Foundation piecing step by step

Over the years I’ve been put off learning foundation piecing because I just didn’t think I had the need, but as I do more and more complex patchwork I decided I’d give it a serious try and see if I could make it work for me.

The learning process so far has been a lot easier than I expected. I’ve made a list of pros and cons based on my limited experience with foundation piecing.

Pros

  • blocks look almost perfect
  • very easy once you get the hang of it
  • very complex blocks are easier to make
  • blocks look great from the back, no messy threads and seams – not that it matters than much

Cons

  • fabric wastage
  • not worth the extra effort for easy straight forward blocks
  • it may be a bit difficult to grasp at the start so I suggest you view several tutorials in youtube before you start
  • you need a printer
  • you need to remove the paper once the block is done

Block Zeppelin

For this step by step demonstration I’m going to be using a block designed by 627handworks. The block is called Zeppelin.

You need to download it (pdf) and print 4 copies. After printing the pattern  just cut around the triangle leaving about 1/2 inch around.

The tutorial calls for legal size paper but can also be printed in two pages and taped if you only have A4 paper handy.  I only had A4  but instead of taping the two pieces I resized it to about 80%.

How to do foundation paper piecing

You can learn the principles of foundation piecing on this 2 minute video. These principles can be applied to any foundation piecing blocks no matter how complex they are.

Materials

You will need at least 5 different fabrics for it. I chose a red and white/grey combination.

Cut the strips

To avoid wasting fabric as much as possible, cut a strip of fabric for each section that is 1/4 inch larger on each side of the widest part of the section to cover. To do this measure the width of the section and add 1/4 in to each side.

Then measure the longest part of the segment and add again 1/4 inch to each side.

You have now the strip size to cut.

For example, my strip for section 5 is 7 1/2 in x 1 3/4 in. Reminder: My pattern was printed at 80% not the full size.

Do this for each section to cut.

Folding the paper along the printed lines

Folding is done in order to trim excess fabric. The reason for folding will become obvious later on in the tutorial.

Now you need to fold the paper along each line. Use a thin piece of cardboard to help yourself do this.

Fold well along each line. Do not fold past each line.

You don’t need to fold the lines around the whole triangle.

Important things to bear in mind

  • Fabric pieces are placed on the back of the paper
  • Stitching is from the front of the paper following the printed lines
  • Pieces have to be stitched in ascending order

Preparation of piece 1

So starting at piece 1, place the strip wrong sides together with one of the long sides overlapping by 1/4 inches the middle printed line between pieces 1 and 3.

* The first piece is placed with the right side up on the back of the paper

Pin.

Make sure that the whole section is covered by the fabric and overlaps at least 1/4 in all around. The 1/4 in is the seam allowance. Lift the piece, hold it in front of the sun to see through.

Before we stitch pieces 1 and 2 together, fabric excess needs to be trimmed.

To find out how much fabric needs to be trimmed, fold the paper back along the line separating section 1 and 2.

Place the ruler as per picture so that you trim the fabric leaving a 1/4 in seam allowance.

Trim off excess fabric.

As you can see, having folded the paper beforehand makes it easier to fold back at this stage.

Stitching of pieces

Now the stitching starts.

Stitch piece 2 by placing it over piece 1 as per picture, right sides facing together.

Align piece number 2 along the edge of piece 1 making sure that piece 2 covers all surface area including 1/4 inch all around.

Pin.

Turn around and stitch along the line between 1 and 2 from the front of the paper as per picture.

Turn around and fold piece over. You can press if you need to.

Otherwise trim piece 2 leaving 1/4 in allowance.

Then fold over the line between 2 and 3 and trim again leaving 1/4 in allowance.

Now stitch the next piece in the same way as the previous one.

Get strip 3 and again place it aligned against the previous 2 pieces 2 and 3. Place the strip making sure that it covers the length of the section including 1/4 seam allowance on each side.

Turn paper around and stitch along the line to the left of 3 on the printed side.

Trim and continue.

Repeat the previous steps until you’ve stitched all strips.

