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Tips for Machine Sewing Tight Curves?

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  • Tips for Machine Sewing Tight Curves?

    Can anyone help with this?

    I'm making double appliques, which are folk art style hearts. A double applique is sewing two pieces of shaped fabric, wrong sides together, and turning them the right way in, pressing flat and then appliqueing the normal way to backing fabrics.

    My problem is the top curves of my heart shapes - they look stilted, or jagged (that's the only word I can think of) rather than smooth and curvy.

    How can I sew around the tight curves smoothly, creating lovely rounded seams?

    I thought of trying to adjust my sewing machine so that the feed is looser, but it's an electronic self-adjusting feed, and it's really very firm. Turning the fabric smoothly is quite difficult.

    The only other thing I can think of is very tiny stitches.

    Any tips please?


    Apple Tree Crafts

  • #2
    I have had the same problem (especially with small shapes) and have never sought professional help! When doing this I tend to use the machine manually ie, turning the wheel by hand and keeping a close eye on the needle and where it's landing, so that I can control the curve. It's not as slow as hand sewing but it takes longer than than just whizzing round at speed! I'm sorry it's not a technical answer, truth is I'd love to know if there is a proper approach to this too so I can't wait to see what other people have to say!
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    • #3
      Are you clipping the curves before you turn?[email protected]/


      • #4

        I definately would agree with clipping curves and removing as much of the seam allowance as you can before you clip the curves.

        Does your machine have any settings for fabrics other than woven?? The feed on mine changes if I set it to knit or stretch ,it might be worth fiddling with the different settings.

        A clear foot might help you see better.



        • #5
          Can you drop the feed dogs on your sewing machine? This is how I would do tight curves when machine quilting (not that I'm particularly good at it!)
          Patchwork fabric shop online
          Quilting tools at great prices!


          • #6
            Originally posted by creativeclare View Post
            A clear foot might help you see better.
            I find those clear feet a bit freaky ... I always end up panicking about what's coming up!!

            I don't really do that many curves so can't offer much advice. Anyway, Jules, you know my style .... just give it a good poke!
            Last edited by JBJB; 31-03-2008, 09:41 AM. Reason: I wrote "foots" instead of "feet" !!
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            • #7
              In my doll-making books for toes, fingers, etc they suggest a really short stitch length. Lots of tiny stitches flow better around a curve than fewer, shorter ones. Clipping curves and removing most of the seam allowance are the other suggestions.
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              • #8
                Trial & Error

                I made a few tea cosies yesterday, and I think it's a case of trial and error.

                I've shortened the stitch length, which helps a lot, and I do have a foot with a small transparent bit but that's not really helpful as the see through bit is ever so slightly in the wrong place.

                I know how to deal with curves after they are sewn, got that down to perfection, it's just getting the perfect curve......

                I'll keep on trying.

                Apple Tree Crafts


                • #9
                  'Invisible Machine Applique'

                  Hi Jules

                  Dawn Cameron-****'s book (title above) ISBN 0953259021 might be useful. She uses invisible nylon thread with a small blind hemming stitch. She also gives four useful methods for preparing the applique before sewing, eg instead of using two layers of fabric, she uses a thin layer of interfacing for the reverse, turns it right way out, then irons the very edge of the heart/interfacing in place, before cutting away all but a tiny hem of interfacing. (P28-29 refers.)

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                  • #10
                    I usually cut away as much of the seam allowance that I can get away with and clip the curves. I hope you got there in the end
                    UPDATED 11th November



                    • #11
                      The secret of a smooth curve lies in the initial pressing. NOT ironing! Pressing. Do this before you turn the fabric. Clip the curves to within two threads of the seam line. After you turn, use a turning tool to work around the edges. (I use That Purple Thang) Smooth out any wrinkles and kind of finger press as you go. You might even need to sort of roll the two pieces of fabric between your index finger and thumb to get the seam set right where you want it. When you're satisfied that it's straight like you want it, insert the (Purple Thang) into the turning hole and drag it along the inside of the seam you're pressing and only iron a small bit at a time. Watch the fingers...the iron will get you!

                      Hope this is of help!
                      Last edited by sewnice; 26-04-2008, 07:14 AM. Reason: left out important step!


                      • #12
                        The only thing i can think of is lifting the footer, turning slightly sew and carry on like thet but it would still be jagged i think,i've not really tried it properly!