Last week I was bemoaning the fact I had a created a design which required precision curved piecing. Over the 30 years I have been making quilts I have tried many different ways to cope with curved design elements. None suit me perfectly, which is probably why I keep trying different methods and different combinations of methods hoping for one that feels right. Since the method I used this week works best for me, I thought I would share it here.
1. Create templates for each piece in the pattern from freezer paper. The template should include a 1/4" seam allowance.
2. Iron the templates to the RIGHT side of the appropriate fabric. This insures that you aren't dealing with the mirror image of the pattern.
3. Cut the fabric exactly around the template.
4. Using a thread that matches the fabric stitch along the 1/4" seam allowance. I set my stitch length to the same length I would use for paper piecing. You want many stitches to the inch.
5. Using a water soluble glue stick add glue to the BACK side of the fabric along the seam allowance of any seam to be turned under. You are preparing the fabric for appliqué. So, wherever two curved pieces of fabric abut, one is turned under and laid on top of the other. It helps if the seam allowance of the fabric to be turned under has been clipped. This must be done before the glue is added.
6. Turn the seam allowance under using the stitched seam line as your guide.
|The seam allowance has been turned under|
and the fabric positioned. It is now ready for
7. Run another line of glue along the turned under seam allowance. This will hold the fabric in place while you stitch.
8. Position your fabrics using the lower fabric's stitched seam allowance as your guide for placement.
|After machine appliqué is added.|
9. Select the blind hem stitch on your machine. This is the one that looks like ....^....^. Make sure the "...." portion is as close to the seam allowance as possible, but stitches only on the lower fabric. The "^", or as I think of it as the bite, reaches out and anchors the top fabric. Once again, I use a very tiny stitch length. This ensures that many bites get taken and the fabric pieces are securely held together.
|Now it is ready to be added to the design wall.|
What I love about this method is the precision. What I struggle with is that close up it can be detected. Also, to get the precision I want, there are many prep steps. Sometimes it is just best to say "close enough" and move on. The reality is once the whole artwork has been made, especially once the quilting has been added, nobody but me (and now you) will notice the machine appliqué.