Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sewing with curves - progress, tips, and resources

This weekend, I've spent the majority of my time sewing my Michael Miller Challenge quilt top for the Modern Quilt Guild. I decided to challenge our guild to use curves in their quilts (if they want to)! I didn't complete the MQG challenge last time because I became uninspired by the fabrics we were given, but these fabrics are much more exciting (Petal Pinwheels). To supplement the fat eighths we were given, I bought a little yardage of the cathedral window-like prints.

At first, I started out randomly making some improv pie slices. Once I had four of these, I realized I really didn't have a plan, and I didn't want to waste a lot of background fabric making a whole quilt with them (I was going to piece instead of applique).

Then, I put this stack of Michael Miller fabrics together - it makes it more exciting that we can use any of them, plus any brand of solids. I was stoked to discover that Waterfront Park by Violet Craft and Mirror Ball Dots are both Michael Miller, and I have slowly been adding them to my stash. In they went.

The improv pie slices sat in the wings for a while, and I became inspired by all the circle quilts out there - especially this Polka Dot Fox Quilt from The Quilt Engineer. I decided to design my own baby quilt with half circles radiating out. I used this Drunkard's Path Block template from Sometimes Crafter to trace the shapes onto cardboard and then to the fabric.

Some tips for curves sewing (planned or improv):
1. Take your time. This is not a race. I tend to rush sometimes and that has resulted in curves I wasn't happy with on this quilt.
2. Press slowly to the side, and if you use steam, don't use a lot. I have found that pressing curved seams open distorts the fabric much more than to the side. Also, I almost always use steam when I press seams, so just don't go overboard. It worked for me. Most tutorials suggest no steam at all. It's a matter of preference in my opinion.
3. Make sure all of your blocks are trimmed correctly and to the right size. This might mean that you have to add more fabric if you are making improv curves.
4. Sew with an accurate quarter inch seam. Curved piecing requires a lot of stopping andor moving fabric around. This goes along with "take your time." When the points match up, it is magical!
5. Use pins or don't use pins - find what works for you! I have sewn without pins, but with larger curves this time (6.5 inch blocks), I decided to pin according to the tutorial. I completed each step of cutting, pinning, and sewing the curves at one time. I get frustrated when I have to go back and redo a time-consuming process. :) I know my temperament.
6. Find a tutorial and or template online.There are so many tips and instructions out there - you are sure to find something with clear pictures that you are comfortable with. Here are some resources that I have found helpful:
I hope this was helpful and that you try sewing some curves!

Anyway, back to the quilt - I ended up sewing the pie pieces together and folding them 1/4 of an inch underneath to applique. I didn't use any fusible interfacing and it worked just fine. It looks a bit random on top of the quilt - I like it but it drives my husband craaaaazy! All the more reason to keep it there. :D The strips on the side of the quilt are from my scraps.

I might piece the backing today and start quilting. Any quilting suggestions? I was thinking big spirals but I'm open to ideas! I want to quilt something awesome in the negative space for sure.

Thanks to Michael Miller and the MQG for the chance to work with these fabrics! With any luck, I'll have a finished gender-neutral crib quilt soon!

P.S. Don't forget to enter the giveaway from Sew Me A Song! Ends Friday 6/13.


  1. What a fun quilt top! Love the drunkards patch!

  2. this is turning out fabulous! Thank you for all the tips. I must get up and get going on my challenge quilt... it has curves!

  3. Looking awesome!!! I did small swirls and pebbles in a modern quilt on the solid fabric - ended up with the fabric looking like brocade! You might take some triangle quilting from the strips into the solid too. Have a blast with it - I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with it!

  4. This turned out great! I searched my own stash for MM fabrics, and only came up with one that I used to bind. (I don't know how it's possible to not own any MM.)

    I feel like those half circles are begging for some sort of fan-shaped quilting.

  5. This is a fun quilt top! I love all of the colors. and great tips for curve sewing!

    Thank you so much for sharing at Needle and Thread Thursday!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  6. These look great! I want to tackle some curved piecing so thanks for the tips. I love the way the entire quilt is coming together.

  7. Thank you so much Jess, for linking your awesome tip post up with me for Tips and Tutorials Tuesday at Late Night Quilter. Perfect timing for me, by the way, because I'm taking a curve class this weekend at QuiltCon and I've never even attempted a single bend in my piecing. So your post put me in the right frame of mind. Thank you!


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