Foundation Piecing: What Not to Do

Foundation piecing with the Mickey quilt kit

Sometimes, when learning a new skill, knowing what not to do is as helpful as knowing what you should do. This is particularly true of paper foundation piecing, a quilting skill that can seem awfully technical to novices.

With that in mind, we polled the quilt editors and designers for their best pieces of advice on what not to do when foundation piecing. And the Number One thing you shouldn’t do when foundation piecing is (drum roll, please)… cut your patches too small!


“Don’t skimp on fabric to cover a particular area. I always cut way oversized patches. Nothing is worse than having to unsew a foundation seam. I also don’t use directional fabric – I never get the print facing the direction I want it to.”


“Don’t cut your pieces too small. Err on the side of larger patches until you have the hang of working backwards! “


“Be generous when you cut your fabrics. For me the hard part is that I’m basically working in mirror image and until I’ve added two or three pieces, my brain doesn’t make that switch and my pieces of fabric have the angles going in the wrong direction. If I cut the patches larger, I can usually turn them to the correct position and all is well.”


“I’m new to foundation piecing and I learned the hard way that it’s always better to cut your patches generously large. I was cutting my patches a bit too small in the beginning and if I didn’t get two patches lined up just right, the fabric ended up short on at least one side of the foundation pattern. Now, I cut my patches bigger so that I can be sure that the fabric will cover all of the foundation pattern.”


You see the pattern here, I’m sure.

There is one more piece of advice that came from the team:


“I inevitably chop off a patch when trimming my foundation seam allowances between patch additions. And this generally happens when I’m in a hurry or distracted by the TV I’m watching while I’m sewing. My best advice is to be careful to keep the patches away from the seam you are cutting. Fold the paper foundation back toward the bulk of the overlapping patches.”


expert Debbie Kratovil’s paper foundation techniques For a great tutorial on how to foundation piece properly, along with some troubleshooting tips, click here to read expert Debbie Kratovil’s techniques. And, if you’re looking for some great foundation piecing papers, try The Patchwork Place’s foundation piecing papers.

If you are new to foundation piecing, then do we have the pattern for you: Mickey, designed by Angie Milligan. This baby quilt is a generous 54” x 57” and is composed of 18 7” x 15” blocks to create those great big chevrons (dare we say they look like big M’s?).

Mickey quilt kit

Here’s the good news—these blocks are pieced onto foundations the same way you make string-pieced blocks. And the even better news is that the pattern tells you exactly how big to cut your patches, so you won’t even have to worry about cutting your patches too small to cover the area you need. It’s all right there for you! With the kit containing fabrics from the Mickey Mouse collection by Camelot Fabrics, this is a can’t-go-wrong baby quilt any quilter can easily piece in a weekend.

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