Workshops » Firm Foundations

Firm Foundations

Learn to get absolutely accurate results using foundations

With: Jane Hall
Skill Level: Beginner

Learn to get absolutely accurate results using foundations

Firm Foundations calendar image

4 Lessons
Type: Ebook Workshop
Price: $42.00
Start Anytime!



Stability, precision, speed, and versatility. What more could you ask of a technique? No wonder it has become a basic tool for us. Jane shows you how to piece on top, under neath and with single templates. You will learn how to use the foundation as a stitching guide without actually sewing into it. This is a process class. You will get 21 different block patterns but there is no project. Skill level: beginner to advanced. It helps to have a basic familiarity with piecing and with your sewing machine. Rotary cutting is also an efficient way to work, but foundation piecing can be done with basic tools and can be sewn by hand, if you wish.

Supplies Required for Workshop

There are 21 different blocks in class.  The string block in Lesson Two is 4"; all the rest are 6" square.  You will be asked to make 2-3 blocks for each lesson, but may make as many others as you desire.  All the 6" blocks will fit together so it will be easy for you to make a sampler quilt, tablerunner, wall hanging, tote bag or decorative vest.

  • basic sewing supplies including sewing machine, thread, pins, scissors.
  • rotary cutter, ruler, and mat, if desired
  • pencil, eraser
  • small ruler
  • tracing paper
  • freezer paper

Fabric: Scraps, strips, fat quarters; total of maybe 3-4 yards to make all the blocks

Note: Some blocks will use only two fabrics, others up to 5.  If you are thinking about a coordinated project, I would suggest 1/2 yards of 3-4 medium and dark fabrics, scraps of light, and a yard of background.   These can be prints, batiks, or a run of 6-8 hand dyed fabrics.  This can be a scrap project.

Optional: any of my books about Foundation Piecing, including:

Every Quilter’s Foundation Piecing Tool Jane Hall and Dixie Haywood (C&T Publishing 2009), deals with how to break up all kinds of blocks, simple to complicated, for foundation-piecing.

The Experts’ Guide to Foundation Piecing (C&T Publishing, 2006, Jane Hall) 13 teacher friends discussing their take on the process, each providing a small project for you to practice on.  Some really innovative and different tweaks.

Firm Foundation (AQS 1996, Hall and Haywood) 50 full-size patterns for foundation-pieced blocks, all degrees of difficulty.  Out of print but available as black & white reprint.

For more information, check


Lesson One

The basics

  • Why we would use foundations
  • Types of foundations
  • Marking
  • Fabric cutting, including triangle lesson
  • Basic under pressed piecing: six sample blocks with patterns and directions
    • Geese Over the Cabin - whole block
    • Snail’s Trail - whole block
    • Dutchman’s Puzzle - 2 equal segments
    • Rambler - 3 diagonal segments
    • Pinwheel - 4 equal segments
    • Featherbone - 8 equal segments

Lesson Two

Two completely different foundation piecing techniques

  • Top pressed piecing
    • String block - simple random diagonal strings
    • Crazy pieced block - randomly pieced shapes of fabric
  • Single template piecing
    • Hexagon Flower - all set-in seams.
    • 8-Pointed Star - 8 diamonds
    • Interlocked Squares - intertwined shapes, strips and triangles
    • Rocky Road to Kansas - uses all 3 foundation techniques

Lesson Three

More complex designs

  • Breaking blocks into irregular shapes
  • Discuss coding foundations with colors and grain lines
  • Learn about cutting templates for accurate fabric placement
  • Choose from six blocks with patterns and directions
    • Card Trick - 4 asymmetric segments
    • The Palm -  2 diagonal segments, long skinny points
    • Starry Path - 4 diagonal segments, single fabric cutting
    • Dusty Miller - 8 segments, several techniques
    • Delectable Mountains -  8 segments, skinny and fat
    • Mariner’s Compass - 2 foundation techniques plus hand appliqué

Lesson Four


  • Finishing touches 
    • joining blocks
    • block-to-block
    • with sashing
  • Borders
    • basics
    • simple string
    • crazy pieced
  • Strip piecing designs, three blocks with patterns and directions
    • Mock Log Cabin - 4-section strip pieced design
    • Spiderweb - 8-section strip pieced block
    • Crossroads - 8-pointed star strip pieced block
  • Tweaks and variations to the basic foundation techniques

Student's projects