How to Foundation Paper Piece


Have you always wanted to learn how to foundation paper piece? Give it a try with these quick easy steps.

Foundation paper piecing is a great for precise piecing and working with difficult angles. The sewing lines are printed on foundation paper and each section is marked with a number indicating the order sewn. A foundation paper pattern may, or may not, have the seam allowances marked. If a pattern doesn’t, it is handy to add them before starting. This will prevent trimming the end unit too close once completed.


  • Print out the number of foundation paper patterns needed.
  • Cut fabric into pieces larger than needed to cover the pattern area.
  • Set the stitch length on your sewing machine to make short stitches.
  • Grab supplies:
    • Clover iron or conventional iron
    • Small acrylic ruler with 1/4″ marks
    • Small rotary cutter and mat

Step One: Lay fabric right sides together. Lay the paper pattern on top with the printed side up.


Step Two: Hold the stack of fabrics and pattern up to the light and visually confirm that the fabrics cover the #1 area and overlap the #2 area past the sewing line at least a 1/4″. If fabric is short, pin the sewing line, flip the #2 fabric making sure it completely covers the #2 area, then flip it back in to place and remove the pin to go to step three.


Step Three: Place the stack under the needle. Start sewing at the beginning point. (You may prefer to backstitch at this point to secure the seam. This helps later with removing paper.)


Step Four: Sew to the ending point and stop. (You may prefer to backstitch here too. Again, this helps secure the seam when removing the paper later.)


Step Five: Remove the stack from the sewing machine, trim threads, and fold the paper back along the sewing line. Using a ruler, measure a 1/4″ from the sewing line and trim.


Step Six: Unfold the pattern and press the #2 fabric into place. (A little Clover iron is wonderful for this task, or use a conventional iron.)

Repeat this process until all sections are sewn.

Step Seven: Trim the piece 1/4″ from the outside of the paper pattern marked edge (some paper piecing patterns have the seam allowance included, like the one pictured above. In this case, trim the unit to the outer line).  The unit is ready to sew into the project.

Step Eight: Once the unit is secured into the project, carefully remove the paper.

Now it’s your turn. Give it a try!

Here some some fun patterns to get you started:

Chevron Table Runner from Janome


Free Pattern – Foundation-Pieced Pickle Dish Block


Band Aid Block First Aid Kit from Janome


Free Pattern: Wings of Love

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Loved it, but watching a video (spoken slowly). of how to cook something REALLY helps me. I think,it would in this instance too.


I really enjoy paper foundation piecing and I am getting quite a bit of practice with Dear Jane blocks. Only the more simple patterns can be paper pieced as one block. Most are done with several pieces that are joined at the end. The final joining of the pieces is so much fun. From several pieces with little design all of a sudden you have this beautiful block!


what is that foot you’re using? I’m fairly new to paper piecing and realize the fact that its clear would be very good for seeing what you are doing, but the shape looks unusual and am curious about it. is there something about it that’s better for the task than another type transparent foot? Or did you, as I sometimes do ‘re-purpose’ something designed for another task because it was what you had? if so, what was it designed for?

Yes indeed! That is the Curve Master presses foot in the photos. It sews straight and curved 1/4″ seams with NO Pins. It adapts to fit all sewing machines. Also look at the seam roller that flattens seams with no heat or friction so it doesn’t stretch fabric. More info at