Hi! I’m Dan Rouse and I blog at Piece and Press. I love quilts with pieced curves, and I’m so glad I had a chance to play with Jenny Pedigo’s “Quick Curve Ruler”
I had a few ideas rumbling in my head, and settled on a square 8-inch block, with the curve terminating at the center of two opposite sides. My original idea was to create long undulating S-curves — that’s why the curves end in the middle of each block. A bit of that idea survives on the back of the quilt.
But I had less yardage and more colors. I made the 64 blocks before I settled on a design. Well, actually I had settled on the long vertical S-curve design, but then quickly unsettled. I didn’t like the mishmash of colors in the long vertical lines. I played with the arrangement on the design wall and came up with the propellers. Each propeller has four blocks; each block has a matching concave half, and a unique convex half.
I quilted all the mismatched convex bits with the same swirly wavy free-motion quilting pattern. Each of the sixteen propellers got a unique pattern.
This is the point in the description — it happens with many of my quilts — where I decide I like the back better than the front.
I’ll tell you a bit about how I constructed the blocks.
I started with four 9″x10″ rectangles cut from sixteen different fabrics. It’s easy to cut the rectangles from a standard quarter yard or a fat quarter. And it’s okay to have some duplicates — I think I used 13 different fabrics (or so).
These dimensions allow for trimming after the blocks are pieced.
Now cut your curves. With the long side of the fabric oriented up and down, set the ruler with the vertical dotted lines more or less centered on the fabric. Place the bottom edge of the ruler 1/2″ above the bottom narrow edge.
Having cut all the rectangles, pair four matching concave pieces (the smaller halves with the inward curve) of a single color with four convex pieces (the larger halves with outward curves) of contrasting colors. The photo doesn’t quite capture this design step. You’ll probably want to lay everything out on the design wall, or floor, or lawn, depending on what is available to you. Take photos to remember the arrangement, then pair up the curves and head to the sewing machine.
To sew the curves I didn’t use any pins. Halleluja! It was helpful to do a few practice blocks to get a sense of handling the blocks as a sewed the seams. Depending on your experience, you may want to work with a whole bunch of scrap blocks to get the hang of it. Pinning is also an option, but it will take a whole lot longer. I’ve found that when I sew a lot of blocks with the same curved seam (especially when I’ll be trimming after) I work faster and more accurately, with less rework, if I skip the pinning.
Line up the beginning edges of the seam, so the tangents at the edge of each curve are aligned, and the 1/4″ seam begins where the straight edges intersect.
Jenny has a great video for managing the fabric while sewing the seam on youtube:
She layers her fabric differently than I do, but I found her discussion very helpful.
Here’s what my blocks looked like after sewing the curved seam. Actually, this one was tidier that most, with very even edges. Don’t worry if your edges are a little less even. We’ll be trimming in the next step, and chances are good you’ll have enough margin to make the block work.
Press the seam to the inside of the curve.
(This is the other block, from the matching pair of curves)
Now it’s time to square the block. I used an 8-1/2″ square ruler, and marked points on each side of the center line to align the curve.
It’s very faint in the photo, but I drew a circle around the point 1/4″ from each side. This is the seam line, and I wanted the curve to meet the opposing curve in the adjacent block.
I worried so much about the curves meeting, but then I abandoned than plan. So, depending on whether you want to follow the example on the front or the back of the quilt, you can decide how much you care about the curve hitting exactly in the center!
As I mentioned each of the sixteen propellers has a unique quilting pattern — some quilting with the walking foot, and some free motion. Here are three of my favorites:
The simple diamond grid is so satisfying. It makes me wonder why I always go for more complicated designs.
I also love how this photo begins to capture the iridescence of the Oakshott shot cottons. The two horizontal pieces read green. But the two vertical pieces, with the warp and weft rotated 90 degrees, glow blue at the right angle. In real life, that glow is constantly moving as your gaze and vantage point also move.
The contrast between the densely quilted and non-quilted areas is striking. It’s neat how the design creates depth, pushing the four colored bits to the front, and the blue propeller to the back. It has something to do with the way the quilting design both responds to, and ignores, the piecing. I think it’s time to dig a little deeper in my study of quilting design.