Foundation Piecing Primer 4: Points & Angles

Foundation Piecing Primer 4: Points & Angles


Author Brenda Groelz

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Join Brenda Groelz in this introduction to foundation piecing (or as some call it, paper piecing). It's a great method for piecing accurate points, odd angles and tiny pieces. Part 1 (McCall's Quick Quilts, November, 2003) covered the basics, trimming tips, and Brenda's favorite tools. Part 2 (McCall's Quick Quilts, January, 2004) covered sewing assembly-style. Part 3 (McCall's Quick Quilts, March, 2004) introduced the concept of using pre-cut half-square triangles. Each article in this series will review the basics (for those just joining us) and will introduce a new topic.

In this issue, we continue to work with half-square triangles, but we’ve got a block that requires four foundations. Read through the following steps and tips, then try your hand at piecing Windmills, a traditional design pieced with reproduction fabrics.

A & B Make copies of paper foundation as indicated on pattern. Cut through the centers of bold solid lines to create four separate foundations. For half-blocks, cut through the centers of bold dashed diagonal lines only.

Cut Apart Cut Apart
C Place #1 fabric wrong side to unprinted side of foundation, directly behind the #1 position. Place #2 fabric right side to foundation, with seam allowances jutting at least 1/4" into the #2 position. Tip: The bulk of the fabric will be placed AWAY from the area it is planned to cover. Pin in place. Place
D Turn foundation printed side up. Stitch on line between #1 and #2
positions, using short stitch length (15-18 stitches per inch). Start and end 2-3 stitches beyond the end of the line. Remove from machine and clip all threads. Note: From now on, all fabrics are placed right sides to the paper. Be sure to allow extra fabric beyond the edges of the paper foundation.
E Using scissors placed between paper and fabric, trim seam allowance to 1/4" if needed. When adding light fabrics, trim dark fabrics narrower to avoid shadowing. Trim
F Press seam allowance flat from fabric side, then flip tan triangle to cover #2 position and press again. Note: If you have photocopied the foundation, avoid touching the printed side with iron. Toner will melt and transfer to your iron and fabrics. Continue to place, stitch, trim, flip and press remaining fabrics in numerical order to finish foundation. Press

G Note: Do not cut fabric along edge of paper! Turn foundation, paper side up, and align 1/4" mark of ruler along edge of paper foundation. Rotary cut away extra fabric on all sides, creating a perfect 1/4" seam allowance. Leave paper in place!

Trim Finished Foundation Trim Finished Foundation
H Lengthen stitch to normal sewing setting (10-12 stitches per inch) and sew foundations together along edge of paper. Completed pieced foundations
I Use 4 square foundations to complete one block and 2 triangular 
foundations to complete one half block. Leave paper in until quilt has been assembled.                            
Completed half block units


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