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.

curve--pinned

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

Sew a quarter-inch seam.

curve--stitch

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.

curve--press

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.

 

 

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7 Comments

Filed under quilting, tutorial, Uncategorized

7 responses to “Piecing Big Curves Without Losing Width

  1. Interesting tutorial, I’ll bookmark it for future reference. One day, I’ll need to know how to do this!

  2. Cher

    I got a bit lost along the way..but..how cool that you figured it out!

  3. Love the t-shirt! Thanks for the tutorial!

  4. dezertsuz

    I love the t-shirt, too. Paul would have, as well. My favorite of his, and I wear it sparingly, says, “Keep staring. I might do a trick.” Thanks for the photo-enchanced tutorial. I can see why you needed real markings, as I can’t rely on a hera marker, either. Good ideas, and I’ll keep it in mind when I want to do curves. Thanks to both of you for coming up with it, and for sharing it.

  5. Whew! Good on you for figuring it out! Looks like a lot of work!

  6. Very helpful! Though I admit, I would probably take the easy way out and applique… 8)

  7. Nice work. I would have just cut the blue to match the green, then sewed together. I do a lot of curves that way, but I’m thinking there must have been a reason why you needed that 1/4″ on both.
    Love that T-shirt. You crack me up.
    E.

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