Thursday, August 30, 2012

Piecing curves without pins - a video!

Welcome to everyone taking part in the Totally Groovy Quilt Along, and anyone else curious about sewing curved seams without using pins. I've made my very first video for you today!

I love the look of curvy seams in quilts and quite enjoy sewing curved seams, but I'm not keen on pinning. Today I'm going to share with you the way I tackle curved seams. I have used this technique in quite a few of my quilts which use freehand curved cutting such as Sea Views and Sherbet Dreams, but also in my quilts with precise templates such as Grand Designs (although I only describe the method using pins in the pattern.) It can take a little bit of practice to get this down pat (especially on such a tight curve needing a high degree of accuracy), but it's worth giving it a go because it could save you a lot of time.

Some tips to remember are:
  • ensure you are sewing with an accurate 1/4" seam. In this video I used foot with a 1/4" guide (I'm using my old machine because my new one is in being serviced.)
  • if your sewing machine has a needle down setting, use it, otherwise just lower the needle into the fabric if you need to stop and adjust the fabric
  • reduce your stitch length to smaller than usual. This will give you a nice smooth curve (I used about a 2 on my sewing machine)
  • have tweezers handy for holding the fabric together at the end of the curve
  • go slowly
  • don't pull the fabric, just ease and guide it through the machine
  • if possible use fabric of similar weight and weave (especially when piecing such a tight curve and needing a high degree of accuracy). If you are using all kona cottons or prints from the same range you should be okay. However if you're mixing and matching prints from different ranges you may need to test different combinations. Some may stetch more than others.
  • Give it a try, and if it doesn't work easily, just unpick it and you may need to use pins for some fabric combinations.
  • make sure you cut your fabric so the grain is running the same direction on your inner and outer curve (otherwise it may warp when you sew them together) 
  • Be prepared to unpick. I still need to from time to time.
    So, here's my very first video. Please excuse the fumbling. I pretty much had five minutes to capture it before the baby escaped from nana's (and you would have heard very cute but rather distracting babbling). Hopefully it will give you the general idea and confidence to give this method a try. 

    And here's one I prepared earlier (note that the fabrics are swapped around.)

    Have fun, and let me know if you have any questions!

    Also, Alyssa's running a giveaway sponsored by Sew Fresh Fabrics that you'll want to check out!


    1. Great video! I hate pinning and I can't wait to try this out!

    2. You make it look so easy! Thank you for making a video; I certainly feel more apt to try this no-pin method.

    3. That looks awesome thank you so much. And here I thought I was going to have to spend yet more money and buy the curvemaster foot - thanks to you I won't have to. Also your children are really cute and I love your patterns.

    4. You make it look easy! I tried piecing curves once and dumped all the results in the trash thinking it wasn't for me, but maybe i'll give it one other try with your method! Thanks for sharing!

    5. Wow! You make it look so easy! I always pin curves, but I am going to give this a try (on some practice fabric) and see how it goes...

    6. confession: I can piece a curve. I just wanted to hear your sweet accent :)

    7. I am going to give this technique a try. You do make it look easy

    8. I hate using pins! (too fiddly and takes too long) and always wing-it! I finished a king single apple-core quilt this way and it turned out fine! Thanks for the tute.

    9. Hi, Kate! Great little video - I'm down to three pins, beginning, middle and end, I will have to try this, Thanks!

    10. super helpful - thanks. just used it to make some very nice curved blocks.

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    13. WOW you made that look so easy! I realize that represents a lot of practice and I appreciate it! Thanks for this sharing this video! linda-kaye


    Thanks so much for leaving a comment! I try to respond but life sometimes gets in the way. If you have any questions please email me at kateeconklin(at)gmail(dot)com