Friday, July 17, 2009

Fun with Taupe

Back in May when I first posted about my little 6″ Sawtooth Star blocks, I set a goal of completing two blocks a day. Some days I did none and some days I did three or four, but by July I had 48 scrappy taupe and gray blocks, all different.
Because of all the straight lines, the blocks seemed to need some curves in the setting. I drafted a 3″ x 6″ sashing block that creates a circle around the block when everything is joined. I don’t know if this has a name, but I’ve seen it done in both contemporary and antique quilts.
Curved piecing is a little trickier than straight line, but after doing dozens of those sashing blocks, I’m getting a lot better at it. Here are my tips.
1. Use a good old-fashioned template (plastic or cardboard) to mark the sewing (not cutting) lines. This takes all the guesswork out and guarantees accuracy. Leave at least 3/8″ all around for seam allowances, which will later be trimmed back. Mark the center point of both patches to be joined.
2. With a very sharp, small pair of scissors, snip up to but not into the marked seam line on the concave (inward curving) patch, about every quarter inch.
3. With the concave clipped curve on top, match the center points and pin with regular or appliqué pins every 3/8″ or so (see photo).
4. Adjust your machine to a shorter than normal stitch and use the needle-down feature if you have it. Stitch the seam very slowly and consistently, removing pins just before you get to them without stopping the machine. This gets much easier with a little practice.
5. Check the sewn seam for any flat spots or mistakes, then trim the seam allowance to about 3/16″.
6. Finger press the seam toward the patch with the convex curve. Then press with an iron.
There are probably faster ways to do this, but my curves are coming out very smooth, so I think it’s worth a little extra time. I’m not sure what the cornerstones in the sashing will be, but there’s plenty of curved piecing yet to do while I’m thinking about the next phase of this quilt-to-be.
Do you have any good tips for curved piecing you’d like to share? Just click on comments and type away!

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