Straight talk about curves: 3 quick sewing tips (+ sale!)

Quilt detail from Quilter's Happy HourDo quilt patterns with curves make you run for the hills?

Hey, wait…where are you going?

Before you disappear around the bend, think about it: Orange Peel, Drunkard’s Path (variation, right), Grandmother’s Fan, and Dresden Plate are just a few well-known blocks that use curves, but there are many more. Sewing curved shapes may take learning a trick or two, but the beautiful shapes that result make them worth the learning curve.

Whether you prefer to piece or appliqué, you need a technique that will whip those curves into shape. So today, we’re gathered three tips from designers who have conquered curves in their own way. See how they overcame their curve-based fears; then click through to see the quilts they’ve made with the skills they’ve honed. Which curvy quilt will you make first?

1. Want to PIECE your curves?

Tip from Quiltastic Curves by Tammy Kelly

Quick tip: curved piecing

Practice three-pin curved piecing in projects from Quiltastic Curves:

Projects from Quiltastic Curves

See all 12 curvaceous quilts in Quiltastic Curves

2. Want to MACHINE APPLIQUÉ your curves?

Tip from Quilter’s Happy Hour by Lori Buhler

Quick tip: machine appliqued curves

Try facing curved-appliqué shapes in these projects from Quilter’s Happy Hour:

Projects from Quilter's Happy Hour

(As an added bonus, recipes are included for the cocktails after which the quilts are named!)

See all 11 curvy quilts in Quilter’s Happy Hour

3. Want to try something COMPLETELY different?

Learn Fast-Piece Appliqué from Dream Landscapes by Rose Hughes

In this popular video, you’ll see how Rose creates curves with straight machine stitches and a couching technique that covers raw edges.

Reading this in email? See the “How to Machine Appliqué in a New Way: Fast-Piece Appliqué!” video at the Stitch This! blog or watch it on YouTube.

Try Rose’s Fast-Piece Appliqué technique in quilts like these from Dream Landscapes:

Projects from Dream Landscapes

See more from Dream Landscapes

Simple Circles and Quick CurvesAnother approach to curves: starch appliqué

Designer Nancy Mahoney wanted an easy, efficient, and cost-effective way to sew curves and circles in her quilts. Her solution? Starch appliqué with reusable plastic templates, invisible thread, and a machine blanket stitch. Voilà! See her scrappy quilts featuring beautiful curves in Simple Circles and Quick Curves.

What’s your favorite way to sew curves: piecing or appliqué? Share your favorite method in the comments!

18 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I prefer the use of needle turn or starch and press applique methods for circles and curves. It seems to be crisper and even. I use templates made of heat resistant material.

    —Patricia D. Roberts on August 11, 2014
  • Sicuramente riattacco. Il lavoro viene benissimo ed è molto più semplice di quello che sembra.

    Translation: Surely piecing. The job is great and is much easier than it looks.

    —Silvana on August 11, 2014
  • I learned to sew when I was a child in 4H and we made garments to wear, thus we learned to set in sleeves etc. Coming to quilting from a garment making background is very helpful when setting in circles or any type of curved piecing. If you can set in the sole of children’s PJ bottoms you can do most anything. I guess the answer to your question is I use the old fashioned method of setting in the curves with pins.

    —Barbara on August 11, 2014
  • Pieced!

    —Quilting Tangent on August 11, 2014
  • I have only pieced before, however after watching the vidio above "from Dream Landscapes by Rose Hughes" I am looking forward to trying the appliqué method. How easy and fun! It is a wonderful idea! Thank you!

    —Tina on August 11, 2014
  • Curves are outside my "comfort zone" – but I am intrigued with landscape quilting. So I might have to ‘step outside the box’ and explore new techniques.

    —Ann Barlament on August 11, 2014
  • "The Power of Three" works great! I have been using this method for a few years since one of my quilting friends showed me how to do it.

    —Bea on August 11, 2014
  • Machine applique wins hands down! I use the line-and turn (about face) method. Scraps are often large enough for this, althouh muslin or even linings will do. The interesting thing with linings is that you can actually let them poke out for an artistic look.

    —Lynne on August 11, 2014
  • I haven’t done many quilts with curves…kind of stay away from them, and I know I shouldn’t…I just have to get real brave and do more…so one of these days I’ll just get real brave and go for it! Need to check out those books…

    —Jeanette Spellmeyer on August 11, 2014
  • I use three pins, with full side next to the feed-dogs.

    —Linda Christianson on August 11, 2014
  • I find them very easy to sew if I Pin the centres Pin the beginning and ends edges even and then use a glue pen to glue the actual seam line. Even very small/Tight curves behave and sew great this way.

    Lyn From Australia on August 12, 2014
  • I prefer the piecing of curves. I go slow and enjoy the end results!

    —Janet in ND on August 12, 2014
  • I haven’t done much of it but will try the couching technique.

    —Cindy S on August 15, 2014
  • I prefer to piece the curves. I learned to sew making clothes where sewing curves is pretty common (e.g., sleeve caps), so it never seemed scary when I started quilting.

    —Pearl on August 16, 2014
  • Both, it depends on the project.

    Keep smiling,

    Lynnita Shipman on August 17, 2014
  • I prefer piecing curves and can also relate this to my experiences sewing clothing. I do like to pin carefully.

    —Kathy on December 2, 2014
  • I like the 3 pin method and prefer to piece cirlces and arcs. Your diagram however doesn’t say which to put on top: concave or convex. I find BOTH recommendations when I can find any at all. A teacher directed one way as "obvious" when doing drunkards path, then proceeded to recommend the opposite way when piecing in a circle.

    —Karen on March 9, 2015
  • Today I read your post on sewing curves, I am more intimidated and weary of cutting all the curves.

    —Idag on March 13, 2015

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