Foundation Paper Piecing
is my favorite quilting technique.
And as the name says, paper is one of the main foundation piecing supplies.
Foundation paper piecing is used to create very accurate stitches and lines on a design, and I loooove accuracy, I’m a Virgo after all.
But for me, it is also a great method to sew a stunning quilt block in a fairly short amount of time.
You get amazing results without having to sew up an entire quilt.
Whether you want to make some last minute gifts, some remarkable
pillowcase or table runner for your home, this quilting technique is fun and easy.
If you're new to this technique it can feel daunting, but don't despair, I wrote a great tutorial on how to master paper piecing in no time.
When I first tried foundation paper piecing, I did not know a thing,
and I mean really NOT a thing.
I had an older quilting book, and decided to make one of the quilt blocks.
I hadn't heard about foundation paper piecing before nor what it was about,
or what supplies are needed.
The pattern asked for paper, but did not specify what kind of paper, so I just used whatever paper I had at hand.
As I worked my way through the FPP world I have worked with all sorts of papers and here’s what I think:
Your choice of paper for foundation paper piecing depends on:
b) scale of your project
c) ease of use
d) whether you like to work with a fabric glue pen or not.
I also talk about paper for foundation piecing in my new book 'Adorable Animal Quilting'.
Regular printer paper:
At the moment, this is my choice of paper. It’s easy to use and cost effective;
This is especially important since I am doing A LOT OF paper piecing.
I can print any pattern right from my computer.
And it is still thin enough to not be a headache when removing.
Personal tips for the use of regular printer paper:
> use regular printing paper in combination with a fabric glue pen. A fabric glue pen will be your life saver and you will never want to work without one again.
> after you have joined two segments, remove the paper only from the seam allowance before pressing, that way you get nice flat seams (use a Tailor's clapper for extra flat seams)
Freezer paper works great with foundation piecing. It is easy, because you can just iron the fabric onto the paper and nothing slides off or moves, and obviously you don’t need a fabric glue pen.
It can become costly when you paper piece a lot.
However, it’s a little bit thicker than regular printing paper and can get pretty bulky, especially when small pieces are involved. Because of its thickness, it’s not as easy to remove afterward.
Personal tips for the use of freezer paper:
> use freezer paper for blocks with large fabric areas, the possiblility of ironing on the fabric is absolutly wonderful for bigger fabric pieces.
> again, definitely remove the paper from the seam allowance after joining two segments
before pressing the segments. This assures that you get flat seams.
(use a Tailor's clapper for extra flat seams)
It’s wonderfully thin and perfect for tracing. It can also be used in your printer.
Another advantage is, that it’s very easy to remove when finished.
However, it can become quite costly if you do a lot of paper piecing.
And it tends to curl if ironed on.
Personal tip for the use of foundation paper:
> use it for blocks with tiny pieces in combination with a fabric glue pen.
I personally like a little more structure and firmness in my blocks when sewing them,
but if you prefer softness, this is the paper for you.
> do not iron too much as it tends to curl up with heat, just very quickly and then
use a Tailor's clapper or another heavy object to flatten the seams.
It’s probably best to experiment with different papers, to find out which ones you like best, so what better way to do this, than with a free foundation paper piecing pattern.
Happy testing ! Let me know what you think.
How to shorten a nylon zipper ? A super short and quick way to solve this problem.
Dont we all know the situation where we want to quickly sew a gift or project, like a pouch or bag, and we do have all the fabrics and supplies but... Oh No... the zipper is too long.
Don't despair, there's an easy solution :-)
1. Start by measureing your zip and marking your needed length.
IMPORTANT: zippers are measured from the zipper top, not the zipper tape.
I can not tell you how often I fogot that!
The marked point is where you will be sewing your new bottom stopper.
2. I usually machine stitch over the marked point a few times. But you can also hand stich over that point a few times , that does the trick just as well.
This new stopper needs to be tight and secure to prevent the zip from running off the end. Remember it's calles a 'stopper ' for a reason .
- sewn by machine - - sewn by hand -
3. Once you have sewn your new bottom stopper you can cut the zipper.
I've cut this zipper fairly short, since I will be using it for a zipper pouch.
Depending on your sewing project, you cn cut it a little longer.
The process is the exact the same for an invisable zipper of course.
And here it is, a perfect 9" zipper for a cute flat bottom pouch :-)
If you want to sew this cute pouch, check out the blog post for the pouch here.
1. What is the Tailor’s Clapper?
It’s a piece of wood, used by tailors (duhhh) to get flat, crisp seams or creases.
It originated in the dressmaking world, so the seams got nice and flat without getting shiny from ironing.
Imagine some pants in a delicate material, let’s say silk. If you just iron the side seams,
the seam allowance will shine through and the seam will be shiny on top as well,
any dressmakers nightmare. Not so with the clapper.
2. How is the Tailor’s Clapper used?
You iron your seam briefly and then place the clapper onto your seam.
The heat of the iron will be absorbed slowly by the wood so it stays in the fabric long enough to flatten the seams nicely.
