Freezer Paper Piecing

Paper piecing is a wonderful technique.  You can piece simple or intricate block patterns and even curves with high degrees of accuracy.

But, it has one major downside–tearing out those tiny, tiny pieces of paper after sewing your blocks. I know that I always distorted the block when I tore out the paper. Fumble fingers!

Oh..the other downside is that with traditional foundation paper piecing, you are sewing upside down and backwards….my head hurts just THINKING about it.

There IS a better way!  You can use the freezer paper technique.

With freezer paper piecing, you do NOT sew through the paper.  You fold back the template and only sew through the fabric.  The video tutorials that I link to show exactly how this is done. This technique has been used for years and years but lately it has seen a resurgence.

I think that freezer paper piecing is a much more painless way to get into ‘foundation paper piecing’.  If I had known about freezer paper piecing back in the day, I probably would have been an earlier convert to paper piecing.

I also love freezer paper piecing because I can combine planned drawn blocks with improv in other parts of a quilt design.

(NOTE:  There are NO affiliate links in this post. I am recommending these resources based on my personal experience, general interest or reviews.)

General Tips

Here are some general tips about using freezer paper for paper piecing.  The videos and tutorials that I link to below cover these tips as well.

  • You can use standard grocery store freezer paper if you plan to TRACE your templates.
  • You can buy ‘specialty’ brands of precut freezer paper sheets that you can use in your home INKJET printer.  Be sure to test your printer to see which side to place UP in the paper tray.  You want to be sure to print on the DULL side. 
  • NEVER use freezer paper in a laser printer at home or in the copy shop.  The laser printers are too hot and will melt the paper.
  • If you plan to use steam or starch, remember that freezer paper can shrink just a tiny bit.  If you are doing precision piecing, make a couple of test blocks with scrap fabric to see if any shrinkage occurs.
  • You don’t need a lot of specialty tools.  You can easily crease your freezer paper using an old credit card!
  • Make a test block!  If there is a right side/wrong side aspect to the pattern pieces, print your templates WITHOUT MIRRORING.  You will be working with your fabric right side up–the opposite of traditional paper piecing where you are sewing backwards.

FREEZER PAPER

If you only need a few sheets, and you plan to trace your templates, you can certainly use standard household brands from the grocery store.

I use freezer paper for making large scale templates as well as occasional paper piecing.  So I bought a LARGE ROLL on Amazon.

Here’s an earlier post about a freezer paper piecing project where I drafted a block for the Aurifil Challenge led by Pat Sloan.

You can also buy specialty freezer paper for quilters–it is precut to fit printers and works better if you want to print directly on to the freezer paper.  I have tried cutting large sheets and run into trouble getting the right fit.   Check your local quilt shops or online stores to see what they carry.

The Quilt Show has its own brand of precut sheets that you can find here. 

I have used the Jenkins brand successfully .

And here’s another brand:

LINKS TO TUTORIALS AND CLASSES

I searched for modern and traditional quilters who have tutorials on freezer paper piecing.  Here area few links.

Rebecca Bryan– Free Tutorial and On Demand Masterclass

Rebecca Bryan of Bryan House Quilts has a wonderful tutorial and a free printable download. Check out her materials HERE.

Rebecca also has a paid on demand Masterclass on this technique.  Get more information HERE.

Tara Faughnan — On Demand Class

Tara has a paid on demand class on freezer paper piecing where she instructs you on how to draft your own templates to make the On Point Quilt.  Then, the techniques you learn are transferable to any freezer paper pieced project.  CLICK HERE FOR INFO.

YOUTUBE VIDEOS

There are tons of YouTube Videos. Here are a few that I recommend watching.  I find that I pick up different tips from different instructors.  Here are a few to check out–I selected these because I found them to be clear and easy to follow.

Bethanne Nemesh has a very clear tutorial HERE. 

Lisa from Quilting in the Valley has a tutorial for a complex block that has CURVES!! Yes, you can paper piece curves….with freezer paper….Joy!!   It is interesting to watch!

Nicole Neblett has a great video on using freezer paper for LARGE scale templates for a block that you craft yourself. Watch HERE.

4 thoughts on “Freezer Paper Piecing”

  1. Nakashima Giuliana

    Hey Carole!
    Thanks for sharing this I love paper piecing but I’ve never done the freezer Paper technique. I’m curious about the paper you show on a roll. Does that fit and run through a printer? I look forward to your segment on the quilt show (I am a member so I’m sure I’ll get a notice) also I love a lot of the African fabrics but I’ve had some problems with colors running. Do you have a recommended seller? Like any fabric I’m sure it makes a difference where you purchased it. Many thanks always enjoy your emails. Giuliana

    1. HI, the freezer paper on a roll is not cut to fit through my printer. You can cut the sheets to standard copy paper size and run it thorugh an inkjet printer. However, I buy the roll because I often make larger templates.

      I buy much of my African Prints fabric from http://www.culturedexpressions.com

      For the most modern prints, I go to https://waxprintsandmore.com/collections/ankara-fabric or search on Etsy for Ankara. Be sure you are looking at 100% cotton because these sellers also sell rayon prints.

      I do a color test for any print fabric. Years ago, I found that fabric running was a major problem. However, in the past few years, very few of these prints run. I have a blog post on testing fabric. https://carolelylesshaw.com/sewing-stash-avoid-disaster-test-colorfastness/

  2. Charlotte A McRanie

    Ive used this technique for years but instead of copying the templates, I stack several layers of freezer paper together staples with the master template. Then I unthread my machine and use the needle to hole punch the lines of the template into the freezer paper including the outer template lines. This has an additional advantage in that it makes it easier to fold along the lines. I then use a micro pen to mark any info (like numbers and colors) on each FP template. My experience has been each piece of FP can be used up to 6 times!

    This technique works really well for large pieces that are bigger then letter size paper.

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