If you’re new to sewing curves they can seem intimidating at first. So we have complied a list of our top 6 tips for success to share with you. Recently we held a free live curves piecing workshop. We want to help every quilter become confident sewing curves so we’re sharing a recording of one of the workshop sessions with you today!
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Tip 1. Verify your templates
If you’re printing out your own templates for a pattern it’s important to confirm they printed out at the correct size. Most templates come with a test square. This square is often 1″ x 1″. Before cutting out your template pieces you will want to measure this square. If it’s off even a little then your templates are going to cause you issues. If your test square isn’t measuring the correct size then you will want to check your printer settings. Be sure your scale is set to 100% and not fit to page. Taking a moment to check your templates could save you hours of unpicking and frustration when sewing curves.
Want to know more about sewing with templates? Check out our 5 Secrets to Making Quilts With Templates.
Tip 2. Use Lots of pins
It’s true that many people sew curves without using pins, however they can be a very useful tool. We recommend using three pins at a minimum. You want to pin the pieces together at their centers and at each end point. Using more pins to keep everything in place as you work also helps, but sew over them at your own risk. We take zero responsibility for any broken needles flying into your eyes. You have officially been warned to do as I say and not as I occasionally do.
Tip 3. Press towards the center
So much can go wrong when pieces curves that can be traced back to your iron. If you’re moving your irons around your pieced curves instead of only pressing them you can easily misshapen the pieces. This is because curved pieces naturally have a lot of bias in them. Personally I don’t use steam when I’m ironing curves and I give them a good spritz of starch.
Our pressing direction of choice is the press our background piece seams towards the center. An exception to this rule is when we’re nesting two Drunkard’s Path blocks together. In this scenario we alternate pressing the seam towards the center and towards the outside. This gives us the ability to nest the seams together when joing the blocks. Typically we avoid pressing the seam open because this can weaken the seam.
Tip 4. Always Trim
Sometimes after piecing a curved seam your blocks might look off or not pretty. Don’t let this stop you, because it’s happening to even the most seasoned curves piecer. These type of blocks are intended to be squared up. Most designers include excess in their templates for this purpose.
Tip 5. Go Slow
I’ve been labeled as a fast piecer. Although this is true I always slow down and take my time when sewing curves. Sewing curves is one of those techniques where patience can make all of the difference in the ease and quality of your work. So slow that needle down and enjoy the curvy ride.
Tip 6. Keep your Needle Down
Accept that puckers are going to happen, but know you don’t have to accept them. Sewing a curve is less natural that sewing a flat, straight seam. Your top fabric isn’t going to lay perfectly flat and that invites puckers to occur. If you notice that you’re about to get a pucker stop sewing, but keep your needle down. Lift your presser foot and take a moment to smooth the fabric out and start again. If you catch it in time you get to start over fresh as if it never happened. Anytime you encounter issues while piecing a curved seam be sure to leave your needle down when you lift your presser foot. It acts as a security feature that keeps everything in place and your seam aligned.
However, when the time comes that you do find a pucker in your seam don’t toss that block out or unpick the entire seam. Unpick about 1/2″ before and 1/2″ after the pucker. Smooth the area out with your finger and re-stitch the seam. Be sure you are back stitching before and after catching some of the previous threads. This helps secure the stitches and prevents weakening the center of your seam.
Watch these tips in action
Now that we have shared our top 6 curve piecing tips you can watch these techniques bring put into practice. Watch the recording of the Live Curves Workshop and let us know if it was helpful to you.
If you’re asked for a password it’s Passcode: PeZ^n6SQ
Put the 6 tips into practice
Are you ready to put your new found skills to the test? You can find a practice worksheet to download here. This worksheet has practice quarter circles, half circles, and inset circles.
We are confident that if you follow these tips you will be success sewing curves. Here are our favorite Modish patterns that you can practice these skill with.
Did you enjoy this Curves sewing tutorial? If you did we think you also find our tutorial, 5 Secrets to Making Quilts with Templates helpful! We suggest also checking out our tutorial on Continuous Bias Binding Made Easy.
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