The past few days I’ve been getting back into some creative stitching by starting on a “small challenge” quilt through the Milwaukee Art Quilters. The challenge is called Objet D’arc and each participant was given a vintage double wedding ring (DWR) arc from a rummage sale find and asked to do something with it.
I’m not ready to unveil the plan for my quilt yet, but part of it involves making a traditional DWR block with modern fabrics. The problem is I don’t enjoy curved piecing. I have a garment background and am capable of doing it, but it’s just not my favorite technique. I do however enjoy coming up with ways to avoid curved piecing! First I needed a pattern, so I did an image search, cropped a block out of a quilt photo, printed 4 copies, and outlined the arcs with a black marker.
I then cut out the curved strips and paper pieced them from my fishbowl of bright scraps!
At this point I decided to appliqué the curved edges, so I wet the seam allowances with liquid starch and a q-tip and pressed over the edge of the paper (be careful not to get the paper wet).
The next step involves clear thread. Be sure to use a good quality polyester invisible thread (not nylon – I prefer Superior or Sulky). At this point I’d like to insert a few tips on machine stitching with this thread.
1. If your machine warns you when the bobbin in nearing empty, it may not read low levels of the clear thread and thus stop you from sewing long before you reach empty. To avoid this, wind a bit of a cotton thread on the bobbin first and then wind the clear thread over the cotton thread.
2. This is a very thin, strong thread and it winds very tightly on the bobbin. I’ve seen bobbins actually break from the pressure, so it’s a good idea to only fill them 1/2 to 3/4’s full.
Now back to appliqué. I pinned the arcs in place on the background fabric and stitched them down with the invisible thread and a very narrow zig zag (set stitch width and length at 1).
This looks best when the needle pierces the appliqué piece as it swings left (in the picture above) and goes into the background only when it swings right, thus capturing the folded edge. I appliquéd all of the arcs in place this way and here’s the block:
Then the paper needed to be removed by cutting away the background fabric:
It worked quite well. I don’t think I’ll ever do a bedsized DWR quilt this way, but it was fun in one block.
Have you ever made a DWR quilt the traditional way? I’d love to know how many of you enjoy curved piecing. Please comment and let me know.