Piecing Big Curves Without Losing Width

My friend, Tam, and I met for a sew day. She had a patchwork top that she wanted to add curves to, but couldn’t spare any width. She had a plan, but I was a skeptic. So we tested it on stash fabric that can become a charity quilt, and width won’t matter on it. Spoiler: She was right. The method is a bit fiddly, but when a detail is important, fiddly is worth it.

We laid the curved piece (green) on top of the whole fabric (print)–both right sides up–and marked along the curve.

curve-first mark

We used a hera marker because the fine line helped accuracy. Next we marked a second line half an inch UNDER the green.

curve--second mark

Note: we took photos from both sides of the table, so you can’t tell from the above that the second line was under the green. The measuring gadget helped accuracy, but any ruler would do.  We could not make continuous lines because the straight line of the ruler didn’t match the curve. So we made many single marks and joined them. Again with the hera marker, though I had to go back and use chalk on the cutting line. Tam’s eyesight was better than mine–she needed only the hera marked line.

Before cutting, we marked registration marks to aid in matching the two pieces.

curve first dot

We laid the green back matching the line drawn along the edge. The first mark was a short right-angle line across the cut line, marking both fabrics. We started with an erasable marker that was aqua–it showed up fine on the green but minimally on the print, so we supplemented with chalk. So that we wouldn’t confuse the marks, we used one perpendicular line, then two, then three, then back to one, etc.

So that we could see the mark when joining the pieces and when stitching, we needed a second mark on the cutting line under the green.

curve--inner dot

These too were 1,2,3,1 … little perpendicular lines.

Next we cut along the line that was half an inch from the edge under the green (had it been lying there). (If there is any mistake I’d make doing this, it would be to measure the second line the wrong way or to cut on the wrong line. I paid close attention, and Tam helped keep me on the correct line.)

curve-cutting line

We used scissors; it would have been possible, freehand, with a rotary cutter–whichever helps you be most accurate.  You can see how wide the chalk line is, so had I been able to use only the hera line, it would have been more precise.

The green is returned and placed edge to edge–right sides up. One will be turned so that they are right sides together.  Whichever piece has the concave curve (or the most concave curves) goes on top. In this case, the green had two long concave curves and the blue only one small one.

curve--concave on top

I am pointing to the blue convex curve.

Next, because marks were so hard to see on the print, we pinned at the registration marks.

curve--matching dots

The three little lines are clear on the green and the white barely visible on the print.

Notice that the pieces don’t look like they fit.


However, only about an inch has to fit at a time.

Sew a quarter-inch seam.


Had the marks shown better, I would have done my preferred no-pin method–it gives more flexibility in aligning the two pieces. When doing no-pin, I keep looking ahead to see how close the registration marks are and tug gently on the piece that looks like it might fall short. The gentler the cut curve, the easier it is to sew.

Press from the top, whichever way the seam wants to lie.


Finished, it lies almost flat.

curve--lies flat

The first curve lay perfectly flat–no photo, kinda like the fish that got away. This bit of pooch will quilt out. I think it happened because of the S-curve, the change in convex/concave. Or it could be because my chalk mark wasn’t as precise as Tam’s mark with the hera marker on the first curve.

But what is important is that the edges meet.

curve--edges even

Here is the finished section to show how large the curves.

curve--finished piece

Large curves, though unwieldy, tend to be gentler, so easier to manage.

A few more sections, also with curved piecing, and it will be a child sized top.




Filed under quilting, tutorial, Uncategorized

585 Pages Later

You might have noticed that I’ve not been posting much of my own quilting. I’ve been reading to make up for the time spent last month quilting for the show.

I highly recommend this book.

AmericanahAmericanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The novel tells of Ifemeu and Obinze, their lives in Nigeria, US, and UK. Along with them are many other well developed characters, major and minor. A few who made short appearances were two-dimensional. We learn many ways to be Nigerian and American through the characters, but none of them existed only to be illustrations.

I enjoyed all 580+ pages, and was in suspense till the very end as to the conclusion. And I would have found it a satisfying read if it had ended in two of the three ways I’d anticipated, tolerable for the third. And every page was necessary to get to that conclusion.

The narrative movement was not chronological, though there was a clear timeline to the present section. The back story appeared more thematically as it related to the present story. The bulk of the novel was back story.

The social commentary was well handled, never controlling the narrative, appearing often through Ifemelu’s blog–first through subject lines, then through actual entries. Other appearances through conversations of Ifemelu and her friends. Always natural and appropriate to the context. An outsider’s view on US race issues was revealing as were observations on gender roles in both US and Nigeria.

The style is worth remarking. Vivid descriptions help evoke an unfamiliar world. Images, such as “yet there was cement in her soul” (7) and “the air wrinkling between them”(338) evoke the interior of the characters and conversations.

