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Foundation Paper Piecing Instructions


Skip to Lesson 1
Stitching Sections

Follow our paper piecing instructions to create this adorable 3" finished Sawtooth Star quilt block.

Paper piecing instructions

Click here to download the Sawtooth Star (3" finished) PDF pattern in your browser, or right-click to download it and print.

You'll want to use Adobe to download this file. If you don't have it, click here to go to the download page on Adobe's website. Follow their instructions to 'Install now'.

In the Adobe printing options, under 'Page Size and Handling' be sure to set 'Custom Scale' to 100% so that the pattern prints at the correct size (click here to see what it looks like in the Print Menu). If you are using a PDF program other than the recommended Adobe, then either 'Size' should be set to '100%' or 'Page Scaling' to 'None'.

As a quick double check, Patch A4 measures 1-1/2" on the solid black line when it is printed at the correct size.

Sewing Machine Setup

When you're paper piecing, there are a couple of slight deviations from the standard sewing machine setup. All are related to making it easier to remove the paper in the final steps.

Open toe applique foot

Open Toe Applique Foot
  • Use a 90/14 needle to make a bigger hole. You can use an 80/12, but certainly nothing smaller.
  • Set your stitch length to 15-18 stitches/inch or a 1.5 setting.
  • Use a quality cotton thread in a neutral or matching color. The direction the seam allowances are pressed is determined by the piecing order. If you use too dark a thread it may shadow through. Test if you are unsure.
  • Install an open toe applique foot so that nothing obstructs your view of the needle as you sew on the printed line.

If you have a speed control on your sewing machine, consider setting number  slower. Sewing exactly on the line gives you precise results. Slow the stitching speed down a bit to ensure that you are in control.

You'll Need a Few Additional Supplies...

If you have already done some traditional piecing, you'll likely have these supplies on hand.

  • Rotary cutter, small ruler and mat
  • Pins - very fine ones are best
  • Scissors for trimming threads
  • Pencil for marking placement lines

That's it! Our paper piecing instructions continue with...

Cutting Over-sized Patches

For this example, a light fabric is used for the background and a dark fabric for the star. To make the piecing easier, all the pieces are cut over-sized. Paper piecing is a trade-off between amount of fabric used versus accuracy of piecing.

Paper piecing instructions - cutting fabric patches

From the dark fabric (our red above), cut:

  • Four 2" squares, sub cut once on the diagonal
  • One 2-1/2" square

From the light fabric (our shirting above), cut:

  • Four 1-3/4" squares
  • One 3-1/4" square, sub cut twice on the diagonal

Understanding Your Pattern

Our sawtooth star block pattern is divided into four Sections: A, B, C and D. Each Section is divided into Pieces, as few as 3, to as many as 5.

For the purposes of these paper piecing instructions, when only a number is referenced, that refers to the same patch in all four sections. If a number AND a letter are used, it refers to a specific patch in a specific section. "Piece A1" refers to Piece 1 in Section A ONLY, whereas "Piece 1" refers to Piece1 in every Section (A, B, C, and D).

Now, you are ready to move on to the first lesson of our paper piecing instructions. Click the 'Lesson 1' link below.

Go to Lesson 1
Stitching Sections

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My favorite paper piecing paper...

Both are light weight—making them easy to tear away!

Carol Doak Foundation Paper

Carol Doak's Foundation Paper comes in two sizes:

Click either size above to go to

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