Category Archives: Quilting and Sewing

Favorite Tools: Foundation Paper Piecing

I love the accuracy of a foundation paper pieced quilt block.  Foundation paper piecing involves printing a pattern on paper, then sewing fabric to the back of the paper along the seam lines to achieve the design.  It seems there is no limit to the amazing designs that can be sewn with this method.  It does, however, require careful attention to detail along with extra time and steps.  I’ve found that having a few tools on hand makes a big difference in both my sewing experience and my final product.  So without further ado, here is my list of favorite tools for foundation paper piecing.

1. The Add-a-quarter ruler is a lifesaver.  It has a lip on the edge of it that sits over the seam, up against the folded paper when you’re trimming your seam allownace after adding a piece of fabric.  Simply line up the ruler and cut, and you have a 1/4″ seam allowance.  It comes in two sizes and I use both.  This might be my favorite tool for foundation paper piecing.

2.  The Seam roller is perfect for pressing your fabric.  It isn’t always convenient or even possible to iron every seam when foundation paper piecing, but rolling the seam roller over it always does the trick.

3.  My Hera marker is a tool I use for both foundation paper piecing and for machine quilting.  When I need to fold over a part of the paper pattern, I use the Add-a-quarter ruler and the Hera marker to crease the paper, and it folds perfectly along the line so I can then trim my seam allowance.  For quilting, this tool is invaluable for marking quilting lines on quilts.  I have a few of them now, so I’ll always be able to find one – no matter how messy my sewing table is!

4.  Carol Doak’s paper for foundation paper piecing is a must.  This newsprint paper (see blocks printed on it below) is thin and easier to sew through than regular copy paper.  It also tears more easily when I remove the paper from my quilt block.  Because it is uncoated, it doesn’t slip when I sew my fabric to it.  This paper comes in both 8.5″x11″ and 11″x17″.  I use both sizes, depending on my project.  The paper feeds easily into my printer or a copy machine.

5.  I keep a square rotating cutting mat next to my machine when foundation paper piecing.  It makes the process faster.  A good rotary cutter is also important.  The final tool I use with fpp is a glue stick.  A small amount holds my fabric in place on the paper while I stitch, and the paper is easy to pull off later.  I use a regular Elmer’s washable glue stick, like the ones I buy my kids at the beginning of the school year.

6.  If you’re looking for a great machine, I purchased this Juki just over a year ago.  It has been a dream to sew with.  I love my machine.

That is my basic list of favorite tools for foundation paper piecing.  I highly recommend that you add them to your sewing supplies if you plan to learn foundation paper piecing.  You will be glad to have a few tools to speed up the process and improve the quality of your blocks.

January Quilt Top

I can’t remember how many trips I’ve had around the sun since I first started this quilt.  Here it is, January again, and it seems as good a time as ever to share my January quilt top!  The pattern for the January quilt block was designed by Lady Harvatine and is available in her shop.

My version is full of different fabrics in every color.  I selected fabrics that felt like taking a walk through my favorites, and I included many precious scraps and cut into other prints I’d been “saving”.  My only rule was color in the circles and low volume in the backgrounds.  Some of my low volume background prints are rather loud but they work for me.  I love seeing all these prints together!

I will admit that precision in piecing all these curves was a challenge for me.  It has been for some people who make this quilt, especially because very piece has bias edges to deal with.  I decided not to worry about precision but I did square up my blocks before piecing the January quilt top together.  For my layout I made thirty blocks and pieced them in a 5 blocks by six blocks top that measures about 55″ by 66″

My January quilt top has been on and off my design wall many times while I worked (or didn’t work) on it.  At every stage my second daughter exclaimed “this is my favorite quilt!”  I appreciate feedback from my children about my quilts, especially when the design, color, or fabrics resonate with them.

This quilt top makes my heart happy.  It contains so many favorites!  I am thrilled to have finished it and now need to decide on quilting.  I’m sure my daughter would love to wrap up in it while it’s still winter!

Anthem Quilt: Peppermint Edition

Christmas sewing is underway in my studio and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  Meet my Anthem quilt: Peppermint Edition!  This is the Anthem quilt pattern with cheerful holiday colors to make a festive peppermint version.

I was sitting in my car when the idea struck: pink and red stars on a green background and my little girls happily snuggling under it while watching a Christmas movie.

I started with the stars, picturing a pink and red swirl.  The colors I used were Moda Bella Solids in Ruby (red) and Moda Bella Solids New 20 color 9900-385 (pink).  I particularly like the Ruby red – it is a great color!

Once the stars were made I began the hunt for just the right green… which was harder to find than I expected.  I made test blocks in several colors before narrowing my favorites to Kona Pistachio and Kona Pear.

In the end I decided not to choose between them and instead use both.  I alternated the greens as I sewed my blocks together to create a secondary pattern with the background fabrics and continue the minty feel of the quilt.  I like the green pinwheels where the blocks connect and the overall feel of the quilt is happy and festive, exactly what I pictured.

This pattern is great because it comes together easily and without too much time.  I have several complex quilts underway and they’re amazing, but it’s also nice to finish a quilt quickly and easily.  When I’m sewing with a deadline, either for a holiday or for a gift, I favor patterns like this one.

Want to make your own Anthem Quilt: Peppermint Edition?  I’ve updated the pattern with fabric requirements and piecing instructions for two background colors.  Download yours today and have a Christmas quilt top ready before you know it!

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