Want to give foundation paper piecing a try? But you’re not sure what you’ll need to get started? Then this one is for you. Today I’m sharing my favorite tools for paper piecing, some budget options and share my all time favorite tool: birthday cards.


Quite a few items on this list would be considered standard quilting tools. So I’ll concentrate on the ones I specifically use for paper piecing. Are you new to paper piecing? Check out my video tutorial on how to do foundation paper piecing (it comes with a cute heart paper piecing block).

Paper templates

The first thing I do before I start cutting my fabrics is cutting paper templates. I know sometimes when foundation paper piecing is thaught you learn to cut a square of fabric that is large enough for the piece you need to sew. No templates needed, easy to cut, quick for sure, but it also means you’re using a lot more fabric than necessary.

So I cut paper templates. It’s a bit more work, but it allows me to fuzzy cut when I want to and to be very efficient with my fabric.

Just print an extra copy of the pattern to cut in pieces. When you’re working with directional fabrics you can even mark your paper templates with lines. Those lines let you know the direction they need to be cut from your fabrics.

Store the paper templates in a zip bag or an envelope so you can reuse them when you want to make a second block or want to remake your projects in the future.

Let’s talk paper

I love to use tea bag paper for paper piecing. It’s thin, it’s strong, it’s see through. I LOVE it. You can even tape it to a piece of printing paper to print a pattern directly on the teabag paper. But are you on a budget? Then there is no need for special paper at all. You can just as well start out with normal printing paper to give paper piecing a try.

Learn more about paper piecing paper in <this video> where I compare five different types of paper.

A second life for postcards

When you’ve cut your paper templates and your fabrics, and you’ve transferred your pattern on to paper piecing paper you’re ready to go. And that’s where my all time favorite tool comes in to play: a postcard or a business card.

“Save your happy birthday cards for paper piecing.”

We all have a few of those lying around right? I use them to fold my paper before cutting my fabric on a 1/4inch seam allowance.

I use a card here because you can lay it on the fold line before you fold the paper. When you fold the paper, you can’t see the fold line anymore, so using a card will help you to place the fold more precise.

Rulers that rule

When you’ve folded back the paper it’s time to cut away excess fabric so there’s a quarter inch seam allowance left. One way to do that is by using an add-a-quarter ruler. It can be placed very easily against the bump that you’ve created by folding the paper over a card. This little yellow ruler is the only tool I really wouldn’t want to miss for paper piecing. I guess that is mostly because I’m doing paper piecing so often. You can definitely use your normal ruler to cut that 1/4″ seam allowance. So it’s not an absolute ‘must have’, but hey neither are wonder clips and magnetic pincushions right? ;)

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What are your favorite quilting tools? Did you miss anything in my list of favorite things? Would love to read about it in the comments below.



Comments (13)

  1. I agree with you about the Add-a-Quarter ruler. That makes it so much easier to trim the seam allowance. I find if I use my regular ruler it slips on me. I didn’t know about making lines on the paper templates to get the fabric lined up the way I want it. That’s a great tip. Thanks!

    1. Yay! So happy that you learned something new. Yes, I’m also soo happy with my little yellow ruler!

  2. I have been wanting to try paper piecing. Thank you for the tips. This is a saver.

  3. I accidentally fornd your VLOGs and now cannt stop watching. I am newer to quilting and am intruged by your paper piecing. Can’t wait to try it. You positive attitude and passion for your crafts is contagious! Keep up the great work!

  4. I have been paper piecing on and off for years and totally love it, too! You can make so many cute things — even if it’s just one block to add to a front of a pocket book or something — or diaper bag! Or I’ve added just a paper pieced heart to the back of wedding quilts. I never, ever saw that add-a-quarter ruler until I saw your YouTube videos! I ordered one right away and absolutely love it! It makes things so much simpler and you don’t have to concentrate as much in the cutting — I like that — haha! Like one viewer said, my ruler, too, tended to slip. Thank you for sharing all your wonderful tips and tricks!

  5. I do some paper piecing from time to time. Plain newsprint paper works well. It goes through the photocopier ok and comes in A4 sized pads from art suppliers. The Add a Quarter ruler is well worth purchasing if you are going to do paper piecing. It sits neatly over whatever card you use to fold back on. One of my tutors suggested using a bookmark and that works well. I like paper piecing for New York Beauty circles. I wouldn’t make them any other way,

  6. I have tried the birthday card tip and it works really well and my next buy will be the add a quarter ruler ;)

  7. There is a new version of the Add-a-Quarter ruler called the Add-a-Quarter Plus. It has a tapered edge eliminating the need for having to use two tools – ruler and card. Amazon has them as a set for anyone interested. There’s also a video on YouTube that demonstrates it far better than I can explain it. I just purchased them, and I too like to paper piece, so we’ll see if there is a marked difference.

  8. Hello, Irene! I have recently come across your vlog. I really appreciate you your teaching! I have fallen in love with FPP and wanted to try your strawberry (heart) patten. I’ve tried to download it a few different times and each time there is a blank space followed by this code:
    [convertkit form=5013498]
    Any suggestions? Thank you for videos and smile!

  9. I’m looking for the demo on the cardboard tool used in paper piecing to making o make certain your fabric fits?

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