How to Foundation Paper Piece without Cutting Instructions: An Illustrated Tutorial

Cristina De Miranda

In this tutorial we will learn how to foundation paper piece using template R from Nesting Phoenix, the 5th star pattern in the Constellations Series and the mystery pattern for this year's Ships & Violins Mystery Quilt. Below you will find a step-by-step guide with tips and tricks for beginners and seasoned sewers alike.

Let's get started.

The colours below represent the right and wrong sides of the fabric throughout this tutorial and any future ones for the Nesting Phoenix. The duller colours on the bottom row are the wrong side of the fabric.

The completed template R will look like this:

 

First, tape or glue the two pieces for this template together by matching the dashed lines (not numbered squares) on each piece. TIP: Avoid placing tape on the solid lines within the perimeter of the template as it will make it harder to pull out the papers after stitching.

Step 1 (FIG below): Cutting instructions have not been included with this pattern, so the best way to start is to ration (or subcut) a piece of your fabrics. This is helpful for two reasons: 1) you'll instinctively try to make the most of your subcut, and 2) a smaller piece is easier to handle. I recommend trimming your yardage down to 9'' x WOF, and subcutting that into smaller sections.

A 3'' or 3.5'' x 9'' strip will work well for most of the sections in Nesting Phoenix. But the fabric A sections in template R are rather large, so I'd subcut an 8'' x 9'' strip in fabric A, and a 3'' x 9'' strip in fabric B. Rough cutting, meaning cutting without a ruler, is just fine. 

 

Step 2 (FIG below): Place your 8'' x 9'' fabric A strip face down, and the template face up on top. Section R1 should have fabric beneath its entire area.

TIP: Try to tuck the template into a corner (or an obscure shape) of a strip to make the most of your fabric when placing your first piece.

 

Step 3 (FIG below): Trim your fabric A strip into a smaller piece that will still cover section R1, plus some excess. Do this by first identifying the farthest left, right and bottom edges (circled below) of section R1 including any seam allowances - this will ensure that the fabric piece will cover that section. Trim your fabric at least 1/4'' beyond those edges. In this case, it's easiest to trim from top to bottom as shown with the dashed line. Save your offcut for later. Pin your fabric A piece in place.

The fabric A piece has been trimmed in the illustration below.

Step 4 (FIG below): Rotate the template (and the pinned fabric) so that you can fold the template along the sewline (the solid line) between sections 1 and 2 toward you. This is the first fold because it is the solid line between sections 1 and 2.

Step 5 (FIG below): Using a ruler, measure 1/4'' above the fold to prepare a 1/4'' seam allowance, and trim. Save your offcut.

Step 6 (FIG below): With the template still folded toward you, place your fabric B strip face up under both the template and fabric A piece. Align the raw edges of the seam allowance you made in step 5 with a raw edge of the fabric B strip. 

 

(FIG below) Ensure there is excess fabric beyond the farthest left, right, and bottom edges of section R2, including seam allowances. Trim your fabric at least 1/4'' beyond those edges - this will ensure that the fabric piece covers the section when pressed open. If you need to adjust the fabric B piece, feel free to do so. Unfold your template and pin your fabrics in place.

IMPORTANT: There should only be a 1/4'' seam allowance below section R2 at this point.

Step 7 (FIG below): Stitch along the solid line between sections 1 and 2 using a shortened stitch length. I stitch through my seam allowances as well.

IMPORTANT: Take only one or two stitches into section 3.

Press your fabrics open and confirm that the fabric B piece covers the entire R2 section, plus some excess.

Step 8 (FIG below): With your fabrics pressed open, trim fabric B just beyond the perimeter of the template.

Step 9 (FIG below): Rotate the template (and the attached fabrics) so that you can fold the template along the second sewline (the solid line) between sections 2 and 3 toward you. 

Use a ruler to prepare a 1/4'' seam allowance above the folded edge. Save your offcut.

Step 10 (FIG below): With the template folded, place the remainder of your fabric A strip face up under the template. Your section 1 and 2 fabrics should still be pressed open. Align a raw edge of the strip with the prepared 1/4'' seam allowance. 

With the template still folded, identify the farthest left, right, and bottom edges (circled below) of section R3. 

Trim your fabric at least 1/4'' beyond those edges, if needed. Note: You may not always need to trim it down to size if the fabric piece is easy to handle. This will ensure that the fabric will cover the section when pressed open. Unfold your template and pin your fabric A piece in place.

IMPORTANT: There should only be a 1/4'' seam allowance below section R3 at this point.

 

Step 11 (FIG below): Stitch along the solid line between sections 2 and 3 using a shortened stitch length. Press your fabrics open, and confirm that the fabric A piece covers the entire R3 section.

Step 12 (FIG below): Now that all three sections have been added, you can trim the template along the outer dashed line. Begin by trimming along the edge that will produce the largest scrap first. You can do more with a large scrap than a small one!

And there you have it!

Reference this tutorial as you work through the rest of your templates. The principles always remain the same, though the shapes may change.

 

Join us for the 2nd Annual Ships & Violins Mystery Quilt event by registering here, and put these foundation paper piecing tips to the test!



Older Post Newer Post