Freezer Paper Piecing with Tara Faughnan

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1 Freezer Paper Piecing with Tara Faughnan Chapter 1 - Freezer Paper Piecing Overview (modern music) - Hi everyone, I'm Tara Faughnan, I'm a quilter, a teacher, and a textile designer by trade. We're gonna make a monochromatic quilt using freezer paper in place of regular paper templates. This will help us get really precise points and the best part is that the template with freezer paper is reusable. In this class, we're gonna be making a mini quilt ^but this technique can be applied ^to any size quilt you want. ^So be flexible, be fluid and you might surprise yourself and end up somewhere you completely didn't expect. (modern music) Materials - In this class you'll be using freezer paper, which you can get at the grocery store, pins, a rotary cutter, scissors, a ruler, pencil, and a stack of fabrics. Now I have a lot more fabrics in here than I really needed, but choices are nice. I used about 20 different shades in this quilt, but you're gonna use anywhere from 12 to 50, whatever really is your preference. You'll also need a cutting mat, a sewing machine, an iron and an ironing surface. Making the template - Before we draw the template, I wanna go over a few things about freezer paper. There is a shiny side and a dull side. So this side is the side that you can draw on. This is also the side that you put your iron on. The shiny side sticks to the fabric. You do not wanna put your iron on the shiny side because it will stick to the freezer paper, and then you'll have a mess to clean up. For this template, we need a piece longer than 25 inches. So I've pulled it out here, about 30 inches. Give yourself some wiggle room. And then be sure to turn it over onto the flat side. Freezer paper's really great in that you can use it to replace paper piecing, but there are some limitations. Unlike paper piecing, you really want to be able to fold the template back, and I'm gonna show you what that looks like. When you're thinking of designs to use with freezer paper once you've learned this technique, keep in mind that you need to be able to fold the template back along the sewing lines. This is the template we're going to be drawing and using for this quilt. It's pretty basic, very easy, geometric shape. It is five inches tall, and each block is four inches wide. This whole piece measures 20 inches long. Line up your ruler with the edge of the freezer paper because it's a great straight line, so it's a nice place to start. And just draw along the length of your ruler. And line it up again at the five inch mark. We have the five inch mark right here. And be pretty precise when you're drawing this template because you're only making one template for this entire quilt. Unlike paper piecing, you can reuse the freezer paper template. So now I have two lines five inches apart. Then I wanna make four inch increments down the row. So again, I'm gonna line it up to make sure we have a nice right angle. Take your time with this part. Now, the reason why we're making two rows is because for this geometric shape, it's easier to make two templates at a time, and we'll get more precision in the points when we're drawing it, and you'll see as we're drawing it, that will become clear. You really only need one template for this quilt, but you can have an extra one for use in another quilt. If you wanted to make a large quilt like a throw size, you might need six of these templates because eventually, the freezer paper will stop sticking. And at that point, you can move to a fresh template, or you can redraw more templates. So we're just going down the row, marking off our four inch 1

2 intervals. We're also gonna add one extra template. And this extra template, we're gonna cut out, and it is going to be our fabric cutting template. So now we have this grid, five blocks long, two blocks tall, and you wanna start drawing the inside lines. Where this point hits the edge is at the two inch mark, which is why I have drawn this two up, because it's easier to go from corner to corner rather than creating two inch marks along the way. So place your ruler from this corner to this corner. And what I like to do is I like to come in and actually put my pencil right on that point, and it helps me line up my ruler. Make sure the edge of your ruler is right on the corner here, right at that joint. So I like to put my pencil there and just draw. Be sure to hold your ruler in place so that it doesn't wave and wiggle around. But if it does, that's why we're doing this in pencil, you can just erase it. Again, I like to put my pencil up there, line up my other point right down here, and draw it in. And we're gonna go down the row and do that the whole way. I like to go in one direction at a time because my ruler's already at that angle, and I just find it easier. So I'll mark all the lines in this direction and then just turn the ruler around. And again, just go from point to point. And try to make sure that where the ruler crosses this line, those points are gonna be hitting each other like that. Then I just go down the row, filling in the lines in this direction. So there's our template. And here, we also need to create a template for cutting fabric. Mark at a point two inches from either side, which is the middle. And you don't have to be super precise with this because again, this is just for cutting fabric. The next thing we're going to do is cut out our template along the drawn lines. I use the same blade for fabric as paper, which I know is a real no-no. So what you could also do is save one of your old blades that's become a little bit dull and just pop that in when you're gonna cut paper. I find it's more accurate to cut with my rotary cutter than with scissors. Just like regular paper piecing, there is no seam allowance added to this template. These lines here are the sewing lines. So we're