Finally trim the big triangle.

One down, 3 to go.

Voilà!

Next week I’ll post a tutorial on how you can use this block.

cook … eat … repeat tea towel

A couple of years ago I planned to make two tea towels. Somehow I only got around making one: the French cuisine tea towel.

This is the second one. It’s not a set and it is a faster project with a lot less embroidery. I’m also making use of my textured tutorials I posted as I’m using prairie points for the border.

Both tea towels make great gifts.

If you make one, I’d like to see it. Please upload it to my TeresaDownUnder Flickr pool.

Materials

  • Variegated stranded cotton
  • White fabric – I cut a piece 20 in x 5 1/2 in
  • Tea towel
  • 4 x 5 in charm squares – 3 for the trim and 1 for the embroidery sides

Kitchen towel size

32 x 22 1/2 inches. For a different towel size increase or decrease the pattern below when printing.

Embroidery

Embroidery stitch: stem stitch (stem stitch video tutorial – link will open in another window)

Download pattern

  • Teatowel lettering (pdf – 2 pages). When printing scale it down or up to match your tea towel width

Method

Print the pattern and stick matching the lines as per picture.

Place the strip of white fabric over.

 

Make sure the letters are centred and straight.

Trace with water soluble pen.

 

My variegated embroidery cotton matches the charms colours.

 

Embroider using stem stitch.

 

Press well.

When finished trim the embroidery down to 5 in wide. Then cut 3/4 in from each edge.

At this stage I wanted to add some colour to each edge so I used a charm square for this purpose.

Get a 5 in charm square and cut it in half and stitch each half to each side.

 

Press seams open.

 

Prairie points

For my tea towel I used 3 charm squares, i.e. 12 prairie points. If your tea towel is smaller or larger you may need fewer or more.

I will explain quickly how to make a prairie point here but if you need more visuals try my prairie point tutorial.

Cut each charm square into 4 2 1/2 in squares.

 

Fold in half. Then fold in half again and press the corner with your finger.

Then drag each side corner meet in the middle as per picture.

 

Stitch along each prairie point at 1/8 in from the edge.

 

 

 

Now make a 1/4 seam on each side of the embroidery strip.

 

On both sides.

 

Pin the strip aligned to the edge. Fold the edges in on both edges as per picture. Pin well.

 

Now place the prairie points between the tea towel and the embroidery strip. Pin well making sure everything is aligned.

 

Your will need to adjust the distance between prairie points depending on the width of your tea towel. A bit of overlapping is fine.

Stitch making sure that all three layers – embroidery strip, prairie points and tea towel – are aligned. Use many pins if necessary to avoid having to unpick the stitches as I had to do.

 

To finish stitch also the top of the embroidery strip .

 

Done!

 

Box slipcover tutorial

This tutorial will show you the steps to cover any box you have in your house.

In my case I chose a strawberry box. Now, this wasn’t the best choice.

As you can see the sides of the box don’t go all the way up and the corners aren’t straight. I’m considering at this stage taping some cardboard to the box so the sides go all the way up and the cover sits nicely up.

Materials

  • Cotton fabric. The amount will depend on how big your box is
  • Trim of your choice. I think that a pom pom trim adds some cuteness to the plain cover.
  • Box – cardboard, wooden, plastic

Instructions

First of all you need to measure your box. You need to measure the height, the width and the length.

Now double the height size.

Then add 1/2 in to each measurement.

For instance my box measures:

  • Height: 3 in
  • Width: 7 3/4 in
  • Length: 11 3/4 in

I doubled the height so it is 6 in.

Now I added 1/2 in to each

  • Height: 6 1/2 in
  • Width: 8 1/4 in
  • Length: 12 1/4 in

Cut

  • Bottom panel:  width x length rectangle (12 1/4 in x 8 1/4 in)
  • 2 short side panels:  width x height (8 1/4 in x 6 1/2 in)
  • 2 long side panels: length x height (12 1/4 in x 6 1/2 in)

Note: You could just use one panel for the bottom and one for the sides. In that case you need to work out the length of the box by measuring it all around from corner to corner and then adding 1/2 in to it.

