Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

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Last Updated April 13, 2018

Quilters use paper or fabric as a foundation for piecing quilt tops. this tutorial shows how to use the foundation paper piecing method. Quilters use paper foundation to quickly and easily piece designs with strong, sharp points. Other paper pieced designs include very detailed flowers, faces, animals and lots more. Some samples are pictured below from our Pinterest board.

There are many ways to obtain designs for foundation paper piecing.

  • Electric Quilt is a software program that has many designs in its library or you can draw your own.
  • Numerous websites provide designs for purchase or free downloads.
  • Books, magazines and patterns.
  • Classes online and at your local quilt shop.
  • Scroll to the end of this article for a free download.

Each foundation is called a unit. Piece the units individually. Combine one or more units to make the entire quilt. You will need one copy for each unit in the quilt top.

Foundation Paper Piecing Basic Steps

The basic technique of foundation paper piecing includes these steps:

  • Fold – use lightweight cardboard or template plastic to fold the paper on line between two sections.
  • Stitch –  on the line between the sections
  • Press – toward the fabric just added.
  • Trim – the fabric for the next section

There are many methods and tools used to accomplish these steps. Find what works best for you. Use these supplies for foundation paper piecing:

Piecing the Units

The videos below demonstrate how to paper piece the units. I produced these when I was a Certified Instructor for Quiltworx, a Judy Niemeyer company. Although the videos demonstrate piecing a Quiltworx Unit, the technique is the same for all paper piecing projects.

The first video discusses supplies, trimming the units for piecing, tracing the dashed lines and sorting and stacking. In the video I talk about the “sew side”. The templates in this tutorial have arrows instead of “sew side”.

The next video demonstrates piecing Sections 1 and 2.

The last video demonstrates piecing Section 3 and beyond. It also covers finishing the units.

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