gonna cut out right along the sewing lines, and you're gonna cut off that fabric cutting template. And we'll put it aside, save it for later. This, can put into the recycling. All right, and then you're going to cut this template right down the center, and you have two templates. There is a little bit of prep work to do with freezer paper templates, and that is that you really wanna fold back the paper along the sewing lines. It just makes it a lot easier and a lot more precise when you start sewing. The first thing you wanna do is fold it over right along that pencil line, make a nice crisp edge. And then fold it back the other way. The reason why you have to fold it this way first is because you can see the pencil line to fold it along. It's very hard to fold blindly. You can try to use a ruler to crease it. I've had some success with that, but I find it's easier to get more precision to actually just manually fold it along the lines. And I find the point on one side, and then I find the point on the far side, and then I go in the middle. And that's what I've found to be the most precise. And then you fold it back. Cutting the fabric - The next thing we're gonna do is cut out our fabrics. Take the fabric cutting template and again, you don't need to be super precise with this template, but you do want to keep the angle of the lines accurate, so that when you flip the fabrics and sew your angle will stay the same and it'll be easier to have the fabric cover the entire piece and not have to resew. So you need one of the half triangles, that's what I'm calling that, a half triangle, and you need one full triangle. What I like to do is put the information on the template. So this is the diamonds quilt. And then I'm also going to put the fabric cutting information on there. If you're familiar at all with paper piecing you know that you need to cut your fabric quite a bit larger than the template in order to have it cover all sides. So measure your piece. We have a five inch diamond. I'm going to cut my strips of fabric six inches 2

3 wide. That gives me 1/2 an inch extra on the top and bottom. I like to put that right on here in case I forget and come back to the quilt in a few months. Cut six inch wide strips, diamonds quilt. My handwriting is atrocious. Probably your handwriting's a lot better. How I like to work is to start with more fabric than I would possibly use. One of the reasons why I've ended up using so much color is because I love to cut fabric. If you're like me and you love to cut fabric, go ahead and cut several pieces from each of these colors. If you want to be more conservative with your fabrics know that you will need 25 of these full size triangles and then you're going to need 50 of the half size triangles. I like to cut more than I could possibly use, because I find that it helps me not be limited in my fabric choices. Usually I'll cut selvage to selvage. For this quilt, this mini quilt that's only 20 by 25 inches finished, that's probably a little excessive even for me. We're gonna cut our strips six inches. Again, you don't have to be really accurate at this part. This is the great part about freezer paper piecing is that you don't have to be really accurate in how you cut your fabrics. There's a lot of wiggle room in that. I like to layer my fabrics in a stack, four to eight. If you're gonna use eight layers of fabric make sure that your rotary blade is nice and sharp. Lay the fabrics right on top of each other and use the fabric cutting template as your guide. I like to cut off the little bits on the end. What you wanna have is at least 1/2 an inch extra around all sides. Once you're comfortable with this method you can pare down to 1/4 inch extra, but in the beginning be kind to yourself and give yourself 1/2 an inch. The less ripping out of fabric you have to do the happier you'll be. From each color you want to cut, depending on how many fabrics you have, I'd say you wanna cut at least four of these half triangles and two of the full triangles. The line of my ruler that I'm cutting follows the line of that template. That's why I make a fabric cutting template. We're gonna cut a couple of diamonds. Again, this is a little bit more than you're gonna need, but I really find that the freedom of having the pieces available when you're creating your design on your design wall is helpful. And anything left over can go into the scrap bin or you can just make another quilt. Now we have two of the full triangles from each color and four of the half triangles. Repeat this process until you have 25 of the full sized triangle and 50 of the half triangles. Layout and value - At this point we're gonna lay out our quilt. I have a design board in front of me. It's just a piece of poster board wrapped in flannel, and it's really helpful because the fabrics stick and then you can lay out your design and make changes, which is what I always do. When you're laying out your design, I'd like you to be aware of value. Value's a really important and often overlooked tool in the success of a quilt. And what's going to really make this quilt pop is varying the values, which is the lightness and darkness of a fabric. We have a wide range of blues here, from really light to really dark. I've also added white because white really pops when you're looking at a quilt. If you have a hard time differentiating between what is a light, medium, and dark value, you can always squint your eyes. You can take a picture with your phone and convert it to black and white. Or you can get distance and then squint, and these are all really easy tricks to help see value. There is nothing wrong with a low value quilt. That's wonderful or really dark, deep, rich quilt that doesn't have a lot of light colors in it, but for the purposes of this mini quilt, I'd love for you to pay attention to value and using light and dark to help the quilt recede and come forward and keep your eye moving. What I like to do is just go ahead and start laying out fabrics, and I really don't pay too much attention to the final outcome because you can always change it as you're going. It's nice to have areas in the quilt where there's high contrast and areas of the quilt where there's low contrast, like what's going on right here, because these areas of low contrast are really calm. I find it really 3

