Instructions for Piecing Your Block:
Foundation Method

Allison Aller 2007

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Materials List

  • one 10" X 10" piece of muslin
  • one 12" X 24" piece of fusible knit interfacing
  • eight 6" X 6" pieces fancy fabric
  • one 10" piece trim
  • pencil
  • needle
  • thread
  • straight pins
  • sewing machine
Step 1. Trace the block lines onto your foundation muslin, which is 10" square for an 8" block. 


Step 2. Interface your fancy fabrics. Why? Because if you are not used to working with ravely silk or wiggly velvet, it will drive you crazy and you may quit in frustration and despair before you even get started! So just lay out your pieces upside down, place the interfacing over them--remembering to double check to make sure the glue side is against the fabric, not against your hot iron--and fuse. 


That is a piece of tracing paper you see between my iron and the fusible interfacing. This just prevents any meltage of the interfacing that might occur while fusing. Wonder Under release paper works great too.

After you've fused, turn over the fabrics and if there are any bubbles caused by the interfacing, just iron them out.

Step 3. Cut apart your squares. Notice I am not caring at all about trimming the interfacing exactly even with the fabric.   
Step 4. I have traced the first patch, and added a seam allowance all the way around it. 


Step 5. With the drawing side of the muslin up, my first patch is cut out and laid directly onto the block, fancy side showing. I have stitched around its perimeter to hold it in place. I started with my darkest fabric for the center-most piece of the block; it is a traditional way to go and design-wise is always a good choice. 


Step 6. Piece #2 is pinned in place, right sides together with Piece #1. I will be "eyeballing" my seam, rather than turning over the foundation fabric and sewing exactly on the drawn seam line, as in paper piecing. I hate sewing that way, so I don't do it. My drawn lines are to aid in placing the pieces; they are not sewing lines. 


Step 7. Seam is sewn, patch is flipped and ironed flat. Do please iron after every patch is sewn and flipped. 


Step 8. See how much bigger my seam allowance is drawn in on this piece, along what will be the perimeter of the block? We want to give ourselves lots of extra seam allowance around the edges of the block because....if this block finished is going to be 8", not only do we want the usual 1/4" seam allowance for finishing the block edges, but these blocks will shrink with the gorgeous hand-stitching you are going to work onto them... so you really need that extra seam allowance.
I have learned this bitterly the hard way so please just do it. 


Step 9. Pieces 3 and 4 have gone on in order with their extra perimeter seam allowances.
But what about that pretty trim that was included in the Jump Start Pack? 


Step 10. I have machine basted it right along its edge where the next seam for Piece 5 is going to go. I will not bother sewing down the other edge, as that will be covered by decorative hand-stitching which will also hold it in place. You could machine sew it down now if you wanted to, though. You can piece in lace this way too. Piecing the trim in now is just a bit easier than appliqueing it on later...but of course you could do it that way as well. 


Step 11. I have sewn and flipped Piece 5 over the edge of the trim. Also, Piece 6 is sewn, flipped, and ironed into place. I should say here that if these fabrics had not been interfaced, this would not be fun. It would be nightmarish. Instead, it IS fun. 


Step 12. Pieces 7A and 7B need to be seamed together and then the seam pressed flat before they are added to the block as one unit. 


Step 13. Here is the #7 "chunk" pinned in place and ready to sew. I want you to see that it doesn't matter if the edges don't line up perfectly before you sew the seam. I will trim off that little orange tag of fabric sticking out there before I flip and iron this chunk into place. 


Step 14. This is not at all critical but a helpful little tip. That yellow brocade I used for Piece 7B is pretty heavy fabric, so when I flip the block over after sewing on my chunk, I get this ridge along the seam in the lightweight foundation fabric. It is easier to get a "flat flip" and an undistorted block if you iron this heavier weight fabric seam from the back first. I always use a clean terry towel for my ironing surface so I don't totally squash any velvet that I might be using in my block. This way I can press down hard on my iron. 


Step 15. Well then, here we are! I have sewn a stitching line exactly 8" square to show the finished block size...also so that I will know how far out my hand-stitching needs to extend along the seams. If I am going to add beads I will know to not bead right up to the 8" edge. Have you ever broken a sewing machine needle sewing over a bead? It is a jarring experience! 


Finally, I have zigzagged around the perimeter of my block, because even though they are interfaced, with all the handling this block will have, those edges would still at least think about fraying. I even zigzagged the end of the trim, because I KNOW that stuff unravels.

This block is ready to embellish!

One last all means add some cotton fabrics into the mix if you feel so moved. I think sane quilting cottons look terrific mixed with fancy fabrics.

Now, add a border and make a little quiltlet, use your block as one side of a tote bag or little bag, put several blocks together to make a table runner or larger crazy quilt....take your time and have fun!

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