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Paper Piecing Instructions

Here are some of the tools and products I use.  It makes your paper piecing much easier and more fun!

Rotary Cutter and Mat
Pins with small glass heads
Add-A-Quarter Ruler
Scissors - Old scissors for cutting paper.
Sewing Machine - Set at about 18 - 20 stitches per inch (about 1.5 - 1.8)

Preparing the Foundations:
To save your original foundations, make copies of the foundations for sewing.  You may either photocopy the foundations or trace them onto another sheet of paper.  Remember to use the thinnest paper you can or use foundation paper made especially for foundation sewing.

Paper Piecing tutorial 1


Trim the foundations to about 1/2" from the outside dash lines of each block or block section.  Read all instructions on foundations before starting to sew.  Since some blocks are quite large, there are times when you will pin sections of foundations together BEFORE you start sewing.  Others will have sections that are joined AFTER sewing the foundation sections.

Paper Piecing Tutorial 2

Sewing Instructions:
Select a foundation pattern and select the fabrics you will need to complete this foundation.  Mark your paper foundation with the colors you want to have in your block.  Start with the fabric you will be using for the first section (#1) of the foundation.

Pin the first fabric to the #1 section of the foundation right side up on the back side of the foundation (no lines), making sure you have plenty of fabric going over the sewing lines on all sides.  BE GENEROUS with your fabric always!

Paper Piecing Tutorial 3

Turn your foundation over so that the lines are showing and place on your rotary mat.  Place your postcard, picture side up along the line between #1 and #2.  Fold the foundation over the postcard along the line and crease the fold.

Place your Add-A-Quarter ruler on the folded edge so that the main part of the ruler is over the postcard and the quarter inch lip of the ruler butts up against the fold of the paper.  Using your rotary cutter, trim fabric along the ruler which leaves a 1/4 inch seam.  Repeat this on all sides of the #1 fabric, if possible.

Paper Piecing Tutorial 4


Turn foundation back over to the blank side.  Taking your #2 fabric, place it right sides together with #1 fabric along the trimmed edge of #1 fabric.  Just to check, hold your finger along the seam you are going to sew and flip #2 fabric over the #2 section of the foundation to be sure you have allowed yourself enough fabric.  I sometimes actually pin the fabrics at the sewing line and flip it over when the section is an irregular shape or the seam is on an angle.  Take the time to flip your fabric over its own # to avoid the frustration of ripping out seams and tearing your foundation.

Paper Piecing Tutorial 5

Pin #2 fabric to the foundation, flip the foundation over with lines side up and sew on the lines between #1 and #2, beginning outside the line and ending beyond the line. 

Paper Piecing Tutorial 6

Clip threads, remove pin and fold fabric #2 over so that it now covers #2 section of foundation.  Finger press seam.  Again, turn foundation over to side with lines, place your postcard on the line between #2 and #3, fold foundation over exposing fabric, using Add-A-Quarter ruler, trim a 1/4" seam.

Continue on with your sewing with #3, place and pin your next fabric right side down along the trimmed edge of fabric #2 on side where #3 meets it.  Continue on the same as you did above, first checking to make sure fabric #3 covers all of #3 section foundation.

Paper Piecing Tutorial 7

You can press after each time you stitch with a small iron if you prefer it over a wooden iron.  You should press with a regular iron every three or four sections and especially when the block is finished.  Be careful with how long you hold the iron on as you are working with paper.

Paper Piecing Tutorial 8

Hints & Tips:
Be sure to cut the fabric for each section larger than what you think is needed.  It's better to have a bit too much fabric then being short and needing to rip out seams.  When you are ready to use a fabric for a section, place it over the # of the foundation and cut so that it is generously larger than needed.  You will get the hang of this as you go along.  You'll also cut a piece too small a time or two before you learn to be generous enough.  We all do!!

Every time you make a fold in the foundation be sure to crease it since this will weaken the paper making it much easier to tear away when the quilt top is complete.  DO NOT REMOVE FOUNDATIONS UNTIL QUILT TOP IS COMPLETE INCLUDING BORDERS.