4 fascinating to play with that difference between bright pop high contrast and then areas of low contrast that kind of let your eyes rest. So I'm just going to continue to lay out the large triangles any way you want. And you want five rows. I'll just be able to squeak that on on this guy. When I look at this, the one color that stands out to me is this blue color. So I have two options. I can either just take it out or I can add more of it. Think I'm just gonna take it out. Then start filling in with your half triangles. I like to keep them in pairs, and here's where you'll start to see the quilt really pop. So again it's fun to have the dark right there, the light right there, but maybe you want less of a contrast for that one. And it gives your eyes a resting spot. Don't forget to throw in nice super pale colors, really deep deep dark colors, and vary it up. Every once in awhile when you're working on the layout, be sure to step back and squint and see if you're happy with the placement of the values and the colors. I've made a lot of substitutions. Maybe right here I don't love how I have this dark dark dark dark dark, all of the same color. Maybe I do like it. But that's a little too light. What I like to do is create the layout and then make substitutions based on what I see happening. And now maybe I don't like that dark next to that dark. So just keep making substitutions until you're happy. Maybe that's too light now, and I wanna go a shade darker with that main triangle color in there. Okay so just make substitutions until you're happy with it. For this quilt because it's so small, I wanted the layout to be really balanced, so I just worked on it until I got to a point where I was happy. And I keep looking at this spot, and I'm not happy with that layout. Maybe I wanna go back to my original lighter diamond. After lots of fussing around with it and trying out different substitutions, I'm happy with where it's at right now and we're gonna go to sewing. Sewing - This quilt is sewn row by row. What I've done is take the top row of the design and transferred it here to the work area, where it's faster and easier for me to have all the pieces sitting in front. Here's there freezer paper template, and the shiny side is the side you want to adhere the fabrics to. Sometimes it can be a bit confusing, when you're looking at this template, to figure out where to start on the left side, on the right side, how this corresponds to the fabric. So I will take this template, shiny side up, and place it directly underneath that row. Notice that the point of this triangle is facing up, and the corresponding spot on the template is also pointing up. That's the correct orientation for the template. Freezer paper is great because you don't have to use pins to pin the fabric to the template. You place the template, shiny side on top of the fabric. I'm using solids, so I don't have to worry about right side or wrong side of fabric, but if you are using prints, make sure that the wrong side is the side you iron down to the template. Also make sure that the fabric covers all of the area of the spot on template by at least a quarter inch extra all around. And just iron it into place. You don't need to hold the iron on for very long, and we're gonna use a dry iron. It helps the template last longer. And I'm going to flip it back and trim off the excess fabric so that I have about a quarter-inch seam allowance, Lay your next piece down. It's going to fit like this. Flip it over, right sides together, on top of this piece. There's a couple things happening here. When you sew along the seam line and then flip over, you want to make sure that this line is covered by more than a quarter-inch seam allowance or at least a quarter-inch seam allowance. Until you get very comfortable with how that works, what you can do is sew this initial line with a basting stitch, just to double-check your placement before you commit. So I also like to make sure that there's at least a half an inch extending beyond the piece of paper. This will ensure that there's enough fabric on top and below of the template to cover my corresponding piece when I sew it and flip it open. Flip this back, and make sure that that fabric is not stuck to the freezer paper. Place your next piece 4

5 on top. Until you're comfortable, you can pin it in place, if you'd like, and then your fabrics won't slip. Fold it back, and just sew right along that freezer paper. (sewing machine whirs) Cut your threads. Bring it over to the ironing board, and make sure to get that piece nicely adhered. Now, what you wanna do, is you have an excess of fabric along here. Fold it back along that line, and trim it down to a quarter inch. It doesn't have to be super exact, but you wanna follow the angle. You take your next piece, put it in place, flip it over, and sew. (machine whirs) Here, you can see I've sewn along the edge of the paper and hit the paper a little bit. That's okay, just gently pop the stitches out of the paper. Take it to your ironing surface, and iron it down. When we flip it to the back, you can see that the fabric is extending quite a ways beyond that line. Fold it back along the line, use your ruler to trim it down to a quarter-inch seam allowance. Flip it back to the front, and continue on. Make sure, when you're ironing, not to put your iron on the shiny side. It really does create a big mess on your iron. You go down the row, adding one piece at a time, ironing it open, trimming off the excess fabric, and