3. What kind of wood is used for a Tailor's clapper?
Tailor’s clappers are made out of hardwood. The wood has to be heavy and close-grained in order to do the job perfectly. The weight matters as well as the close-grain wood. If the clapper is to light or not dense enough the heat will be absorbed to quickly and ultimately your seams would not be as flat as you wish.
Incredibly nice , crisp and ultra flat seams.
4.Why use the Tailor’s clapper for quilting?
Especially with Foundation Paper Piecing flat seams are key to precision and accuracy.
You might say, why not just iron those seams? And yes you are right, but first of all you cannot iron with steam, as this may distort your paper, or dissolve the ink on your pattern and stain the fabric. And second, you can’t iron for too long, because it might discolor your fabric.
But you need nice and flat seams, in order for your blocks to fit together perfectly.
This is where the tailor’s clapper comes in super handy.
As I mentioned before, you iron your seams quickly and the place the clapper on top.
That way the heat of the iron is ‘trapped’ under the clapper long enough to nicely flatten your perfect seams.
Tipp for joining segments:
Sew two segments together acording to the pattern.
Remove the paper ONLY from the seam allowance and press with a hot dry iron quickly,
then leave your clapper on the seam for a few minutes till the fabric cools off.
I actually use that time to sew the next segment :-)
You will get the nicest and flattest seams ever.
Happy clapping....ahhh sewing :-)
5. Can I make my own Tailor's clapper?
You absolutely could make your own, if you wanted to.
Here are some good instructions to do so.
But these Tailor’s clappers are also available online from many stores, form
Amazon, Nancy's Notions to Etsy.
Shop palm tree pattern here.
Chosing fabric for your quilting projects can sometimes seem overwhelming
and will and should take some time and consideration.
Not knowing where to start holds you back from doing it at all?
Sounds familiar? I have been there.
You enter a fabric store and the selection is so stunning and colorful, you don't even
know where to start? And you love everything you see and want to buy it all?
Trust me... been there , done that...
But it doesn't have to be that way.
Look at it like shopping for a pair of shoes, the ultimate fun right ?
You get to browse the stores, try out shoes, imagine yourself in them, and finally find the
They look good, fit perfectly and aren't too expensive :-)
It's the same with fabric, since you will likely invest quite some time in your
sewing project... your fabric will be your foundation and it should be a great fit.
1.) First of all, there's two ways to shop for fabric
one: in your favorite local fabric store or
Depending on your experience your local fabric store is definitely the best choice
as a beginner. You can touch the fabric and ask the store owner/ sales clerk
for help as well. You can admire the colorful shelves, pull out fabric, place them next to each other. Find pre-coordinated bundles of different designers and get tons of inspiration.
If you're more experienced you will also enjoy online shopping , you probably know some fabric designers and their lines, you have a pretty good sense of what you're looking for? Perfect, that makes online fabric shopping so much easier.
I personally prefer fabric shopping in a fabric store. There's nothing like actually
touching fabric and laying it out together to see if the choices 'feel' good together.
A personal tip for either way of shopping : take your time and enjoy the process.
2.)The next step is looking at your pattern.
What do you want to achieve? Something fun and colorful, or something classy ?
What occasion is it for?
What look do you want to create? Modern, whimsical, romantic?
Who is the quilt or quilted project for?
What colorways do you like?
It's always good to think about this in advance, it saves you from confusion in the store or online and also from spending too much or too little because you're getting overwhelmed.
Kind of like knowing whether you need boots or sandals, and whether you need them for hiking or a wedding :-)
Here's an example:
I colored my Chinese New Year quilt patterns in two different colorways.
(btw. each one of my patterns has a coloring page for you, so you can try out different options for yourself and can see beforehand which way you want to go.)
Warm colors and more traditional for Chinese New Year, or cool and crisp and more unique for the occasion.
I went for the warm and traditional version,
probably cause those are also my favorite colors of all times.
3.) The third step will be combining fabrics of the desired colorway.
This doesn't mean using all of them, certainly not, but it gives you a good look at all the different options.
It also shows you which prints or solids will work fine and which ones won't work at all.
This process is essentially the same in a fabric store.
We all have favorite colors and/or favorite print patterns.
There are solids, small scale prints, large scale prints, flowers, paisleys, stripes or the cutest little novelty prints, the choices seem and are endless.
So most importantly trust your taste.
Build your fabrics around a certain colorway or a focal print or both.
(eg. in the photo above, the two larger scale flower prints carry all the colors of the solids and small scale prints around them)
As a total beginner you can always start out with bundles of fabrics.
These are pre-coordinated by designer, collection or color and make it very easy to start out with your project.
Here are two finished versions of the balloon lantern pattern. As you can see, you achieve completely different results of the exact same pattern just with the fabrics.
4.) For Foundation Paper Piecing it is quite important to work with contrasts, otherwise the colors will blend in with each other too much, and the pattern and most importantly your work will not be as noticable.... something I had to learn the hard way :-)
There were quite a few quilt blocks, that I started and never finished because the contrast wasn't enough and it just looked really bland....
So which ever way you start out, or coordinate your fabric,
pick what you like, because you're the expert of your taste ....
and have fun with it, there's hardly anything as nice as fabric shopping.....
except maybe shoe shopping :-)
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