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Perfect Your Piecing: Pay Attention to Those Curves!

Interested in adding circles and curves to your quilts? Let me share a few simple and helpful tips to make the process a bit less stressful and definitely more successful.

Fan block uses strip piecing techniques with gentle curves.

Fan block uses strip piecing techniques with gentle curves.

My class on Craftsy this month is on curved piecing the Fan Block. It is a 9″ finished block, or 18″ when four blocks are sewn together.  The curves are gentle which makes this a good block for anyone new to piecing curves.

A few helpful hints:

  1. Accurate cutting is important. If you are tracing shapes from a pattern, book, or magazine, I suggest using a fine-line permanent pen to trace the pattern on to template plastic. Tape both the page and plastic to avoid slipping, and then carefully trace around the outline of the shape. (If you are making a full-size quilt and have many, many shapes to cut, consider having acrylic templates made at a store like Tap Plastics. Take one of your cutting rulers with you when placing the order so that they can see exactly what width acrylic you want used to make your template.)

  2. If working with template plastic, cut inside the marked line; cutting outside will add just a little extra that can affect the overall size of the shape. Next, use the template to mark the shapes onto the wrong side of the fabric. Finally, use a good, sharp pair of scissors to (again) cut just inside the marked line. If using an acrylic template, consider placing a piece of small, non-slip grip product on the backside. Place the template onto the fabric and cut around the template using a small, 28mm rotary cutter.

  3. Machine set up:

  4. Accurate ¼” seam allowance

  5. Needle-down option, if available

  6. Slow-speed control, if available

  7. Knee-lift feature, if available

  8. Stitching – Think “baggy bottoms.” It’s a funny term, but I always remember it. It simply means placing the fuller, bigger, puffier (or however you want to describe it) piece on the bottom, against the throatplate, when stitching. This will allow any extra fullness to work in while you’re sewing. If the fuller side is placed on top, it wants to creep, which will ultimately create pleats or puckers.

  9. Keeping the edges of the two pieces aligned, work slowly around the curve, stopping and adjusting as needed.

  10. Here’s a selection of online tutorials you might find helpful. They present different points of view, but I’ve always felt it is wise to experiment and find the technique that works best for you.

Happy curved piecing everyone!

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