Monday, April 27, 2020

Freezer Paper Foundation Piecing

Ready for one more paper piecing technique? I've saved the best for last!

Freezer Paper Foundation Piecing tutorial by QuiltFabrication

I recently covered foundation paper piecing and freezer paper template piecing in making the Chocolate Dipped Strawberries. A third berry to complete the runner was made with my favorite technique, freezer paper foundation piecing.

white chocolate dipped strawberry by QuiltFabrication

This method is almost identical to foundation paper piecing, but instead of a thin paper, it uses freezer paper and there is no sewing through the paper.

First, a few notes:
If the final block contains units that get assembled into a block, make marks on seam lines on the dull side of the freezer paper for matching and alignment. 

The print on the dull side of freezer paper is the reverse of the final block. The freezer paper is always ironed to the wrong side of the fabric. 

Freezer Paper Foundation Piecing

Fabric pieces for freezer paper foundation piecing can be cut to size with templates, adding a 1/4" seam allowance,

fabric templates with added seam allowances for paper piecing

OR use over-sized shapes that will be trimmed. Just make sure that the shape area is covered. 

over-sized fabric pieces with added seam allowances for paper piecing

With freezer paper foundation piecing, all fabrics get pressed to the freezer paper. In the above picture, I've ironed my first piece, the white, to the freezer paper, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance extending past the drawn stitching line.

That seam allowance is released from the freezer paper, and with the help of the firm edge of a postcard, the freezer paper is folded back along the drawn seam.

freezer paper folded back along drawn seam

If necessary, use an Add-a-Quarter ruler (affiliate link) to trim the seam allowance to 1/4".  Position the next fabric piece, right sides together, lining up seam allowance cut edges, and flipping onto the freezer paper to check coverage. 

At the sewing machine, stitch next to the fold, starting and stopping in the adjacent seam allowances.

stitch next to the freezer paper fold for freezer paper foundation piecing

Press the seam and the second fabric piece to the freezer paper.

second fabric piece pressed to freezer paper

As before, use the postcard to create a fold on the next seam line. Trim the seam to 1/4" with an Add-a-Quarter ruler.

trim seam to 1/4" with an add-a-quarter ruler

Add the next piece, same as before. When all fabric pieces are added, trim the unit/block with 1/4" seam allowances on the edges. If there are several units for a block, keep the freezer paper attached to match up the units. When the joining seam, either stitch through the paper, fold back the paper, or cut off that seam allowance of the units. Only after the entire block is assemble is the freezer paper removed.

removing freezer paper after full block assembly

Freezer Paper Foundation Piecing Pros and Cons

  • accurate
  • easy to do
  • freezer paper printouts can be used 2-4 times
  • no messy, tedious paper removal - freezer paper peels off

  • presser foot may not glide easily over shiny freezer paper
  • difficulty running freezer paper through the printer (hint: tape a regular piece of paper to the shiny freezer paper side, along the printer feeder edge - this gives the printer something to grab)
  • no control over seam pressing direction
  • pattern printed in reverse which may cause fabric placement confusion
For me, the Pros far outweigh the Cons. Freezer paper foundation piecing is my go-to method for paper piecing - it's accurate, with no messy paper removal. My kind of quilting!

White Chocolate Dipped Strawberry by QuiltFabrication

This concludes the 3- part series of paper piecing tutorials:
Freezer Paper Foundation Piecing.

Try them all and choose your favorite!
Happy Quilting!

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Friday, April 24, 2020

Curly Quilt Fill

In my joy of sharing my mouth watering Chocolate Dipped Strawberries early this month, I completely forgot to talk about the quilting, especially the curly quilt fill used in the background.

Curly Quilt Fill on the Chocolate Dipped Strawberries runner by QuiltFabrication

Isn't it sweet? How about adorable? Cute? Charming? Delightful? Downright lovely? However it's described, the curly quilt fill is easy to stitch, whether using a longarm or a domestic sewing machine - let's see how!

First, some drawings. Start near a seam or an edge, working outward with a circle that curls into the center. Let the curl move inside the circle just enough without overdoing it. Too much, and it becomes a spiral.

right and wrong curl length for the curly quilt fill

Backtrack over the curl to a spot to start the next the curl, which curls in the opposite direction. Think of ram's horns when doing this.

backtrack and start a new curl in the opposite direction

Keep making curls to fill in the area, backtracking either a little or a lot to get to the desired area. 

curly quilt fill drawn out to fill the area

Some areas really take on the ram horns idea, while other areas are more linear. The backtracking decides where the next curl will start. Let's see this curly quilt fill stitched out.

