Curved Piecing Tutorial: The I-have-way-too-many-quilts-to-make-and-too-many-deadlines-and-have-no-time-to-pin-because-I-need-these-done-yesterday Method

Today’s post is part of the Pile O’ Fabric Totally Groovy QuiltAlong!


Welcome to my I-have-way-too-many-quilts-to-make-and-too-many-deadlines-and-have-no-time-to-pin-because-I-need-these-done-yesterday Method of curved piecing.

In general, people seem to be terrified of curves in quilting. So one of my earliest patterns was Scrappy Circles which allows for some, ahem, errors in your curved sewing as well as sewing curves without pins. It’s a great practice for more precise curved sewing.

When I started curves, I pinned everything. Excessively. The pins in my curved sewing are long gone with the billions of curves I seem to sew every week. Ok, so perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration. Well, maybe not. I had to count how many I sewed this summer. Just shy of 1,000 of these things. Seriously.

This is how I do them:

First. If your machine gives you the ability to set it so the needle stays down when you stop sewing, make it do so! Also, if you have a knee lift, use it! If your machine came with a knee lift but you’ve been scared to use it because it looks like this odd piece of metal sticking out of your beeeeutiful machine, then, well, now is the time to find it and use it. You’ll want it for this project. If your machine has neither feature, this is still 100% possible, but might take a little more practice.

Second. Cutting. I do 99.9% of my cutting with a 45mm blade BUT I find a 28mm blade makes the curved pieces much easier to cut. Don’t stack too many layers to cut at once, because then you end up chopping the fabric and your pieces aren’t precise. You need precise pieces.

Put your outer piece on top like so:

And then refine the placement by lining up the top like this. It’s just a smidge off of a perfectly aligned corner.

Ready for the fun part?

Put it under the foot/needle and put in a stitch or two to hold things together.

Align the two fabric edges right at the end of the foot and hold in place with your left index finger. With your right hand, gently pull the curve around to the left and align the edges. Hold in place with your right middle finger.

Sew, lifting your left index finger before you sew over it. Note: I keep my fingers in front of the needle and the curved front end of the foot so my fingers hit the end of the foot, not the needle. Fingers and moter-driven needles are a bad mix. Keep sewing until you get to where your right middle finger was placed.

Repeat. Align and hold with left index. Curve, align and hold with right middle.

Move left index and sew until you reach right middle.

Continue until you get about 3/4″ish (this does not need to be an exact measurement!) from the end of the curve.

Align the bottom corner. And sew to the end.

So at this point, it can get really hard to hold the top fabric in place. So if this happens to you…

… try this. Using you right index finger, rotate and hold in place the bottom fabric. With your left hand gently pivot the upper fabric from behind the needle. Align and hold everything in place.

And sew to the end.


Press seams to the outside. Make sure not to stretch/distort anything.

Square it up.

All done. Now do it again. And again.

And again.

54 thoughts on “Curved Piecing Tutorial: The I-have-way-too-many-quilts-to-make-and-too-many-deadlines-and-have-no-time-to-pin-because-I-need-these-done-yesterday Method

  1. Kim

    Thanks for this tutorial, I’m going to give this method a try. All that pinning is getting old, fast! I see why the knee lift would make this easier – about how many times on the curve do you pause to lift the foot and reposition the fabric?

  2. Alyssa

    Thanks Emily! Very Helpful, I was actually sewing my curve much different, I was sewing with the outer curve on top and inner on bottom. They still turned out pretty good, I love curves :) well maybe the way they look in a quilt haha

  3. Allison C

    Great tutorial! It is always good to see how other people do certain techniques so you can try out different methods.

  4. Jacintha

    I love sewing without pins! It really makes sewing so much faster and all you really need are your fingers to make sure pieces line up. There are too many projects and too little time!

  5. Bruinbr

    Heheh… Your comment about the knee lift is awesome! I just started using it and can’t believe it took me so long to try! I’ve been missing out! Thanks for the great tutorial!

  6. Karen

    I wish I knew about that starting line up trick. Maybe on the next one…

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

  7. Ellen M.

    Wow! Great tutorial. I’m new to quilting but I think this gives me the courage to try curves! Thanks for the information!

  8. Jennifer

    I like this method better than my excessive pinning. I’m starting to get where I can getaway with 3 pins but I need to try this way. Agree that programmable needle down is great! Thanks for the tutorial and for the fabulous patterns:)

  9. margaret schindler

    I am going to give this a try. I am always amazed at the circles inquilts. Thank you for the tutorial

  10. Kathy S.

    LOVE the no-pin method. The only thing I would add is that I use a pair of tweezers when I get to the end of the piece to make sure they line up correctly. Still loving my Totally Groovy pattern. I love the way it has all the size options and the diagram is awesome. The only thing I don’t like is that it wasn’t Accuquilt GO! friendly and that I had to cut the drunkard’s path pieces by hand. Oh well, lazy me will have to do something myself. It’s still a brilliant pattern. Not everybody has a GO!

  11. Alexandra

    Thanks for this tutorial! You make it look so easy. I didn’t join the groovy QAL because the curves totally freaked me out. But maybe now it’s on my to do list!

  12. Margaret R

    You make this look so easy. Where were you when I was sewing my 125 curves for this quilt a long? Thanks for showing us how to do it your way.

  13. Jill

    Thanks for the great information. Working on the Groovy Quilt a Long with Pile O Fabrics and LOVING IT!!!

  14. Gail

    Isn’t it too easy to end up with leftover top fabric from stretching the bias too much? or the reverse? I’ve always been afraid to try this in piecing without at least a few pins. but I do curved binding like this without pinning.

  15. Martha

    I have been dying to delve into circles and after this tutorial I feel much braver to try it. Thanks for doing this and boosting my courage.

  16. Pingback: Perfect Your Piecing: Pay Attention to Those Curves! |

  17. Patricia

    Just leaving a comment to let you know, beginners (me) are still finding this post and finding it helpful. 18 pictures are worth 18 thousand words!

  18. Ginny

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! It works so well and seriously just saved me from giving up on a block I was testing out. Now I’ll never be scared of curves again :-)

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emily cier.

quilts. color. fun. life. seattle.

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