Foundation paper piecing is a method of sewing quilt blocks, which involves sewing through a paper pattern with the paper upwards, and the fabric positioned underneath. The blocks start to form on the ‘wrong side’ as you sew and the paper is flipped back and forth as each new piece of fabric is joined to the one before it. There are lines and numbers on the paper pattern, sometimes letters too. The lines are the seam lines and the numbers tell you the order in which to sew each piece. Letters are used when a pattern is sewn in sections e.g. A, B, C. The sections are sewn separately and are then joined together to make the block. When the sewing is finished, the paper is removed.
For this lesson you will need;
*Enough fabric for your test block
*Foundation paper to sew through
*Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
Now print off a copy of our Practice Base Block, which is a five-inch square, including 1/4″ seam allowances. You can then either trace this block onto thin paper or bring it to a photocopier and make several copies to practice on.
Set your sewing machine stitch length to a small stitch…about 12-18 per inch, and then change the needle to a size 90/14. This will aid in the perforation (and later removal) of the paper foundation. The side with the numbers and square will be the BACK side of your block!
Cut a piece of fabric large enough to cover the area marked “1” with at least 1/4 inch extra all around. Centre the fabric right side up, on the unprinted side of the paper. Turn the paper over and hold up to the light to check that it covers the number 1 space. Pin into place.
Now cut out a piece of fabric large enough to cover the “2” space with at least 1/4 inch extra all around. Place these right sides together onto fabric 1 and pin into place. Turn the whole thing over and stitch along the line between spaces 1 and 2. Now fold the paper along the line and trim the 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Now turn it all back over. Press out number 2 unit.
Now cut a piece of fabric large enough to cover the number 3 space again with enough fabric around the edge to cover the 1/4 inch seam. Lay this right sides together over the number 1 fabric and pin it into place. Turn the whole thing back over and stitch along the line between 1 and 3. Again, fold the paper along the line just stitched and trim the 1/4 inch seam allowance. Turn again and press out fabric 3.
Now repeat this process again with area 4.
And again with area 5.
With the paper facing upwards, trim the fabric along the edge of the paper. You can now tear the paper away from the fabric carefully as to not pull on the stitches. (folding the paper a few times can help with this).
And that it, you’re done!
Now you have your block why not practice this more and make yourself a whole quilt.
So you want to start quilting? Here are a few things you might need. Some are a necessity, some can just make your quilting journey easier and more enjoyable. And who doesn’t want that!
I would really suggest a good pair of scissors, buy the best you can afford. You won’t regret it. Only ever use them on fabric and thread, Absolutely no paper cutting, this will blunt your scissors and make cutting fabric impossible. I always use Fiskars. They have a good choice of sizes and mine have lasted me a lifetime. I particularly like these Fiskars
Thread snips are also handy for quick snipping of stray thread. These are great value Janome Quality Thread
2. Rotary Cutter
While scissors could be used, the rotary cutter has revolutionised quilting. You can cut multiple layers of fabric at speed saving lots of time on the cutting process. I use a couple of different sizes but it tends to be personal preference. I like Olfa rotary cutters like these Olfa Replacement blades are also available, and I would suggest changing your blade regularly.
3. Cutting Mat.
You need to use a cutting mat with your rotary cutter. Most have grids on them, depending on which type you buy they can differ between cm and inches. Some have measurements each side. Grids can help with squaring blocks but I don’t use them for measuring personally as the measurements can be slightly out. Self healing mats are best! I like these Cutting Mats
4. Acrylic Rulers.
These are used with your rotary cutter and mat. They have measurements printed on them making it easier to cut accurate lengths and widths. They come in lots of different sizes and can be printed in inches or cm, whichever you prefer to work with. Your rotary cutter should glide perfectly along the edge as they are thicker than normal rulers. I love ARTEZA acrylic rulers Acrylic Quilting Rulers
Obviously, needles are essential. For hand quilting, you will need suitable Needles Hand quilting needles come in various sizes and is a personal preference on which one you use.
For machine quilting, I use a medium weight needle. Change your machine needle at the beginning of each project will keep you from having to deal with annoying thread breakages and tangles.
