Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Sewing Curves

  Look what's on my design wall!

     These are some clamshell blocks  I made in a workshop with Susan Forbes a couple of weekends ago.  This is the second curved piecing workshop I've taken with Susan and the third workshop on curves I've taken this year.  The first was with art quilter Maggie Vanderweit and the focus was on free hand curves.  All workshops used the no pins method.  Both women were excellent teachers and I would recommend their workshops.
     The two classes with Susan were using templates to make curves.  The clamshells where cut with the Quick Curves Ruler using an adaptation of a pattern from Sew Kind of Wonderful.
     I've learned a lot about curved piecing in the last while and I thought I would share some tips that make things a little easier for those starting out with these techniques.

1.  Don't pre wash your fabric.

2.  Use a light spray starch when Ironing your fabrics prior to cutting.

3. Make your pieces larger than you need and cut down to size.  In the Clamshell pattern I the blocks start at 8 1/2 inches and get cut down to 7 inches. 

4.  Sew slowly and use your needle down position when stopping.

5.  When you are sewing, keep your focus on the right hand side of the block.  As you see in the photo below, there can be quite a bit of ruffling happening to the left.  That's normal.

6.  Only sew a small amount at a time.  In the next photo notice where my finger is on my right hand.  That is about as far as I went before stopping.  It's the distance that the fabric sits nicely together.

     You'll notice  that I am using my left hand to hold the top fabric up a bit, and to keep the ruffling out of the way. Which leads to tip number 

7. Try not stretch or pull on the fabric.

8.  Press the seams towards the circle not the background. To avoid stretching, press parallel to the straight of grain.  For me it works better to press on the right side first and then the wrong side.

 9. Because sewing curves requires quite a bit of focus I find I can't sew too many curves at one sitting. Take lot's of brakes to do other tasks like trimming blocks.  You don't want to get too tired and make mistakes.  Over the weekend I sewed right sides to wrong sides twice.

10. Remember that sewing curves like any new technique requires practice.  Be easy on yourself.  If you are like me it's probably best to take a workshop.  If you don't have easy access to a workshop, Leanne from She Can Quilt has a really good U tube video and tutorials on her blog.  Just remember that Leanne is really good at this and doesn't need to trim her blocks down.  It's something to aspire to.

     I'm linking up with Terry for Tips and Tutorials Tuesday, with Lorna for Let's Bee Social and with Lee for Works In Progress Wednesday.


  1. Great tips! I really like to fold my curved pieces in half and then in quarters so that I have reference marks to work on lining them up, too. I will pin occasionally, but just the folded "tick" marks have really helped me in the past.

  2. So lucky that you've been able to take 2 workshops on curved piecing. I did my first curved piecing for a bee block (through Stash Bee) and I love how it turned out. Really want to try some more, but still think I'll stick with more subtle curves. All great tips, thank you.

  3. I want to try curved quilting, and the tip to make things larger then trim down is a good one for me! I find I always do better with my blocks when I scale up then trim down. Great pics of the process, too!

  4. Loving your design wall!! I've only tried this once and gave up quickly. I can't believe that no pins are involved - I think I will have to revisit this because I love the end result.

  5. Great tips! I've had the pleasure of observing a curves class with Dana Bolyard and she shared many of the same ideas. Your block are looking fantastic!

  6. Such great tips! It's easy to get frustrated while making them, but so worth it! I've made a few and really enjoy the process! Your blocks are so bright and pretty!

  7. These look great! Love this use of drunkard's path blocks!

  8. Awesome tips - thanks so much for sharing!

  9. Looking good and great tips too!

  10. Oh, these are gorgeous! Good for you taking on those curves. Your blocks look fabulous. Thanks so much for sharing all your tips!

  11. Love your clamshells! The yellow ones kind of look like minions. :)

  12. I totally love the Quick Curve Ruler and use it often. Really a remarkable technique. I was lucky enough be able to take a class here in Washington from Jenny herself and it was well worth it. It is hard to believe that you can piece the curves with no pins. Great job Lisa and thanks for sharing tips that helped you.

  13. Great tips. A clamshell is a quilt I haven't attempted yet, maybe one for the future

  14. Thanks for the tips! I am going to have to try the Quick Curve ruler too!- Love your colors ! :)