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First Impressions of Foundation Paper Piecing

by Jessica

November 13, 2020

foundation paper pieced christmas tree

I finally, FINALLY started a type of quilting I’ve wanted to try for quite a while- foundation paper piecing (FPP). My initial impression is- where has this been my whole life? Oh yea, right there under my nose. Better late than never I suppose.

What Exactly is FPP?

Leila Gardunia has an excellent definition in her article "How to Foundation Paper Piece"

Foundation paper piecing is when the outline of a quilt block is printed on a paper foundation and fabric is sewn together on the paper using the outline as a sewing guide. When the block is complete the paper foundation is removed. Amazingly accurate piecing is possible with foundation paper piecing, even with the smallest of pieces.

Traditional quilt piecing doesn't use paper as a template and relies instead on accurate cutting and seam allowances. You can already see how FPP might offer some benefits and advantages! (I still love traditional piecing, too!)

In case you have some confusion as to the difference between FPP and EPP (English Paper Piecing) check out this nicely written article from Stitched in Color!

Trim the Tree

Rewind a couple of years. My husband and I had visited my mom in Virginia and during our stay ended up at a totally cute and awesome quilt shop named Sarah’s Thimble.

Among various bits of yardage, my Mom and I both spotted a cool little pattern for sale named “Tall Trim the Tree” by Cindi Edgerton of A Very Special Collection.

Tall Trim the Tree

It was offered in two sizes, I bought the larger one and she bought one of each, the larger and smaller. Several places online sell this pattern, including Shabby Fabrics

The difference between my Mom and me is she made hers shortly after and I got so distracted by other projects that it took me almost two years to get to mine. She was instantly telling me how amazing this new method was! She completed two of them before I started one; one for my brother and one for her to keep.

Eventually, her patience with me grew thin and she ended up mailing me a copy of the smaller one (the pattern sets included enough foundation tissue paper to make two per each). The rationale being it was smaller thus requiring less time and material. She also ordered me the ruler I needed for this, called the “Add a Quarter Inch” ruler. The day the ruler delivered she must’ve been tracking its delivery because the phone rang minutes after it arrived. She was so excited and said, “See? Now you have to try it!”

Moms are the best.

Add a Quarter Inch Ruler

When your mom sends you a surprise quilting gift!!!

So I did. And thanks a lot Mom. I’m addicted.

The "A Little Bit Shorter Tall Tree" is the one I made and I opted to shrink down the borders a bit. Truth be told it was because I only had enough of the fabric I needed for a slimmer border but I really like the final result!

A little bit shorter tall tree

I highly recommend this project if you’re new to FPP. The pieces aren’t too small, the pattern is clear and there is also this fantastic walk-through of making it. This was invaluable and the project is super satisfying!

Other Resources for Starting FPP

I love the crisp points achieved with FPP and how it lends itself to the use of scraps! It allows piecing of things that may be too intricate or complex for traditional piecing. I plan to experiment with my own patterns, even taking pictures and turning them into quilts! Maybe a frenchie pattern is in order? You know how important they are to me by now, so why not?

Toby the French Bulldog

Toby boy

Teddy the French Bulldog

Teddy puppy

Aren't those boys cute? I can't handle it. They're my babies. 

Someone suggested to me this newsprint paper from Amazon for printing my templates and I’ve had excellent results with it. Very cost-efficient compared to some of the other papers out there, too!

Have you tried FPP? What are your thoughts or tips? I'm so excited to continue learning and experimenting with this method!

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