Foundation Paper Piecing Sewing Tutorial
Have you ever seen a quilt or fabric project with the most accurate corners, shapes and designs – or – fabric art like a unicorn, sewing machine or even Baby Yoda and wonder – “How did they do that?” Most likely, the Foundation Paper Piecing sewing technique was used to create the intricate fabric designs. And you know what??? It is super easy to learn and practice. With just a few simple tips, you will be sewing with this method in no time.
Learn the sewing technique of Foundation Paper Piecing with this simple tutorial.
Step 1: Prepare Fabric and Paper Template
You will need the following materials and supplies for this project: Add-A-Quarter Ruler, Rotary Cutter Ruler, Rotary Cutter, Tweezers, Seam Roller, Paper Template, Cutting Mat, Fabric, Scissors, Iron (optional) and Colored Pencils or Markers.
We have put together a basic Foundation Paper Piecing Kit to help you get started. This kit includes a 6” Add-A-Quarter Ruler, 6” Add-An-Eighth Ruler, Violet Craft Seam Roller, and Bohin Precision Tweezers. These tools are perfect for someone that is new to this technique.
You will need to print out a Foundation Paper Piecing Template prior to beginning this project. The link to our tutorial template is right below this paragraph. Use the Template Sizing Guide to make sure the template is printed to the correct size.
Foundation Paper Piecing Template PDF Link: Basic Log Cabin Template
For our next step, we find it helpful to assign a fabric color to each numbered section. Use a color marker or pencil to match and mark each template section so that it color-coordinates with the fabric you will be assigning to each section. This will help you keep track of your fabric location and stay organized as you sew.
Precut all of the fabrics slightly larger than their assigned section number. Stack the fabric in the order you will be using them. The Section 1 fabric will be at the top of the stack. The template included in this tutorial has 13 sections.
Step 2: Position First Fabric
Take the fabric for Section 1 and place it under the template (the side without printing) with the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric facing out and away from the paper template. Hold-up the template and fabric to a light, window or use a lightbox so that you are able to make sure the fabric is fully contained in its assigned area. Pin to hold in place.
NOTE: Make sure the pin does not overlap any of the section lines on the template.
Step 3: Position Second Fabric
Place the fabric assigned to Section 2 directly over the fabric of Section 1 with the WRONG SIDE of fabric facing outward. Overlap the line between Section 1 & 2 by at least ¼ inch into Section 1. Pin to hold in place avoiding the seam lines.
Step 4: Sew Seams
Flip Template over and sew with a shortened stitch length of approximately 1.5 directly along the line separating Section 1 from Section 2. Backstitch at the beginning & end of each seam.
Step 5: Trim Excess Fabric from Seam
With the Add-a-Quarter Ruler trim sewn seam to ¼”. You will need to fold paper back from the printed side of the template along the seam. Place the ruler against the folded paper so that you have ¼” overhang and then trim. Do not trim the paper template – only the fabric.
Using the Add-a-Quarter Ruler makes this step both simple and accurate. There is a ridge on this ruler to stabilize the fabric while you make your cut. You can always use a clear rotary cutting ruler – such as the Creative Grids Quick Ruler - and line it up with the ¼” marking along the folded edge when you cut.
Step 6: Press Seams
Separate Section 1 fabric from Section 2 fabric by folding Section 2 away from Section 1. Use the Violet Craft Seam Roller to pressure press the seam. You can also use an iron for this step. The advantage of working with a seam roller is that it allows you to make many presses throughout your project without damaging the fabric from applying heat repeatedly from the hot iron.
Step 7: Complete Sewing All Sections
Repeat Steps 3 through 7 for the remainder numbered sections of the Foundation Paper Piecing Template working in numerical order.
Step 8: Final Trim & Removal of Paper
Once all numbered sections have been sewn, cut the finished square long 1/4” seam line (dashed line). Remove the paper from the back of the finished block. Using the Bohin Precision Tweezers for this step really makes a difference. They work great for pulling off small pieces of paper that are stuck in the thread seams.
Congratulations! Your fabric block is finished. We have a Mug Rug Tutorial that will work perfectly with this fabric block. Check out the link right below this paragraph if you would like to turn the Log Cabin Block into a fabric coaster.
Mug Rug Tutorial PDF Link: Little Fabric Shop Mug Rug Tutorial
We created this tutorial to be shared. Sewing is a passion for us, and we love to create projects for our sewing community. Please pass this tutorial on to your sewing friends. If there are any projects you need help with or would like to see a tutorial for, please let us know. It is a joy to work with our fellow sewists and create handmade fabric pieces.
If you make Foundation Paper Piecing Log Cabin block, please tag us on Instagram @little.fabric.shop so we can see your work and we can share your creativity to inspire other makers. Happy Sewing!