Figure 1: Construction diagram and complete block
Figure 1: Construction diagram and complete block

There are a number of curved blocks, all with similar designs. These designs were based on the simple drafting equipment available to ordinary people. The design is very similar to a traditional quilting pattern, based on overlapping circles. You can draw the curve around the edge of a dinner plate or saucer. Curved piecing is slightly more difficult than straight lines as you cannot lay the pieces RS together with the whole seam matching. I don't clip curves unless they are really sharp so make a test block with one quarter of the block and see how easy it is. Regardless of whether quilting by hand or machine, I draw the actual sewing line on the block and the balancing marks, too. Then this is used as a check when sewing to keep the curves really smooth.

Figure 2: Sewing the curved seam
Figure 2: Sewing the curved seam

We have provided a template for this block.

Method

Pin together the two patches with the concave patch on top. Pin first at the two points at the edges of the block (these are the points where the 1⁄4in seam allowances meet). Then pin the central point along the seam. If needed, you can put intermediate pins as well. Sew the seam by hand or machine. If working by machine sew more slowly than usual and ease the seam in place as necessary. You should not need to clip the gentle curve.

See Figure 1 for the block construction. Each block is made from four identical sections.

Figure 3: Block Layout
Figure 3: Block Layout

Figure 2 shows the method for sewing the seam with the concave section on the top and pinned in place.

Figure 3 shows the blocks laid edge to edge. The curves flow across the quilt top. The design of this block and many other similar ones uses a technique called counterchange. This is like a chess board with each piece attached to one of the opposite colour.

Other blocks with a similar effect are also shown. Drafting them is very simple. Use either compasses or a plate to make the curves on the block. Cut them out exactly and then add the seam allowance. The easiest method for adding the 1⁄4in seam on your own designs is to use a brass wheel. These are produced with a small hole in the centre, in which you place a pencil and then roll carefully round the template. This adds 1⁄4in to the original template. If you are sewing by hand you can choose to draw the sewing line on the fabric and just cut approximately around the shape. Use the actual line to match the pieces and not the cut edge of the fabric.

Figure 4: Orange Peel Variation
Figure 4: Orange Peel Variation
Figure 5: Robbing Peter to pay Paul
Figure 5: Robbing Peter to pay Paul
Figure 6: Snowball
Figure 6: Snowball