Getting Perfect Paper Piecing Points

Many of my quilts have a lot of points.  I love the look of complexity they bring.  The best thing about foundation paper piecing is the ability to get very sharp, perfect points every time. Perfect points are very easy to accomplish when the points are contained within the piece of paper. The trouble comes in when we are joining two pieces of foundation sections together. The paper says it should match, and yet sometimes it seems to do everything but match up. 

Below is my Evening Star quilt, you can see the seams down the middle of the teal colored fabric.  If the points weren’t matched exactly it would completely ruin the effect that I’m going for. 

advanced foundation paper piecing pattern modern quilt quild challenge riley blake quilt

The method I use is quite simple using straight pins and clips.  The key is to forget how you probably learned to use straight pins.  When matching points we do not want to slide the pin back through.  This shifts the paper and causes our points to get wacky.  Even the slightest movement can throw them off.  So keep them straight up and down.  I find little clips to be very helpful as well, especially when the pieces are a bit large.  Here is an illustration from my Northern Star quilt. 

matching points foundation paper piecing

Notice the pin placements.  At the top and bottom edges, and at major points, they can also be helpful along larger empty spaces between points to keep the foundation lines directly on top of each other.  Here’s a picture of one of my current quilts I’m designing.

perfect points foundation piecing

The pins are at all of the points.  Clips are helping hold everything in place.  (My clips are a cheap off brand from online.  They work wonderfully for so many different situations.  I highly recommend them if you don’t already have some!) 

A side view of the exact same setup.  You can see how my pins are just hanging out the backside. 

foundation piecing perfect matching points

If I carefully open up my foundation sections I can double check to make sure that I’ve gotten my pins at exactly the intersection of fabrics. 

matching points paper piecing

Then I sew them together!   Perfectly matched points! 

perfect foundation paper piecing points

Ok, sometimes they don’t actually match perfectly.  Then what?  Well it depends.  Most of the time I’ll seam rip and redo.   When a line continues to give me trouble I will very carefully match up a point and then just sew that ONE single point, about an inch or so of actual stitching.  That way I’m not getting really frustrated by ripping out a whole line multiple times.   Sometimes a very slight mismatch is deemed ‘close enough’.  I am only a human and not a machine after all! 

Creating complex quilts with foundation piecing doesn’t have to be difficult.  Most of them are truly quite simple when you break them apart.  They just require a bit of precision, a lot of patience, and a seam ripper you enjoy using!

Now go out there and find some points to match up! 

Happy quilting!  ~Jessica

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