Tropical Bungalows' by Mavis Haslam, using a commercial foundation pattern by Dutch designer Maud von Bergh-Arnoldus of t'Laurierboompje
Tropical Bungalows' by Mavis Haslam, using a commercial foundation pattern by Dutch designer Maud von Bergh-Arnoldus of t'Laurierboompje

Foundation Piecing is a way of stitching patchwork, using a drawn pattern.

You work from the back of the foundation and sew on the drawn lines. You can use paper, Stitch'n'Tear or freezer paper as the foundation if working by machine or fine calico, Vilene or even nappy liners if working by hand. You can draft your own pictorial designs or work from the many foundation piecing quilt books for ideas.

  1. Trace the pattern onto the foundation and number all the sections
  2. Find piece number 1 on the pattern and cut a piece of fabric large enough to cover number 1 and add a seam allowance.
  3. Pin fabric to the undrawn side of the paper, RS of fabric uppermost. Check that the seam allowance extends beyond the lines of number 1 on all sides.
  4. Find number 2 on the pattern and cut a piece large enough to cover number 2 and a generous seam allowance.
  5. Place number 2 RS together with number 1. Check before you sew that when the patch is flipped over it is large enough to cover number 2 and a seam allowance. It is easiest to do this if you put a couple of pins on the actual seam line and then fold the fabric back.
  6. Sew on the line between 1 and 2 on the drawn side. Use a shorter stitch than usual and start and finish just over the line into the next seam allowance, trim seams and press fabric patch over, to cover paper patch 2. If sewing by hand a small running stitch is good. There is no need for a backstitch.
  7. Continue in numerical order. When the piecing is complete, stitch all around the pattern just outside the dotted line to hold the edges in place.
  8. When the blocks are joined, the solid outer line is the sewing line.

TIP! Place a small low voltage lamp under a perspex machine extension table and you will be able to see where the seam allowances are lying. It saves holding up the patches to a window (which can otherwise move again by the time you replace under the machine.)

First published in Patchwork Basics 2002