There are lots of different ways to do the same thing when it comes to quilting. I'm going to show you how I pieced the curved blocks for the drunkard’s path quilt top in my previous post. Many of you mentioned in the comments that you had a special foot to help with curves. I have a Curve Master foot too, I just couldn’t find it. I know I tucked it away somewhere safe when we moved. I’m pretty sure I’ll find it someday when I open a random container. I need to practice more with that foot but like I said I couldn’t find it. So I started piecing these blocks the traditional way:
1. Fold your pieces in half and finger press the center (just the edge where the pieces will meet, no need to press down the whole length.)
2. You could also mark it with a pen, this will be in the seam allowance so it won’t show in the finished block
3. Place the two pieces right sides together and pin. Start by placing a pin in the center first. Then pin the outer edges. Don’t worry about the wonky-ness of the fabrics, just focus on pinning those edges nice and straight and making sure the ends meet all the way at the edge.
4. Now gently stretch and pin the fabrics between pins 1 and 2 making sure that the background fabric (white) comes up to the edge of the main fabric (pink.) repeat for the section between pins 1 and 3. Once you are done pinning you can take the block to your machine and start stitching. Stitch slowly and pull out the pins as you get to them.
As you can see you end up using a lot of pins to keep everything in place. It also takes a bit of time to get each block pinned up. You can only pin a handful of blocks before you run out of pins. I can’t even tell you the number of times I got poked when I reached for the next block. After doing this for a couple of blocks I thought that there might be an easier way. I HATE pinning. One or two pins is not that pad, but 7 pins per block is a bit much!
So I came up with a slightly different way of doing this that only requires 3 pins per block. You will need pins and a pair of bent tip tweezers for this method (mine came with the curve master foot but you can get them at a medical supply store, or on amazon)
1. Proceed through step 3 as outlined above.
2. I went ahead and pinned a whole stack of blocks until I ran out of pins.
3. Then I went to my machine. Just get the needle 1-2 stitches into the block to get started. Stop with the needle down to hold the block in place and remove the first pin.
4. Place your thumb at the middle pin and use your thumb to lightly pull the fabric away from the needle. You just need to pull until the fabric is taught and no longer buckled along the edges.
5. Now take your tweezers 1-2” above your pin and pull the background fabric (white) until it lines up with the main fabric (blue.) (While keeping your thumb in place. It’s hard to take pictures one handed!)
6. Use your index finger to hold the fabrics in place.
7. Repeat steps 5 & 6 a little closer to the needle. Use your middle finger to hold the fabric in place. You really don’t need a lot of pressure to hold the fabric in place. Do what is comfortable for your hand. Your hands shouldn’t be cramping up at all, if they are you’re trying to hard! Relax :)
8. If you need to (sometimes I did and others I didn’t) use your tweezers to pull that last little bit of fabric, in front of the presser foot, over into place as you start sewing.
9. Now you just move your fingers out of the way as you sew. Sew all the way to the middle pin, remove the pin and repeat steps 4-8 for the other half of the block.
This may seem like a lot of steps but it really does go pretty quick. It’s just a lot of steps to explain it. There is no stopping to remove pins every 10 stitches! Once I got the hang of it, it really only took 3-5 seconds to get my fingers in place. It was taking me at least 30-60 seconds to pin an entire block the traditional way. Not to mention all the pin pricks I was getting. One thing that I have found in quilting is that not everything works for everyone, but it doesn’t hurt to try it out. The blocks I was piecing where large 6.5” blocks with a gentle curve. I’m not sure how well this method will work for tighter, smaller curves. Let me know how it works out for you.