Monday, October 28, 2013

Hemispheres QAL {Pinned Curves}

Ok everyone. The day is here. Time to tackle curves. Now while curves may seem daunting, they are actually not that scary once you get the hang of it. Pinning curves is the most traditional way to do them and is the method I will be using (don't forget that glued curves and pinless curves are also going to be coming up). I also suggest pinning your curves if you are new to curved piecing (personal opinion!). Many people have very strong opinions on whether to pin or not pin curves. Pinning takes longer, but I (personally!) think you get better results. I should also clarify and say that I have tried pinless curves and just cannot get the hang of it. However, many many other people say it is wonderful. Feel free to try all the methods and see which one you like most!

A couple quick things before we start pinning-
  • If you are new to curves, you might what to give it a trial run on some scrap fabric before using your beautiful quilt fabric, just to get the feel for it
  • Expect to un-sew. Like in anything else, not every curve will be perfect.
  • Remember this is fun! Don't stress yourself out over curves. When you step away from your quilt, you cannot see tiny pleats or any other common curve imperfections.
  • With pinned curves, the more pins you use, the better your curve will turn out.
  • If you need any more tutorials or explanations, you tube and the blog world have tons of videos and posts about curves. 

Fold your pieces of fabric in half (right sides together) and press them tightly with your fingers in the center of the curve. This will leave a crease that is easy to see but not as permanent as one made with an iron. I know it is hard to see in my photo, my apologies.

Then, you lay your pieces (right sides together) on top of one another like the picture below matching up your creases. This ensures you are matching the centers of each piece. Then pin through the pieces at the crease.

And at each end. Once all three pins are in, your pieces should look like this. 

The next part gets tricky. Here is where you have to really watch your fabric. You want to start filling in pins between the ends of the curve and the center pin. As you do, make sure to wiggle your fabric to get the edges to line up all the way around. Since the fabric is cut on a curve (that goes through the bias) it will STRETCH. It is very very important to be cognizant of just how easily the fabric will stretch. If you are seeing your background fabric looking very warped and wavy on the edges of your pieced curve once it is finished, it is probably because you inadvertently stretched your pieces.

This is why pinning is important. You don't want to stretch the fabric to make it fit, more try to mold it into place as it is pulled through the machine (or while you are pinning). Also, you want to try at all costs to avoid pleating you fabric accidentally. Your finished pinned piece should look like this. 

I have done so many of these in the last few days that I have gotten comfortable with just six extra pins, but I encourage you to use more than that if it makes you comfortable! There is no such thing as too many pins!

Sewing your curve is just like sewing any other seam, only you follow the curved edge of the fabric with your presser foot instead of just going straight. Try to turn through the curve smoothly to avoid the stop start turning that will give you an angled curve rather than a smooth continuous curve.

Now, I have a secret. I know it is wrong, and I know it is bad for my machine, BUT, I sew over my pins. Gasp, I know. But frankly, I don't care. I find this helpful when it comes to keeping the fabric in place and making sure the fabric doesn't stretch. Truthfully, I sew over pins any time I am using them.

The biggest thing to watch out for while you are sewing is pleats. If you see one coming, put your needle down, lift your presser foot up, and wiggle the excess fabric around to help the edge lay flat. Pleats in the seam will show up in your background fabric after it is pressed, and we all know how much fun unsewing is. 

Continue to work your way around the edge of the fabric and that's it! 

Another tip: it is important to make sure you are sewing with a 1/4 inch seam. Don't trust that just because you machine says it is a 1/4 inch, that it actually is. If you measure the seam with a ruler, you can be sure of how big it is. If you find that your machine is off, just move your needle position or change the foot. I have to move my needle 3 places to the right to get a 1/4 inch!! 4 if I want a scant 1/4 inch.

Once your are finished, your piece will look like this.

When pressing, I have found that pressing the seam towards the convex piece, or the hemisphere, is very important, especially if you have a light background. The only time I would reccomend not doing this, is if your hemispheres are light and your background is dark. 

If you have a light background and you press your seams towards the background, you will be able to see them after you make your quilt sandwich. I made that mistake when making my single girl. It's not the end of the world. I was 14 rings in when I realized it, so needless to say I did not fix it. But, if you haven't started yet, its something to be aware of.

Lastly, to make this whole process go faster, I have found that it is much easier to pin a whole bunch of curves and then sew them. If you pin one sew one pin one sew one it feels never ending. It is super easy to just sit in front of the TV, or whatever, and pin until you run out of pins, and then chain piece them on the machine. I have no idea why, but it feels like it significantly reduces your time.

If the trimming instructions trip you up, feel free to ask any questions here or in the Flickr group.  I will cover it fully in the next post, but I know some of you have or will be getting started on trimming before then.

Well there you go. I hope this helps to put rest the fear of curves. Once you get to know them, they are just like any other seam, they just need a little extra love and care. I cannot wait to see all of the beautiful pictures of your hemispheres start popping up!!!! If you have any questions still, feel free to ask and/or check out the Flickr Group.

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