Foundation Paper Piecing Instructions

Lesson 1: Stitching Sections

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Paper pieced sawtooth star

Our first foundation paper piecing lesson begins.

We start with how to prepare our pattern.

Then it's time to stitch each individual section of our Sawtooth Star.

Return to the

Skip to Lesson 2:
Joining  Sections

Prepare the  foundation pattern

Follow these simple steps to get ready for stitching.

Step 1:

Cut apart the foundation piecing pattern into its four sections (A, B, C and D). This is a rough cut and doesn't need to be exact.

Step 2:

Mark the placement lines for the first piece. Place the quarter inch mark of your ruler on the solid line between pieces A1 and A2.

With a pencil, lightly mark 1/4" away from the solid line on the A2 side. Repeat for the A3 side. Repeat for B, C, and D.

Foundation paper piecing instructions

Because it's easier for you to see, I've marked the
foundation piecing placement lines in red pen. For your
block please use a pencil with a light touch, no pen.

Piecing each section

Start with Piece 1

A, B, C, and D all have the same Piece 1.

Step 1:

Place one of the light triangles, wrong side to the unprinted side of the foundation paper, aligning the bias edges with the drawn placement lines. You may need to hold the paper up to the light to see this. Pin in place if needed.

NOTE: The triangles were cut so that the straight of grain is on the outside edge. This makes the final quilt block more stable

Foundation Paper Piecing Instructions - place the first piece

Step 2:

With right sides together (RST), align the bias edge of a dark (the red fabric in this example) triangle with the light triangle on the A2 side.

Paper piecing instructions - position the 2nd piece

Stitch on the printed side of the foundation paper.

Remember to begin a few stitches before the printed line starts and end a few stitches after it ends.

In foundation paper piecing, subsequent seams will cross these sewn seams and lock them into place. As long as you sew your seams this way, there is no need to back stitch.

Paper piecing instructions - sew first seam

Press the dark triangle open with a dry iron set to a cotton setting. Using steam tends to curl the paper, making it harder to work with.

Repeat this step for Piece A3. Repeat Steps 1-2 for Sections B, C, and D.

Step 3:

Section D is now completed. It looks a bit messy, doesn't it?

Set it aside for now, we will trim it later and it'll be perfect.

Paper piecing instructions

Completed Section D, untrimmed

Our foundation paper piecing lesson continues...

Complete Sections B & C

Step 4:

Establish the seam allowance for Piece #4. We'll use our ruler to help us make a nice straight fold.

Place the edge of your ruler on the solid black line between #3 and #4. (In this picture we are working on Section C so place the ruler between C3 and C4).

Crease the paper with your thumbnail at the edge of the ruler on the black line. Remove the ruler and fold the paper pattern back on the solid black line. You will need to gently pull the paper away from some of your stitching to do this.

Align the ruler with the stitching line

NOTE: If you look closely at this picture, you'll see that the paper has been torn from the seam under the notation 'C4' (down and to the left just a bit).

This tear allows us to fold the paper back easily as seen in the next picture.

Step 5:

Position the quarter inch mark of your ruler along this fold.

Trim with a rotary cutter and ruler. This leaves a quarter inch seam allowance and creates the placement line for the next piece.

Trim to establish your seam allowance

Trim to a quarter inch seam allowance. In the lower right
corner you can see where the paper has been torn along
the stitching.

Step 6:

For Sections B and C, align one light background 1-3/4" square, RST, with this cut edge, centering it in the space. Pin or hold in place.

Paper piecing instructions

From the paper side, stitch along the solid black line between Piece #3 and #4. Repeat for Pieces B5 and C5. Press.

Our foundation paper piecing lesson continues as we...

Complete Section A

Step 7:

Establish the seam allowance for piece #4 just like we did for Sections B and C.

You will need to pull the paper foundation away from some of the stitching to do this. Be gentle. It doesn't hurt to rip the foundation a bit, just don't rip the pieces apart.

Tear the paper away for the seam line

Place the edge of your ruler on the solid black line between Piece #4 and Pieces #1-3. Fold the paper pattern over the ruler and crease along the solid black line.

Step 8:

Just like before, position the quarter inch line of the ruler along this fold and trim with a rotary cutter and ruler. This leaves a quarter inch seam allowance.

Step 9:

Align the dark 2-1/2" square, RST, with this cut edge, centering it in the space. Pin or hold in place.

Foundation Paper Piecing

From the paper side, stitch along the solid black line between Piece #4 and Pieces #1-3, starting and stopping your stitching well into the seam allowance. Press Piece #4 open.

This completes our first foundation paper piecing lesson. It's time to move on to join our foundation paper piecing sections together by clicking the 'Go to Lesson 2: Joining Sections' link below.

Go to Lesson 2
Joining Sections

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