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The 4 Types of Paper You Can Use for Foundation Paper Piecing

When it comes to foundation paper piecing your quilt blocks, there are several types of paper  you can choose from. A few things to keep in mind when making your decision are things like cost, the scale of your project and ease of use. Foundation paper piecing is a technique used by quilters to get very accurate stitches on a design that might by trickier to piece with templates. Keep reading to learn about the four types of paper that can be used for this process!  

Holding paper piecing up to the light

1. Computer printer paper

Of all the options, this is my favorite to use for foundation paper piecing. It is inexpensive, readily available and it fits in your printer so you can easily print out designs from your computer!

Tips for using computer paper for quilting:

  • When foundation piecing with computer printer paper, shorten your stitch length to 1.3 and use a standard size needle.
  • Sew near a window to make use of natural light, or use a light box, to see the design through the paper.
  • If you are having a hard time ripping out the paper or are getting little tidbits of paper in the seams, make your stitch length even smaller.

2. Children’s drawing paper (blank newsprint)

You know the paper you find in most coloring books for kids, similar in weight and appearance to a newspaper? Well, if you ever see some of this paper for sale (such as in a drawing pad) you can use it for your next project. 

Tips for using drawing paper in quilting:

  • This paper is easy to see through with a light source behind it.
  • You’ll likely need to trace your paper piecing pattern directly onto the paper, unless you find an 8.5″ x 11″ size that fits in your printer.
  • This paper is flimsier so double check your work before you start sewing.
  • You can use a slightly larger stitch length, like 1.6, since this paper tears more easily than computer paper.

3. Quilt shop foundation papers

Many quilt shops carry paper sheets that are specifically meant for paper piecing! While these may be pricier than regular printer paper, the quality can be worth it. Many quilters say that once they’ve found their perfect foundation paper, they won’t go back.

Tips for working with quilt shop papers:

  • Reviews are a great way to select the best paper. Look for a pack with plenty of sheets sized to fit in the printer. Carol Doak’s Foundation Paper works in most inkjet or laser printers or copy machines.
  • These papers hold up well during stitching but are lightweight and easy to tear away after you’re done.
  • These specialty papers are great for tracing designs by hand as well. 

4. Freezer paper

Freezer paper is available in many grocery stores. It’s great for a variety of crafts because it can be temporarily ironed to the fabric. If your paper sticks to the fabric more than desired, warm it with your iron before ripping it off the back.

Tips for working with freezer paper:

  • Cut the paper to 8.5″ x 11″ when feeding it through the printer. Print the design on the non-sticky side.

  • Freezer paper is about the same thickness as printer paper. You’ll want to use a short stitch length of 1.3 and a standard size needle.

  • Freezer paper is more transparent than printer paper as well. It is good for tracing and seeing your fabric through the opposite side.

template on computer paper for paper piecing

14 Comments

Christina in FL

My favorite is inexpensive computer paper also.
That said, if you print your designs out with a laser printer, be aware ironing will transfer the toner to your fabric. I learned this the hard way.

Reply
Pat

You can get a Newsprint paper from Art Supply places at a reasonable price. It works good in your printer and is easier to tear from your stitched block.

Reply
Alice R.

Another great option I learned about in a quilt class: waxed sandwich wrap paper sheets (you can find in big box store or restaurant stores. You can’t draw on it easily, but if you stack about 10 or so together, pin or staple, then sew through a copy of your pattern on top without thread, you can make many patterns at once. It is light, thin and easy to remove. Just save your pattern to refer back to for stitching order.

Reply
Marlene Clausen

I don’t like to paper piece, but sometimes it is the only way to get the block I want. I have tried everything possible for paper. I have two recommendations. If you want to use newsprint, go to your local newspaper and ask to purchase an end roll. You will get years’ worth for next to nothing (and sometimes they do actually do give it to you for free). Tip: save your worn out rotary cutter blades for cutting it into 8.5 x 11 sheets.

The best commercial foundation paper I’ve used is Carol Doak’s. It is by far the least expensive, I buy the 100 sheet packs. It removes easily, is sturdy, and easily seen through when placing fabric. Every other paper I’ve used, including commercial foundation paper, I end up pre-sewing all the lines without thread to make placement and removal easier.

Reply
Darlene Edwards

Great ideas and hints! I’ve used most of these and like Carol Doak’s paper the best . Yes, it costs a little more, but it’s much easier to sew on and take off.

Reply
Bernice Friedman

i have found that it is worth the additional expense of using foundation paper. when i do not have that, i go with printer paper. Freezer paper is more expensive unless you purchase a large roll. This roll of paper may last through my lifetime, unless you are making a king size quilt.

Reply
Sue Ryckman

Great info! Thanks!

Reply
Cindy

Another choice is tracing paper which is what I use. it’s thin, is easily seen through, and tears easily. I often can get a pad on sale at Michaels.

Reply
Margaret Minton

No need to see through the paper! If you fold it back along the stitching line, you can trim the already-stitched fabric to give you a quarter-inch seam allowance, then match up the edge with the new piece. Squinting through the paper is so primitive.

Reply
Dottie

My favorite is tracing paper as you don’t need a light source to see through it. Yes, it can be fed through an inkjet printer as long as it is only one sheet at a time. Works great: can print, sew and rip away easily. VBG

Reply
Erica Kaprow

I find that dollar store loose leaf paper works great. The thinner, the better but make sure
that it’s 8-1/2×11″.

Reply
Elaina K.

I also prefer using tracing paper for foundation paper piecing like this when quilting. It is transparent, and goes through the printer with no issues. It tears off easily after and obviously I can sew through it smoothly without issue. Meets all my requirements and is also fairly inexpensive!

Reply
beginner

What about “onionskin” paper we used to use years ago for air mail letters? Any one try those?

Reply
Kathleen Herbach

Can parchment paper be used and if not, why not?

Reply

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