When I first started quilting, one of the things that really confused me (as in all new hobbies) were some of the terms, or even slang terms, that other quilters used for the techniques in quilting. And “fpp” was one of those terms that I couldn’t figure out for a long time! I even googled it once and came up with a software program that I thought quilters were using to make quilt blocks—ha! But no, “fpp” is the slang term for foundation paper piecing–a quilting technique that really is simple once you understand it and get the hang of it. So today, let’s talk all about what foundation paper piecing is…and why quilters like to use this technique in quilting.
What is Foundation Paper Piecing?
Foundation Paper Piecing is a technique used in quilting to stabilize fabrics used in patchwork quilting, or precise quilting. It is the method of sewing fabrics to paper (or muslin or other stabilizers) to create intricate shapes or details in quilt blocks.
Where did Paper Piecing Come From?
The method of adding paper or stabilizers to fabric first came into the quilting world the early 19th century in England. Quilters used letters, newspapers or other papers and sewed tiny pieces of fabrics onto them to stabilize the patchwork pieces while hand-stitching. Many quilters doing crazy quilt blocks, log cabin blocks, or even string blocks still prefer to sew their strips of fabric to paper to create their designs.
What is the Process of Foundation Paper Piecing?
Modern foundation paper piecing began in the 1970’s when women who were taught this traditional method of stabilizing small pieces of fabric started to actual trace or copy the design of the quilt block on to the paper itself. This started a whole new rise in the new-found technique of the traditional method but opened a whole new world of where paper piecing would go.
Because the designs were now printed on the paper itself, the technique evolved a bit so that the fabrics were right sides together on the back of the paper–the paper itself was showing the designs to sew on. Essentially the technique because sewing a quilt block in mirror image on the back of a piece of paper.
What Resources are there to Learn Foundation Paper Piecing?
Luckily there are lots! While many quilters all have their individual styles of paper piecing the technique itself remains the same.
Here is a video we made last year showing the technique with our “Shine Bright” Diamond Paper Piecing Pattern to show you how we do it, but as you learn you will find your own methods that work for you!
And here is another post we did about 10 simple paper piecing patterns to try out!