Foundation paper piecing (FPP) was something on my list of things to try for years. I was a little nervous to make the first attempt, but once I got the hang of it I fell in love! I think the nervousness that I felt is pretty common among quilters who haven’t tried FPP yet and I wanted to do something to help encourage those of you who have been wanting to learn FPP to give it a try.
So. . . I created a simple log cabin FPP pattern in EQ8 (electricquilt.com) and wanted to share it with you along with a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the pattern! You can see how fun and cute these Tiny Log Cabin quilt blocks turn out and I hope that some of you will give it a try. You can find the Tiny Log Cabin FPP Quilt Block pattern in my Etsy shop (HERE) for a small amount.
Let’s get started with this FPP block!
When you print out the pattern pages, you’ll want to cut around the outer solid line as shown above. That outer solid line includes the seam allowance and will make sure your blocks turn out the correct size. Not all FPP pattern writers include the seam allowance, so you’ll want to check the instructions before you start to see whether you need to add in the seam allowance yourself. I prefer having it on printed on the paper and include it in all of the patterns I design.
Start out with a piece of fabric that completely covers the first segment, plus hangs over all of the edges by at least 1/4″. You can see below that the red piece of fabric covers the A1 segment and has enough around the outside edges to go at least 1/4″ into the bordering segments.
Now, move the first fabric piece to the back of the pattern, keeping the right side up. It seems a little backwards at first, but the fabric will always go on the side of the paper without the printing. If you hold the paper and fabric up to the light, you can see the printed lines and make sure the fabric is still covering all of the A1 segment.
Now, add the second fabric piece (for segment A2) on top of fabric A1, right sides together. You want to have the A2 fabric overhang the line inbetween A1 and A2 by at least 1/4″. I’ve added a dotted line where the line inbetween A1 and A2 is, (which is where the first seam will be sewn).
Keeping the two fabric pieces in place, flip the paper over and sew a seam right on the line between A1 and A2. I like to shorten my stitch length and backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam. This helps secure the thread and makes tearing away the paper much easier.
Now, open the A2 fabric piece away from A1 and press the seam.
You can double check that the A2 fabric piece covers the entire A2 segment (plus 1/4″ around) by holding the paper up to the light.
Now, we repeat the same process with the A3 piece. Put the A3 fabric piece right sides together on top of the A1 and A2 pieces, with the edge a little more than 1/4″ over the A3 line.
Sew directly on the line separating A3 from the A1 and A2 segments.
Open the A3 fabric piece and press open.
Again, you can hold the paper up to the light to see the outline of the fabric to make sure they are covering the segment plus at least 1/4″ past the segment lines. It’s okay to have to seam rip a sewn line if you need to! Sometimes I don’t get the fabric sewn on just right and the fabric doesn’t cover the entire segment. It’s also okay to cut larger pieces of fabric to give yourself extra wiggle room. I do that frequently and it can alleviate a lot of frustration!
Below, you can see that I’ve added the A4 fabric piece but some of the pieces I sewed it to have extra fabric sticking out past the 1/4″ seam allowance. To reduce the extra bulk and to prevent any fabrics from showing through (that dark red might be visible under the blue gingham I just added), I’ll slightly bend the paper away and trim all of the fabric to about 1/4″ with fabric scissors. Nothing fancy or super precise, just enough of a trim to make those ends even.
Continue adding all of the fabric pieces until you have a completed block. The outer edges will be uneven and hang over the edges of the paper.
To trim the block, I like to use a rotary cutter with an older blade (in case I accidentally slice off a little paper with the fabric). I also love to use this OLFA ruler for FPP because it has a line at 1/4″, so I can line it up perfectly with the printed line on the block and trim the edges super fast. You want to make sure you’re not trimming to the inner solid line–that would cut off the seam allowance. Trim to the outer edge of the paper to keep the extra 1/4″ seam allowance on the fabric.
The finished block will look like this from the back, and . . .
like this from the front.
I prefer to keep the paper on until after I have sewn the blocks to each other. It’s especially useful and important to keep the paper on when you’re dealing with a lot of odd shapes and bias edges on the fabric. The outside edges of the fabric in this Tiny Log Cabin quilt block should be mostly on the grain so you would likely be fine to remove the paper at this point if you prefer.
These tiny paper pieced blocks are rather addicting and before you know it, you’ll have a whole set of them ready to be sewn together.
The Tiny Log Cabin FPP Quilt block can be found for a small amount in my Etsy shop (HERE). If you make your own Tiny Log Cabin blocks, please share with me on my facebook page or on instagram using the hashtags #centerstreetquilts and #tinylogcabinquilt. Happy sewing!