This is a compilation of QUILTNET postings about foundation paper piecing. All comments are the OPINIONS of the person who posted the message......................

Foundation Paper Piecing FAQ

... from Jean

This type of piecing us usually done on a foundation of fabric or paper, then sewn on the machine. If using paper foundation, it is torn away after sewing. You can also do it by hand if using a muslin backing and then it would not be removed.
If the pattern you have is paper you need to lay the fabric of your choice for piece #1 over the area it is to cover, and the lines are on the back side so you can sew on the line between number 1 &2. Then trim that seam to 1/4 in. Then take the fabric for area #2 and sew it on the line between number 2 &3. and so on and so on, trimming away the seams after each section is sewn on. Needless to say this type is very hard to describe. The back side of the fabric goes against the back side of the marked paper, then sew on the marks.
But, there is a wonderful new book out called "Easy Machine Paper Piecing" by 'That Patchwork Place", at $19.95. I saw it my fabric store, but ordered mine from AQS at discount.

... from Melissa

You'll actually be building the block on the back/wrong side of the paper. On the back of the paper, place a piece of fabric over shape #1, wrong side DOWN, to completely cover the shape, plus seam allowances. It helps if you hold it up to the light to see through the paper. Shape #1 is the ONLY time you will place the fabric right side up. Now choose the piece for shape #2, and place it right side down on top of #1 (right sides together). Turn the whole thing over so that the fabric is under the paper, and sew along the line on the paper between shapes 1 and 2, plus a stitch or two at either end. Now flip piece #2 over and press or finger-press it open. Trim the seam allowance along your seam to 3/8" or so. You can actually use any size piece of fabric you want for these shapes because you will trim each seam allowance as you go, so you needn't trim to fit before hand.
Keep doing this with each shape until you are done. I then run a basting line all around the block, just outside of the 1/4" seam allowance line, to hold down the outer pieces, and trim off the excess outside the 1/4" line real carefully. When you go to put these babies together, the matching of seams must be real precise or else you get messed up real quickly.
Now you can pull the paper off--or leave it in if you prefer. If you use a larger than necessary needle size and a tiny stitch length, I'm told the perforations are easier to tear, making it much easier to get the paper out. I prefer to use the rubber stamps for these things, stamped on muslin. You get a stiff block, but can trim seams down to 1/8", and don't have to diddle with pulling out paper.

... from Tammy

I've done LOTS of paper piecing. This is something that really clicks like a light bulb if you see it in person, demonstrated, but it IS possible to get it by reading the instructions. Take the piece of paper, hold it up to the light with the printed side towards you. Put your first piece of fabric, WRONG side to the paper, on the PLAIN side. As you hold it up to the light, you'll se the shadow of the fabric. Make sure the edge of the fabric sticks up above the stitching line, approx. 1/4". Pin this in place.
Hold your piece up again, and take your second strip of fabric. With RIGHT SIDES together, place this second strip over the first, with the edges hanging over the seam line. Pin. Now, you are going to stick this sandwich under your presser foot with the printed lines &pins up, facing you, but the fabric will be underneath, on the bottom, against the feed dogs. You stitch on the line. Take out the pins. Turn the paper over, and flip strip #2 to be right side up. Press. You now have 2 pieces of your pattern sewn down. Add strip #3 the same way: Hold the paper up to a light, paper towards you, place the #3 strip of fabric RIGHT side DOWN AGAINST the previous strips. Make sure at least 1/4" hangs over the next seam line. Pin on the paper side, then sew on the next line.
The advantage to this is you CAN use big old hunks of fabric, then when you're ready to flip them to the right side, you can trim up the seam allowances underneath, etc. After you have all the lines sewn, you trim up the edges of fabric even with the paper patch, then pull the paper off along the stitching, which will act as perforation.

... from Carol

Best advice I ever got about paper piecing is to make very short stitches when you sew. That way the paper backing practically becomes perforated and is much, much easier to remove at the end. (Also, of course, if you goof it is almost impossible to take the stitches out, but the blocks are so small you don't feel awful about tossing one or two!)
After I sew two fabrics together I trim the seam to 1/8" or so and usually just finger press it rather than using an iron.

... from Sylvia

Just a tip:
Do you find it hard to trace your blocks onto paper or muslin? You might try a home-made light table. A glass or plastic cutting board propped up by books works wonderfully. Use a small nightlight for illumination. A new glass cutting board (12x15) will probably run under $7 at a discount store. An old used one should work as well. You just need to make sure the board has at least one smooth side.