It leads me to want to read her other works.

View all my reviews



Filed under books, Uncategorized

Quilt Show–Traditional or Modern?

These last quilts meet some tradition and some modern criteria. Sometimes it seems thinking in a continuum instead of in categories makes more sense. There were a couple quilts in the second show post that I thought also had some features of each. If I’d planned ahead to this post, I’d have saved them for it.

I think I remember others having distinguished between contemporary quilts and modern quilts that follow the “modern aesthetic.” In that classification, these would perhaps be contemporary quilts. There is no doubt in my mind that future historians would look at them and know they were made early twenty-first century.

NW Calypso

Jan Laus’ “Calypso”; quilted by Robin Hill

“Calypso” design comes from Smith and Milligan’s Simple to Sensational Batiks.

NW Radiant Suns

Darlene Miller’s “Radiant Suns”

“Radiant Suns” is a pattern by Cara Gulati.

There are those who question whether modern quilts can be made with batiks. I’ve heard other such absolutes be modified in a year or so.

NW Suitcase quilt

Carol Brown’s “Suitcase Quilt”; quilted by Carol Parks

Carol’s design source is “Trip X 2,” […] Designs. Alas I cut off too much of the right side of the label to read the full name.  This quilt won the Linda Tamlyn award for best use of color. Well deserved, don’t you think?

NW Splat

Jackie Putnam’s “Splat”

Jackie followed Bethany Reynolds’ Stack and Whack method. Sometimes I wonder at the source of a quilt name.There must be a story.

NW Quilt of Valor

Charel Walker’s Quilt of Valor; quilted by Colleen Barnhardt

Charel’s design came from American Patchwork & Quilting magazine. Quite a few guild members  make quilts of valor.

And I remembered quilting shots on this one and the next one.

NW quilt of valor detail

Nw orange parfait

Kazumi Peterson’s “Orange Parfait”

NW orange parfait detail

Kazumi modified a Fons and Porter “Easy Quilts” design. Her award is for the small pieced quilt category.

I just want to say again that what category I place a quilt into (or that others do) has nothing to do with how much I enjoy a quilt.  This is the last show post and I look forward to the next show.





Filed under quilting, Uncategorized

Guild Quilt Show #3–Traditional

The moment some of you have been waiting for, traditional quilts.There are enough that I am splitting them into two posts. Today’s are the clearly traditional.

For starters, a vintage quilt–the show has a section where members can exhibit old quilts that they own but did not make.

NWT rose of sharon

circa 1900 by Elizabeth Hoppin (1849-1932), “Rose of Sharon”

This quilt won first place in the Oregon State Fair in 1933–exhibited as an antique quilt even then.

Another applique quilt–this one contemporary.

NWT Nature's Flower Garden

Mary Glassmeyer’s “Nature’s Flower Garden”

Mary adapted this from a Fons and Porter 2014 pattern, “Garden Window.”She substituted yo-yos for flat circles.

NWT nature's - detail

Detail: yo-yos

I love the bug print for the green leaves!

Then there are the Dear Jane and the Farmers’ Wife quilts.

NWT oh dear

Christine Jiun Li’s “Oh Dear!”; quilted by Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting

Christine said she wasn’t a quilter before she started this; what a way to begin!

portland summer

Christine Jiun Li’s “Portland Summer” from the Farmer’s Wife book; quilted by Nancy Stovall

NWT portland summer detail

I remembered this and a couple other quilting shots.

Did you notice that both of these detailed, small-block quilts were pieced by the same person?  That is an amazing amount of tiny piecing.!

And a crazy quilt.

NWT crazy quilt

Carol Davies’ “Noah’s Ark”

And some detail of the embroidery and animal prints.

The Sharon Guthrie award is an award to a person showing a quilt for the first time. Sharon is a guild member who died; her family memorializes her in this award and comes to the show to select the winning quilt.

And we still have some hand quilting.

NWT lone star

Evelyn M. Eason’s Lone Star quilt

I have only the traditional pattern name; my photo of the label cut Evelyn’s title off. The award ribbon is for hand quilting. So here is a detail.

NWT Lone Star detail

And last but not least, some miniatures.

NWT mini

I left the extraneous detail in so you could have a sense of how small these are. I can’t tell you who made them because I forgot to photograph the labels. But I do have a detail shot of the ribbon quilt.

NWT mini ribbon

As I recall the 4-patch pieces were either 1/8 or 1/4 inch.

In a couple days I’ll post some more, some that are borderline modern/traditional.






