Saturday, June 18, 2011

Paper Foundations

This would be the downside of paper foundation piecing:

IMG_2596 The downside of paper foundations
Pick, pick, pick!

Yepperz... that's where I am. And where I have been. And where I'll be. And what was in my dreams last night...  LOL!  It's kind of addictive, though - sort of like popping bubbles on bubble wrap.  "Just one more block, then I'll go make dinner..."  ☺  I've been watching episodes of "The Rat Patrol" on Netflix to stay entertained.  It's not supposed to be a comedy... but... well... it is.  And it helps pass the time.  Of course, the process would also be going faster if not for an encounter with the blade of my food processor... but hey, things happen.

I've received some great questions about the paper foundations - mostly "why?"  Paper foundation piecing does a couple things for you.  First, it stabilizes your fabrics - so depending on what block you're creating, you can get crisp points, sharp, straight lines ... or basically stops your fabs from swimming around.  The center piece of each of my Frenzy blocks is a chunk of BDU fabric from my husband's old uniforms - the summer weight kind.  It has a life of its own and moves around as you touch it.  Starch can help, but so can a foundation.  Basically, sewing it to a piece of paper holds it still.  That was one of the key reasons I chose to use foundations for this project.

In traditional paper foundation piecing, you can make intricate designs that would be incredibly tricky otherwise - for a good explanation of that, please check this link.  I didn't have a pattern... just a method... so that wasn't really a factor for me here. Bear with me!

The other big benefit of using paper foundations, and the chief reason I used them for the Frenzy quilt, is that you don't have to stop and measure.  Most of the time, quilting is a very precise process - one which totally appeals to me as a "Type A" personality.  Some blocks, however, are very forgiving, freeing, and can just be "squared up" before you sew block-to-block.  See this link, for example!  I have baskets of scraps - again, being a Type A, they are organized; basket one starts with 3/4" strips (I used to make mostly minis!) and going up by increments of 1/4", the last basket holds 3" strips.  This is a great way to use a BUNCH of them.  I just grabbed fabric strips from all baskets that fit with a Patriotic theme (I had to have some unifying factor) and started going into a frenzy.  So to speak.  You can see how the blocks are constructed at this link.  I just rough cut (if necessary) a strip to about the right length... and sewed.  No measuring, no muss, no fuss... just whack it about right and go.  That really sped up the piecing process!  Once the phone book page was covered, I squared the block to 6.5" - and I was good to go.  Everything neat and tidy.

Why the phone book?  Well, they make all kinds of foundation papers - lots pre-printed (as was the case with my Pineapple Log Cabin), some to go through your computer printer, some quite translucent so you can trace a pattern ... but I didn't need a pattern, other than the 6.5" square.  A friend recommended cutting up my phone book - the paper is very lightweight, so easily tears off ... and they're free!  ☺  What beats free? Besides... along the way you see things like this:

IMG_2554 paper foundation piecing

My Siberian Huskies appreciated the page heading as much as I did!  

I hope that made things a little clearer!  Please keep the questions coming - I just love them!

Thanks for reading!


  1. Thank you for this explanation! It all makes sense now! Hope you get it all picked off your quilt. I bet Dave is helping you watch the shows too!

  2. Well that makes sense, but don't you get little bits of paper stuck in the stitching?


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