No matter what shape or form they have, all the curves I’ve encountered so far in my Dear Jane quilt are beautiful in their own way. Some are bold, some are small and some turn inwards, but each has its own unique beauty. I had avoided doing curved blocks after finishing C-11 soldiers and sailors monument, but I’ve been feeling sewing-courageous so I did a lot of tricky curved blocks. In this post, I’ll talk about 3 of them, each made with the patchwork technique. There will be an applique post later if the sewing courage (gin) continues.
Wait, can you sew curves?
Well, yes of course, but it takes some fiddling and practice. The tricky thing with curved patchwork is that fabric wants to lay flat, but it has to move upwards to sew round shapes. Because of that, you don’t pin on the sewing line, but at 90 degrees on the line perpendicular to the line you are sewing, as visible in the picture below. This helps to guide the fabric into place.With a small curve, it’s enough to use three pins: one at the start, one at the end and one in the middle.
The benefit of hand-sewing, rather than doing it by machine, is that you can move around the fabric so each stitch is placed correctly. By paying attention to an even stitch line on both fabrics, the fabrics will be distributed evenly without any wrinkles in the end result. For me, it really helps to feel the fabric in my fingertips when I quilt Actually, sewing curves by machine scares me, so it’s a good thing my Dear Jane is all by hand! With a particularly long or tricky curve, I start in the middle and work outwards or add more pins. Block I-4 is made like that. Guiding the fabric with your hands is also important because usually, the pieces look like this pinned:
The two lines are not laying flat on top of each other, but if you place your stitches evenly that will ease itself out. If anyone has tips to align the fabrics with pinning I would love to hear them! Curved patchwork really feels like a technique every quilter has their own techniques and tips for!
Dear Jane quilt block I-4: stability
The name of this block is very apt because one sure needs a lot of stability of mind to sew this one without going mad:
The borders were not a problem, because a variation of these triangles occurs a lot in the Dear Jane. The middle was a whole different story. But like I said, I felt courageous so I decided to just go for it and see what would happen. Since my applique skills are not very good yet I decided to make the curves using applique. For the curves, I started in the middle and worked outwards. This had two reasons:
- if you happen to sew it a bit askew it is easier to ‘smuggle away’ excess fabric
- the pink fabric does not reach till the end of the block, but the white fabrics meet about half a centimetre before the end. Since I drew the pattern okay-ish I had to feel out the edges. This was easier with the purple and white pieces attached.
Really love the pink and white combination and the pattern of this one. This is my new favourite block! Which one do you like most?
Dear Jane quilt block B-2: Sweet tater pie
Another block that made me nervous before I started. But I took a long look at it and figured if you make each slice of the pie separately and attach them later, it shouldn’t be too difficult. Another benefit of that way is that the tricky part, with the curves, is finished quickest. The pie slices were attached four together. After that, I joined the halves together and the block was finished!
With blocks like this, the trickiest thing is the bulk of seams in the middle, because so many points meet. If anyone has any tips how to deal with that, I would love to hear it! For this block, I pressed the seams to the sides, which worked well.
Dear Jane quilt block B-3: mirror image
This one is similar to B-2, but with a more generous curve, so this one was sewn pretty quickly. In this block, I like the colour combination of orange and green. Also, I like the shape. It looks just like a sci-fi space planet.
With this block, it becomes clear that it is important to match your thread colour with the fabric. For a part of the block, I used white thread and it shows in the left bottom corner. I am not too bothered about it, because this sampler is a learning quilt, but it is something to remember for the next block.
End thoughts on these blocks and patchwork
It is nice to notice that quilting, and especially patchwork, goes smoother and smoother. There’s definitely a learning curve (see what I did there) going on here. Also, sewing by hand can be such a meditative process and is very relaxing.
The end result is not perfect, but I actually like the playful look it gives to the blocks. It is hand-sewing after all. Personally, I really like it when the personality of the quilter shows. What do you think: should a quilt be perfect, or does it look nicer with some irregularities?
Would you like to know more?
- Introduction Dear Jane
- How I design: colours of the Dear Jane
- The link between the American Civil War and the Dear Jane quilt
- Nature in the Dear Jane sampler quilt.
See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blogpost every Sunday or Monday.