As promised yesterday when I released my free Sugar Loaf Block pattern, here is my tutorial for foundation paper piecing, no paper ripping required. I’ve broken the tutorial into two parts. Today I’m sharing Part One, Preparation. I’ll show you how to create your block template using freezer paper and how to create cutting templates to minimise fabric wastage. Then with all the preparation done, tomorrow I’ll show you how to piece your block (find Part Two here).
What makes this technique a little different is that freezer paper rather than ordinary paper is used as the foundation. The fabric is ironed to the back (shiny side) of the freezer paper which holds it in place while you add the next piece of fabric. Then, rather than sew through the paper and rip it out afterwards, the freezer paper is folded back out of the way along the seam line, the seam is then stitched next to the paper fold. Because you don’t sew through the paper, there are no papers to rip out afterwards, you simply peel the freezer paper away from the back of you block!! There is a little prep work to do before you start, just to create the freezer paper templates. But, in my opinion, this additional step is completely worth it. Ripping paper out after the block has been completed is not my favourite way to spend time.
I first learnt this technique from my friend Merran who shared it with us in a block she assigned our doGoodStitches group a few years back. I’ve been using it ever since.
This method really comes in to it’s own when you’re making multiple blocks from the same pattern. Each freezer paper template can be reused multiple times, my record is nine times before the freezer paper loses it’s ability to stick to the fabric. You can also create several duplicate templates at once. So with a little preparation you have enough templates to make many blocks, none of which will require paper ripping once they’ve been sewn.
One other thing that I’ve always found handy is that I don’t adjust my stitch length, no paper ripping means that you can get away with your normal stitch length. I’m always grateful for that when I need to unpick a seam!
Using freezer paper has the added advantage of stabilising your fabric as you sew. If you use this technique combined with cutting templates for each angled fabric piece, with practice, you’ll find that you hardly waste any fabric.
The only time I wouldn’t use this method is if the pattern involved lots of different sections and lots of tiny pieces. Although if you get to love this method as much as I do, you might want to use it even then (I know I have!).
I hope I’ve persuaded you to give this method a try!
My instructions refer specifically to my Sugar Loaf block pattern, but this technique can be applied to any paper pieced pattern.
I’ve written the tutorial for people who are new to foundation paper piecing and people who are familiar with it but would like to give this method a try.
Today I’ll show you how to:
- prepare freezer paper templates of your pattern (using your sewing machine without thread)
- prepare cutting templates to reduce fabric wastage and improve piecing accuracy (it’s easy to make mistakes if your fabric pieces are not the right shape or size)
In Part Two I’ll show you how to cut your fabric and sew the Sugar Loaf block.
Copy of the paper piecing pattern (find the Sugar Loaf block here on Craftsy)
Paper scissors (optional)
Old needle (optional)
Stapler (or washi tape)
Rotary cutter and cutting mat
Tracing paper for making cutting templates (optional)
Download and print out your pattern. Ensure that your printer is printing at 100%. If you’re using my Sugar Loaf block check that the block measures 4 1/2″ (including seam allowance).
1. Prepare freezer paper templates of your pattern
Using paper scissors or a rotary cutter, cut your freezer paper into approximately 6″ squares (large enough to cover the block and leave room to staple). Each template can be used multiple times (as I said above, my record is nine times before the freezer paper completely loses it’s ability to stick to the fabric). I usually make 3-4 templates at once.
Stack your freezer paper squares together and staple this stack to the back of your pattern printout, making sure the shiny side of the freezer paper is face down. Ensure that the freezer paper extends beyond all block edges (I find the easiest way to check this is by holding the pattern up to the light).
Remove the top thread and bobbin thread from your sewing machine. Replace needle with an old needle if you wish.
Sew along lines of pattern as marked on the printout. I sew along the lines of the block edge but not the seam allowance lines, I find it easier to add the seam allowance later with my ruler.
The needle perforations serve two purposes:
- create freezer paper copies of the printed template
- make the freezer paper easy to fold.
It is possible to use a pencil rather than needle perforations to mark the pattern on your freezer paper but I’ve found it’s easier to fold the paper with needle perforations.
Cut away excess freezer paper using your ruler and rotary cutter to add the 1/4″ seam allowance.
Use a pencil to transfer the pattern numbers to your freezer paper templates.
Your template is ready, the Sugar Loaf block should measure 4 1/2″ across from edge to edge.
2. Prepare Cutting Templates
I make templates of the angled pieces to help with accurate piecing and to optimise fabric use. To do this, flip your freezer paper template over to the shiny side, place your tracing paper over the template and trace lines around each angled section (for this block it’s 1, 5 and 6). Using your ruler, add 1/4″ seam allowance to each edge and cut along this line. This gives you the minimum size for each piece of fabric required. I typically add 1/8″ to 1/4″ on each edge when cutting my fabric out. If you’re just starting out with paper piecing you may wish to add more than that until you get a feel for how much extra fabric you need.
Now you’re ready to cut fabric and sew your blocks. Part Two coming soon!
Please let me know if you have any questions.