... from Jane

I second the comments on the FUN of foundation paper piecing. When else could you piece a fan block (for example) in five minutes? And folks look at the finished product and think that you have taken hours with those little bitty pieces. If they only knew...

... from Barbara

Just some advice to those of you who do foundations with muslin or some of the other stuff that's out there ---- freezer paper, etc.
The best paper to use for copying your foundations is tracing paper, which you can buy at any art supply store. It's translucent, so you can see through it to see the alignment of the pieces as you sew them. It's thin enough that it comes right off when you go to tear it after completion.
Muslin creates another layer of fabric ---- another layer you must quilt through, etc. Foundation piecing is meant to make your life easier and simpler -- tracing paper works really well. Get Carol Doak's book "Easy Machine Paper Piecing", and you'll see how this can work.
It's a great method once you get the hang of it.

... from Sylia

Anybody had a similar experience?
I've been piecing 3-inch pineapple blocks using both tracing paper and a fine, 200-count cotton. I thought I'd try the fabric foundation because I didn't want the extra job of tearing out the paper. Well, lo and behold...the fabric foundation distorted whereas the paper remained true! Does muslin hold its form better.

... from Linda

From my viewpoint, the muslin foundations are wonderful FOR HAND PIECING. The paper foundations are not good for hand piecing because your stitches will not cut the paper such that it will be "easy" to remove. I love using paper foundations for sewing machine piecing. I just finished a small wallhanging for a silent auction using a 3" Virginia Reel (aka snails trail) pattern and paper piecing. It went together beautifully, and the time it took to remove the paper in no way added up to the frustration and time it would have taken to try to do this block without it; the accuracy was perfect.

... from Melissa

I have had fine luck with muslin and also with a thinner polyester (my DH's thin old dress shirt) as foundation.
I tried stitch &tear interfacing. It didn't.
I tried dissolve-in-water interfacing. It didn't.
Recently, I tried tracing paper (a la Carol Doak) and really liked it. But I may not use paper for 3" blocks due to the nuisamce factor pulling all those little pieces off.

... from Jan

Another paper source for maching paper piecing is kitchen parchment - the paper you can use to line cookie sheets with. I'm just beginning with this kind of piecing so I'v stiched several small blocks on several different types of paper, but haven't gotten to the point of tearing it away yet. The parchment seems as though it would tear away quite easily.
On the other hand, I like the convenience and accuracy of photo copying. Anybody found a lightweight paper that can be used in a copier and that won't jam up? Soon I hope simply to scan the templates into my system and simply print them on my laser printer. Again, what's the lightest weight paper that can be used in a laser printer without problems?

... from Jean

Run, run, run to your nearest quilt shop and get Carol Doak's Easy Machine Paper Piecing book, by the Patchwork Place. Or you can use muslin if doing it by hand. Or you can buy rubber stamps for $18 each if you just have to have a very special pattern. Or you can make them on your computer and print them out by the dozens. Or you can take a master block stack it up on several other papers and unthread your machine and sew on the lines thru the whole stack. Great fun and it's a wonferful book. :-)

... from Marylou

I learned all I know, (precious little) about foundation piecing from a wonderful book called *Sewing on the Line* published by that Patchwork Place. I have found it to be helpful to me.

... from Anne

When I paper piece, I reduce my stitch length (from 2.5 to 1.5, usually). This makes it really easy to take the paper off when I'm done. It makes it really hard to "unstitch" but since I never make a mistake... I just xerox as many as I need of the pattern and sew right on the xerox paper. It works fine. Dulls the needle, though.

... from Jennifer

Janeen said she likes the accuracy of photocopying the patterns for paper piecing. It is not always accurate. I tested 3 copiers at school with the same pattern and only one came out accurate. You need to be careful when copying. Don't make a lot of them on one machine until you have checked the size. One of the copiers I used made the copy exact across the 8 1/2 way of the paper but made it longer the 11 way. The other one reduced the whole pattern slightly. If you can find a copier that reproduces accurately, it is a great way to go.

... from Diane

I want to add another suggestion for an excellent paper for Foundation Piecing : Examining Table paper, like they use at the gyno's office! It's just the right weight, tears easily and works great!
You don't need to save pieces every time you go for a check up ;) you can buy a big roll at a medical supply store for next to nothing!!
 Main Quilting Page * FAQ's Page