Thursday, August 5, 2010

Curved Piecing Tutorial

The first step in curved piecing is to put a fresh sharp needle in your machine.... choose a Microtex, size 70/10  you want a fine needle to minimize needle holes in your fabric.
Choose fabric with a tight weave - you will be sewing a very narrow 1/8" seam, and a loosely woven fabric will just not hold up....  I'm using batiks and hand dyes in this sample...

My fabric is cut in assorted strip sizes from fat quarters, some are a little longer than others. 
Layer two strips the same length - if they are different widths, it doesn't matter at all.  I use a long ruler to hold the layers together while I cut the curve free hand with my rotary cutter.... the cut should be straight at the first and last inch, and  make sure there is at least 3/4" of fabric on both sides of the cut so you have enough to add another strip to each side without cutting into your curve (although cutting into curves is a possible design choice!)  The pic above shows two sets of strips that have been cut at the bottom, and above that are similar strips that have been separated and arranged side by side showing the cut edges aligned.  You take the right/left layers and switch them to get the sets....  in case that wasn't obvious.

Pin each set of strips at one end to keep them paired up.   Set your stitch length a little shorter than usual to make the curves easier and keep those narrow 1/8" seams from pulling apart!  Note placement of fabric on inside of presser foot - if you are using a regular presser foot, measure from the center to determine where the 1/8" seam allowance is on your presser foot.  Most sewing machines are marked in 1/8" increments on the sole plate as well.

Align the straight inch of the strip set and sew the first inch of the seam - stop with needle down - adjust the strips as the edges start to curve, keeping the raw edges together - sew another inch or so until the edges are not aligned.  Stop with needle down, realign edges, and continue to sew.  Do this in very small increments - sew, adjust, sew, etc. until you reach the end of the strip set.  I didn't say it would be fast, did I?

As you reach the end, you might discover that the ends don't meet exactly - don't worry about it!  The important thing is that the curvy edges are together all the way along the seam.

Once you finish the seam, check to make sure you have that fabric caught the whole way along - and don't ask me how I know that it's important to check....  trust me, it is!

see that narrow 1/8" seam?  yippee!  I did it!  Excuse me while I do my happy dance.....

Now press seam allowances to the 'dark side' and lay all the pieces out on the table while you celebrate!
These can be joined along the straight edges, or you can overlap the edges by an inch and do more curved seams to join these together.
I did some postcards with mine.... with an OCEAN theme!
Let me know what YOU would do with your curved seam piecing.


  1. Nicely written! I love doing free form curved piecing - its just so fun and freeing, isn't it?! It definitely worked perfectly for the postcards - I love mine!
    Thanks Thea!
    Happy quilting, Janet

  2. thea did you have a link for me to use for a giveaway? Email me the permalink and due date

  3. Thanks.A wonderful tutorial for curves. I'm pinning it to spread your word.


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