Preparing the template.
Be sure to use freezer paper with a Plastic and not true wax coating!
I cut pieces of freezer paper to the standard 8.5 by 11 inch paper size. I flatten the pieces and then print the template using my computer printer onto the dull side of the paper. I have had no issues with the ink coming off onto the iron. Of course you can trace, although freezer paper is sometimes hard to see through. You will be able to use the template multiple times - I have used them through 8 iterations. So, yes, you may have to make more than one set if creating a larger quilt of many blocks, but probably only 1/4 as many. This saves time and money in the long run. I also think it makes the blocks more consistent, which is helpful when sewing them together.
If I trace, I tack down the edges of the paper over the template master so keep things from shifting. DO NOT iron the freezer paper onto the template master: the paper will permanently stick to the freezer paper!
I now look at the template and decide if certain pieces should be oriented with fabric grain (recommended for anything with outer block edges), what colors go with which piece and a minimum size of fabric to cut. The last is helpful with larger pieces that might have to be oriented with fabric grain. I make sure that the measurements include at least 1/4 to 1/2 inch beyond the block element across the widest dimension each way. I write this directly onto the template. If in the course of piecing with the template the first time, I find my measurements off, I record those changes onto the template.
|Photo 1: Determining Colors, fabric grain and measurements.|
By having the measurements determined ahead of time, I can cut strips of fabric and them subcut them into the needed pieces. For really small pieces (like pieces 1, 2 and 5 in part B in Photo 1) I will use scraps.
The hardest thing to get used to in foundation piecing is placing the fabric right side DOWN!
1) Piece 1 is easy: make sure it extends at least 1/4 inch on all sides of the element outline numbered 1, place it right side down on your ironing surface and iron the template onto it. (Photo 2)
|Photo 2: Starting the first piece.|
|Photo 3: Trimming the seam allowance.|
- Place the next piece face down and put the template over it to ensure that the fabric extends at least 1/4 to 1/2 inches beyond all the edges of the template element. If grain is important, that needs to be oriented, too.
- Now fold back the template and mark where the seam allowance of the previous piece hits the next piece (Photo 4). Add a registration mark that goes across the exposed seam allowance and onto the new piece.
- Trim the new fabric piece EXACTLY 1/2 inch beyond the marked allowance edge. Extend the registration mark across this section to the cut edge. (Photo 5)
|Photo 4: marking the allowance edge of previous piece onto next piece.|
|Photo 5: 1/2 inch trim beyond allowance edge and registration mark.|
- Now put the right sides of the 2 fabric pieces together, matching the registration marks. Keep the foundation folded back and sew right along the fold edge, trying not to catch the paper. Note in Photo 6 that I use my 1/4 inch foot to help with this. You need to sew at least 1/4 inch before and after the actual line.
|Photo 6: Sewing the pieces together.|
|Photo 7: Pressing the right side.|
|Photo 8: Press template over new piece.|
6) After completing a whole unit, carefully peel off the freezer paper. Remember there are a lot of biases and you don't want to stretch the unit out. Press and starch this unit thoroughly.
7) Now sew the units together. Matching diagonal seams is a bit tricky. Mark where the 1/4 inch seam will cross the seam in each piece and insert a pin through those points to hold them together. Place one or 2 pins on each side of this point. Pull the holding pin. If you spread the seam open, you should see a sharp point. If not, adjust as needed. Do this for each point along the seam. Then pin the rest of the seam, easing as needed. In Photo 10 below, you can see where this was done in 2 places. I like to press seams open, but you may prefer otherwise. Now you can trim the partial block to size. Photo 11 I recommend a final pressing and starching.
|Photo 10: Unit seam sewn, matching points. Look for the sharp V for properly matched points. Note all the matched registration marks from the piecing phase|
|Photo 11: Final quarter unit for block.|
Please let me know if this is helpful or if you have additional suggestions!