I have been quilting for a few years and finally worked up the courage to try curved piecing. I enjoy the graceful shapes curves create in quilts, such as in Lori Baker’s, traditional-made-modern design, Lemon Pickles, however I’m not quite ready to be piecing AND hand appliqueing curved shapes.
When Quiltmaker Content Editor, Carolyn Beam started designing the scrappy Halloween quilt Hocus Pocus, I was inspired to try out the Fons & Porter 9 Blade Fan Template set. My goal was to successfully make at least one block and depending on how fond I become of this piecing technique, I would go from there. When experimenting with new things, I like to stay on the scrappy side of fabric choices, making fabric placement more flexible.
I don’t always have the patience or the greatest means of finesse when it comes to cutting, what can sometimes feel like a never-ending amount of pieces, from paper or plastic templates. I usually end up getting a bit sloppy at some point or another, accidently trimming a little too much here or there. I’m still working on the practice makes perfect mentality, however using this template set did help significantly increase the consistency of my cutting.
The fabrics I used in this block are from Hoffman Fabrics line of Indah Batiks. These are a few of my favorite colors left over from a previous project, so I had to get a little fancy with my cutting. I did get a little caught up in my creative cutting from the scraps and managed to forget to cut the outer curve template on the fold of the fabric.
This wouldn’t have been an issue if a.) I had enough fabric to recut the pieces, or b.) I wasn’t so picky about swapping the fabric for a different print. However neither option would do, so I improvised by piecing a cream print 1½” (½” finished) strip between the two miscut pieces. Now the corner unit was properly fit to be attached to the blades.
The blades are simple to assemble, however if you are trying to keep fabrics in a particular order, it helps to lay the pieces out before piecing them together. Attaching the center quarter circle to the inner curve of the blades was a bit tricky at first. Pinning each edge in place, then the center and finally filling in the sides will help keep the seam. Pins are your friend in this case. The outer curve was much smoother to sew, due to its size however after completing the first two quadrants of this block I felt pretty confident as long as I didn’t rush through the process and made sure to keep the ¼” seam allowance consistent. Missing the seam allowance by a small bit will make a big difference in the end.
This block is 16” finished. I decided to add two borders and make it into a mini quilt. The 1” pieced border uses the same red, green, yellow and cream fabrics from the block. To help keep the smaller scale of the pieced border accurate, I made band set from 1 ½” strips and cut strips from it, adding single squares where necessary to keep the color pattern in place. The second border is 1½” (finished), making this mini quilt 21 ¾”.
Perfecting curved piecing will definitely take some time and practice, however I feel confident that I am off to a good start. The next time around I may use a more overall scrappy design, so that I can focus more on the piecing technique itself, rather than getting caught up with fabric placement right away. I have enjoyed using these templates and they made quite a difference in the accuracy of my cutting. I may just go ahead and cut more scraps to practice with. Now I need to do some quilting on this and finish it up, stay tuned for the final reveal!