Sewing curves is a skill many quilters avoid learning. They seem so daunting to some of us; we also hear grumblings here and there about how hard curves can be.
But if our four teachers this month are any example, curves are easy to master. On Sunday, October 19, we gathered to learn with Heather Kinion, Laura Hartrich, Emily Lang, and Sara Hochhauser through a round of 20-minute tutorials.
demonstrated glue basting for working with curves. (Watch her Quilty episode on it here.
) She said glue basting is great for achieving precise curves (pins can sometimes distort fabric). She uses simple Elmer’s Glue; the big glue sticks can make it hard to be precise and can leave hard-to-sew-through clumps, while the glue bottle allows a sewist to use tiny drops or a tiny line of glue. (In fact, you can buy a fine tip to add to your glue bottle – just make sure to rinse them immediately after every use.)
She advised us to not glue baste on a cutting mat; instead, she uses a Teflon Fons and Porter pressing sheet, and then uses her iron to heat set the glue…once you have a stack of heat-set glue basted pieces, they’ll stay ready for you to machine sew indefinitely. Finally, any glue that gets stuck on your iron will peel right off after the iron cools.
taught us about improv curved piecing. The only rule, she said, is that as you cut pieces to put together, the height of each piece of fabric should match. Overlap two pieces of fabric by two to three inches, and using a rotary cutter moving away from your body, cut a gentle freeform curve. She advised we start with prints, rather than solids, so we always know which is the right side (otherwise it can be hard to match up pieces). Once you’ve cut your pieces, remove the small ends and place the two pieces right sides together.
Align the tops of pieces and start a seam, backstitching first; then gently sew a 1/4″ seam, by going about an inch at a time and then adjusting the pieces to fit. Try not to stretch the fabric, she said, but gently guide them together. As you sew, be sure to never put your finger on the needle plate – a good way to sew through your finger if you’re moving too fast. Instead, use something small and pointy like a stiletto to maneuver the fabric near the needle. Finger press the seam open (whichever way it goes naturally), spritz with water, and then press – don’t iron back and forth. “Let your fabrics decide which way they want to go,” she advised, “but feel free to press it into submission.”
demonstrated her preferred methods for the Drunkard’s Path block. She advised making your own curved piecing templates, and said Accucutter offers dies for perfect cutting. (If you’re making your own templates and they fit perfectly together, use caution – there should actually be some overlap to account for a seam allowance on each piece.) If you’re cutting your fabric with a rotary cutter, use the smallest possible blade for greater accuracy.
When pinning, fold the “L” shape in half and finger press a crease; do the same with the “D” shape. Then you can nestle the two creases and pin, to ensure you’ve got the pieces aligned just right. Start sewing from one corner toward the center; pop it out and do the other side the same way, meeting in the middle. (Backstitch at each end of each seam.) Press to the inner curve, or open, she advised. Finally, she shared this: “I’m all about trimming instead of perfect piecing!” Check out Laura’s various blog posts about Drunkard’s Path here.
offered a variety of techniques for our consideration. She advises first that folks make sure their 1/4″ is correct; if not, use a ruler to see where your needle should be, and if your machine allows, shift your needle left or right. She advised that a scant 1/4″ (just a thread or two less than 1/4″) is ideal. When sewing curves, she sews in the “needle down” position so she can pause over and over to adjust. She keeps a sharp pointy thing for maneuvering her fabric through the machine (she’s one of our sewists who has
sewn through a finger) and said she was using a sandwich stick from the dollar store – no need for another expensive tool!
In one demo, she sewed clam shells, and advised we keep the convex curve shape on top, the convex shape on bottom. Be gentle as you sew curves, she said, not pulling or stretching the fabric. When she’s sewing curves, she goes about 1/4 to 1/2 inch at a time and adjusting as she goes. When she’s pressing, she uses steam (others don’t) – proving once again that there’s not just one way to do a thing.
Thanks to our four teachers, we had an incredible meeting! Check them out on Instagram (their names are links) to see what new gorgeous curved things they create.
We have meetings scheduled through March 2020, and are quickly booking up the rest of 2020. Mark your calendars for these upcoming events:
November 17, 2:00-5:00, Rush Oak Park Hospital Zipper demos Learn tips and tricks about zippers from some of our guild’s most experienced zipper-ers!
December 15, 2019, 2:00-5:00, Rush Oak Park Hospital Holiday Potluck and Swap Bring a dish to share and a small sewn item for a blind swap! Make sure your small sewn item does not take more than two hours to make, and for extra fun, include Hawaiian applique, curved piecing, or zippers, all of which we will be learning about at this fall’s meetings.
January 19, 2020, 2:00-5:00, Rush Oak Park Hospital Member Trunk Show A guild favorite! Learn about the quilting journeys of five of your fellow Chicago MQG members.
February 15, 2020 Workshop with Shruti Dandekar! Details and location to be announced. Registration will open Monday, December 16 at 7pm
February 16, 2020, 2:00-5:00, Rush Oak Park Hospital Lecture and Trunk Show by Shruti Dandekar You won’t want to miss this! Our guild is fortunate to have Indian quilter Shruti Dandekar visit for a workshop and lecture before she heads to QuiltCon.
Sunday, March 22, 2020 Save the date! The Chicago MQG’s 10th anniversary party will be held at Pilgrim Church in Oak Park. Stay tuned, much more will be announced at the November meeting!
Sarah Shulman has submitted our quilts to Project Night Night, more than 70 in all. Hooray! Thanks, Sarah!
Our guild now has a wholesale account for purchasing Warm and Natural batting for any charity projects. If you’re interested, reach out to Jenni Grover, who will help coordinate your purchase.
We enjoyed two interview-and-introduce a quilter sessions. First, Natalie Holz and Sarah Evans shared that they have much in common, including old friends and same-age kiddos. Then Donna Moscinski and Lauren Krause shared some hilarious and thoughtful observations. We also had a quilt show-and-tell from one of the guild’s quilting pods. If you’d like to participate in a quilting pod or introduce us to a fellow guild member, reach out to Laura Hartrich: firstname.lastname@example.org
All meetings are 2-5 pm on the third Sunday of the month, unless otherwise noted.
This month’s meeting is on November 17.
Rush Oak Park Hospital
520 S. Maple Ave Oak Park, Il 60304
A list of our meetings can be found here.
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We hope to see you there!