Monday, May 12, 2014

Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves

Making Waves - Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves

Thank you for all of your comments regarding both the foundation paper pieced Colorwheel Mini Quilt and the Making Waves Pillow Cover. Today I have written a tutorial for cutting and sewing free hand / improvised curves as featured in the Making Waves Pillow Cover.

Making Waves - Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves

Let's get started with the cutting ~

Making Waves - Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves

For this tutorial I have used strips of fabric 15 inches long and 3.5 inches wide. For my pillow cover I started with longer strips - 25 inches x 3.5 inches. Cut two strips of fabric, and with right side of the fabrics up (relevant if you are using printed fabrics) overlap the two fabric strips. I have overlapped my two strips by about two inches. Use a rotary cutter to cut a free hand wavy line where the two fabrics overlap.

Making Waves - Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves

Discard the excess fabric. You are now ready to start sewing your strips together.

Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves

Tips for sewing curves - no pins needed:
  • Align the top edges of your fabric, right sides together, allowing for a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
  • Reduce stitch length and aim to sew slowly and continuously, adjusting fabric as your sew rather than stopping and starting.
  • With your left hand LIFT and hold the top fabric UP and away from the bottom fabric. Your right hand is in charge of guiding the bottom fabric along the quarter inch line on your stitch plate.
  • Keep the two fabrics separated and gently ease the fabrics. Don't stretch or pull the edges.
  • Go slow and sew continuously, allowing the top fabric to slip through your hand, and adjusting the bottom fabric with other hand as you sew. If you need to stop (and it is better to stop if you've lost control of the fabrics!) be sure to stop with needle in the down position. 

Making Waves - Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves

Gently press seam to one side. And you're ready for your next strip. Again overlap the fabric strips and with a rotary cutter cut a free hand wavy line where the fabrics overlap. This time you can be guided by the previous wavy line if you wish to create a certain shape or curve in your piece.

Making Waves - Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves

Sew and press ~

Making Waves - Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves

Don't be concerned by the frightful looking seam. Press with a warm steam iron. Use a little spray starch if needed. I have pressed all my seams together to one side, and in the same direction.

Making Waves - Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves

As you can see an accurate 1/4 inch seam is not important in this instance, nice - but not important as you are not trying to match pieces and seams with others. Instead, aim for slow sewing and continuous movement of fabric to get a smooth, even and gentle curve.

Making Waves - Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves

I have worked from left to right (above photo) to create my Making Waves fabric and used a discarded patched piece to finish off my project. The patchwork piece was my first attempt at using up my solid fabric scraps but it just wasn't working for me visually. I set it aside and started piecing together the wavy strips, then added the discarded patchwork back in to finish off my project. Waste nothing. My finished piece - after straightening the edges - measured approximately 25 inches x 18 inches.

Making Waves - Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves

I have pin basted the top with both batting (100% cotton batting) and a backing fabric, as you would a normal quilt. I then quilted closely spaced lines using a walking foot on my machine. Again, slow and steady is the best until you find your rhythm. Move the quilt sandwich whilst you stitch to gently go around the curves. You will quickly find a quilting rhythm and you will then be able to speed it up a little, but be sure to let your walking foot do the work for you, don't pull or push the quilt sandwich through the machine.  [I have used a stitch length of 3.4 on my machine. This is quite a long stitch and a personal preference. Adjust as you like]. I have color matched the top thread with the color of the fabric - sometimes switching around colors (see above- the yellow and orange fabrics that are alongside one another).

Making Waves - Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves
Making Waves - Tutorial: Cutting and Sewing Free Hand Curves

Once quilted I again trimmed and straightened the piece and over-locked the edges to secure the quilting stitches. I then turned my piece into a pillow cover with a zippered size seam.
Making Waves Tutorial - Modern Improvised Curves Pillow Cover by Red Pepper Quilts
Making Waves - Improvised / Free Hand Curves Pillow Cover
and matchstick quilting
24 inches x 17.5 inches

Listed for sale in my Etsy Store: Modern Waves Pillow Cover
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask by leaving a comment, and I will explain/clarify as required by reply to your comment. 

Happy Sewing,
Rita

RELEVANT LINKS:
More Red Pepper Quilts Tutorials
Red Pepper Quilts Etsy Store

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33 comments:

  1. Thank you very much Rita for this tutorial. I had been wondering how you did the curves. I thought you may have stitched the wavy seams and then trimmed but your tutorial makes it very clear.

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  2. Beautiful pillow! I have cut freehand curves before and thought it was the scariest thing since I wasn't using a ruler with my rotary cutter! Love the way your pillow turned out. ;)

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  3. Thank you for the tutorial. The graphic impact of the solids in this piece is just wonderful! I have played with this technique, and really liked the result - time to get back to it! The use of the checkerboard piece added to the gentle curves was inspired and very effective.

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  4. I love working with this type of curve - great way to use up long thin scraps
    Thanks for sharing

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  5. Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial, Rita. You make it look so easy! I am going to make time to try it very soon.

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  6. Thanks for the great tutorial. The details & photos are really helpful - I've not tried sewing curves before but your tutorial makes it much less intimidating!

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  7. beautiful project -- great inspiration

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  8. I love that you shared this with us. I have tried a couple times to do curve free form and I have had some success.

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  9. I'm going to try this today! Thanks.

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  10. just stunning. thanks for the great explanation.

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  11. Thank you for this tutorial! Well explained and perfect pictures!

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  12. Gorgeous!
    Have you tried sewing the discarded curves too? (Adding this to my long list of must try techniques)
    Sarah

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  13. I've only wanted to figure out how to do this...FOREVER. And last week I was studying Gee's Bend quilts and became more determined than ever. I'm so glad I found this today. I can see how this will take some practice, but I feel confident thanks to this. Thank you.

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  14. It looks georgous. I think I am going to try that! Thanks!

    Liebe Grüße aus Berlin,
    Mond

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  15. Love the effekts of the curves :-) Colourfull.

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  16. Rita, you have done it again! Can't wait to try this technique!

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  17. Great tutorial. Thanks.

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  18. thank you very detailed tutorial

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  19. Thanks for sharing this. I'm looking forward to trying this technique!

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  20. Thank you so much for this Rita. I was inspired by your pillow so I 'pinned' it and thought I'd google how to sew freehand curves but even better you have shown us. You read our minds!!

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  21. Rita, thank you so very much for this tutorial! Since you've showed it on your blog I was wondering how to make it :)

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  22. I love this and will try it with some new fabric that has been inching its way towards my cutting mat. Thank you!

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  23. Very nice tutorial. Thanks for the info as well as the inspiration!

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  24. This is a great tutorial! I've been looking for something like this for a while. Thank you for sharing!

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  25. Thank you so much for this! I'm definitely going to try it,perhaps with a placemat!

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  26. Love your pillow, and great tutorial....

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  27. Love it! You make it look so easy! Thank you for the tutorial.

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  28. Best tutorial I've seen on how to get these curves down - I've done a bit of this type of piecing, and you've helped me improve my results. Many, many thanks!!

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  29. Very cool! Thanks for sharing your technique!

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  30. This is so cool! Thank you for the tutorial, it sounds really 'do-able'!

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  31. Thank you for your explanation. I LOVE it!

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  32. I love your tutorial and all your work you do. I would love to make something similar for my daughters new apartment.

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  33. Thanks for the great tutorial! Your quilt is amazing! I´ll give it a try ;)

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