Pin 3 of the side panels alternating short and long sides and leave one side open.

Stitch.

Do a rolled hem as per picture.

Stitch with a zig zag or decorative stitch.

Now it’s time to add the trim to the side panel. I placed mine at about 1 1/2 in from the bottom but you will need to look at your box size and decide where it looks more pleasant.

Stitch the trim.

Now pin both sides and stitch.

Pin side panels to bottom making sure the corners match the side seams.

Turn inside out. I pressed the fold to make the slipcover sit more upright. If the sides of your box go all the way up it won’t be  necessary to press the fold.

Depending on the box design you may be able to stack them up. Or maybe you can also do nesting sizes.

iPad mini beanbag with hand painted fabric tutorial

Back view

Side view

NOTE: This tutorial is for an iPad mini. If you have an iPad you can use my iPad stand tutorial or my patchwork iPad beanbag tutorial.

Video: How to make an iPad stand or beanbag

Make a tablet stand using the leg of a pair of jeans instead

Materials

  • a 16in x 10in piece of white/cream fabric if you intend to paint it, or any other fabric you’d like to use if not painting it
  • fabric markers or other textile paints such as Inktense
  • buttons
  • polyfill or quilt batting scraps
  • piece of carboard measuring 3 3/4 in for the top, 3 1/4 in for the sides, and 5 3/4 in for the base
  • a stone or other weight or even some rice

Instructions

This project is kind of special because I used hand painted fabric. I did not paint the fabric myself, my daughter did and she used Inktense blocks and a black permanent marker.

Apparently Inktense paints are colour fast once dried though my fingers were slightly stained by handling the beanbag while I was filling it. It could be the marker which was just a normal permanent marker but there was a bit of yellow in it too. In any case I’m not planning to wash the beanbag.

To paint your fabric you can place the fabric directly on to a piece of carboard. I used a stretcher frame I use for silk painting.

I marked the area to be painted and my daughter made the painting.

After it dried, I trimmed the piece to 16in x 10in.

I like the large flowers and the colours my daughter used.

Now fold the rectangular piece in half on the LONG side. I’m using caps because I know this part has been confusing to some people in my previous iPad beanbag tutorial.

Stitch along the long side and one short side as per picture.

Trim the corners to reduce bulk when turning inside out.

Turn inside out and place the bag as per picture, with seam on the bottom.

Fold as per picture below.

Now fold the bottom up to align with the middle point as per picture.

This is where you stitch the buttons.

Make a few stitches in the corner.

Then stitch the buttons on the same point.

Making the cardboard base

To make the cardboard base you can either use the measurements I gave you earlier or you can do what I did which was to do some markings on a piece of cardboard using the still lightly filled bag as a guide.

Then I just cut from dot to.

I had to even it out a bit as the markings were a bit off.

Filling the stand

Time to fill the bag. I used batting scraps for this project. Pull the batting apart first and then start filling the bag little by little.

I also used an old clay figurine as weight. You could use rice instead or a stone. Weight will give the bag some stability.

Once you have filled the bag to your liking, pin along the sewing line. This particular bag is very well stuffed because my daughter wanted to have her iPad mini very upright. This also means that the opening of the bag is a bit uneven as you can see in the photo.

Stitch through the line. This can be hard so you could stitch before you fill the bag completely leaving a small opening on on side and then when well stuffed stitch the little opening.

As you can see there’s quite a bit of fabric left and it looks like it’s wrong. I thought so too but it didn’t turn to be a problem at all. If your bag is not so full the distorsion will be smaller.

Now fold the endings in as per picture.

Stitch almost to the end of the tube leaving an opening.

Fill it in and stitch the opening with a mattress stitch.

Voilà!

Farmer’s wife sampler quilt – blocks 108 to 111

This lot of blocks completes all the blocks in the book.

More information about how I am making this quilt.

View all the blocks I have done so far.

Windmill

Windows

Wood Lily

Wrench