Making 16 Simple Christmas Tree Blocks with FPFP

Freezer Paper Foundation Piecing (FPFP) 16 Simple Christmas Tree blocks

Click here for a Dutch version of this post

Click here for my post with general information about FPFP

Click here for my design with this block

For FP foundation piecing you can reuse the pattern several times. I prepared a pdf with the pattern twice on one page.

Score the sewing lines along a ruler, to make accurate folding easy

Print it and cut one pattern out to size (exactly around the seam allowance). This will be your foundation. Score the printed lines between adjoining shapes on the front side of the paper, along a ruler. This makes it easy to fold exactly on the lines.

Cut one pattern up over the sewing lines, into templates without seam allowances.

FP templates on fabric

Put each template on the back of the fabric, with the shiny (plastic) side facing down. Make sure the patches will be straight of grain. Iron each template on, leaving room for the seam allowances. Cut with a rotary cutter using a ruler, adding a 3/8 inch seam allowance all around, and perhaps a  ½ inch seam allowance to the sides that will become edges of the block.

All patches cut with seam allowance

Cut all the patches for your first (sample) block.

Piecing the first block

I piece with a patchwork foot (#37 for my Bernina Aurora 440), and a fine piecing thread (Superior Masterpiece) to reduce bulk in the seams. You can use regular stitch length, because you are not stitching through paper.

The patches on the pattern are numbered in sewing order. (A1, A2, A3 etc.) 

Put your patch on the pressing board first, then place the pattern over it in the right spot

Place Patch A1 (without template) on your pressing board, right side down. Place the pattern over it with the printed side (paper) facing you. Make sure the patch covers A1 completely, with enough seam allowance all around.

Iron patch A1 to the FP, from the paper side

Iron the paper over the patch with a hot dry iron (no steam), so the patch will stick to the paper.

Pattern folded back, and seam allowance peeled off

Fold the line between patches A1 and A2, fold over the part with patch A2, towards you. Peel the seam allowance along the fold off the FP. 

Trimming the seam allowance, to a quarter inch from the folded edge of the pattern

Trim it to a ¼ inch from the fold of the pattern, using a ruler and a rotary cutter.

Patch A2 lined up under A1, ready for sewing

Line up patch A2 with patch A1, right sides together, and the FP foundation on top. Align the seam allowances exactly, or so that the lighter fabric slightly sticks out compared to the darker fabric. Make sure patch A2 will completely cover the A2 pattern piece, with seam allowances all around, when stitched and flipped open.

Sew with the needle against the FP, but avoid stitching through the paper

Put the FP with the patches underneath, under the needle of your sewing machine. Use the hand wheel to lower the needle to exactly above the fabric. Butt your FP up to the needle. Lower the presser foot onto the paper and fabric.

Piece the two patches together, stitching right next to the paper. Avoid stitching through the paper!

Folded open after piecing A1 and A2 together

Clip the threads.

Flip the patches open.

Finger press the seam.

Ironing patch A2 to the FP, from the paper side

Put the patches flipped open, with the foundation on top, on the pressing board. Press patch A2 from the paper side, so the patch will stick to the foundation.

Fold the sewing line between patches A2 and A3. Peel off the seam allowance.

Trim to ¼ inch.

Line up patch A3 with A2, right sides together. Make sure patch A3 will cover pattern piece A3 when stitched and flipped open.

Piece A2 and A3 together, with the FP on top, stitching right next to the paper.

Clip, flip and press as before.

Repeat the steps for all the following patches, until all patches are pieced together.

trimming the finished block, just outside the edge of the outer seam allowance

Press the block flat and trim to size right next to the edges of the foundation (including the seam allowance!), using a ruler and a rotary cutter. Peel off the pattern. You now have one finished block, and a pattern, ready to use again.

Simple Christmas Tree FPFP Block Finished, with Reusable Pattern

Take a good look at your finished block. Are there things you want to adjust for the following blocks? Different fabric? Wider seam allowances?

If you are happy with your block: Cut the patches for the following 15 blocks. First iron the templates on the fabric for 1 patch of each number, making sure they are straight of grain. Cut them with the correct seam allowances all around. Leave the templates ironed on, and cut all your patches for the rest of the blocks, using the patch with the pattern as a template. Again, make sure they are all straight of grain.

Keep all the similar patches without a pattern in one pile per template. Keep the patch with the template ironed on with the pile for reference. Sew all the patches from the pile first, and leave the patch with the template until the very last, so you can always check your other patches for number and direction.

If you are not happy with your first block: Only cut the fabric for a second sample block. Leave cutting all of the fabric for the blocks until you are sure the fabrics and seam allowances are working for you.

Piecing the rest of the blocks

The FP can be used several times, so the two patterns you have printed are probably all you need. However, if your first block was successful, you could piece the following 15 blocks assembly line style. It will save you time and energy, but you need more patterns.

The advantage of foundation piecing assembly line style is that you can iron on all the patches A1 to the foundation in one run. Next, you fold all the patterns and trim all the patches A1. Then you line up all patches A2 to A1, and chain piece the seams right next to the paper, with the foundations on top. Clip all the threads. Flip all the patches open and finger press. Iron all the patches A2 to the foundations from the paper side, etcetera.

But of course you can also piece them block by block, like you did your sample block. You choose whether you want to be more efficient with FP or with your time and energy.

Good luck!

XXX Anneke

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