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Foundation Quilting

“Quilt Like a Pro”

Foundation quilting will get you one more step closer to becoming an advanced quilter.

Ever wonder how some quilters can get their pieced top to look absolutely perfect?

All of the pieced angles of the quilt look perfectly symmetrical everywhere you gaze.

We’re going to show you how the pros do it.  It’s easy enough that beginners can use this simple technique after you have gotten the basics of quilting down.

Please note that this technique is done using a sewing machine.  The machine makes it easier and faster!


Foundation quilting starts with piecing together the top.

How is it different than other ways of piecing?

By using a paper guide. 

To start this project you will need a block pattern, preferably one for foundation piecing.

There are several free block patterns on the internet.  Find one that you want to do and print off the copies for pattern/s of your choosing.

If you have one from a quilting book that you want to use, just photocopy it from you printer.

You will need a copy for each block you are doing for your quilt.

To explain further, 6 copies if your quilt is only using 6 blocks.  112 copies if your quilt will have 112 blocks to complete it.

Once you have all of the copies printed out, move on to the “Steps”.


The next step in foundation quilting would be having all of the fabric prepped.  Make sure it is all washed and pressed.  This will ensure that the fabric won’t shrink when you wash your final quilt and that you will have smooth materials to work with.

Cut your fabric in a way to ensure that all of the pieces are at least ½ inch bigger that what you need.  They do not need to be the exact shape of your design pieces.  For example, it could be rectangles that you cut out, but your final pieces are diamonds.

Now, pin the first piece (#1) of fabric (wrong side touching back side) on the paper over where the first piece goes.  Make sure it has good placement by holding the two up to a light source.  The fabric should cover the entire piece design and overlap the next pieces by at least ¼ inch.

Here where most people get tricked up.  Place the next piece (#2) of fabric with the right side touching the right side of the first piece of fabric.  The edge of the second piece should overlap its seam line by at least a ¼ inch.  Pin the material in place.

Remember that you want all of the right sides facing away from the paper when the block is finished.

Hold the fabric up to the light to make sure that the placement is correct.

Test a scrap piece of fabric to calibrate your machine using a straight stitch.  You want the stitch to be even, tension correct, and 1 to 1.5 millimeters in length.  Once accomplished move onto the next step.

Place the materials under the machine’s sewing needle with the paper side facing up.  Line them up so you can sew exactly on the line on the paper that you are working on. Sew on this line using stitches that are 1 to 1.5 mm.

Once the pieces are stitched together trim whatever excess material there is.  Remember to keep ¼ for the seam allowance.

Unpin and unfold the fabric sections.

Continuing On

When piece #2 is unfolded, pin into the fabric’s proper place.

Lay the material for piece #3 over #2 with right sides touching.  Make sure the seam edge overlaps the seam line by at least a ¼ inch.

Pin fabric #3 into place.  Hold up to light to ensure proper placement.

Stitch on the line just like before.

Trim excess material ¼ inch away from seam.

Unpin, unfold and pin section #3 into proper place.

Continue to work in this manner until all the pieces are stitched into place.

Once at this point, baste with long stitches around the edge of your block.

Trim the excess cloth and leave a ¼ inch seam allowance around the outer edge of the block.

Now carefully tear away the paper from the back of your quilting block.

Ta da!  Your quilting block is done with expert procession. 

Wrap Up

Foundation quilting and piecing can be a quilter’s best friend and go to weapon #1 in your arsenal. 

It’s great for really complicated designs.  Play around with it and see how you like it. 

Until next time.

Happy quilting,

Color Block Quilts

› Foundation Quilting
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