There is plenty of choices when it comes to thread. Cotton thread, polyester thread, silk thread, linen thread and many more. There are also different weights of thread. Thread weight is essentially the length of the thread, measured in kilometres, which would take to make the total weight of the thread equal one kilogram. More lengths of thinner thread are needed to achieve 1kg as compared to thicker ones. Hence, the greater the number, the thinner the thread is.
I have found that a good all-rounder is polyester medium weight thread. I particularly like this 1000 yard 12o spun Polyester machine thread
You’ll want nice long pins with a ball head Pins . The balls make them easier to grab, however, the flower head pins are also very nice.
8. Pin Cushion
The magnetic ones are great but don’t keep them near your machine if it is computerised as this may affect it. Tomato pin cushions are great. They look good and some also have a needles sharpener attached like these Pin cushions
Again, a lot of choices when it comes to thimbles and you only really know by trying. I’ve found that if you are using a thimble for a long time then an ergonomic thimble is essential. Prym do a fantastic one that comes in small, medium and large Prym
10. Iron and Ironing board
Another essential for quilting is an iron, and again a huge selection is available. Depending on how much quilting you are planning on doing and how much space you have. I use a small tabletop ironing board and a travel iron which is a steam iron and heats up very quickly. https://www.amazon.co.uk https://amzn.to/3qSdsb8
11. Template material.
Not essential but handy if you are creating your own patterns.
Are you trying to figure out which sewing machine is best for you?
Well, we’ve got good news for you because you’ve landed in exactly the right place. I’ve taken a look at many different sewing machines and in this post, I’m going to outline the best.
Plus, I’ll also be sharing useful tips that will enable you to get started straight away with your machine.
How to know which sewing machine is right for you?
So, you’re considering buying a new sewing machine. Firstly, not all machines are created equal!
Ranging from small handheld portable machines to large sewing and embroidery machines.
Handheld machines can start range between £10 to £20. A very cheap option but limiting with what you can sew. Good for hemming curtains whilst still hanging or fixing a hem on a skirt whilst still being worn, but if you are looking to make full garments, toys or quilts then I would choose a tabletop sewing machine.
Small portable tabletop sewing machines are also available and these are perfect for taking with you on holiday or to your local sewing club. They are also good for complete beginners and children who wish to learn. For a good small machine, you need to be looking around the £50 mark.
Medium-sized sewing machines are the most popular machines, as they will do most sewing jobs you will need to do. From a quick fix or alteration to creating large quilts and flowing dresses. These machines come with different attachments depending on your machine. Different sewing feet for buttonhole sewing and zippers. Some come with seam rippers (because we all make mistakes). Lint brushes are usually included to keep your machine nice and clean. They also have different stitch patterns from straight stitch to decorative stitches again depending on your machine. These machines can range from £80 to £250
Then we have the large sewing machines and embroidery machines. These are for when you really mean business. Not so portable but if you’re sewing every day or making large items like king size quilts and need more room under the arm then these are great. With multiply stitch choices and tons of accessories, there’s nothing you can’t create on these machines. If you have the added extra of an embroidery function then there is no stopping you from creating the most beautiful cushions, quilts and so many other crafts. From adding pretty motifs to clothing, or beautiful lace for a special dress. Most machines come with a bank of patterns but you can also buy patterns online to download straight to your machine. These machines can range from £400 up to the thousands. So depending on what you need and what you want to spend, there is a huge range out there.
Which brands of sewing machines are best?
There are many brands of sewing machine on the market so I have only included some of the best selling ones in this post.
