Foundation Paper Piecing Instructions


by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

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.

Printer icon

You'll need the most current version of Adobe installed on your computer to download the pattern.

On the Adobe Print Menu page, under 'Page Size and Handling' set 'Custom Scale' to 100% before printing for accurate results. Click here to see what it looks like on the Print Menu page.

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.
  • 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 the Paper Piecing Library for more free blocks 

Go to Lesson 1
Stitching Sections

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Paper Piecing patterns and books to tempt you...

"Adventures in Paper Piecing & Design"
by Sarah Elizabeth Sharp

"50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars: CD included"
by Carol Doak

"Cadence Court"
by Sassafras Lane

Paper Pieces for Dear Jane Complete

"Trim the Tree III"
by Foundation Paper Piecing

Favorite Paper Piecing Tools

For a complete list of all the tools I personally use in my own  paper piecing, click here and read 'The Right Tools Make Any Job Easier'. This is part of a series called, "Perfect Your Paper Piecing Skills - Because paper piecing doesn't have to suck!

The serrated edge on this short-bladed scissor make it easy to trim seam allowances—my all-time favorite scissor.

For other sizes, click here.

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