Adventures in Foundation Piecing

The thing I love about patchwork and quilting is the sheer variety of techniques on offer.  I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface, lol!  Something I’ve read about a lot but had not tried is foundation piecing (sometimes known as paper piecing).  In essence, a design is printed on a foundation (often paper or calico) and then the fabric is placed underneath and the lines are used as guides for highly controlled stitch’n’flip piecing.  For more complicated designs, several parts may be required to create the finished design.  There are some staggeringly complex foundation-pieced patterns available (The Tartan Kiwi does beautiful ones, I love her birds; Fandom In Stitches has a ginormous range of fan-made patterns for all manner of subjects from Disney to Doctor Who), but I decided that, for my first pattern, something simpler would be good.  And because it’s me, I also couldn’t resist the idea of making my own pattern!

After reading around a little on how foundation patterns work and being inspired by an image I’d seen in one of those Grown-Up Colouring Books, I sketched a nicely graphic paper crane image in Inkscape and started to chop it up into something that might work as a pattern:

pp_crane

After squinting at it a bit, I decided that I needed five sections to make up the whole design and drew each one up with the necessary seam allowance and carefully labelled the order in which I thought they ought to be pieced.  Then I printed out a copy and lost it in the muddle on my crafting table for some weeks!

Then, because yesterday was Quilt Club and I hadn’t a single idea in my head of what I wanted to work on, I went riffling through my muddle of UFOs and found the pattern again.  And I also found a couple of FQs with postcard motifs, in two different colours, and a lightbulb went on in my head.

cranes_2410_3

I grabbed everything, plus a handy cream-on-cream print that didn’t run away fast enough (and which I see I’ve accidentally photographed the wrong side of, ooops!) and bundled it all into a bag for Quilt Club.  Knowing that people there had done foundation piecing before was a great comfort and help, and everyone put up very politely with my growling whenever I failed to line up a piece quite right and had to reach for the seam ripper yet again!  I think I re-did one bit about five times before I managed to get it lying correctly, by which stage the paper had almost disintegrated.  But guess what?  IT. WORKED.

ERMAGERD, IT WORKED!  *happy flailing*

cranes_2410_1

Ok, there are two points in particular that I feel could have lined up a bit better, I probably ought to have paid more attention to fabric grain direction and the lighter postcard fabric is a bit too close in tone to the cream background fabric, but I am over the moon with how well this came out.  However, I am wondering whether there are better ways to cut the pieces than “hack out a generous chunk approximately the right shape and hope” – I feel sure there must be!

The unfinished block ends up being 12.5″ square, which is a nice size.  I’ll probably give this one some corners and turn it into a cushion.  If life ever calms down enough to allow me to sign up to the Quilt Block Swap over on Craftster, this may very well be the block I ask for – I think it could be delightful done in a variety of scrappy prints.  I could also see it done in shot cottons, of which I have a nice bundle.  Hmmmm….!  😀

11 thoughts on “Adventures in Foundation Piecing”

  1. Love it and well done on drafting your own pattern. When I’m cutting out for foundation work I measure the piece on the paper and add an inch for seam allowances. You do have to be careful as sometimes you’ll still have to cut out weird shapes or add alot more as seam allowance because of the shape of the finished piece xx

    1. Thank you so much! Yeah, on reading around a bit more, it looks like cutting a generous chunk is the way forward after all. It’s fun though – now I’ve tried it once, I’m quite sure I’ll be having another go soon. 🙂

  2. Kudos to you for making your own pattern and for getting such a great end result! I really like the postcard fabric and how you described the background jumping into the mix! Btw love those cushions in the former post too I spied 😉

    1. Thank you for commenting! 😀 I’m quilting it now and really enjoying it – even more postcard fabric managed to sneak into the finished top, lol. It’s so nice to have quick projects to power through for a change – makes me feel like I’m getting stuff done for once!

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