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How to Piece Curved Edges

Summary

Quilting Contessa gives us a fabulous guide to follow to piece those pesky curved edges with ease. Share with all your quilting friends.

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How to Piece Curved Edges

One quilting technique that a lot of new quilters tend to avoid is curved piecing. I can understand! I baulked at attempting this technique for several years in my quilting odyssey. Like many quilters, I tended to back away from quilt books and patterns that looked too difficult or intimidating. After all, I was a fairly newbie quilter. I'd leave those designs with fancy appliqué, star medallions, or curved piecing to the professionals!

How to Piece Curved Edges

 

So what pushed me out of my happy little world of quilting with squares? It was catching some television shows about quilting on Thursdays in the middle of the afternoon! This was quite a few years ago and that's what was available to me. I was hooked! My world opened up!

Quilters now have an even bigger world open to them to teach them fun, new, and even older, quilting techniques via the internet. QuiltingHub has a fabulous array of quilting articles to help all quilters of all levels.

Love Ring

 

I'm going to share with you how to confidently create curved blocks. Let's start with an old favorite called the "Drunkard's Path". This shape is considered a deep curve. You will need to make your templates for both shapes from the pattern design you are using. Freezer paper is often used to make templates, but keep in mind that if you will be making several blocks using the freezer paper templates that eventually the templates will lose their shape. This happens slowly as we tend to slightly shave or nick the edges of the freezer paper template with the rotary cutter! Did you know you can often bring your template shapes into your local hardware store and ask them to cut them out onto thin plastic? It's not costly at all.

Love Rings

 

Curved shapes will have some bias along their inner edges so take your time when sewing. For some reason, we quilters don't like to use pins! When working with curved pieces you will find it's worth the effort to do at least a little pinning. With just a couple of pins you can "ease" the seams easier as you're sewing.

Place the two curved edges right sides together. You're probably wondering how you are going to fit a square peg into a round hole at this point, right? No worries! PIN at the middle of the two curves. Now place pins at each end. You will be "easing" the curves together as you sew. Otherwise, pin to your heart's delight!

If your sewing machine has the needle down function - you will want to use it frequently until you become comfortable with whizzing through these curves! Using the needle down function will allow you to stop whenever you'd like and check to make sure your raw edges are still together.

Curve Stitching

 

Did you notice that I never once mentioned having to snip into the curves? There's no need! Once you've sewn the seam, flip back the outer curved shape. The curve will fall into place showing you which way you need to press the seam. (It'll be the outer curve!) You did it! Isn't it pretty?

Rob Peter to Pay Paul 1

 

The quilt design "Rob Peter to Pay Paul" is another curved piecing block. This block shape has a shallower curve to its design. You will use the exact same technique with this shape as Drunkard's Path.

Rob Peter to Pay Paul 2

 

I've used the following technique for curved piecing in a couple of patterns I've designed just because I knew that beginning quilters are, as I mentioned above, often intimidated by the curved technique. This idea is fun, and easy! Let's be honest, it's a "Cheater's Method"!

Measure the long sides of the concave template to see what size the final block should be. If it comes out, for example, 9½" then cut a square that size. Now use the outer curved template to cut your fabric but add ¼" to the outer curve. Use this piece of fabric to cut the same shape out of a piece of very lightweight fusible interfacing. Sew the outer curve fabric and interfacing together with the fusible against the right side of the fabric along the curved edge only. Turn this unit right side out. The fusible of the interfacing is now on the back of the fabric! Press this unit down on one corner of the base. Top stitch in place.

Fused Curve Stitching

 

You'll also find curved piecing in both the "Double Wedding Ring" and "Apple Core" quilt designs. How about making a whole quilt with curved strips called "Undulating Curves"? They all use the same type of piecing. Always pin (my suggestion), sew slowly, and then wait for the beautiful design to show up once you've pressed!

 

Double Wedding Ring
Apple Core

 

Undulating Curves
Figure E

 

Don't be afraid of using curves in your quilting. There are a lot of beautiful patterns that use these easy shapes. Now that you know how to make them - your quilting capabilities will continue to grow!

 

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Glossary

Appliqué
Attaching individual pieces of fabric to a background to form a design.

Same As: Applique
Bias
The direction of a piece of woven fabric, usually referred to simply as "the bias" or "the cross-grain", is at 45 degrees to its warp and weft threads. Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other. Non-woven fabrics such as felt or interfacing do not have a bias.

Same As: Cross-grain
Block
The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
Double Wedding Ring
Arced pieces of squares sewn together to form interlocking rings or circles.
Easing
The act of pinning and using your fingers to adjust adjoining units of uneven lengths so they match for sewing.
Fusible
Various webs or interfacings which can be ironed onto a fabric for easier applique or to support the fabric.
Piecing
The process of assembling quilt blocks from pieces of fabric sewn along their edges to form a whole.

See Also: English Paper Piecing, Assembly Piecing, Machine Piecing, Chain Piecing, Paper Piecing, Hand Piecing
Press
Method of using an iron to press seams and blocks. This means simply pressing downwards on the seam with the iron from above and not moving the iron back and forth which can distort the block or seam.
Rotary Cutter
A very sharp tool that looks like a pizza wheel which is capable of cutting through multiple layers of fabric.
Star
A large central star, made up of diamond shaped fabric or a square with right triangles, to form the star points from the center out.
Template
Pattern pieces made out of paper, cardboard, plastic or metal, giving you something to draw around so that you can accurately replicate any shape.
Author
Quilting Contessa
Quilting Contessa is a collection of various authors around the world that have submitted articles for the QuiltingHub 'How To' quilt wiki.  These are authors that do not write enough to have their own authorship, yet provide valuable content for the site.  If you wish to submit an article, contact us on QuiltingHub.
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