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Fixing Mistakes in Foundation Paper Piecing Without a Seam Ripper!

When I first started foundation paper piecing, I made a lot of mistakes. Obviously over time my skills have improved and while these days these mistakes do happen much less often, even the most seasoned quilter would be lying if they said they didn't make the occasional mistake.

Every Quilter makes mistakes on occasion. Here's an example of a mistake I made recently when I was constructing my Baby Chick quilt blocks for a mini quilt swap!

The most common mistakes I tend to make these days when I am making a paper pieced quilt block, are cutting my fabric too short so it doesn't cover the section fully, or sewing the wrong fabric to a section. However, there are a couple of tricks I use to fix these mistakes in my foundation paper piece projects which don't involve reaching for the seam ripper.

Rather than spending ages pulling out those tiny stitches and risking ruining your fabric, as long as you spot your mistake right away and not after sewing the next section of fabric then it's likely that one of these methods will be helpful in fixing a paper piecing faux par:

Mistake #1. The scrap of Fabric I chose, was not big enough to cover my section!:

I've have made this mistake a lot in the past. Especially when I was first starting out. The obvious answer to this is to always use a piece bigger than you need and you will never have this issue. But if you are like me and like to use your scraps, and don't want to waste too much fabric, then this mistake is bound to happen at some point. So what do you do when it does?

In this photo you can see that I have cut my fabric too short and there is no seam allowance. Using a Pencil and a ruler I have drawn a new line on the pattern along the edge where my fabric was too short. Then I added another piece of fabric the same colour using my new line as a guide. That way the entire section is now covered in fabric and you wont notice in the finished quilt block.

How to fix it:

Don't panic. This is actually a pretty easy thing to fix, especially if you are using solids or a small print (it may be a bit more noticeable if you have chosen something with a large print).

Take a look at the block and estimate how much more fabric you would need to cover that little bit extra. Do you have enough of the same fabric in your scrap pile to cover that small piece? If the answer is no, then you might be stuck with having to rip the seam and starting again.

However, if you have another piece of fabric about the right size then grab a pencil and a ruler and draw a new line1/4" from the edge of where your fabric ends, place another scrap here and sew the new line you have created, just like you would for any other line on the pattern!

Here's an example of where I used this method to fix this mistake in my Goat Quilt Block Pattern, and honestly, you probably wouldn't notice I made a mistake, if I didn't point it out:

An example of a foundation paper piecing mistake that has been fixed. I cut this section of fabric too short on my Goat Quilt Block when I was making it, and fixed it by adding an extra seam.

Don't be too concerned about the extra seam line in your template. As long as you have used the right fabric, it is unlikely that anyone except you would notice it anyway and it will be even less noticeable once your block has been quilted into your larger project. Remember most of the time we are more critical of our own work than others are!

Mistake #2. Oh No! I used the wrong fabric in a section:

It's easy enough to do. Even when I plan out my fabrics, and use a foundation template that has been printed in colour, a slip in concentration can lead to accidentally attaching an incorrect fabric to a section every now and then. It could be a sign that you need to take a quick break from your sewing machine and get yourself a cup of tea or coffee. But the important thing is that as long as you notice the mistake straight away (most of the time I notice when I go to iron my seam open) you can fix it!

How to fix it:

Some people won't like this idea, because it does create a little extra bulk in the seam. But if you really want to avoid using your seam ripper then it's another technique you can use if you wish. Chances are that you have trimmed your seam and ironed it open before realising that you made this mistake. If not - go ahead and iron your seam open. Fold your paper back and trim along the seam, as if the fabric you placed incorrectly was never there.

Iron the seam open and then trim it back to the seam allowance as shown here. You can see here that after trimming I have placed the fabric I want on top of the old seam allowance. Once the new fabric is added it is hard to tell that you initially had the wrong fabric in your quilt block!

Then place your new fabric directly over the old seam and sew the same line again just to the side, so you are using your previous stitches as a guide, but covering them at the same time. You may disagree, however apart from the slightly bulkier seam, I personally don't believe this solution causes too much of an issue. I should note that this solution may not work as well if you are replacing the fabric with a lighter colour, as the darker fabric underneath will show through along the seam line (this is called shadowing).

Its always a little bit frustrating when you make a mistake in your paper piecing project, but knowing these paper piecing hacks can certainly make it easier to enjoy your quilting time even when you do make a mistake.

The important thing to remember is that quilting is supposed to be fun and relaxing!

Enjoy your foundation paper piecing project! Happy Quilting, Rachel