Bernina; Swiss company Bernina was founded in 1893. It focuses on the premium segment of the market and claims that Swiss precision is at the core of every Bernina sewing machine. Bernina has a range of around 13 sewing machines plus other machines for quilting and embroidery. According to the company, the entry-level Bernina 325 is your new go-to machine, while the Bernina 880 Plus – the company’s most sophisticated machine – should provide sewing pros with almost limitless possibilities. https://amzn.to/3dGPUBg
Brother; Japanese brand Brother have the most competitive prices. Starting from £100 they are suitable for beginners. Ranging up to large embroidery machines to run a small business with. Brother has a range of 18 sewing machines, six embroidery machines and six models that combine both features. It also has sewing machines for other craft projects, such as quilting.https://amzn.to/3v6g9Hc
Elna; Back in 1940, the first Elna was introduced. There are 21 sewing machines in its range, including compact beginner models, such as the Sew Fun, computerised sewing machines for more advanced sewers and specialised machines for embroidery and quilting.
Frister & Rossman; Frister & Rossman sewing machines date back to 1864, when they were founded in Berlin. And it has ties with rival sewing machine company Singer, as F&R sewing machines were imported by Singer. The brand is now owned by Sewing Machines Direct.
Husqvarna; Swedish brand Husqvarna began in 1689. Husqvarna has a range of 16 sewing machines, including models that cater for beginners, pros and those in between. There are also specialised machines for embroidery and quilting.https://amzn.to/3nmcYIH
Janome; Janome UK was established in 1969 as the New Home Sewing Machine Co Ltd – it changed its name to Janome in the mid-1990s. Janome offers more than 30 sewing machines, ranging from standard models for beginners to fully computerised machines that you can use for embroidery.https://amzn.to/3aRxkon
Pfaff; This company has come a long way since Mr Pfaff made his first sewing machine in 1862. The first factory was founded in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and since then Pfaff has gone on to create industrial and domestic sewing machines that are exported all over the world. Pfaff has a range of 24 sewing machines, including compact models, that cater for beginners, pros and those in between. There are also specialised machines for embroidery and quilting.https://amzn.to/3vbSOnu
Singer; The American brand Singer has been synonymous with sewing since 1851. It introduced the world’s first zig-zag machine and the first electronic machines. It provides a wide range of domestic and commercial sewing machines. Singer offers more than 20 sewing machines.https://amzn.to/2QMJd7I
John Lewis; John Lewis began trading in 1864 and is now one of the biggest retailers in the UK, offering customers everything from flower to sewing machines. There are three models in the John Lewis range; the JL110 and the JL111, both available in different colours and designs. Both machines are suitable for beginners and machinists that intend to use them for light repairs or alterations. And the JL220.
Is sewing machine servicing necessary?
A sewing machine should be an investment item lasting for years, this is why you should absolutely get your sewing machine serviced. You may not notice before, but once your machine returns from a service you will find it runs like new and you and your machine will be happier sewers. Running things like thread, fabric, felt and batting through your machine leaves lots of lint behind and although your machine may come with a lint brush for the parts you can reach, there are many other parts you can’t reach or see.
A sewing machine really needs to be serviced annually to continue working at the level it was when new. Without servicing and care it is just a matter of time before it can break down.
If you bought your machine from a specialist dealer they will probably offer servicing and aftercare. If not, ask a sewing friend if they would recommend anyone. Not forgetting the internet, a quick google search will always come up with local repair and service shops.
The bottom line – my conclusion.
Knowing which sewing machine is right for you really depends on a few different factors.
How much do I want to spend?
What am I using it for?
Does it need to be portable?
Is it right for my level of sewing whether it be beginner, intermediate or professional?
Once you’ve answered these questions you can then decide the brand you like and the model that most suits your needs. For example, why would you need to spend a thousand pounds on a machine if you will only be doing alterations for family and friends, or if you were planning on making quilts as a business you would need a machine that would make sewing quicker and easier.
There is a huge choice out there, so go have fun trying them out and sew happily!
The answer to this is easy. Because it’s sewing on the go! Let me explain. EPP is a quilting technique using hand sewing to piece together intricate fabric shapes that fit together to form a larger piece. The paper templates are used for stability and are removed later. Its also perfect for using up small scraps of fabric or Fat Quarters. Because its hand sewn it means you can take it with you where-ever you go. eg. waiting rooms, long journeys or just sitting in front of the TV watching your favourite program. You don’t need constant access to a sewing machine, cutting table or pressing board. You can cut all your templates and fabric shapes in advance.