Filed under Uncategorized

Quilt Show–Second Installment of Modern

Now for the modern quilts (in my eye) that were not so labeled.  In some cases it may have been a factor of size–big bed quilts have to hang on big frames (and the committee has the right to change categories). First the biggest, the queen sized quilt:

NWM2 aviatrix

Tam Gardner’s modification of Elizabeth Hartman’s “Aviatrix Medallion”

Tam’s quilt was quilted by Jolene Knight of Good Knight Quilts–I apologize for not having photos of the quilting–or of any of the quilting for this group.

NWM2too much for me

Maureen Orr Eldred’s “Just a Little Too Much For Me” quilted by Kathy Morrison.

Maureen used “It’s a Plus” pattern by Brigitte Heitland of Zen Chic.

NWM2 red sunrise

Marjorie Rhine’s “Red Sunrise,” an original design

Marjorie Rhine reappears via her pattern, “Rotini.”

NWM2 Bali-tini

Nikki Schoeffel’s Bali-tini

NWM2 polka dot com

Kathleen E Schmidt’s”Polka Dot Com 2016″

Kathleen used a Freddy Moran pattern, Dot Con, and the quilting is by Jolene Knight.

NWM2 baskets

Sharon Bishop’s “Wonky Baskets”

Sharon took a workshop with Kristen Shields but produced her own free form, liberated baskets and layout design. Kazumi Peterson did the quilting.

NWM2 reverse star

Pieced and quilted by Kathy Morrison

My photograph of the label doesn’t show Kathy’s title; it does show that the pattern came from the Missouri Star Quilt Company.

These quilts each struck me as modern in some way or another. I am always interested in definitions and would welcome comments about the degree of modernness that you see or don’t see in them.  Although I can get caught up in discussion of criteria, it doesn’t inhibit my quilting style or appreciation.





Filed under Uncategorized

Quilt Show–Quilts Labeled ‘Modern’

This is the first year my local guild has had a modern category, and there were a good number entered in it.  There were also modern quilts in other categories. Today I’ll share some of the self-labeled modern ones. Not all of them, though.  I took photos on two days and got two of some quilts and none of others. I need to become more methodical.

The show is not juried, but each category does have one quilt that gets a ribbon. Here is the modern one.

NWM Reach for the Stars

Colleen Barnhardt’s “Reach for the Stars”

No question why this is the one with the ribbon; isn’t that quilting wonderful? And the asymmetrical design. Here are some close ups.

The quilt is original design using traditional blocks; one of my favorite quilting designs is the ghosting of a block.

Here are more:

NWM Bedtime Stories

Karen Nelson’s “Bedtime Stories”

Karen attributes this one to a Rachel Kerley “Splat” class–unfamiliar to me. She says it is a way to showcase special fabrics. I didn’t get a detail of the quilting, though it would have deserved it.

NWM delightfully deco

Chelsea McLennan-West’s “Delightfully Deco”

The quilt was part of a quilt-along led by Christa Watson. Several people helped paper piece the quilt, and it was quilted by Debbie Scroggy.

NWM hearts and points

Etta Gordon’s “Hearts and Points” from Elizabeth Hartman’s pattern, “Pointy”

NWM triple play

Christine Jiun Li’s “Triple Play,” an original design

NWM sparkle punch

Dianna Miller’s quilt from Elizabeth Hartman’s “Sparkle Punch” pattern; quilted by Jolene Knight.

And I got a quilting detail shot of this one.

NWM sparkle punch detail

Of course, I also took the chance to get upright photos of my two quilts.

Skyline --hanging


without orange--hanging

Without Orange There Would Be No Blue

Quilts can be put for sale at the show, hence the red sign. There are not many sales as most viewers are quilters who can make their own. The quilts with green signs are from the treasure hunt, a gimmick to entertain the younger set who may not willingly have come to the show.  Another feature for the young ones (and adults) is Build-A-Block. Parts are set out and folks can design blocks that fit the 9-patch construction format.  Blocks are sewn as turned in and eventually assembled into charity quilts.

Tomorrow I’ll show some modern quilts that were not so labeled, and the post after that will be of traditional quilts.



Filed under quilting, Uncategorized

What’s the Worst that Would Happen …?

I always find it helpful to be reminded to keep fear in perspective!

Catbird Quilt Studio

[Note: I published this long ago, in the early days of this blog. Recently I read a post by Kathy Loomis on fear and art, wondering if we focus on the fear too much, teaching fear rather than boldness. That may be so. But the most important thing to learn about fear in art and in most making is, there is really nothing to be afraid of. In that context, I post this again.]

A friend recently posted on Facebook, “Usually I’m a pretty good cook… today was not one of those days. Man did I mess breakfast up. Oh well, the dogs liked it.”

I said, “If you ask yourself ‘what’s the worst that would happen if…’ and the answer is that the dogs will get to eat it, you might as well try it!”

There’s a lot of stuff I don’t try in my quilting. Sometimes I…

View original post 828 more words


Filed under Uncategorized