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Curves Ahead: Freeform curves

It’s about time to kick off this sewing curves series and we’re going to start with (what I think is) the easiest of curves: freeform.  You’re in complete control of how curvy your pieces are, how wide they are and how simple (or complicated!) the whole piece is.

Let’s start with what you’re going to need:

  • rotary cutter
  • cutting mat
  • 3-5 different fabrics that coordinate (fat quarters or scraps)
  • sewing machine/coordinating or neutral thread
  • pins, optional
  • snips
  • iron/ironing board/fabric spray

Start by giving your fabrics a bit of a press with a touch of spray starch/Best Press for some added stability. It isn’t vital and lots of people do without it, but I use it so that my fabrics don’t stretch or fray as much as they might otherwise.

Now lay two of your fabrics on the cutting mat, overlapping by at least two inches.


With a nice, fresh, sharp blade in your rotary cutter, cut a smooth curve from side to side, through both fabrics.


Remove the extra bits from both fabrics and move to match up the curves. Now mark a little line at a couple of places along the curve, including the top and bottom of the curve. These will serve as your guides to make sure it comes together right.


Flip one fabric onto the other, right sides together. This is where some people pin. You have to pin very close together and work the fabric so it will ease into each other as the curves form.  I think it’s obnoxious and unnecessary, but I’ve been known to do things differently than others anyway.

  
If you want to try it my way, you can still get a pretty darn accurate match by using your hands to guide the fabric. Hold the top fabric up so that they only touch as they go under the foot. You will use both hands to feed it through. Keep an eye on your markings and put a little tension on on whichever layer is convex at the time.

Press seam allowance away from curve.Ta-dah!  Your first curved piece.  Now let’s try it again with a couple wonky curves in it.  You’ll do the exact same thing but with an additional wave in it. You can press the seam allowances all in one direction and with a little steam for a beautiful finish.  

Keep going with your gentle curves, varying the width and depth as you go.

The more you practice with little bits, the better you’ll get, so don’t be afraid to put those scraps and what-was-I-thinking fabric choices to use.  Add in a little wonky quilting and you’re good to go!

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Curves Ahead: a series for 2017

There’s something about a nice curve that you can’t help but love. Smooth, swooping, they are beautiful and this year I’m going to help you learn to tackle them in your sewing and quilting. I’ve long been a fan of them and after asking what you, dear readers, want to learn in 2017, it sounds like a lot (a lot!) of sewists want to master this one.

Together we’re going to take this one on and I’ll give you a little insight into how I work, and hopefully you can take a little bit of that and make it work for you, too.

Each month I’ll post a tutorial on a certain kind of curve sewing and then explore patterns that use it so you can practice each skill.  We’ll learn about:

  • freeform/improv curves
  • curvy needle-turn applique
  • inset circles
  • Drunkard’s Path blocks
  • Double Wedding Ring blocks
  • Winding Ways blocks
  • Clamshell blocks
  • Apple Core paper piecing
  • scalloped binding
  • and garment-making, too

  If you have other techniques you’d like to see, just let me know! I’ll add in some posts that share my opinion and experience with various rulers, rotary cutters, dies, templates, and more.  It should be lots of fun and (fingers crossed) will be helpful to you! Look for the first post in early February when we tackle the Drunkard’s Path block. If you want to make sure and follow along, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter. I’ll include additional tips, the series schedule and post recaps for you in each monthly email.

In the mean time, find some scraps that are at least 8″ square, get out your template plastic (or a cereal box), and get ready to give the Drunkard’s Path block a shot.