Ultimate Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial | Quiltmas Spectacular
Welcome quiltmasqueteers – today is my stop on the Quiltmas Spectacular sew-a-long and I’m so excited to share my quilty goodies with you!
Haven’t heard of the Quiltmas Spectacular?
It’s 12 quilt designers who’ve partnered together to bring YOU all the quilty fun and shenanigans for 12-days of Quiltmas with 12 FREE quilt block patterns!
Yup! That’s, right! 12 free modern quilt block patterns!
And there’s only one way to get in on the fun = sign up HERE and get the patterns sent directly to your inbox! UPDATE - Quiltmas Spectacular is over, but you can still find the Guiding Lights quilt block pattern here.
*This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission.
OK - so, today’s my day and I’ve got the cutest little foundation paper pieced (FPP) block to share with you.
Now, don’t be scared off by the fact that it’s an FPP block. I remember being intimidated by this technique when I first started out, but it’s super fun and super easy. Let me walk you through it!
TOOLS & MATERIALS NEEDED
First up is the tools, notions and materials you’ll need to make this block, including:
FOUNDATION PAPER PIECING TUTORIAL
The first thing you’ll want to do is print out the pattern, making sure your printer settings are set to actual size.
The pattern includes a 1-inch test box so you can double check you’ve printed the correct size!
Now that you’ve double checked the size is correct, let’s dive in! 😊
The first rule in FPP is that you attach the fabric on the back and stitch on the front. It feels very backwards at first, but rest assured you’ll get into a groove in no time!
Starting with Template A, you want to put a small (and I do mean small) dab of glue on the back side of the template in the center of A1. This will help prevent your fabric from shifting around on you.
Attach your A1 piece of fabric right side facing up so that it covers the entire area of A1 including the seam allowance (SA). I find it helpful to hold the pattern up to a light or a window (depending on the time of day) to ensure my fabric covers the entire area (a *light box can be helpful for this task). I’ve purposely included larger pieces of fabric so that you have lots of wiggle room.
Flip your paper pattern so that the printed side is facing up and, using the card stock or magazine insert, fold back the paper along the line dividing A1 to A2. The magazine insert (or card stock) will help you achieve a nice crisp line.
Then trim the excess fabric that extends beyond the folded back pattern and trim leaving a ¼” SA.
Place your A2 fabric right side facing up and lay your A1 fabric on top, lining up the straight edges of both pieces of fabric. Make sure that your A2 fabric is positioned so that it will cover the entire A2 area + SA once you iron it back.
Pin in place on the paper side and take it to your sewing machine.
Reduce your stitch length to 1.5, as this will make it easier for you to remove the papers once you’re fully done piecing the block.
With the paper facing up, stitch directly on the line between A1 and A2, making sure to back stitch at the start and end of the line.
Set your seam and press the fabric towards A2.
You’ve got 2 pieces of fabric attached. Let’s continue!
With the paper pattern facing up, use the magazine insert to fold back the pattern along the line between A2 and A3. Trim the excess fabric leaving a ¼” SA that extends beyond the paper pattern.
Place your A3 fabric right side facing up and lay your A2 fabric on top, lining up the straight edges of both pieces of fabric. Make sure that your A3 fabric is positioned so that it will cover the entire A3 area + SA once you iron it back.
Pin in place on the paper side, then stitch directly on the line between A2 and A3, making sure to back stitch at the start and end of the line.
Set your seam and press the fabric towards A3.
Continue these steps – fold the paper back, trim excess fabric leaving a ¼” SA, align your fabrics right sides facing each other, pin in place, stitch and then press – working your way in numerical order until your Template A is fully pieced.
Trim the template along the outer dotted line.
Repeat the above steps for Template B and C.
STITCHING FPP PIECES TOGETHER
Once all of your template pieces have been stitched and trimmed, you can now join the sections.
Start by joining Template B to Template C.
Place Template C right sides together (RST) with Template B as shown in the picture above.
Pin in place and stitch directly on the solid line.
Set your seam and press your seams open – this will help reduce bulk.
Now attach Template A to your joined Template B+C.
Place Template A RST with Template B+C.
Pin in place and stitch directly on the solid line.
Set your seam and press your seams open.
You’ve just completed your first FPP block! Easy, right?
FINISHING THE GUIDING LIGHTS QUILT BLOCK
Ok, let’s add the top borders, placing your fabrics RST and stitch using your regular stitch length (for me, that’s 2.0 on my machine). Set your seams and press towards the background fabric.
Add your side borders, placing your fabric RST and stitch in place. Set your seam and press towards the background fabric to complete the Guiding Lights quilt block!
TOP 9 TIPS FOR FOUNDATION PAPER PIECING SUCCESS
Over the years I’ve made and designed quite a few projects that involve FPP and these are the top tips that I’ve learned along the way:
- Remember when working with FPP you’re working from the back of the paper pattern.
- Glue the first piece in place – always with the right side of the fabric facing up. I just put a small dab of a glue stick right in the centre. It helps things from shifting around on you.
- I like to use a piece of card-stock to help fold back a nice crisp edge for each of the segments. I’ve been holding onto the same magazine insert for a few years now!
- Drop your stitch length. With my *Juki, I normally stitch with a 2.0 stitch length, but when ever I’m FPPing, I always drop it to about 1.5. Since you’re stitching such small areas, the smaller stitch length helps keep it all together.
- Don’t forget to back stitch at the start and end of each stitch line. You’ll be super happy you did this when it comes time to ripping out the paper 😉
- Always cut your fabric pieces larger than you think you’ll need. Trust me. It’s better to “waste” some fabric than not have enough to cover the area and then need to unstitch those itty bitty stitches.
- Since I don’t FPP on the daily, I normally just use computer paper. There is specialty *FPP paper that you can pick up at your local quilt shop which is thinner and makes it easier to tear off.
- I haven’t had any issues, but I recommend dropping your steam level or turning it off completely and just going in with a dry hot iron. This will help prevent your paper from getting moist and wrinkly. Or, you could always pick up one of these *rollers which I’ve heard is super awesome for FPPing.
- When working with multiple pieces, I like to work in sequence – it looks something like this: get all the first pieces glued in place, then work with all the “2”, stitch, iron and then start working with all the “3”. I keep going in this manner until all sections have been tackled. I find it helps me from getting confused as to where I’m at. It becomes so much easier after I’ve ironed to know which section I need to work on next for all the blocks pieces.
12 DAYS OF QUILTMAS SPECTACULAR
There are a bunch of fun holiday blocks being shared by some amazingly talented quilters during the 12 Days of Quiltmas Spectacular. Here’s the full line-up:
PS I'm knocking this off my Q4 FAL List which was known as my Secret Sewing project #2!