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QUILT#90 – Paper Piecing

By Linda Smoker for QUILT, Issue #90

Click “Download PDF” to obtain a printable copy, including diagrams.

Paper Piecing, also known as “foundation piecing”, was a favorite technique used over a 100 years ago. In the Virginia Quilt Museum a quilt top was discovered to contain an old letter dated 1889 as one of the paper foundations. Many of the String Pieced quilts that were popular over the last century contained old newspaper and catalog papers as their foundations. Today, paper piecing is a wonderful technique used for sewing tiny pieces with unusual angles that are not easy constructed with templates. Fabric is stitched from the underside of the marked paper which eliminates the consideration of grain lines or precision in cutting fabrics. Follow the easy steps below to create perfectly pieced blocks.

Paper Piecing

Paper Piecing Preparation

In paper piecing, a foundation pattern is needed for each block that is to be sewn. Multiple copies of a foundation pattern can be made in several ways.

1. Trace the indicated number of copies individually to the foundation paper.

2. Photocopy at exact size of pattern.

3. Place a traced foundation pattern onto multiple layers of foundation paper (number needed indicated on pattern). Without thread in your sewing machine needle, using a long stitch length, sew precisely on each line of the pattern. The needle will pierce holes in all the layers of paper that will match the pattern lines.

Cut out the foundation pattern beyond the outer line. Set your machine’s stitch length (18 stitches per inch). This makes the foundation easier to remove once you have completed sewing the fabric block.

Sewing a Paper Pieced Pineapple Block

To piece a Pineapple block, layer a 5″ black square and a 2″ x 5″ light yellow strip for areas 1 and 2, right sides together.  With the right side of the paper pattern up, place the layered fabric pieces under area 1 with the area 1 fabric against the paper.  (Note: It helps to check to make sure both areas will be totally covered plus 1/4″.  Pin the seam to be sewn, turn paper over, open the pieces, and check the coverage.)  With the pattern facing up, stitch through the paper and the fabric on the line shared by piece 1 and 2.  Begin and end your stitching 1/4″ before and after the ends of the stitching line.  Carefully trim the seam allowance to 1/4″, if necessary, without trimming the paper pattern. Press open piece 2 from the fabric side.

In the same manner, add the 2″ x 5″ light orange strip for area 3, stitching it on the shared line between areas 1 and 3.  Continue adding the remaining light, medium, and dark fabric pieces in numerical order, trimming and pressing after each addition.  Trim, but don’t sew, the Pineapple block on the outer pattern line, which includes a 1/4″ seam allowance on all sides.  


Download This Pattern



  • Donna says:

    Posted June 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Thank you! I purchessed the June Quilt mag. and could not find the article “Learn how to paper piece”. I must have skimmed over it. That was the reason I bought the mag. this mo. I needed to refresh my memory. Guess that’s called getting older..
    Happy Quilting,
    Donna Tompkins

  • Pris Phillips says:

    Posted June 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Hi there… like Donna, I too had trouble finding the “Learn to Paper Piece” that was on the cover of your June/July 2011 Quilt magazine. I could not find any mention of Paper Piecing in the table of contents or anywhere that a page number would be noted.

    After browsing the magazine a couple of times, I finally found that the Star Spangled Banner quilt taught paper piecing – and I think that’s what you were referring to with the comment on the front cover!

    Anyway, thank you for this refresher on a tecnique I learned years ago, and want to
    try again!!! :)

    Happy Quilting…
    Pris Phillips

  • Patsy Taylor says:

    Posted October 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I love your magazine and look forward to every issue. I have several of your quilt patterns cut out but just haven’t gotten them completed.

  • Elizabeth Grove says:

    Posted October 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I just learned paper piecing, agonizing process due to an old brain, but I have fallen in love with the technique. This lesson by Linda Smoker is going to help a great deal. I have devoured every article I have found on paper piecing and it has all helped to increase my enjoyment of this process. Loved the article in the Dec/Jan issue and believe it or not I’m going to try that block.

  • Susan says:

    Posted October 10, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    I couldn’t find the pattern for the “Indian Summer” block shown on page 10 in your Dec/Jan 2012 magazine, which was supposed to be here. Where is it?

  • QUILT Magazine says:

    Posted October 11, 2011 at 8:32 am

    The block is located at the following address:

    under Resources/Fabric Stash. Click on the “Download pdf” button at the bottom of the page for the template.

    Keep Quilting!

  • QUILT Magazine says:

    Posted October 11, 2011 at 8:33 am

    I LOVE to paper-piece also! Be sure and send us a photo of your finished project for the webstie!

    Linda Smoker, Technical Editor
    QUILT Magazine

  • Elaine Tarpley says:

    Posted October 13, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I too had a problem finding the star shown in QUILT magazine page 10. If you will look at top of page when you first get to website. Click on word “resources” you will find it and much more. Thanks for the freebee.

  • Christine Roach says:

    Posted October 13, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    I love this pattern! From the minute I saw it I was fascinated and had to know how to make it. Thank you for making it available to us.

  • Joan Villa says:

    Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I lookked for the pattern shown on page 10 of the Dec/Jan 2012 edition. The above paper piece pattern is not the one shown in the magazine. How do I find the pattern?

  • Melsenia Bartlett says:

    Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Like Joan Villa, where do I find the pattern for the piece by number, pg 10 of the DEC/JAN 2012 edition? This page does not show this pattern or where to get it.

  • susan roberts says:

    Posted December 14, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    trying to get the free pattern for piece by number called God’s eye. can not find on sight. please help love the print Page 10in Quilt magazine. Dec./Jan.2012. Thanks

  • MarieJeanne Gray says:

    Posted December 14, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Page 10 Dec/Jan.edition….where is the pattern ?

  • MarieJeanne Gray says:

    Posted December 14, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Page 10 Dec/Jan 2012 edition says “Find the free pattern to this block and a lesson on paper piecing at find it.

  • Marcy B says:

    Posted December 21, 2011 at 3:21 am

    Hi to all looking for the great looking block called quilt90 or God’s Eye from page 10 of the Dec/Jan 2012 issue. Go to Beth Maddock’s website = Search for “Indian Summer” as she calls it. Happy quilting to all.

  • Mary Lupo says:

    Posted December 27, 2011 at 1:15 am

    tried to find pattern offered in Dec-Jan 2012, page 10. nothing on your web site.Do you always have this trouble,notice others with same problem.

  • Candie says:

    Posted December 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Also tried to find pattern in Dec-Jan 2012 on page 10. Is it somewhere else?

  • carol rickson says:

    Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I am having the same problem as others. Cannot find the free pattern to page 10 in your mag.

  • Lois Housman says:

    Posted August 15, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    cannot find fabric stash piece by number pg 10 Dec/Jan. HELP

  • Carol Lehr says:

    Posted October 25, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    I wanted to know if there was any advantage to using a water soluable foundation paper. I saw it a quilt show on my way out. I can’t seem tp locate it on the internet. Can you help?

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