Getting curvy

/ Tuesday 8 February 2011 /
Edited to add:  I'm linking this to Cheryl's Workshop in Progress linky since I posted there asking for thoughts on my fabric selection process - I thought it might be nice to show how things are coming along.

Last week I worked like a dog to finish some oppressive work projects so that I could have the weekend to devote to my sewing machine.  Friday night I made a few spiderweb blocks, like the one here, to add to those made by my friends in the 2010 Maple Leaf Bee.
Spiderweb block
But I was really saving my energy for Saturday and Sunday, when I embarked on Curlicue Crush.  Thanks to all the feedback in my fabric selection process, I ended up with 20 FQs that worked well together.  I was very excited to break out my Curvemaster sewing foot and try my hand at the curved seam, but this pattern is another one, like the kaleidoscope quilt, where you can't sew a single block without knowing which blocks will fall on all sides of it.  So I had to do all the cutting before I could start sewing.  And it was pretty time consuming since it involved a lot of template tracing and cutting.  Boo!  Down with templates!  I did have one unhappy realization in the cutting process.  I ordered this FQ bundle of Sugar Pop from Pink Chalk for the core fabric selection, and built up additional fabrics around these.

Since I chose fabrics from a number of different lines, fabrics that differed in how thin they were, how closely woven, etc., I figured I should prewash them.  But when it came time to cut for this pattern, I found that I didn't really have enough of the Sugar Pop FQs.  Either the cuts were short initially, or they shrank dramatically, but in nearly all cases, they measured a scant 17" at the best, at sometimes even less, instead of 18", which meant that I couldn't square them up to get a clean initial cut, but sometimes couldn't even get a full 3.5" width out of the last strip from the FQ.  Unhappily, this resulted in several poverty blocks, where smaller pieces were sewn together to make a larger piece, and it two cases I had to supplement entirely different fabric for part of a block.  I've not had this problem with Pink Chalk before, so I wonder if it is an issue with the Sugar Pop fabric line itself.  This is kind of disappointing when you are making a quilt from specially selected fabrics rather than scraps, but what can one do?  Never mind - I am hoping that the overall effect will be so stunning no one will notice these unfortunate make-do moments.
Here you can see how I number-coded the pattern and matched each number to a fabric swatch.  I needed to do this to make sure I was sewing the right concaves to the right convexes.  It took me all day to do the cutting, and I managed to do all the curved seams on Sunday.
I used my new Curvemaster foot.  Turns out it matters which curve goes on the bottom.  This photo shows the right way: concave on the bottom and convex on the top.  I was particularly interested in learning how to sew curves without pins.  If I had to put a million pins in each curve, the way the pattern says to do it, I knew I just flat out wouldn't make it.  I hate fiddling with pins!
The idea is that you can sew without pins if you lift the top piece up and away from the bottom piece as you are sewing (I used both hands normally, except when I needed one for the camera), and keep both pieces aligned against the sewing guide on the right.  This gives you the proper 1/4" seam allowance.  If you bring the pieces together and allow them to touch before they are right under the needle, it all goes spectacularly wrong and ends in tears.  But if you do it right, you get nice little curved seams!
Which you can then clip and press.  I am not a pro yet by any means, but some of these are pretty good.  Some (not shown) are really a dog's breakfast.  All in all, I feel quite proud of myself.  I'm desperate to finish piecing this - only straight seams remaining now.
I did manage to get out for a couple of hours on the weekend to take in our winter festivities downtown.
Open air hockey.
FebFest girls' hockey

Ancient Greek ruins in snowy miniature.
Snow Acropolis
Snow coliseum
Steam train covered in snow
Spirit of Sir John A
Snow maze
FebFest - Snow maze
Ice slides
And don't forget the souvenirs!
Must run for now - stay tuned for further adventures wherein I introduce my Whipstitch Sewing Buddy and perhaps show some photos of a bit of fabric bought today!


{ Kristen } on: 8 February 2011 at 17:17 said...

This is going to look fantastic. I love the whole no pins idea! Hope you had fun downtown.

{ Lara } on: 8 February 2011 at 17:45 said...

Your quilt looks like it's going to be a stunner Lesly! Love the snowy images. I love how Americans and Canadians embrace the snow so much. Makes me wish we occassionally got some snow too!

{ elle } on: 8 February 2011 at 19:04 said...

I really like making this little curved block and when you get in the 'zone' they practically sew themselves. It is gonna be good!

{ Debbie } on: 8 February 2011 at 19:28 said...

i am not ready to do curves of any kind!

I love the winter fest that you went to! It looks like so much fun.
Where is it?

{ Lee D } on: 8 February 2011 at 21:59 said...

you are a brave girl trying curves. scares me to death. Looks like fun Winterfest!

{ Thelma } on: 9 February 2011 at 00:14 said...


You were very productive this weekend! I prefer to cut and sew, cut and sew, I'm not a fan of having to cut everything first, you did good. "Poverty Blocks" a new term to me, but I think they may add interest to your project. I've made two quilts using curved blocks, by the time I finished them I was a pro, but that was years ago, I'm guessing I would have the same learning "curve" if I made another one. Good Luck finishing this project, should be noting but fun now!!

{ Suzanna } on: 9 February 2011 at 08:20 said...

I am so impressed that you mastered the Curve Master. I've had one for 2 years now, and after failing to get it to work for me (twice!) I gave up. And that's after watching a youtube refresher.

Congrats on solving the fabric shortage problem; I'm not sure I'd have been so resourceful. Can't wait to see the finished top!

{ Allison } on: 9 February 2011 at 21:01 said...

curves without pins? I think I need to try that. Don't fret about your fabric substitutions, when I've had to do this I've found it isn't nearly as noticable to others as it is to me. Winter fest looks like fun :)

{ Annie Crow } on: 9 February 2011 at 22:20 said...

I love your bee blocks! And am impressed with the curves. (I'm with Debbie - not ready for curves!) Great festival photos, that looks like so much fun.

{ kaschmir } on: 10 February 2011 at 08:54 said...

thanks for keeping us posted on your progress. you did a great job this weekend - everything cut and all the circles finished already!

i actually bought this pattern myself after reading your first post about it.

since i am not that experienced in quilting myself (am really at the beginner level - have never tried corner to corner piecing before), i really benefit from your experiences. so please keep posting.

btw: have you considered contacting pink chalk fabrics about your issue with the sizes? i am sure they have a good customer service and would like to know such issues.

looking forward to reading about the next steps and seeing your finished top (love the color choices)!

{ Lydia @ The Loop } on: 11 February 2011 at 12:51 said...

I've not heard of the Curve Master foot before, but it looks like a work of genius! Is it proprietary to your sewing machine brand or does it work for lots of different machines?

{ Meghan } on: 11 February 2011 at 14:39 said...

It looks so good! I have that same foot, and I love it! I used it to make this drunkard's path quilt top. Your curves turned out so much better than mine, though. Somehow my pieces never met up correctly at the end of the seam. Have you had this problem?

ps: I came over here from Workshop in Progress.

{ Claudia } on: 11 February 2011 at 16:49 said...

I wonder if my Babylock came with a curves foot. How cool is that? Your blocks are looking good. The orange/purple combo is very dynamic.

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