Place the pins through both layers of fabric and the paper along the line separating sections 1 and 2.
With the pins still in place, flip piece 2 (the fuchsia fabric in the photo below) over so that it is FACE UP. Make sure piece 2 has at least ¼" overlap on all sides of section 2. Again, holding up to a light source is helpful for this part.
Once placement of pieces 1 and 2 is verified, pin through both fabrics and the paper template once more, this time placing pins away from the line to be sewn on.
Foundation Paper Piecing Tips + Tricks - Sewing
With a shortened stitch length of 1.4-1.6, stitch along the line separating sections 1 and 2. Start a few stitches before the line starts and stop a few stitches past the line.
FOUNDATION PAPER PIECING TIPS + TRICKS - Trimming
After sewing the line between sections 1 and 2, it is now time to trim and press.. Pictured in the photo below are some tools that are helpful (but not required). These include:
An "Add a Quarter" ruler is really helpful when it comes to trimming seam allowances. It has a "lip" built into the ruler that buts right up to the sewn seam and automatically adds a ¼" when trimming.
A piece of card stock is also handy to give the ruler a firm edge to "grab" onto. This is not needed, but has made things easier for me.
A rotary cutter and iron (not pictured) are also needed for the next steps.
Fold the paper template under so that it is away from the seam and fabric overlap. (This makes sure the template does not accidentally get trimmed off in the next step).
If using card stock, insert the card stock under piece 2 and butt it up against the line that was just sewn. This is depicted in the photo below. Again, card stock is optional.
The photo below shows the "lip" that is on an Add a Quarter ruler. A regular ruler can also be used.
Place the lip of the Add a Quarter ruler along the sewn line and along the edge of the card stock (if using).
If using a regular quilting ruler, place the ¼" line along the sewn line.
Trim along outer edge of ruler and discard cut fabric.
FOUNDATION PAPER PIECING TIPS + TRICKS - PRESSING
Press recently trimmed seam to one side with a hot, dry iron.
The perimeter of the template will be uneven fabric pieces, but that will get trimmed at the very last step of FPP.
Continue sewing sections in the matter laid out above until the entire block is sewn. Follow the instructions in the pattern to trim and complete block.
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