Did you know that you can sew regular paper through your machine?
Inspired by the geometric and vibrant “Pieced Bunches Wild” print from the amazing Loved to Pieces Collection, I decided to make a foundation paper piecing block and take pictures of the process to share it with you.
Foundation paper piecing consists of using a printed pattern on paper as a guide when making quilt blocks. This implies that you will be sewing the fabric with the paper through the machine at the same time, and once your pieces are perfectly sewn together you remove the paper.
I started by preparing my working station and my fabrics:
First, I changed the stitch size setting of my machine to 1, so at the end it would be easier to remove the paper.
The scraps of fabric that I chose were Reap and Sew Azul (LPC-1422) for fabric A, Efflorescent Fuchsia (LPC-2425) for fabric B, Anthonem Festive (LPC -2420) for fabric C, Light Grey (PE-419) for fabric D, Tile Blue (PE-418) for fabric E, and Banana Cream (PE-435) for fabric F.
I printed the Butterfly pattern and cut each block:
After everything was ready, I started sewing:
I took the paper from Block a and layered it with fabric E for section a1 and fabric A for section a2.
The paper facing up to see the sewing guides.
Since the first fabric is E for a1, I placed it with the right side down and making sure it covers all a1 space.
Then I took a swatch from fabric A for a2 and placed it with the right side facing up under the paper and fabric E making sure it crossed the dividing line, and also that it was big enough to cover a2 once it was stitched and fabric A was pressed open.
I stitched following the dividing line; however, you never stitch farther than your line. In the image you can see that I sew over the ¼” seam allowance too, which didn’t matter for this block, but once I got to Block b I had to reap a couple of seam to be able to continue.
I folded the paper on the stitched line and trimmed the fabric at ¼”.
Then I opened fabric A and pressed.
Finally, I trimmed the excess fabric around my block. Once I turned it over Block a to the fabric side, I could see that it was the vertical mirror image of the printed side:
Once I finished Block a, I gained enough confidence to continue with Block b ;):
Again I started with the base, b1, because in foundation paper piecing is extremely important to follow the order of that the template indicates to get the exact results.
I layered the Block b paper with fabric B for section b1 and fabric E for section b2.
Fabric B facing down (wrong sides with the paper) and covering all section b1, and fabric E under fabric B facing up, and placed across the dividing line between b1 and b2, and big enough so when fabric E was pressed open, it would cover the whole space that corresponds to b2.
I stitched on the line making sure I didn't cross over b3 (as shown in the picture), but once again I made the mistake of crossing over the ¼" seam allowance space, so in a couple of steps you will see why I had to reap it.
I folded the paper following the stitched line, trimmed at ¼", opened fabric E and pressed.
Once b1 and b2 were sewn, I started b3:
I placed fabric E under the block with the right side facing up, making sure it crossed the line between b1-b2 and b3, and was big enough so when pressed open it would cover all the space in b3 plus its seam allowance.
I stitched across the line. The red Xs indicate that you should not sew over the seam allowance like I did.
I folded the paper and trimmed at ¼”.
After pressing fabric E open to finish b3, I trimmed all the excess fabric from the block b and continued with b4.
I placed fabric F under the block, making sure it crossed the line between b1 and b4, and that the swatch was big enough so once I opened fabric F it would cover all the b4 space.
Then I stitched across the line.
And here it is!! the moment we have been waiting for, the moment when I get to show you what happens when you stitch over the seam allowance: when I needed to fold the paper along the stitched line, I couldn't lay it flat because the previously stitched line got in the way. So I had to get my seam reaper out and remove the thread to be able to fold the paper and trim the fabric at ¼” to continue with my block :).
Then I trimmed, opened fabric F, and pressed.
For b5 I repeated the same steps:
I placed fabric E across the line between the b4 and b5, making sure the fabric was big enough so when pressed open it would cover all the b5 space.
I sewed across the line, and in this case seam reaped the previously made stitch that crossed the ¼” seam allowance.
I folded the paper, trimmed at ¼”, opened fabric E and pressed.
After finishing the blocks that correspond to the right side of the butterfly (a, b, c, and d) I placed them next to the printed side of the blocks that correspond to the left side.
And then, after finishing blocks e, f, g, and h, I placed the pieces in front of me to see them before joining them.
Once I joined the blocks I turned the block to the wrong side and loved how the wrinkled paper combined with the unraveled fabric edges and the loose threads, gave my butterfly a very vulnerable look. It made me realize how sometimes we focus all our energy on the right side of our pieces, and we miss the beauty of the wrong side, the side that shows all the hard work, the struggle, and the human imperfect touch of the process. I loved it so much that I had to take a picture and show it to you so you could see it too.
Anyway, after falling in love and crying over the wrong side of my piece lol, I removed the paper and continued the process by pressing and going back to admiring the right side of my block. The finished size is 7" x 6½”.
I sewed rectangles from fabric E to the sides to make it bigger and fit it into an embroidery hoop, and used it as a wall art right next to my desk to remember how much fun I had making it.
After reading this post, how do you feel about this technique? What shape would you like to see using the Signature collection?
Happy foundation paper piecing!