Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Paper Foundation Piecing Tutorial

The purpose of this tutorial is to give sewers  visual directions to help them  learn paper piecing. People either love or hate this technique.  But it is a great way to get perfectly sharp points and/or to piece in unusual shapes and it is easy.  My primary purpose in presenting this via photos was to help anyone who has not used this technique before to be able to complete any pattern of mine (OyVey! Quilt Designs) that uses paper piecing.  However, it can be used to make any paper pieced project.

The first step is to have the pattern.  If you need multiple patterns or do not want to use the paper foundation included with the pattern, the best way to make duplicates is to use the pattern as a guide.  Staple 4-6 layers of either newsprint or tracing paper together.  Make sure the staples are not crossing any of the seam allowances.  With your sewing machine and an unthreaded needle. lengthen your stitch length to the longest possible and "sew" along all of the lines, including the cutting lines.  This will perforate the paper.  After separating the patterns, number them to match the pattern.

The best way to insure success is to pre-cut your fabric to the approximate size.  I tend to stick with triangles and rectangles.  I cut them at least 1/2" larger than needed and use rectangles for irregularly shaped pieces. There is definitely more fabric wasted using this technique versus a traditional method of piecing, but I think it's worth it.

1.  Cut out each individual paper foundation pattern, making sure to cut outside of the dotted seam allowance.  (Some patterns will have multiple sections.)
 2.  For each section, center the appropriate piece of fabric in the #1 position, on the bottom side of the paper, right side facing away from the paper.
 3.  Pin minimally to keep the fabric from moving.
4.  Trim the fabric so that it extends ¼” over the sewing line between piece #1 and #2. (Hold the paper up to the light to see the lines.)
5.  Align piece #2, on top of piece #1, along the line separating their sections, raw edges and right sides together.

6.  Shorten the machine stitch by about 75% and stitch with the paper side up, along the line between piece 1 and 2 starting and ending a few stitches before and after the stitching line.

7.  Iron piece #2 open.
8.  Folding back the paper, trim the fabric so that it extends ¼” over the sewing line between piece #2 and piece #3.

9.  Continue adding the pieces:  aligning, sewing, pressing and trimming, until all of the pieces have been added.
10.  Trim each pattern along the dotted line, aka the seam allowance.

11.  Remove the foundation paper after the piece has been bordered

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