In keeping with our ‘curves’ theme this term, my monthly ‘5 minute lesson’ in classes this week was all about Improv. (improvisational) curves.
As the name suggests ‘improv.’ means you pretty much go with the flow and make up the curves as you go. No two curves are the same, and there are much fewer rules to abide by than with standard pieced curves. You don’t even have to worry about an even seam allowance (gasp!).
You can imagine how well this technique went down with all my rebellious non-conformists (you know who you are!!).
There are many examples of improv. curves on Pinterest (see my Curves Pinterest Board here). And to give an example of these in class, I made some improv. curved placemats, in the lovely coastal Beachcomber fabrics by Makower.
Here is the tutorial on how to make my Improv. Curved Placemats (makes 4 x 15 1/4″ diameter mats).
You will need:
Between Nine and Twelve 10″ squares (I used Beachcomber by Makower)
50cm of Wadding or Insul Bright Heat Resistant Wadding
50cm of calico
1 metre of Heat Resistant Non-Slip Table Protector (at least 35″ wide)
4.5 metres of 3/4″ wide bias binding
505 Basting Spray
Method: Assume 1/4″ seams
1 Place 2 squares of fabric on the cutting mat, right sides facing up, and overlapping. The wider the overlap, the deeper the curves can be. I usually overlap by 2-3″ (I am using up a smaller piece of fabric here to overlap the 10″ square).
2 Using a rotary cutter, cut a curve up through the overlapped section.
3 Remove the excess pieces (this will be the smaller piece of the right hand fabric and the smaller/underneath piece of the left hand fabric). The remaining pieces should fit neatly together.
4 Sew the 2 pieces right sides together. It is easier to do this by straightening the underneath piece with your right hand and lifting up the top piece with your left hand. Don’t worry if your seam allowance isn’t even the whole way down, just make sure there are no tucks.
5 Press the seam to the darkest fabric.
6 Repeat steps 2-5 for a third piece of fabric, over lapping the left hand edge of the first piece.
7 Spray baste the curved pieces, wadding and calico together (tutorial on spray basting available here).
8 Quilt the mats, starting centrally and working towards the outer edges. I quilted in the ditches and then’echo’ quilted the curved seams 1/2″ apart.
9 Place a round plate or bowl on top and draw around it. Cut along the line and remove the excess. Put to one side.
10 Place the same plate/bowl onto the felted side of the non-slip table protector. Draw around it and cut out.
11 Machine tack the table protector to the wrong side of the mat, making sure the felted side is on the inside. Machine tacking means using a large stitch on your machine, and stitching close to the edges. If you find the rubberised table protector resisting or sticking to your sewing machine, make sure the rubberised side is facing up and engage the dual feed/walking foot on your machine. If you don’t have these, stick some matt scotch tape to the underside of your presser foot keeping clear of the needle opening.
12 Open out the bias binding, and leaving a few inches unsewn at the start, attach the binding around the edge of the mat using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance, stopping a few inches short at the end (remember to use a quilting size stitch length here, not a tacking stitch).
13 Place the end of the bias binding over the start and measure and mark 1/2″ overlap. Trim off the excess.
14 Open out the binding and sew the short ends together using 1/4″ seam allowance.
15 Finger press the seam open and finish sewing down the remaining binding to the mat.
16 Snip all around the edge of the mat at 1cm intervals, taking care not to cut the stitches.
17 Push the binding over to the back of the mat. Pin in the ditch from the front, making sure the binding is caught at the back.
18 Stitch in the ditch from the front side finishing with a reverse stitch.
And you’re finished!
Adorn your table with your beautiful mats and wait for the compliments!
So why not have a go at this organic and fun technique!
I hope you enjoy your venture into improv. curves!