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I've sewn enough pieces to be able to see what the "rick rack" border will look like on Fan Dance.

I’ve sewn enough pieces to be able to see what the “rick rack” border will look like on Fan Dance.

So, day 15 of Drop and Give Me 20, and I’ve pretty much finished my other project and am giving  Fan Dance my full attention.

Fan Dance‘s border has been giving me trouble. First of all, I didn’t actually draft it.  I used a template I already had for a Drunkard’s Path block and some quarter circles left over from another project. That is why the serpentine ended up as thick as it did.

On one hand, it certainly holds its own against the center, but I’m still not completely convinced that it’s what I want.

On the other hand, I’ve gotten extremely good at very small curved seams and am now back to really enjoying sewing circles and curves. so the piecing this border has become somewhat addictive.

As for successfully sewing small curves (small, in this case, quarter circles with a radius of 2.5″ or less ), I have decided it’s a matter of practice, but I tried several techniques and was less than pleased with the result.


Smaller curves are harder to sew than larger ones…but you knew that, didn’t you?

For me, I found that pins don’t really help at that size.  Using my “normal” quilting pins (which are about 2.5″ long so Miko cannot eat them) was cumbersome. They kept getting in the way, and I still had pleats I’d have to take out and resew.

I tried my 3/4″ applique pins, but I kept losing them.  They didn’t like staying in the fabric long enough to keep it in line. I guess that while trying to keep the edges aligned and the curve a semi-circle, I was manipulating the fabric too roughly and out they popped.

The charity quilt is done... not too bad for 5" squares of fabrics I did not choose myself. I wouldn't cry if someone gave it to me...

The charity quilt is done… not too bad for 5″ squares of fabrics I did not choose myself. I wouldn’t cry if someone gave it to me…

I even tried a stiletto, but that still involved stopping and starting to reposition both top and bottom pieces, so that while the edges were more together, and the curve was nicer looking, I still had the occasional pleat.

Finally, I hit upon a solution, which I remember reading somewhere: using school glue. Actually school glue sticks. Since they are non-toxic, acid-free and advertised as easy to wash out, I figured that for the amount of time they will be on my fabric, they shouldn’t harm anything.

I cut out my curves as usual, but instead of pinning, I swiped the school glue stick on the edges of the inner piece. You have to work somewhat quickly, positioning the edges so that both inner and outer pieces meet without pleats. Hold the pieces together for a few seconds and then, voila! You’re ready to sew.

Just remember to only use the glue on the edges.  I don’t think it will gum up your machine if you go a little into where the seam is itself, but try to avoid that. You don’t really need that much anyway.