Foundation Paper Piecing designs are made from several smaller pieces, sewn one on top of the next to gradually build a bigger design.
Those smaller pieces are labelled with numbers, which you sew together in numerical order.
When you are sewing, you will use an FPP template. You’ll use this template as your guide and sew along the printed lines – the template will face you right side up and the fabric that you will sew onto it will be right side down, with its wrong side against the back of the template. The finished sewn block will be a reverse image of the template.
In this tutorial, we’re going to use this simple Heart block as an example. Give it a go to try out the basic technique but the steps will be the same for any FPP template.
Before you begin, refer to the image of the finished block to work out which fabric will be used for each section of the template. Cut the fabric pieces for each section of the FPP template, making sure that the pieces will be at least 1⁄4in larger than the section they will cover, all the way around. You will trim off excess fabric later, so if you are new to this technique, then it’s best to allow 1⁄2in.
One way to prevent yourself from cutting fabric too small is printing out an extra paper template, cutting the pieces out and using them as templates for cutting out your fabric, adding the seam allowance around each piece.
Piecing the template
Start by finding Sections 1 and 2 on the paper template and taking the fabric pieces for each section. For this template, Section 1 is a background fabric square and Section 2 is a print fabric square.
Hold up your template against a light source – windows are great for this! The right side of the paper needs to be facing you. Take the background fabric square and hold it to the wrong side of the paper template, with the wrong side of the fabric touching the paper and the right side of the fabric facing the light source. Hold it against the window to make sure that the fabric covers all of the paper square and has at least ¼in seam allowance all around. Pin in place (Fig A).
Place the Section 2 fabric RST with the Section 1 fabric, aligning the raw edges on the side where Sections 1 and 2 meet. Pin in place along the line between the two sections. Now you can fold back the Section 2 fabric and check that once sewn, it will cover Section 2 completely, including the ¼in seam allowance on all edges (Fig B).
Set the stitch length on your sewing machine so that it is smaller than usual. Susi recommends 1.5. This will make it easier to remove the templates later, as your needle will perforate the paper as you sew. Sew along the line on the template between Sections 1 and 2, backstitching at both ends to secure (Fig C).
Fold back the print fabric and make sure that it covers all of Section 2 with a ¼in seam allowance all round (Fig D).
Then fold back the template on the seam to expose the seam allowance. Trim it to approx 1⁄8in. Press the print fabric towards Section 2 (Fig E).
Repeat steps 4–6 to piece the remaining sections on the template, working in numerical order (Figs F–H).
Trim the pieced block along the dashed outer edge of the paper template.
Remove the template to complete one Heart block (Fig I).
Ta da! Welcome to the world of FPP – it’s a great technique for achieving neat and intricate shapes from fabric.