How it works?
Let’s break this down into 6 basic steps.
Make or buy your paper shapes. Buying your paper templates can be easier and save a lot of time but if you enjoy cutting shapes out like me, then part of the fun of EPP can be this stage. I use plastic templates (available from our online store). These can be used for the paper templates and the fabric shapes. Simply choose the size of hexigon you want for your paper template, then select the next size up for your fabric pieces.2. Make your Fabric shapes. Again, using plastic templates make this jobs so much easier. Make your fabric shapes at least a quarter inch larger than your paper templates to allow for your seam allowance.3. Wrap your fabric around your paper template making sure that you’ve got an even seam allowance on each edge.4. Secure your fabric to the paper template. This can be done using a few different techniques. As you can see, the picture above shows where i have sewn the shape using a few tacking stitches. This way is very good for paper templates as the stitches are easy to undo and the paper template slips out easily. Some people like to use fabric glue which is a faster way of attaching but sometimes can be difficult to remove the paper after. Glueing is excellent if you are using water soluble papers.5. Sew your fabric shapes together. I always use a whip stitch for this process as the stitches stay small and can hardly be seen from the front. There are a few other techniques but if you are a bit of a novice this is probably the best way. Thread your needle and knot the end. With right sides facing, place two pieces together and starting from one end, whip stitch to the other end.Don’t forget your thimble. I use an ergonomic thimble (pictured below) available in our shop.6. Remove the paper templates. This is done by snipping the tacking stitches, pulling the thread out and then the paper should come away easily. Only remove the paper template after each edge of your fabric shape has been attached to another. This is always my go to sewing project, it can be picked up and put down whenever I need to. So now it’s over to you. Why not give it a try. I’d love to see some of your projects that you’ve done and any techniques that you use. This is mine so far.Happy sewing!
Whether you’re a lover of dressmaking or addicted to quilting, there are always trends and fashion to be following. Here you can get an idea of what is hot from our website and across the internet.
As you can imagine, everyone is looking forward to spring. The first buds of daffodils always excites me and reminds me this is my favourite season. The promise of warmer days is on the horizon and a few extra hours of day light makes me want to get out in the fresh air and gather some new inspiration for my sewing and quilting designs.
Gingham is always popular for spring, with lots of Easter makes and pretty dresses.And we have tons in stock in ever colour.
Our Easter ribbon is gorgeous and is always very popular, so grab it while you can. Perfect for decorating your baskets and very useful for those school Easter bonnet competitions.
In our Haberdashery, our ergonomic thimble are one of our best sellers. Its what I use myself and I would never go back to any other thimble. With 3 different sizes, you’re sure to find the right one for you. They come in 4 funky colours too, I love the pink.
The ergonomic soft comfort thimble offers perfect protection when sewing, embroidering or quilting. Its soft material nestles snuggly and comfortably on every finger, while the slots ensure additional ventilation when working for long periods. The hard plastic, white cap protects reliably against unwanted needle pricks. Guiding the needle is made easier by the special dimpled structure of the cap. The well-proportioned, practical thimbles bring colour to every sewing basket. What a bargain at just £3 each. WoW!!
As mother’s Day fast approaches, it’s always good to get started on handmade gifts as early as possible. I always preferred handmade gifts from my children above shop bought. It always seemed my thoughtful knowing that they’d taken the time to sit and make something for me.
Coming up with ideas can be a tricky one, but the internet (especially Pinterest) has made it a lot easier. I can spend hours looking through the pages of handmade gifts. This is why I have stocked up on an abundance of Mother’s Day ribbons and selected some beautiful floral fabric bundles to help with your handmade gifts.
Why not try a pretty Hexie cushion with our Gutermann Floral bundle using ‘English Paper Piecing’ (EPP). A really affective and pretty way of sewing. You can decide what size you want the hexagons depending on how quickly you need to make the pillow. What Mum wouldn’t like this?
If you run out of time and have to buy a gift you can still give it that personal touch by adding ribbon to your wrapping.
Happy Mother’s Day! We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. Literally.