Gail Garber Designs

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Gail's Terrific Tips

Cutting the Main Fabric for Paper Foundation Piecing

One of the biggest problems quilters encounter in paper foundation piecing, regardless of the foundation used, is figuring out how large to cut the fabrics so that they will cover the desired section with enough left over for seam allowance.  I’ve devised a general rule and a corresponding acronym to help make remembering the steps easier.  I call this,


M = Measure the width and the height of the piece.  See the grain lines below.

A = Add an inch to each measurement

C = Cut this size for each piece that is the same size in your quilt top.

For example, if your measurements are 2 1/2″ x 6″, cut a rectangle that measures 3 1/2″ x 7″.

exampleThis method works very well for pieces like the “flying goose” shown above because the grain lines of the rectangle that is cut are the same as the piece that it will cover.

Cutting Fabric for the Background Pieces.

However, when cutting the pieces for the background of a shape, in cases where the background is a Half Square Triangle, the rules are different.  The background cutting method described below adjusts so that the grain line remains parallel with the outside edge of the piece.  This is very helpful in eliminating unnecessary stretching.

The acronym for this method is called,


M = Measure the longest side of the background triangle (not the hypotenuse).

A = Add two inches.

C = Cut a square that measures two inches larger than the longest side.

For example, if your longest side is 3″, cut a 5″ square.


Then, cut the square in half on the diagonal.  Each square that is cut will make two background pieces.