Foundation vs. No Foundation

crazy free form quilting

Learn the advantages and disadvantages of using a foundation as opposed to no foundation.  You’ll find a link to the video handout below along with the transcript.

download transcripts Pros and cons of foundation verses no foundation


download transcripts Video Transcript: Crazy or Free Form Quilting > Foundation vs. No Foundation (#2 of 6 Videos)

0:02 There are two different sewing techniques to use to crazy or free form quilt. One method involves sewing fabric to a foundation. The other technique involves sewing fabric sections together. Each method has its pros and cons

0:20 A foundation is a piece of paper or fabric that provides stability when sewing. When you use this foundation you don’t have to worry when you want to sew different types of fabric together such as heavy velvet to a lighter silk. Most of the traditional crazy quilts were sewn on foundation. If I didn’t use a foundation I would probably have to limit myself to just using fabrics that were the same type and weight like just using a hundred percent cotton fabric. So a foundation will allow you to use almost all types of fabrics in your project.

0:56 When you sew fabric to a foundation you don’t have to worry much about fabrics cut on the bias. The foundation acts as a stabilizer. Here are two fabrics that have been cut on the bias and then sewn together into these two blocks. On a foundation there’s no stretch. When I don’t use a foundation there’s a lot of stretch. This could lead to distortion in your final piece.

1:2 A foundation also helps me to see where I’m going. It’s like a canvas that you get to paint with fabric. This foundation gives you structure when adding fabrics. Without a foundation you might get lost and make your piece too big or too small. These are all great reasons for using a foundation.

1:42 If I use the paper foundation then I have an extra step at the end of this project. I need to tear all this paper off. If I use a Muslim foundation then my quilt gets heavier twice as thick and it’s difficult to quilt through.

1:58 Number one reason why I don’t like to use a foundation is that I’m limited with my free form piecing. Once I sew it down I can’t move it unless I want to rip it out with the seam ripper. Often I piece it together and then I decide I don’t like something. For example, I don’t like this big piece of white in the center here. If I want to change it I have to rip out all of these pieces or just start over.

2:22 Now here’s a piece that’s been sewn without a foundation. If I want to change this piece all I need to do is cut it out or cut it smaller. Let me turn this. I can either cut here or cut the whole piece out. Let’s do that.

2:40 This is what’s left. Then maybe I’d want to come in and sew those two together but I actually think I’d like a little bit of white. So let’s cut it at an angle like this. It’s a little better without so much white in the center. So you can see I have more options when I’m not using a foundation.

2:59 For the rest of the videos in this series I’ll be demonstrating how to sew these strips together without a foundation. If you want to experiment with foundation sewing why not try one of our small projects? These cards were made by sewing on foundations.

3:18 Go to and click on “Small Projects”. In about an hour you can learn to free form quilt on a paper foundation. You only need a few scraps of fabric and your sewing supplies. This is also a good project for teaching kids how to sew on a machine as it doesn’t take a lot of skills or time to complete the card.

3:39 Thank you for visiting If you like this video, please share it with your friends. For more videos about free form quilting visit our “Beginner Basics” section and click on “Crazy or Free Form Quilting”.

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