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!

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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.
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Put your outer piece on top like so:
Print

And then refine the placement by lining up the top like this. It’s just a smidge off of a perfectly aligned corner.
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Ready for the fun part?
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Put it under the foot/needle and put in a stitch or two to hold things together.
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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.
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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.
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Repeat. Align and hold with left index. Curve, align and hold with right middle.
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Move left index and sew until you reach right middle.
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Continue until you get about 3/4″ish (this does not need to be an exact measurement!) from the end of the curve.
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Align the bottom corner. And sew to the end.
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So at this point, it can get really hard to hold the top fabric in place. So if this happens to you…
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… 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.
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And sew to the end.
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Taaa-daaa!
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Press seams to the outside. Make sure not to stretch/distort anything.
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Square it up.
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All done. Now do it again. And again.
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And again.

  1. Kim’s avatar

    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?

    Reply

    1. emily’s avatar

      For a 3″ (finished) curve, I stop three times and then a fourth at the end.

      Reply

  2. Alyssa’s avatar

    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

    Reply

  3. Mike Pearson’s avatar

    Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  4. Bent Needle’s avatar

    You’re really inspiring me to try something with some curved piecing now – you make it look so easy!

    Reply

  5. Abby’s avatar

    Great tutorial I will be working on my curve pieces today. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  6. Rachel’s avatar

    Great tutorial – I can’t wait to try in out on my quilt!

    Reply

  7. Patti’s avatar

    Great tutorial to go with a fabulous Groove pattern! Thanks!

    Reply

  8. Lauren aka Giddy99’s avatar

    Oh, the tips and tricks I am learning! Thanks for sharing this tute!

    Reply

  9. Rachel Booth’s avatar

    Awesome tutorial! I’ve been scared to try to tackle curves! :)

    Reply

  10. Deb H.’s avatar

    Thanks for the tutorial..It is always great to see different ways of doing the same thing!

    Reply

  11. Allison C’s avatar

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

    Reply

  12. Melanie C’s avatar

    I just need to hurry and cut my pieces out so I can start sewing my curves :)

    Reply

  13. Jacintha’s avatar

    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!

    Reply

  14. Bruinbr’s avatar

    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!

    Reply

  15. Alison’s avatar

    Thanks for a great tutorial. I have to try this because I am tired of using a thousand pins!

    Reply

  16. Gill’s avatar

    Thanks Emily! I’m feeling much more confident now!

    Reply

  17. Karen’s avatar

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

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

    Reply

  18. Joan PR’s avatar

    Thanks for taking the time to show us how you do curves.

    Reply

  19. Tara’s avatar

    Excellent tutorial!!

    Reply

  20. ritainalaska’s avatar

    thanx! we all like better methods and techniques! my curves will apprecieate your great tute!

    Reply

  21. Malini’s avatar

    I love this piecing method. It just takes the pressure off. Will let you know how it went.

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

    Reply

  22. Ellen M.’s avatar

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

    Reply

  23. Patti’s avatar

    Thank you so much for this great tutorial because I was terrified of trying the curves before this.

    Reply

  24. Lisa Marie’s avatar

    This sounds good. I’ll have to try it.

    Reply

  25. Cecilia’s avatar

    Thank you for all of the great tips for curved piecing.

    Reply

  26. Jennifer’s avatar

    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:)

    Reply

  27. margaret schindler’s avatar

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

    Reply

  28. Deborah’s avatar

    Stopping by from Pile O’Fabric to say, “Hello!”

    Deborah
    homemakerhoney @gmail .com

    Reply

  29. Ramona’s avatar

    Stopping by from PileoFabric. Thanks for the great tutorial. Looking forward to putting together your Totally Groovy quilt.

    Reply

  30. Nyra’s avatar

    Thanks for the tutorial. I’m going to practice, practice, practice!

    Reply

  31. Fran’s avatar

    Great tutorial! Makes curves seem an easier skill to learn.

    Reply

  32. Marcia’s avatar

    Funny. I was doing this method intuitively. These are my first-ever curves. Maybe I think like you??

    Reply

  33. Beth T.’s avatar

    This is a great tutorial. Thanks for the clear photos and the very specific instructions.

    Reply

  34. Kathy S.’s avatar

    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!

    Reply

  35. Alexandra’s avatar

    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!

    Reply

  36. Jeannette’s avatar

    You make this look so easy,thanks!

    Reply

  37. Nancy W’s avatar

    Fantastic tut! Thanks. Going to try it out right now.

    Reply

  38. Margaret R’s avatar

    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.

    Reply

  39. Lori Smanski’s avatar

    Thanks for your wonderful tutorial. I think Im ready to try circles now.

    Reply

  40. Dana’s avatar

    What a great tutorial! Thanks for sharing :)

    Reply

  41. Haley’s avatar

    Thanks for the tutorial! Very helpful.

    Reply

  42. Jill’s avatar

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

    Reply

  43. sandy’s avatar

    Oh wow, you make it look so easy!!! Thank you!

    Reply

  44. Renate’s avatar

    Wow, you make this look so easy..I’m still in the “pin the bejeebers out of it” stage

    Reply

  45. Alice’s avatar

    What a great tutorial! You’re making things easier for everyone out there!
    Thanks for the chance to win!

    Reply

  46. Phyllis’s avatar

    Great tutorial! Thank you!

    Reply

  47. Christine’s avatar

    Thanks!…you make this look super easy…

    Reply

  48. Gail’s avatar

    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.

    Reply

    1. emily’s avatar

      After enough of these, I’ve figured out just the right amount to pull/stretch/nudge. But yes, it is easy to mess up.

      Reply

  49. Martha’s avatar

    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.

    Reply

  50. Patricia’s avatar

    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!

    Reply

  51. Ginny’s avatar

    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 :-)

    Reply