Learning how to sew is a long and enjoyable road of new discoveries that can last a lifetime. There are 101 ways to achieve the same effect and very few of them are wrong. For students learning to sew professionally this can sometimes be a frustrating thing, as they prefer a straight answer to the question “How do I do this?” For home sewers there can be an additional hurdle of learning from instructions but not from a person. You often learn all the right skills, but you are not necessarily sure why and when you need to apply them.
So today we give you some tips and tricks on how to sew curves. Enjoy!
Sewing neat curved seams can be challenging, but there are some tips and tricks to make your life easier. Typically in sewing, if something is very challenging, there is a trick for it! Let’s sew a curved bust seam step by step.
Step 1: Stay Stitching
You can stay stitch a curved seam before starting to prevent it from stretching and to be able to clip into the seam allowance if necessary. We have a blog post all about stay stitching if you want to read up on this technique. If you have a particularly intense curve and you struggle to pin it, you can clip into the seam allowance up until the stay stitch.
Step 2: Pinning
Look at your two pattern pieces and identify which one is the convex curve and which one is the concave curve. A convex curve curves out and a concave curve curves inwards. In this sample the side bodice is convex and the front bodice is concave. A concave line can stretch but a convex one can’t and this is an important difference when we start pinning. You will have to pin convex to concave, so in the case of our sample you are pinning the side bodice to the front bodice piece. You will see that if you try to pin it the other way around the curves seem to be working against you and you won’t have a nice time trying to pin that…
Left: convex curve. Right: concave curve.
It’s important to match any notches first and match the top and bottom of your seam. This is important so that you don’t stretch the seam in a particular direction. After that you can pin in between those initial pins. It’s difficult to pin a curved line with straight pins, so try pinning at a 90 degree angle to the pattern line and use lots of pin in the curved areas (in this case around the bust point).
Step 3: Sewing
Take your time when sewing curved seams so you get a smooth sewing line. Keep the two pattern pieces under control and move them out of the way when going around curves so your sewing area is flat. Stitch from the top of the seam to the bottom. It also helps to lower your stitch length to around 2.5 so that you can get a more even curve.
Step 4: Finish Seam Allowances
When your seam is all finished, you will notice that even though the seam is looking good and smooth from the outside, the seam allowance will be wrinkling on the inside. It’s best to overlock/zig zag the seam allowances on curves really short afterwards to avoid this: use your overlocker foot as a guide so you end up with a seam allowance of no more than a centimetre.
We hope you have learnt something new and are ready for some curved seams!