IN THE KNOW
Straight lines are a quilter's natural territory and veering away from that can be daunting. Luckily, Suzy Williams is here with her top tips for gliding around curves in style
Straight lines are a quilter’s natural territory and veering away from that can be daunting. Luckily, Suzy Williams is here with her top tips for gliding around curves in style
Do you remember learning to ride a bike? In my case, I would have been quite content to cruise around the neighbourhood with my training wheels still attached to my bike until my bags were packed for college. My dad, on the other hand, would never have allowed it.
You see, I was blessed/cursed with a father who wouldn’t let me quit. I guess now I’m happy to not be a 32 year old scooting around with training wheels, (I’m actually not sure I could find some to fit my bike) but at the time I was learning, I didn’t see it that way. I only saw pavement, handle bars and fear.
I can’t remember if I fell off while practising, and I have no memories of skinned knees or bruised palms. I do, however, vividly remember feeling the wind in my hair for the first time as I charged ahead, balancing on two wheels. I remember feeling invincible. I remember flying.
My point? Sewing curves on a sewing machine is a lot like learning to ride a bike. At first you may just see bizarrely shaped templates, bias edges and fear. But let me tell you that as long as children can learn to rides bikes, you can learn and master sewing curves. Ready to fly?
There’s no wrong way, just the finished way
Don’t get bogged down worrying about which way of sewing curves is the “right” way. There are different ways for different people for different patterns for different reasons for different fabrics. Aaand now I’m dizzy… what was I talking about before?
Oh yes. The right way to sew curves is to find a technique that you enjoy and gives you success. For some that is pinning every in. For others, maybe it’s a couple of pins just to keep pieces relatively in order. Others (I fall into this group most of the time), no pins are needed. Let the good times roll!
Getting started: the training wheels
Two things I do recommend for optimal success: keep your sewing machine needle down and sew slowly. You will probably need to lift up your foot as you sew around your curve – especially the first few times around. But by keeping your needle down, the fabric will stay in place.
And why sew slowly? This is just to prevent stretching and puckering as you glide your way over the bias edges. Eventually you’ll pick up the pace with each block, but never all the way to full speed.
Sewing curves is a lot like learning to ride a bike. ´ s long as children can learn to ride bikes, you can learn and master sewing curves
Here’s a push and now you’re on your own!
Place right sides together and line up the edges. Some people like to crease both pieces in half first and pin those creases together. Doing this will ensure that by the time you hit the centre, it will truly still be the centre of both pieces. But do you have to do this to get a pretty curved block? Of course not! Just like I mentioned before, this is a preference and personality thing. Do it if it feels right.
At this point, with fabric pieces right sides together, everything is going to feel very wrong. You will have one curve swinging one direction and its partnering curve veering off in the opposite direction. Have the wheels fallen off? Fortunately for us, although our block appears to be cross-eyed, it is, in fact, right where we need it to be.
As you sew, gently adjust the top fabric edge to line up with the bottom fabric edge. Keeping your needle down and sewing slowly, make your way around the curve. Stop, lift up your foot and readjust at any time. Think of it as taking your feet off the bike pedals for a second to catch your breath and give those breaks a test squeeze. Maybe even tighten up your helmet strap. I’m assuming that you’re wearing a helmet while sewing.
Once you get very close to the end, you may need to use a pin, tweezers, or even a toothpick will suffice to act as a tiny prosthetic finger. Your own finger will be too large (promise I’m not saying you have fat hands) and I wouldn’t want it getting this close to the sewing machine needle anyway. Use your tiny tool of choice to hold the last
in of fabric together to ensure your seam is even right until the end.
And there you have it! Take your freshly sewn block to your ironing board and carefully open up the fabric and give it a nice press. Use starch if you like and a square ruler to trim off any wonkiness that occurred. Don’t be turned off if you see a pucker or two in your first couple of blocks. It happens from time to time! Now who’s going to start a fast wheelin’ curve-sewin’ biker gang so I can join!?
Two things I do recommend for optimal success: keep your sewing machine needle down and sew slowly SUZY QUILTS
Suzy recommends a small rotary cutter to help with trimming curves
Pinning at the centres will ensure your curves are even