Foundation Piecing

Mary Ellen Cummings

New ideas and procedures for making quilt items are difficult to explain without diagrams of each step. "Paper piecing" can apply to at least four different methods of quilt making.

"Foundation piecing" can be done on fabric, paper, or pre-printed medium.

Another method of making quilted items is called fusion. A thin two-sided film is ironed to the wrong side of fabric pieces; then the cut out shape is fused (ironed on) to the background fabric. The cut edges are not turned under as in applique, but are sewed down on a machine with zig-zag or embroidery stitches.

A friend and fabric shop owner recently related her experience of using one of the new methods to make a small quilted hanging. It was to be used as a display introducing a new line of designer reproduction fabric. She followed the pattern instructions step-by-step using up precious time reading and re-reading to be sure she didnít miss anything. Her final analysis: "They took the fun out of quilting."

It is too soon to tell how long a fused quilted item will last. More than likely, the raw edges will eventually fray and the "fusion" layer will lose control and float. Remember the designs you fused to your sweat shirts? If that loosening happens, the quilted items may be discarded or packed away "to fix later."

In the world of quilts we tend to think of foundation piecing as a new trend. It is not. The "Crazy Quilt" of Victorian days was foundation pieced and elaborately embroidered. Collectors and quilt historians have found evidence of crazy patched quilts existing before the Victorian era. They were utility covers made from wool, linen, and cotton patches from sewing and used clothing. The varying sizes and shapes of fabric were sewed to old sheets, ticking, and even old tattered quilts.

If you have questions about quilting, let me know and Iíll try to answer in print or tell you where you might find the answer. The public library has a good selection of quilt-related books. If you are interested in new methods of quilt making, most of the quilt magazines carry ideas and instructions. If you are interested in the slower, quieter, people-friendly, and therapeutic quilt methods, refer to a book or an old-fashioned quilter like yours truly.

Read other Quilting articles by Mary Ellen Cummings