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Cutting and Sewing Curves – The Advanced Lesson

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

Making Waves Quilt by See How We Sew

I absolutely love adapting curves to the improvisational piecing that I have been experimenting with lately. Now that we have discussed the basics of this in Laura’s post last week, I thought I would share some tips and tricks that I have found helpful, along with , here we go – sewing curves into your curves. Think of this as Advanced Curves 101. It’s not really hard, you just need to get in there and give it a try! Come on now, embrace your curves!

Advanced Curves 1 SHWS

Let’s start with your basic curved piece section. What if you don’t like what you made? What if there is just too much of one fabric, or you want just a sliver of something else added in? Want to do some experimenting?

Advanced Curves 2 SHWS

When I teach classes on the Making Waves Quilt, sometimes a student decides there is a little too much of one fabric in a section of their waves.  This is where the fun begins! Determine which fabric is too heavy and slice right into the section that is bothering you. By inserting a new fabric, you are not only taking out the weight, but also adding movement and interest. Introduce a new shape to your curve, or slice into more than one section, and you will be adding a whole new level of design.

Advanced Curves 3 SHWS

Move your sections around to decide how large of a section to insert. The piece you are inserting could be just a small sliver . . .

Advanced Curves 4 SHWS

or a big chunk of fabric. Trust your judgment. You probably already know what you need it to do.

Advanced Curves 5 SHWS

If not, you could be like me and just do the opposite of what seems most obvious. I guess I like to stir things up.

Advanced Curves 7 SHWS

This time, I chose to go with a tiny sliver, then offset it a bit. 

Advanced Curves 8 SHWS

I like the way it just peeks through. Especially the little intersection of the three fabrics. It seems graceful, doesn’t it?

Advanced Curves 9 SHWS

Hmmm, file that idea away for a future project. As I said, I like to stir things up, so I chose to crop them into 2 separate blocks. The possibilities are endless! Give it a try!

A few tips to keep in mind:

When cutting into a section – remember that you will be losing 1/4″ on either side of your cut.

Cutting through more than one section is encouraged. It will add interest to your final piece.

Watch your 1/4″ seam allowance when sewing. It is very easy to get off, which will affect your curve.

If your fabric starts to bunch up while sewing, lift your presser foot and try to readjust things. This usually helps. If not, you may have to take out a few of your last stitches, then proceed.

If your curve does not lay down properly after pressing, take out the stitches in problem area, pat the curve back into place correctly and pin accordingly. When you flip it over, trim off the excess so that the raw edges match, then re-sew new curve.

Notes on Hashmarks and Pinning:

A reader asked why we don’t mark on the right side of fabric (inside the seam allowance). Do what works best for you. I personally like to be able to make big hashmarks, so that I don’t have to spend much time looking for them. I also feel more comfortable pinning while the right sides are joined and facing each other. This way I can view the marks on the outer (wrong) sides, .

At some point, you will get comfortable and decide you don’t need to mark and pin. That is perfectly fine. I will warn you, though, that when I stop marking and pinning, my curves start to get a little wobbly and out of skew. If you want perfect, gracefully pieced curves, take the time to mark and pin. Especially when they are more than 8″ in length.


I am collecting photos for a blog post on Favorite Pincushions. If you have a favorite pincushion, take a photo and post it with on ourt SHWS Facebook page or share it on the SHWS Instagram account, #favoritepincushion, #seehowwesew.


Congratulations to Jean Stringfellow and Dee Carter for winning the Making Waves Quilt Pattern! We will be contacting you for your mailing information.


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