Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tutorial: Foundation Paper Piecing (Freezer Paper Method)

I'll confess. I abhor pinning. I don't know why I just do. Maybe it's because I'm always jabbing myself with the little boogers. So if I can avoid it somehow, I do. Another peeve of mine is when my quilt blocks don't line up quite right, or are too small or large and my points get chopped off when I'm squaring up my blocks. Oh that just irritates me.I think that's why I really enjoy foundation paper piecing. My errors are practically eliminated!

So, here's how I do my paper piecing, step by step with photos.

You'll need some freezer paper. You can do this one of two ways, the quick and easy way is to purchase pre-cut sheets like these:

Or if you a roll of freezer paper on hand, or would prefer to buy a roll of it and make your own sheets, you can do that too. You can usually find freezer paper in the grocery store, by the aluminum foil and plastic wrap.

If you use the roll, the next steps will show you how to print on your freezer paper sheets.

Cut youself enough 8 1/2 x 11" sheets for your block. My block took 8, but I cut more than what I needed and stashed them away for later. Now grab some of your printer paper and head over to your ironing board.

Layer a sheet of freezer paper on top of your printer paper, shiny side down.

With a iron (no steam) on medium to med high heat, press the freezer paper onto your printer paper. You don't want to iron it too much or you'll have problems peeling it off later. Mainly make sure the edges are pressed down where the paper will feed into your printer.

Next, print your designs onto your freezer paper, and then peel your freezer paper off, and save the printer paper for later use! Pretty slick huh?

Now roughly cut out your foundation piece from the freezer paper.

 Before I go any further, make sure your sewing machine is ready, and shorten up your stitch length a bit.
This will help when it's time to remove the paper from the back of your piece.

Take your seam ripper and lightly score all of the seams/lines on your piece. Don't worry about the outside lines, you don't need to do those, we'll be trimming them later.

Now, start with the first piece of the block. Cut a piece of fabric just larger than needed (at least a quarter inch on all sides). Lay it RIGHT SIDE UP. Sorry, a patterned fabric would have shown this better.

You may need to pick up your paper and fabric and hold them up to a light to make sure that your fabric is set in the right location and is large enough. Make sure it goes all the way to the edge (or over the edge) of your foundation piece.

Press the fabric to the freezer paper.
By the way, a little iron like this is so handy! You'll be doing a LOT of pressing.

Now, fold your paper back on the score lines, and trim your fabric so it's 1/4" larger than the paper.
I apologize. I didn't get that good of a picture of this.

I actually trimmed this a little larger than a 1/4" by accident. I fixed it after the picture.

 Get your second piece of fabric just slightly larger than your next section,
and lay it WRONG SIDE UP over top of the first piece.

Line the edges up...

Cross your fingers, say a prayer (Just kidding! you'll be fine!)
Now, sew on the line between pieces one and two. You can sew all the way out to the end of the paper.

Fold the fabric over, and press.

Then flip your unit over, fold back the paper and trim your seams to 1/4" again.
Keep doing this for every piece, making sure you go in the order that the pattern tells you to.

Ah, it appears as though I have to take a break.
Apparently there's a singing cowboy who's come to play me a few tunes to break up my tutorial.

Okay. I'm back!

When you get done, you'll have a mess that looks like this! :)

Trim on the outer line - this is your seam allowance.

Now start to tear your paper off of the back. Be careful! You don't want to rip your seams out.
Folding and creasing the paper will help if it seems to be stuck

TA DA!!!! You have your first unit of your block done.
Don't those points look nice? OOOHHH! LOVE IT!

Keep working at it, piece by piece, making sure to go in the order the pattern tells you to.
And when you're finished, you'll have a Beautiful block with crisp lovely points!


  1. The blog looks great! And this is a really nice tutorial!

    Oh and you entered my giveaway for the book and kona scraps but when I tried to reply you were a no reply blogger :(

  2. Thank you! I think I fixed it... maybe. LOL

  3. I've never used freezer paper for paper piecing, but now that I read through your tutorial, it seems it might make it a bit easier than regular paper. Maybe crisper?

  4. Yes it's great!

    When you iron the fabric down to the waxy side, it holds everything in place. Your fabric doesn't shift and there's no need to pin. I used it for all of my 3x6 blocks. I tried using regular paper, and was so frustrated.

    I did find pre cut freezer paper. I bought a pack of 100 for around $12.00

    It goes right through your printer. No need to make your own. the brand is cjenkins

    They're a bit slow about shipping though. I had to get a little stern after over a week's wait. :(

  5. I just saw your May 10, 2011 post about the blocks for Saturday Sampler. The pattern was Star Light, Star Bright by Bits N Pieces. I loved how your border seem to go under the blocks (like floating blocks.) I don't know how to do this. Can you tell me where to get information on how to do this. Much appreciated, Judy

  6. I use tracing paper in the printer and it turns out beautiful and is easy to tear out after you are finished :)

  7. Hi
    Thank you for your tutorial, I am about to try it out right now!

  8. Great tutorial! Thank you so much!