Turning over a new leaf

I am breaking out of my comfort zone and turning over a new leaf. I have tried something new: improvised curved piecing!

A group of fellow bloggers in Australia and New Zealand are starting a round robin quilt. We were introduced to each other through the 2014 New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop. I will link up with each of the bloggers taking part as our Possum Magic round robin gets underway, but for now, here is the block that I am sending in to the round robin.

Patchwork leaf block made using improvised curved piecing by Granny Maud's Girl

I am really pleased with my finished block!

I am really happy with how this block turned out. It looks like the picture I had in my head before I started. The only difference is that I was trying to make a 12-inch block and it ended up as a 15-inch square. Whoops! I was improvising and not measuring! After the last round robin block I started, I wanted this one to be a bit smaller and more manageable. At least I accomplished that.

I found inspiration from Red Pepper Quilts’ curved pieced cushion, which made me realise I had never done improvised curved piecing. I did not want to sew stripes, but I knew as a beginner to this technique that I needed to start with a simple shape. As leaves are simple curved shapes, I thought I would try to sew a leaf.

I started with a sketch and a collection of fabrics pulled from my stash. Then I cut free-hand curves and sewed them together. I took photos as I sewed in case it worked out.

Planning sketch for patchwork leaf

I drew a rough sketch on a piece of paper and referred to it as a reminder of the approximate shape and size I was aiming for.

Quilting weight fabrics chosen to make a patchwork leaf

I often find that pulling fabrics out of my stash and choosing which to use is half the fun.

A step-by-step guide to making an improvised patchwork leaf block by Granny Maud's Girl

I thought pictures might explain better than words what I did to make this block. I used no pattern. It was all improvised.

If you decide to try making a leaf like this yourself, here are a few notes to go with the progress photos.

  • I used my sketch merely as a guide to keep me roughly on track.
  • You will need to iron each seam flat before the next stage.
  • Sometimes, when nervous, I cut one curve at a time and used the first curve as a template to trace the second. (6)
  • I made my background by piecing squares. I would recommend a more irregularly pieced background as the curves distort regular shapes. If it starts wonky, it will end wonky, and that is good. My squares started square and ended up weird shapes; that is not so good. Your background will also need to be a lot bigger than the finished block as there is a bit of waste with this method. (9)
  • The second half of the leaf is a rough mirror image of the first. (11)
  • I pieced a strip of background fabric to the bottom of the centre stem before attaching both to one half of the leaf. Unfortunately, the background strip was cropped out of the photo. (11)
  • When I finished the main part of the block (15), I added extra bits of background fabric to bring the block up to a size and shape I could trim square. (16)
  • I deliberately tapered the dark green in the centre and bottom edge so it had a more sketch-like feel.

If you are new to this, like me, I suggest watching a few of the YouTube tutorials on curved piecing. Initially, I struggled with the idea of not pinning, and I wanted to ease the extra fabric in, as I would for setting a sleeve in a dress. Eventually, I realised I should not do either, and my results improved.

If you are inspired to make your own leaf and have a Flickr account, I would love to see pictures. Please post a photo of your leaf on the Granny Maud’s Girl stuff Flickr group.

Those of you who know me well will realise that this free-hand, improvised method is not at all my usual neat-freak, perfectionist style, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The only point I worried about lining up was the tip of the leaf!

I am looking forward to what the Possum Magic girls do with this block.


55 thoughts on “Turning over a new leaf

  1. I love that you turned over a new leaf–figuratively and literally. It looks great, and I look forward to seeing how the quilt top progresses. I’m a little jealous that I don’t live in Australia now that I see how fun your Round Robin is going to be.

  2. Wow! I love those greens Carla, and I have plenty to complement them in my stash. What detailed instructions too. You’re well ahead of me but I hope to make a start on my Possum Magic block this weekend. I”m looking forward to working on yours.

    • I would be happy to see other colours added as the round robin grows. I also don’t expect anyone else in the round robin to make a leaf unless they desperately want to. I look forward to seeing what everyone else dreams up!

  3. You know what, I’m just not worthy… I’m still at the teeth gritting stage paper piecing straight edges. So perhaps it’s just as well I feel no urge to piece curves right now… It looks beautiful, and I’m looking forward to seeing the quilt it will go into.

    • I think this exercise taught me that wonky curves are easier than neat straights. I too am looking forward to seeing where the rest of the group takes this block. The next step is in their capable hands!

  4. Good on you Carla for giving this a try! It all seems counter-contuitive to me! I’m afraid it won’t all sit flat! So I really admire this! Maybe I need to watch the You Tube videos like you suggest…..one day! And you have used such pretty colours too!

  5. I have a thing for leaves are yours is beautiful. I would like to try this out. The fabrics are so fresh they make a great spring leaf!

  6. You make curved piecing look easy – but its still soemthing I have not tried – one day. Anyway I have nominated you for a Liebester Award Nomination – the guidlelines for the award are on my blog is you are interested in accepting the nomination.

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