The size of the curls can also change for different looks, like on Ladybug Dance.

varying curl sizes on Ladybug Dance by QuiltFabrication

or stay a consistent size as in the background fill in Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

consistent size curly fill on Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

It's totally up to the quilter and the quilt as to which one works better. Either way, that curly fill will be sweet, adorable, cute, charming, delightful, or downright lovely - you choose how to best describe it!

Happy Quilting!

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Freezer Paper Template Piecing

Last week, I covered foundation paper piecing, and this week is devoted to Freezer Paper Template Piecing. 

freezer paper template piecing tutorial

Both techniques are well covered in the Handy Pocket Guide to Paper Piecing by Tacha Bruecher (affiliate link), concise little book, full of useful tips and fun blocks to make. Plus it doesn't take up a ton of room on the shelf!

Handy Pocket Guide to Paper Piecing by Tacha Bruecher

There are a few important tips to keep in mind before starting with freezer paper template piecing:
  • print an extra copy of the pattern as a guide
  • mark ALL seam lines with tick marks for matching before cutting the pattern apart for templates
marks for matching on all seams

  • work one area at a time to avoid mixing up pieces

Another tip I've learned over the years is to iron two pieces of freezer paper together before making templates, as the freezer paper can shrink a bit. It's totally up to the quilter to do this or not. I, personally, did not do this for my Chocolate Dipped Strawberries project, and the berries turned out fine. So let's see how to freezer paper template piece!

Freezer Paper Template Piecing

First, print or draw the pattern onto the dull side of freezer paper. Make matching marks on ALL of the seam lines, then, using a rotary blade for paper, cut the pattern apart on the seam lines. Leave the seam allowance lines at the block edges intact.
freezer paper templates for freezer paper template piecing
Iron the freezer paper templates to the wrong side of the fabric. Cut out the fabric pieces, adding 1/4" seam allowances around all edges of the templates, keeping the templates on the fabric.

If the seam allowances at the block edges get cut off, just add a mark as a reminder to add more fabric in that area. In the picture below, I made an X because the paper seam allowance at the block edge is missing. That X is my note to add a bit more seam allowance (maybe even more than shown!) to that edge. 

1/4 inch seam allowance around templates with more for block edges

Using the marks made on the seam lines, line up the pieces with seam allowances even, and push pins through at the marks, keeping the pins straight up and down.

aligning template pieces at marks

Here's what the unit looks like from the back, with pins at both marks.

pins at seam marks for matching and alignment

With another set of pins, pin the pieces together, straight in from the edge of the seam allowance so as not to cause a shift. Then stitch as close as possible next to the template edge.

stitching next to template edges in freezer paper template piecing

When joining large pieces or units, I recommend taking 5-8 basting stitches, 4.0-5.o in length, to check the accuracy of the match/alignment. Because these pieces are not very big, I stitched all the way across with a 1.8-2.0 stitch length, starting and stopping at the outer edge of the seam allowance.

stitched seam in freezer paper template piecing

Looks good on the front, with a slight bit of stitching away from the template at the top. If that happens, either restitch the seam, or move the freezer paper template making sure it's still aligned with the other piece.

Make a thorough check of the back too, as it's easy to sew through the freezer paper, or be far away from the template. The backside below looks good enough for me. And accepting that may be my downfall - keep reading!

backside of seam to check sewing accuracy

Open up and lay the pieces flat for one last check of alignment. Time to press that seam.

freezer paper template piecing seam as seen from the top

With freezer paper templates, there are two options for seam pressing, either as a personal choice, or a project necessity. The seams can be pressed open, eliminating seam bulk and creating a flat block, OR pressed to one side, as in normal piecing. Before choosing, examine the block and decide which pressing option is best for the block to eliminate fabric buildup. 

Since I was testing both foundation paper piecing and freezer paper template piecing on my strawberries, I chose to the press the seams open with the template method. That's shown on the berry on the left, with the foundation pieced berry on the right.

freezer paper template pieced open pressed seams on left, foundation paper pieced on the right

I liked the nice, flat block from open seams, and hubby liked the seams to one side of foundation piecing, thinking it gave the berry more dimension. Ultimately, the decision depends on block complexity and personal preference. Below, the freezer paper template pieced/open seams berry, 

freezer paper template pieced/open seams berry

and the foundation paper pieced/seams to one side berry.

foundation paper pieced/seams to one side

Not a huge difference between the two, but I did notice an increase in block length using freezer paper templates and open seams. My guess is that my stitching wasn't close enough to the template edge, causing the unit to grow - that acceptance bit me! Add to that the few threads of fabric that weren't taken being taken up in pressing to one side. The two together stretched out the freezer paper template berry, causing a wider tip after cutting to fit the block dimensions. 

freezer paper template pieced/open seams strawberry

The second berry is accurate because of stitching though drawn lines of foundation paper piecing. 

foundation paper pieced/one direction seams strawberry

I also noticied that the stitch-in-the-ditch quilting practically disappeared into the open seams of the template pieced berry. Not that big of a deal as it's hard to see, but I noticed it when laying down those stitches and found it odd.

