Foundation piecing


I am working on the Batik project and I thought it might be a good time to talk about foundation piecing.

Paper foundation piecing is very popular these days but it is nothing new.    This vintage top used Montgomery Ward catalog pages as the paper foundation


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Older quilts often used Muslin as the foundation…this partially finished quilt used muslin foundation.


Here is the back of one of the pieces.


When using fabric as the foundation it is left on….paper is removed

These vintage string star blocks were paper foundation pieced but the paper was removed after they were made.


I am using paper and I remove the paper when the block is finished.   Some people will leave the paper on until the entire top is done.

Today I am working on the borders

here is the plan that I designed on the computer

Batik plan

you can see that the border has a lot of long narrow points.   the advantage of foundation piecing is that the foundation prevents the fabric from stretching and becoming distorted as it is sewn.   This makes for much greater accuracy.  In my vintage and antique quilts I really don’t worry too much about accuracy, but for this quilt I thought I would try to be as accurate as I can.

I start by printing the pattern.   Computers make quilting so much easier!   In the past the patterns would need to be traced onto the paper.

I hate to waste fabric and one of the drawbacks of foundation paper piecing is that there is a lot of waste from all the bits that are trimmed of.    Since all the pieces in the border blocks are the same size I was able to pr-cut the pieces.  I had to do some figuring to get the size right and it worked out that if I cut 2.5 inch strips and then cut them in half on the diagonal I have the pieces the right size with very little waste.




next I arrange the pieces in the order I plan to sew them


I pin the pieces to the paper before I sew.   I line up the piece 1/4 inch beyond the line (1/4 inch seam allowance) and pin in place


The fabric goes on the back of the paper so that it fits into A1  The next piece is pinned on so that after it is sewn on and pressed it will cover the next area (A2)


sew on the line then press open….this is how it looks on the finished side


Now I trim the piece in A2 so that there is 1/4 inch seam allowance on the long side by folding the paper up to the line and trimming the overhang…and then pin the next piece in place



sew that one down and press it open


and then fold the paper back to the line


and trim to 1/4 inch


fold the paper back to flat and add the next piece


sew and press


fold back and trim


keep adding new pieces


until they are all added


Looks like a bit of a mess until it is trimmed.    It is important in the block that I did not sew beyond the line at the top (where the large purple piece will be added)


I fold back the paper at that line


and trim that overhanging fabric to 1/4 inch and then fold back the paper


Now I can add that big piece…make sure it fits


pin in place


sew and press open


now flip it over


trim all the edges


and it is done.  here are a few of them finished in place


I partially made one block before I realized I was doing it wrong.  I had reversed the order of the pieces….see how it doesn’t fit with the others


the points go the wrong direction.   It can be easy to get it wrong because the sewing is all done from the back of the paper.

I should also mention that I turn the stitch length to almost as short as I can for this.   The smaller stitch length gives the paper more holes  so it is easier to rip the paper off…it breaks easily along the stitch lines with all those little holes.



Teddy the Helper


Today I have been working on the Batik Project.    The Fabrics are from Lelia and Co. Fabric and Design and the blocks are paper foundation pieced.   I am getting better at paper foundation piecing the more blocks I do.

I have 21 done now of the 100 needed to finish

Here is the plan which I did on the computer

Batik plan
I decided to see how the blocks look laid out and Teddy was there to help me arrange them.


and he did a pretty good job

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he needed some help getting that last one flat


I hardly ever mention my other job as flora design instructor but my nephew got married yesterday and I did the flowers for the wedding.

The ceremony was at the Grosse Pointe Academy Chapel …here is a picture of the chapel (It is a picture from their website not the same wedding)


I am really bad about getting pictures of weddings , usually I am in such a frenzy trying to get it all done on time that I just forget to stop and take some pictures.    I did take a few in the work room before I delivered them.

Brides bouquet




Chapel flowers




My Sister made the cupcake wedding cake


Teddy says it is time to get back to work now

Happy Quilting


Wonky Nine Patch Quilted


I finished hand quilting the wonky nine patch last night.    Now don’t say I can’t believe how fast you quilt….I worked on it almost non stop since I started, (about 60 hours), and it is a small quilt and the quilting is very simple.

I used Hobb’s Tuscany Silk batting on this one and it quilts like a dream.

Here it is with the quilting finished before the binding is done


I trimmed the backing and batting leaving 2 inches of backing beyond the top


I fold the backing over 2 times and then sew to the top to make the binding.

after that was done I put it in the wash (delicate setting).   I wanted to get the crinkled look that is caused by the shrinkage of the batting.    The silk batting shrinks quite a bit.    Before washing the quilt was 50″ x 60″  now it is 45″ x 55″  I love the look and now that it is washed, and dried in the dryer on low temp, it is soft and has the most amazing drape.


The quilting is simple wavy lines using red perle cotton thread #8 and a size 5 embroidery needle.

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The backing is a plaid flannel


I might add a hanging sleeve and use it as a wall hanging….

a few more pictures

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Happy Quilting


Teddy the Quilt Model


Teddy is a real character.   Whenever I take the quilt out of the hoop he thinks I am going to take pictures and he gets excited.   If he sees me with the camera he really gets excited and wants to pose.

Last night I started work on hand quilting the wonky nine patch quilt.

Here it is pin basted….I use very few pins…..the hoop holds the layers together the pins just keep it in place until it is in the hoop


I am doing wavy lines for the quilting…no marking , just wavy lines with #8 perle cotton thread and a size 5 embroidery needle.


Today when I took it out of the hoop to move to the next spot Teddy decided it was time for him to pose.  here are the pictures from his photo shoot

He really does model like a pro ;)

Happy Quilting


Clearing the deck with a wonky nine patch


I made a new top today.  I decided it was better to use up the piles of fabric on the work table (which is actually the dining room table…but if you never put away the sewing machine you can call it a studio) than to put them away.  It seems like when I put things away they are gone forever.

Anyway I made a new top with 12 fat quarters.

I started by cutting them all into 9 inch squares (4 per fat quarter)


pick 2 and stack them (right sides up)

then cut them into 9


no measuring!  In fact you want them to be odd and wonky …the more asymmetrical the better (at least for me).

Next you separate them into two nine patch groups (remember there are 2 different fabrics in the pile)


sew them into rows


press the seams in alternating directions


sew the rows together




one block done


repeat for the other block


after all 48 blocks are done arrange them in whatever way you like


sew them all together


I added 2.5″ x 8″ strips (made from the leftovers) on the 2 sides to make it a bit wider….finished size is 50″ x 60″

I found some plaid flannel in my stock pile for the backing.

I think very simple hand quilting is in order

The design is based on one In the new book I posted about, Unconventional & Unexpected American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000,

Happy Quilting




Reconstruction has begun on the Indian Summer quilt top.


I posted about it here  and I started taking it apart last night.

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It is hard to get a good picture of the damaged blocks but some have all the seam allowances totally gone .  They were only about 1/8 inch and several washings has caused them to fray and separate.


most are just frayed.  The looser the weave on the fabric the more likely they are to fall apart.


After carefully removing all the pieces from the backing I spent some time pressing them.  I started with the biggest pieces.  Since the fabric has been washed many times I find that starch helps to add some body and makes re-piecing easier


I kept as many pieces together as I could and after sewing a few together I have this


and here are the other parts that still need pressing and repair before adding


The easy part is done….the rest will take some careful repair and I will post about that soon.

Happy Quilting