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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Winners! (and other settings)

You guys are really keeping me on my toes! I have had lots of wonderful comments about my block and I hope you got a chance to read yesterday's blog about my pinning technique and sewing curves. I'd love to hear from any of you when you try my technique and what you think of curves afterwards.

Now to the winners. I have had such a good response I decided to pick four winners. Two will win a copy of the magazine and two will win my templates (one the 6" set and the other the 8" set). They will get to choose in the order that they contact me at So the first one to contact me will get to pick which they want and so forth. The templates do come with a free pattern. So.... here are the winners:

Congratulations to:

Becky, the Quilting Booklady
Donna Joy
Kathy Schwartz

You need to send me your email and mailing address and whether you want the magazine or templates and which size. If someone contacts me and chooses the same thing I will let you know so you can choose something else (or get what remains).

I promised other settings so here they are.

Table runner with 6" templates

Many color possibilities

Alternate block setting

Use your imagination! So many design possibilities! I would love to see what some of you come up with so send lots of photos. I can post them to my blog and website.

Join me starting November 15 at my website for the Holiday Fabshop Hop. I will be having a huge fabric sale. All fabrics including new collections will be $7 or less a yard. I will also have a new quilt kit with a wonderful black/white collection called Habitat. The pattern is free on their website Very easy pattern called Arabella. You might want to even try out my Cutting Corners template set for making those Snowball blocks! Also check out my previous blogs for information and the constructions of my quilt retreat center St. Louis Star Inn. Hope to see some of you there!

That's all for today. Remember, always do what you love and love what you do. Toby

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sewing curves

I think I sewed my first curved block in 1995. It was a New York Beauty block. (Still one of my most favorite blocks.) I had sewn clothes most of my life and remember sewing in sleeves. Lots of pins! I felt that these curves were much easier and I worked on using as few pins as I could. Some things frustrated me while working on them. The edges wouldn't stay together at the beginning and end so the finished edges were not straight. I would somehow end up with more fabric on top at the end of the piece and it would overlap the end. Pleats were the most frustrating things!

The more I worked on curves the better I got at it and the more ways I found to make them look good every time.The first thing I worked on was getting the beginning and ending edges to stay together while I was sewing. I played with pinning techniques and came up with this one. The trick is to  use super fine pins (0.4mm) and "weave" them at each end. That is after you match the centers of the sections. This keeps the ends secured until you have sewn through them. I use only 3 pins, one in the middle and one on each end and then add one more pin.

This one I place perpendicular to the pin on the end. This is the pin that is used to stabilize the edges even more as I am sewing towards the end. When sewing curves I always have the concave piece on top. Different teachers will tell you they prefer the convex piece on top but I find that the concave piece (inny curve) is the one that is the most flexible and the one that usually gets pleats in it, so if I continually manipulate that one then I can avoid those pesky pleats!

The other trick to sewing curves is a consistent 1/4" seam. I use a small piece of Dr. Scholl's Molefoam Foot Pads to set my 1/4" seam and make sure that the raw edges always touch the molefoam. I also set my needle to the furthest right position my machine will allow so I can always see the edges of the fabric.

Stitching slowly is the key. I always take my time when sewing curves. Start by taking a couple of stitches at the beginning of the seam. Leave the needle in the down position and grab the center pin holding the pieces together. Give the fabric a slight tug, just enough to manipulate the fabric edges to be together. You are not stretching the fabrics, but easing the top concave curve to meet the bottom convex curve. Stitch slowly, constantly checking the edges and keeping a slight tension on the fabric at the center. Once you get to the center, stop with your needle down and grab the pin at the end of the block. Give it a slight tug as you did in the center and again manipulate the top fabric to meet the bottom fabric.

Continue stitching until your sewing foot gets close to the pin that is pointing to the foot. Place your finger on the head of the pin, continue slowly sewing and with your finger holding down the pin, it will slowly come out of the fabric as you are sewing. I use my left hand to lightly hold on to the final pin making sure that the edge of the fabric continues to touch the molefoam. Voila! A perfect, no fuss curve. Now this will work with any type of curve. The trick is the more gentle the curve the easier it is to piece. If the curve is tighter, as in drunkard's paths, you do need to make small clips in the concave curve about 1/4" to 3/8" apart. 

Sorry I don't have photos of the sewing technique but it is hard to sew and take photos at the same time. I would have to get my husband to take pictures for me while I'm sewing and he is not that good with a camera (or taking instructions)! At some point I hope to get a friend to help with a YouTube video so I can do a better demonstration.

I hope this helps. The best way to learn it is to do it while you are reading the descriptions. I am a "learn by doing" person. I can read instructions until the sun comes down, but until I do it, I won't learn it. If you belong to a guild, consider having me come teach. I have a wide variety of curved piecing workshops.

You still have one more day to leave a comment to be in the drawing for a copy of the magazine or templates. I will draw names on Wednesday. I will pick 2 winners. The first one to respond will get to choose either the magazine or my templates and the second one will get the prize that was not chosen.

Come back tomorrow and I will give other setting options for this block, including a table runner.

Until next time, always do what you love and love what you do. Toby

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks blog tour

Welcome to all who are joining the Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks blog tour! I'd like to give you a little background information about me and what went into designing the Nouveau Riche block in volume 2 of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks.

Most people steer clear of curved blocks but I am drawn to them. I love the movement they create on a quilt and all of the design possibilities. I teach workshops on taking the fear out of curve piecing and I can honestly say that not one person has left the class without feeling confident about sewing curves!

This block was inspired by a collection of fabrics from Hoffman called Nouveau Riche (image on right). I love designing with their fabrics as they always seem to get my creative juices flowing. I have done a lot of designs using Rob Peter to Pay Paul blocks (image on left) and I wanted to do something new with curves. I have heard many people describe this quilt as beads, goblets, ornaments, and even Easter eggs so it can be made for many occasions. I have templates in both 6" (four blocks create the 12" block) or 8". There is a free webpattern on Hoffman's website and the templates are available at

Come back tomorrow and I will show you my unique pinning technique for sewing curves.
Don't forget to leave a comment to be eligible for a drawing of a free copy of the magazine or the template size of your choice! Thank you for visiting.

Remember, always do what you love and love what you do. Toby