Kristy Lea from Quiet Play is a big supporter of Modern Makers, and we regularly drool over her amazing patterns and projects. So we asked her for her top tips on foundation paper piecing to share with you. Her last tip is so perfect we’re all going to get matching tattoos of it!
You only have to look at my Instagram or blog to see that my heart belongs to foundation paper piecing. It was one of the first techniques I tried when I started quilting around five years ago. Over the years I’ve developed my own style and way to design patterns.
The thing I love about paper piecing is that you can get such accuracy and crisp angles. It’s OK if you rough cut your fabric, or you’re just using scraps. Once it’s sewn into place, you’re good to go.
The biggest thing for me in my design work is making paper piecing fun and approachable. It’s a technique that some people are a bit nervy about as sometimes it can be quite tedious, so I try to take that out of my patterns. There are no y-seams involved, and I work hard to find that fine line between including the detail I want in the pattern but not too many crazy small pieces.
My top tips for paper piecing:
- Reduce your stitch length down to around 1.5. This makes it easier to remove the paper afterwards.
- Use a finger presser on each seam. By doing this, you don’t have to get up and use the iron on every seam – you get a flat enough seam with the finger presser, then use the iron once you’ve completed that section.
- Always cut fabric pieces larger than you think you’re going to need. It’s easy to trim back to size, but less fun to add fabric if it’s too small (or worse, unpick!)
- If you’re piecing angles and you’re not sure your fabric will cover that section, use a large basting stitch (I go up to 4). Stitch and then check if it works when the fabric is folded back. If it is, great, restitch with a small stitch. If not, at least the seams are easy to unpick!
- Save your scraps! It’s so much easier to use up a small little scrap than to cut a chunk out of a favourite fat quarter. Paper piecing makes lots of scraps but it’s also brilliant for using them up.
- Some people like to starch their blocks – I don’t. It’s a personal preference. I use a dry super hot iron and find it does the job just as well.
- Removing the paper is never fun. Unless you’re 6 and volunteer to do it for your mama (but even then reminder to be gentle so as not to pull too much on the seams!). Only tip I have is find a good show on Netflix and settle down for a big paper removal session!
- Lastly – my biggest tip and this applies to all things quilty. Don’t be scared! Try new things! Jump in, give it a go. What’s the worst that happens? You have to unpick? Just try it. You don’t have to use your coveted, treasured precious fabric, or share pictures on Instagram, but you just need a little bit of courage and jump into the deep end and try it!