Foundation piecing

Triangles and me; we don’t get on.  I have tried but found them just so tricky.  My triangle blocks did not come out square and as for matching points – what a nightmare!  There had to be a better way.
Thankfully the fabulous Karen Chapman came to my rescue.  She has years of quilting experience and claimed that sewing triangles and matching points was as simple as sewing on a line.  She promised to reveal all at an introductory workshop on foundation piecing held recently at Fabric HQ.  I did not have to think twice before booking a place.
So what is foundation piecing?  It is a traditional technique where fabrics are sewn together through a foundation material (could be paper or fabric) that has the block pattern printed on it.  The fabrics are placed right sides together, pinned to the back of the paper and then you sew along the stitching line with the paper uppermost.  Easy peasy!  
Foundation piecing - materials

Foundation piecing – materials

Above are the materials that I used for the class, (plus an Add a Quarter ruler and an old postcard – not shown).  Notice how tiny those inner triangles are?  Thank goodness this class was a triangle-cutting-free-zone.  Instead we got to work with nice, well-behaved squares and rectangles.   Just in case you were wondering, the numbers on the foundation paper indicates the order in which the pieces are sewn together.   I neglected to take any photos as I was piecing the block however there are loads of tutorials on the internet if you want to find out more about the process of foundation piecing.
So is foundation piecing all that it claims?  Absolutely!  Check out the triangles on my finished pincushion and judge for yourself.  
Pincushion - foundation piecing
Pincushion – foundation piecing
Thanks to Karen I have now overcome my fear of triangles.  I can’t wait to use this technique to make stars and other more elaborate quilting blocks over the coming months.  Watch this space! 

My new favourite gadget

I  popped this inexpensive little gadget into my shopping basket on a whim and it is just the best thing.

The corner trimmer was designed to simplify sewing right angled triangles, such as half square triangles or flying geese blocks.  The main reason I wanted to give it a try was because it also makes it easier to cut and sew the bias edges when piecing binding strips (one of my bugbears).    

Anyway, to use this little gadget for binding, I cut my strips and then simply lined up a straight edge of the trimmer exactly on the long edge of a binding strip.  I first cut the diagonal edge and then the 90 degree triangle.  Turning the strip around, I did the same at the other end.  

Cutting off the little triangle on the end made such a difference!  No more guesswork matching seams. Now they lined up perfectly.  

And there were no “dog ears” of fabric to cut off after the seams were pressed open.

When sewing the binding to the quilt, I prefer to use a diagonal seam for the final join.  The corner trimmer made this so simple to do.  It was small enough to manoeuvre on the binding strip ends and the clear cutting instructions made it easy to get the final length of the strip just right.

I love this corner trimmer and can see that I will be using it often.  Binding from now on will be a breeze!