Pros and Cons of freezer paper template piecing

  • no paper to tear out 
  • open seam pressing is an option
  • templates help stabilize slippery fabrics
  • templates are pressed to the wrong side of the fabric for a mirror image block of the printed copy. The basic technique can be used on the right side of fabrics such as for Cynthia England's Picture Piecing technique

  • requires accurate cutting around templates
  • one section worked at a time to avoid mixing up pieces
  • requires accurate stitching along template edges or units may grow in size
  • seams may need resewing due to misalignment
  • templates may fall off 

Freezer paper template piecing may be tricky but isn't hard, and it certainly has it's place in the quilter's toolbox. I personally found it a bit more labor intensive than foundation piecing, with a decrease in accuracy. But it all depends upon the project as to which method is more suitable. Give both a try, and see which is your favorite!

Happy Quilting!

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Friday, April 17, 2020

New Round Robin and Inset Circle Tut

I'm sure everyone saw this coming - a new Stay at Home Round Robin quilt is underway. 

new round robin quilt at QuiltFabrication

Hubby has won the battle on stopping after the pinwheels on my other round robin, 

first stay at home round robin quilt at QuiltFabrication

though I'd really like to sneak in the arrows. I tell him it's my 'garden' like those we visited in Paris last year, and it needs gates. He's not convinced.

So, if you're just joining in, this online quilting event is hosted by Quiting Gail, and started a few weeks ago. Since we can't have any contact to pass these projects around, all of the rounds are done by you, and shared online via Gail's Friday linky party. It's a great way to see what others are doing, and get the creative juices flowing!

Gail also announces each new round on Friday, and I think today is round 5. Not counting the center, the first round is piano keys, the second, pinwheels. Round 3 is arrows, and 4 is squares. My new project was started this past Tuesday, and is woefully behind. And I've already informed hubby he has no say on this one!

Just like the my other round robin, I started with leftovers from other quilts. Strip sets and yardage from A Quilt to Give, 

leftover pieced strip units and yardage

and this circle from the Going in Circles quilt

leftover scrap pieced circle

I decided to inset the circle into a blue background, instead of appliqueing it. I've shared this technique before in the Inset Circles tutorial using a different scrap circle, and here's a quick refresher tutorial for inset circles.

Using freezer paper, mark a circle 1/2" smaller in diameter than the circle to be inset. My circle measures approximately 10 1/2" inches across, which means a 10" circle on freezer paper.

circle drawn on freezer paper for inset circles

Cut out the circle on the line, and press the freezer paper to the backside of background fabric. If the circle needs to be centered, fold both the freezer paper and background fabric in half both directions, and press the freezer paper aligning the folds.

fold lines in fabric and freezer paper for aligning inset circles

Trim out the background fabric circle leaving a 1/4" seam allowance at the freezer paper edge. Clip the curve at close enough intervals - closer for tight curves, further for more open curves - to allow the fabric to fold over smoothly. 

circle cut from background and clipped seam allowance

Using a paintbrush, apply a narrow line of starch on the fabric, near the freezer paper. Don't use too much, as there's no need to soak the fabric or the paper! Work a section at a time, pressing the seam allowance over the freezer paper for a smooth edge.

starch in the seam allowance for pressing a smooth curve

Then apply a thin line of glue - I use the washable school glue kind - to the folded over seam allowance, and place the circle to be inset on top. Check for seam coverage, and press in place.

school glue for holding the circle in place for stitching

Gently and carefully remove the freezer paper from the background, and from any seam allowance that has stuck. At the sewing machine, replace the normal foot with an open toe foot or zipper foot, and set a shortened stitch length. Slowly and carefully, with the circle against the machine bed and the background on top, stitch next to the fold line.

stitch next to the fold for an inset circle

When done, choose which direction the seam should lay - into the circle to give it puff as if on top of the background, or toward the background for an underneath, inset look. I choose the later for my project.

inset circle at QuiltFabrication

For a more in-depth look at what's possible to inset with this technique, I highly recommend Pieced Curves So Simple by Dale Fleming (affiliate link) - it's my go-to resource!

Pieced Curves So Simple by Dale Fleming

And with that, I'm off to add rounds 2, 3, 4, and 5 to this one - updates next week!

Happy Quilting!

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