Quilting Techniques

Confessions of a former FPP Hater

Newly arrived in a bee in 2013, this was my first attempt at foundation paper-piecing, or FPP for short.

The Queen Bee had sent the fabric in graduated-sizes of strips; the cloth was finite which made me stress even more. This is what I wrote that day:

“Seventy-two pieces per block (4 quadrants).  It took me over 7 hours, closer to eight hours, to finish the two blocks.  I began wondering about this quilter–who would send out such a complicated block to the bee and expect us to do not only ONE, but TWO blocks? I began wondering about what a sheep I was to follow along, when I should have just sent back the unused fabric after the first block and the scraps for the little triangles, and kept it to one.”

I was pretty grumpy, and no, I don’t hate that quilter (she’s amazing). But I decided right then to hate all FPP and avoid those blocks whenever I could. In the double flying geese block, it was the figuring out how to gauge the size of what you needed to cut and how to arrange it so it covered the piece, all without running out of fabric. Whenever someone in one of my bees would bring up FPP, I shuddered and knew I would pretty much fail at this technique.

So why did I sign up for not one, but TWO, FPP classes at QuiltCon? Because I had because I’d seen this on Instagram:

This quilt won First in Piecing and Viewer’s Choice. Before going to Phoenix, I had even tried to give away this class; it was right after my finger injury and I couldn’t even write, let alone handle the mess that was FPP. To compensate, I swapped out her pattern for a smaller one of my choosing, the Lizabeth from Karen Ackva. I also knew that if your project is smaller, you’ll get more done. Instead of being out of sorts about my swap, the teacher at QuiltCon, Verushka Zarate of Pride and Joy Quilting, was always kind, polite, cheerful and called us “friends” throughout the class. She even started the class with us telling a joke–not everyone had one–so the day was off to a great start. Her demos were helpful, and she explained everything really well, and constantly walked around to make sure we were not drowning in FPP.

At one point, she mentioned her Online Class, and I perked up. It would be great to be able to follow up and have that resource. More about that in a minute.

I finished the head, the skirt, the neck in class. Here’s the rest:

I chose this pattern for its size (5″ wide) and because of the name (Lizabeth).

I also took Cassandra Beaver’s class at night, where she demo-ed on a light table. She went step by step and these two classes together really made a difference. (Plus I’ve been Cassandra’s fangirl for a while.)
This was her pattern:

I fixed the eye with a little reverse appliqué this week, changing from white (oops) to black.

I had ordered a different kind of roller, one made of hard rubber, and I liked it because it was flat and really set the creases. Cassandra gave everyone in her class pair of flowered tweezers, and I already had the fine tipped tweezers. Both work well for extracting the paper, which I’m still not so fond of, but I’ve gotten better.

Normal life after FPP. I use vellum paper when printing out my patterns, and it’s crisp and tears off really easily. It’s sturdy and slightly transparent, which also helps.

Today I found some time and watched portions of her online class. It sells for $45 and it is so helpful! (This is Verushka.)

She has the segments well-labeled and you work with the pattern we did at QuiltCon, which covers a wide range of FPP challenges. She has the BEST TIPS EVER for figuring out how to cut the correct shape of fabric to cut for the piece you are working on, and how to position your FPP so you’ll never get turned around. (I didn’t share them here, because they are her tips.)

I have seen the light.

I no longer hate FPP. I’m not like some people who Absolutely Love It, but I’m making progress. I even designed a leaf signature block for my Gridster Bee month:

I feel like I’m getting the hang of this, and have become a new woman quilter.

Last week I had a giveaway, and it took me too long to get responses to you–but they were all so lovely and so like poetry, I was determined to write you back. Susan won the pattern and it will be on the way to her soon. Thank you all for sharing with me your idea of “poems” to help smooth away the weariness.

A long time ago–showing me her first sewing project (a doll)

This next little while I’ll be assisting my grown daughter with her surgery in another state — my husband and I picking her up in a third state, driving her to surgery, helping with convalescence and then after a few days, driving her back home again. (All the details for that have kept me a bit preoccupied in the correspondence department.) I’ve got some EPP for the long road trip, and even a stitchery that is about 25 years old.

Happy Quilting FPP-ing–