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Paper Panache Workshop:
Machine Curved Piecing

fish baby quilt       A visitor requested that I explain machine curved piecing, the technique I used for the "water" in the body of my fish quilt (and for the sky in the city scene). I was happy to do so.
      My technique is self-taught, and my approach is straightforward--or so I think, as I haven't explored others' methods. If you have a good curved-piecing book or site that you like, please send me the info and I'll be glad to post it here for those looking for more help.

      Make a Practice Sample. This curved piecing technique requires freezer paper, also known as butcher paper. You will also need to print out the practice pattern for lesson below.
      Reverse Alert!  Designs drawn onto the paper side of freezer paper will be reversed when pieced.
      Please review "A Word About Pinning."

Machine Curved Piecing
Imagine that this is a a piece of freezer paper, paper side up, and you have traced your pattern onto it. Each curved line is a future seamline.
      Remember that the design will be reversed when finished.
Number the pattern according to piecing order. Draw hatch marks (match points) through every seamline about 1-2 inches apart (closer together on tighter curves). Where there is an end point of a pattern piece, make a simple cross through both ends of the hatch mark so you can tell later where these end points are.
Make any other identifying marks you might need (color, fabric, grainlines, etc.)--THEN cut pattern apart on the seamlines.
Iron each freezer paper pattern piece to the WRONG side of the fabric you've chosen for it. With a wash-out marker or mechanical pencil, trace around the entire pattern piece, and transfer the hatch marks out into the future seam allowance.
      Cut around the paper pattern, adding 1/4" seam allowance by eye as you go. Remove the freezer paper.
      At this point you are finished with the paper; however, to be safe, save it until your project is over. It can be re-used to make another block.
Here the pieces have been cut out and the paper has been removed, and we are looking at the pencil marks we made on the wrong side of the fabric. (Also write the number somewhere on it). Pieces 1 & 2 will be joined first--the arrow indicates the first seamline we will pin and sew.
Bring the two pieces right sides together (green denotes the right side of piece #1). Put the convex ("hill-shaped") piece in the back and pin the concave piece to it from the front. You will need to clip the seam allowance of the concave piece in order to get it to match up to the hill-shaped piece. Try one clip in between each hatch mark to start (try not to over-clip).
      Place the beginning and end pins first, and then match and pin each hatch mark to its counterpart, pushing the pins all the way through so not much more than their heads show on the front side. Get the pins as parallel as possible, but don't secure them yet.
Working from left to right as suggested in "A Word About Pinning," join the pencil lines with horizontal pins and secure the hatch marks (match points) vertically.
Turn the unit so you can sew the seam. Start a few stitches before the beginning of the seamline and end with a few stitches past the end, sewing slowly. Do not pull the pins out early--as the needle gets to the sharp end of each horizontal pin, hold the head of that pin up lightly and the fabric will feed right off of it as you sew, helping to keep the seam exactly as you have pinned it. If you are sewing slowly, you can sew right over the vertical pins, or remove them a stitch beforehand.
This is the sewn unit, with pins removed. Trim the seam allowance if it needs it.
Open out the pieces and press the seam gently from the front. The seam allowance will always press easiest in the direction of the concavity.
      That's all there is to it. If you finish a sample block and feel you've learned something, let me know!

Practice Pattern

Curved Piecing
  Practice Pattern

Suggested by visitor
Tawney Mazek
Freedom in Design: New Directions in Foundation Paper Piecing by Mia Rozmyn, That Patchwork Place, 1995. She says: "This is a good resource on curved piecing, covers a lot of ground. Her basics are much like yours - except she stitches around the freezer paper instead of marks with pencil."


Paper Panache Quilt Patterns, Images & Ideas for Paper Piecing ©1997-2018 by Linda Worland