adding the next piece. You always wanna trim the seam allowance before you add the next piece, otherwise your pieces will start to get out of alignment. We're using a paper template, so you can't choose which direction to press your pieces in. And sometimes you can get shadowing, which is where the dark fabric shows through the light fabric on the front of the quilt. One way to combat this shadowing is when you're laying down a light piece and a dark piece, make sure that the light piece extends just a little bit past the dark piece, like that. It could just be a few threads. And then, that way, no matter what direction your seam is pressed in, you won't get the shadowing on the front of the quilt. I've sewn the whole row, starting on the left and moving to the right. Now what we wanna do is trim the excess off before we remove the freezer paper, because once your remove the freezer paper, it's pretty hard to put it back on. And you want to trim it down to a quarter of an inch so you have your seam allowance correct for when you sew your rows together. So trim the excess down to a quarter inch on each side. Take it nice and easy here. Be a real bummer to mess up and have the ruler slip, at this point. And also trim it on each end. Then you can gently peel the freezer paper off and reuse the template. Now we need to get the next row together. The second row is a little different. In the first row, we sewed from left to right. In the second row, we're gonna sew from right to left. That way, when we sew the two rows together, the seams will nest. So, again, flip your template over to the shiny side and lay it directly underneath the row. Make sure that the orientation is correct, and start on the right side. I like to place this first piece exactly a quarter inch away, so that the fabric is a quarter inch past the sewing line. Just saves a step in trimming that down. Make sure, too, that this part is nice and loose before you start sewing the seam allowance. It's just helpful. Place your second piece on. And begin sewing, just as you would for the first row. (sewing machine whirs) Take it over to your ironing surface. I like to give things a nice press before I open them all the way. Helps set the seam. So this is a great example of how I'm off on my angle, and so therefore this is starting to really dip down. I think I can fudge it and get away with it, but sometimes you might need to pick out that seam, reposition your fabric, and sew it again. This is where doing a basting stitch to practice that stitching and flipping can be really helpful. Take your third piece. Make sure that it extends half an inch above and half an inch below. (sewing machine whirs) Give it a nice press, flip it open, flip that paper back, cut off the excess to within a quarter inch of your sewing line, and keep going, all the way down the row in that same manner. Now we've completed the second row, sewing from the right side to the left side. And the reasons why we sewed from left to right on the first row and right to left on the second row are gonna become clear right now. First, we need to trim down the extra fabrics. You can see how messy those edges can be. Trim it down to a quarter of an inch. Trim the 5

6 other side. Trim these down to a quarter of an inch, as well. You always wanna trim before you peel the paper off, because we are not marking sewing lines. We're just gonna sew an exact quarter-inch seam. We have the second row here and the first row here. The points go in opposite directions. Place one row on top of the other, and line them up so that the seams nest. The vertical seams will nest, and also the diagonal seams will nest, because we sewed the rows in opposite directions. Once you have your seams all nested, you can place a pin right there. And I like to check as I go down the row and make sure everything's lined up nicely. I like to pin at every intersection because, especially if you don't have a walking foot on your machine, it keeps everything in place. The next thing we're going to do is sew a quarter-inch seam all the way down. I like to start and end with a little backstitch, just to hold the corners in place. (sewing machine whirs) And you want the sewing line to cross right where these two previous lines intersect. (sewing machine whirs) Little backstitch. You might notice that I sew over my pins. I find it much more efficient to deal with a broken needle or a bent pin than to take them out as I sew. That's just my habit. You might like to take out your pins before you sew over them, which is probably recommended. I'm bringing this over to the pressing surface, giving it a little steam to set the seam. And sometimes I like to finger-press it open so I don't distort the piecing before I iron it, and then I set the seam with a little bit of steam. Continue sewing the rows together, alternating the direction in which you start. Row one, three, and five, you'll start sewing on the left side and go towards the right. For row two and four, go from the right to the left. That way, all of your seams will nest. Sew all of the rows together, and you get this final, really cute, mini-quilt. Here's a little quilter's tip. Your quilt will look more precise if the points lie just a hair's breadth away from the seam rather than having the points cut off in the seam. At this point, I'm going to layer this with batting and backing, and baste it and quilt it. Probably the quilting that I'll do for this is just straight lines, and I might add some hand-stitching in between. Or you could echo the diagonal. Sometimes, though, if your points aren't really precise and you try to echo the diagonal, it can exacerbate the fact that the points aren't matching, which is why, a lot of the times, I go for straight-line quilting. The joy of freezer paper piecing is that there's no templates to tear away, the templates are reusable, and you get a really precise, neat look. 6