Curved Quilt Piecing

Curved quilt piecing is as easy as applique with these simple instructions.
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You can smooth the way for this project by setting up a pressing surface with a hard board, cotton batting and a canvas cover. The canvas and the firm surface serve to hold the fabric so that it doesn't distort during pressing. You can also preshrink the freezer paper you'll use by laying it on the board, spraying with starch and pressing. 

Materials and Tools:

freezer paper
computer (optional)
spray starch
stencil brush
hot iron
pressing mat
water-soluble basting glue
permanent marker
sewing machine
100 percent cotton thread


1. Make a mirror-image copy of the pattern by scanning into a computer and reversing it or by taking it to a copy shop for reversal. Transfer the pattern to freezer paper and cut it out to use as a template.

2. Cut a piece of fabric at least 1 inch larger than the template. Press the template to the wrong side of the fabric. Trim the shape to at least ¼-inch to the outside of the template.

3. Clip the seam allowance only on the inside curves, clipping at least ¼-inch apart and leaving a few threads unclipped to the outside of the template. You will want to clip only two of the outside areas, opposite each other.

4. Spray some starch into the lid of the starch spray can. Saturate the stencil brush in the starch and "paint" the areas you want to press back with starch, starting with the middle circle. Go from right to left if you're right-handed, from left to right if you're left-handed. Using tweezers, hold the small pieces of the clipped edge against the template, folding them over and pressing with a hot iron until dry.

5. Pull the template off the prepared piece. Pat the block back into shape with the hot iron.

6. Put a small bead of water-soluble basting glue on the edge of the center circle. The glue has to cover the very edge. Before the glue dries, carefully place a piece of fabric (measuring at least two fingers wider than the hole) over the center hole.

7. From the back side of the block, heat-set the glue by patting with the hot iron. If you've do this correctly, a shadow of glue will show through to the back center.

8. Set up a sewing machine with 1.75 stitch length, single-needle plate, size 70 or 75 needle, 100 percent cotton thread and a ¼-inch presser foot.

9. The fold line you pressed into the piece serves as stitch line marking. The additional fabric left on the center piece will serve as something to hold on to while you sew, which is especially helpful when sewing small pieces. Use tweezers to hold small seams flat while you sew. Do a small back or lock stitch to keep seams from coming out.

10. After stitching the seams, trim the seam allowance of the second fabric to ¼-inch. If you want the seams to go in the other direction, reactivate the starch by re-brushing the area with water and pressing in the opposite direction.

11. Fashion a layout guide to make block sets for the quilt assembly, using a permanent pen on freezer paper to trace the outside shape of the template (cut in step 1) in a four-patch configuration.

12. Position the layout guide on a pressing surface and secure it by pressing it to the board while pinning each corner. Glue baste blocks into sets and sew them.

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