Foundation Paper Piecing Beginner Tutorial

Economy Square Block

Learn to foundation paper piece

You will need

Motif fabric for centre squares: cut one 4” x 4” square (fussy cut area is 3” x 3”)

Yellow fabric for smaller triangle: cut two small squares 3 1/2” x 3 1/2”

Pink fabric for smaller triangles: cut two medium squares 4 1/2” x 4 1/2”

Economy Square template printed on to Patterntrace Foundation Paper at 100%

Fabric glue stick (e.g. Sewline)

A postcard

Rotary cutter

Add-a-quarter ruler (optional but very useful for FPP)


Materials for sewing an economy block



-Seam allowances are 1/4” throughout.

-Using solid fabrics which have no right or wrong side is easier than printed fabric for foundation paper piecing and there is less waste.

-Download the template here. 



Cut the template out adding an extra 1/4” beyond the outer dashed seam allowance lines for extra wiggle room. Cut each of the small and medium fabric squares in half along the diagonal; there will be four triangles in each of the two colours.


Best foundation paper for foundation piecing

Place the centre square so the wrong side of the fabric is against the unprinted side of the template over the area of piece 1. Hold up to the light to check that the centre fabric square edges extend at least 1/4” beyond the piece 1 centre square seam lines on the template (see the picture above).


Learn how to do foundation piecing

Stick the fabric to the paper with a small swipe of glue stick.


Supplies needed for foundation piecing

Place the template printed side up on a cutting mat. Place the edge of a postcard precisely along the seam line between pieces 1 and 2 and fold the template paper back over the postcard edge to reveal the centre square fabric edge underneath. With an Add-a-quarter ruler or a quilt ruler, line up the ruler so that 1/4” extends over the centre square fabric and trim the excess. This creates the 1/4” seam allowance. On an Add-a-quarter ruler there is a ‘lip’ to make this easier.

How to do foundation piecing

Take one of the small yellow triangles and line up the longest edge right sides together with the centre square fabric edge that has just been trimmed. Make sure the triangle is placed centrally and evenly, carefully fold the template paper back so the fabric pieces stays in place underneath and place a couple of pins through the paper and the fabrics along the seam line.

Economy block tutorial

Flip over to the fabric side and check that your fabric is positioned correctly by folding the yellow outwards, it should extend over all piece 2 seam lines by at least 1/4”. Take your template and pinned fabric to your sewing machine.

Sewing on foundation paper

Carefully place your template, printed side upwards under the sewing machine foot. Set the stitch length to short,1-2mm. For this seam you are only going to sew the seam line marked on the template, your stitches shouldn’t extend beyond this at either end of the seam! To be precise, it helps to position your needle into place at the start of the seam by hand turning your sewing machine handwheel towards you.

Small stitching for foundation piecing

Once the needle is in position, drop the presser foot down and start to sew. Take a few stitches forward and back to secure the seam, then stitch along the marked seam line.

Quilting products

Stop exactly at the end of the seam line – a couple of stitches over the line is better than not sewing to the end of the seam – back stitch a few stitches to secure.  Your first FPP seam is sewn!

At the ironing board, open the yellow triangle out and briefly press making sure that the seam between the centre square and the yellow triangle is fully opened out.

Economy block tutorial

Repeat the above steps for the second yellow triangle, piece 3 on the template.

Repeat those steps to add the third and fourth yellow triangles for pieces 4 and 5. Your first set of triangles are all in place.

Learn how to sew a foundation pieced economy block

As before, place the edge of a postcard precisely along the seam line between pieces 2, 5 and 6 and fold the template paper back over the postcard edge to reveal the fabric underneath. With an Add-a-quarter ruler or a quilt ruler, line up the ruler so that 1/4” extends over the small yellow triangle fabric and trim the excess as shown in the image above.

Beginner's quilting tutorials

Repeat the same process for the seam line between pieces 3, 4 and 7. Add the medium pink triangles for pieces 6 and 7 by using the same technique as with the yellow triangles.

Foundation paper made in the UK

Continue as before to add the final medium pink triangles. Press your block. Trim your block so that it measures 6 1/2” square and your outer seam points  are 1/4” from the edge.

How to tear out foundation paper

To remove the template paper start from the last seam sewn and tear the paper towards the centre of the seam rather than the start or end, then tear away from the seam. This prevents placing extra strain at the seam ends and the possibility of loosening any stitches. Your block is complete!

Economy block tutorial for beginners

This tutorial was written by quilting author, and blogger Kerry Green, find her on Instagram @verykerryberry.  Kerry sells her gorgeous vintage style foundation paper piecing patterns here.


If you can’t wait to get foundation piecing we’ve rounded up some great free foundation paper pieced patterns on our blog. 

Free foundation paper piecing patterns