Piecing And Inserting Rounded Shapes

On a facebook page today someone was having problems growing a piece out from the centre adding curved strips onto a circular shape, finding the buckling increases with each strip – so here’s a little exerpt from class notes of a workshop I teach for advanced improv piecers. Who knows when I’ll ever get to teach a workshop again!

It is important to cut and then sew each shape one at a time, rather than cutting everything out and then putting them together, because the seam allowance must be structured in as you go, seam by seam.

Inserting rounded shapes or ‘closed’ arcs

  • First try a single curved shape or arc, like a fish scale – or part of one – as thick or narrow as you need.
  • A set of arcs can be constructed this way, too. (think rainbow …) this unit or set of stripes can then be set as one piece into the background fabric.
  • It’s important to not stretch either strip.
  • I use tailor’s marking chalk in one of those rolling wheely things, but a line of pencil dots is ok too.
  • You’ll notice I use pins – the tighter curve the more pins I use. (Think setting a sleeve.)
  • Practice.

(a) (b)

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                  (c)                                                     (d)

a) Cut shape to be inserted, place face-up on background also face-up.  Turn both over so that now reverse sides of both the background and insert shape are facing upwards

b) mark seam allowance on back side of the insert shape.

(c) on the reverse of the background shape,mark around the shape as per the chalk line, and cut inside this line

(d) with rights sides together, pin starting at the top of the arc and pin, easing out towards each edge – very like inserting a fitted sleeve.

With practise, you can also use these steps to insert complete roundish, or circular shapes into the background fabric !!! This is also called reverse applique – think of the molas of San Blas Is., off the coast of Panama and Colombia.

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