PAPER PANACHE WORKSHOP:
 MACHINE CURVED PIECING 

Not paper-piecing, but a useful technique in your arsenal!

A visitor requested that I explain machine curved piecing, the technique I used for the sky in this city scene. I was happy to do so... My approach is straightforward (or so I think--I haven't explored others' methods).

     I use freezer paper (aka "butcher paper"), and I highly recommend you make a practice sample. To follow along, print out the practice pattern for the lesson below. Also, please review the info on Pinning.
     Reverse Alert! Designs drawn onto the paper side of freezer paper will be reversed when pieced. 

1

Trace your pattern onto the dull, paper side of a piece of freezer paper. Each curved line is a future seam line.
     Remember that the design will be reversed when finished.

2

Decide on a piecing order and number the pattern. Draw hatch marks (or "match points") through every seam line about 1-2 inches apart; make them closer together on tighter curves. In this example, piece #1 has an end point to mark--cross through both ends of the end point hatch marks so you can tell at a glance where these end points are.

3

Make any other identifying marks you might need (color, fabric, grainlines, etc.) -- and then cut the pattern apart on the seam lines.

4

Iron each freezer paper pattern piece to the WRONG side of the fabric you've chosen for it. With a chalk pencil, wash-out marker or mechanical pencil, trace around the entire pattern piece, and transfer the hatch marks out into the future seam allowance.
     Cut around the paper pattern, adding 1/4" seam allowance by eye as you go. Remove the freezer paper, and write the number of the piece somewhere on the wrong side of the fabric.
     At this point you are finished with the paper, but it is a good idea to save it until you have finished your project. It could also be re-used to make another block.

5

Here the pieces have been cut out and the paper removed, and we are looking at the pencil marks we made on the wrong side of the fabric. Pieces 1 & 2 will be joined first. The arrow indicates the first seam line we will pin and sew.

6

Bring the two pieces right sides together (green denotes the right side of piece #1). Put the convex ("hill-shaped") piece in the back and pin the concave piece to it from the front. You will need to clip the seam allowance of the concave piece in front in order to get it to match up to the hill-shaped piece. Start with one clip in between each hatch mark. Try not to over-clip.
     Place the beginning and end pins first, and then match and pin through each set of hatch marks. Push the pins all the way through so not much more than their heads show on the front side. Get the pins as parallel as possible, but don't secure them yet.

7

Working from left to right as suggested in "Pinning," join the pencil lines with horizontal pins and secure the hatch marks vertically as you go along.

8

Turn the unit so you can sew the seam. Start a few stitches before the beginning of the seam line and end with a few stitches past the end, sewing slowly. Do not pull the pins out early--as the needle gets to the sharp end of each pin along the seam line, hold the head of that pin up lightly and the fabric will feed right off of it as you sew, helping to keep the seam exactly as you have pinned it. If you are sewing slowly, you can sew right over the vertical pins, or remove them a stitch beforehand.

9

This is the sewn unit, with pins removed. Trim the seam allowance if it needs it. Press the seam line.

10

Open out the pieces and press the seam gently from the front. The seam allowance will always press easiest in the direction of the concavity.
     That's all there is to it. If you finish a sample block and feel you've learned something, let me know!

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