When you’re a sewer, it means learning how to sew a variety of patterns, sizes, shapes, and textures. One of the things that scares a lot of beginning sewers is learning how to sew rounded corners, but it really doesn’t have to be that intimidating.
To learn how to sew rounded corners, it just takes a little practice and a few tips from people who have done it hundreds of times already. Once you get used to it and once you practice a few times, you’ll be surprised by how easy it is.
How to Sew Rounded Corners
Sewing rounded corners is part science, part art form, so to speak. If you’re thinking that it’s difficult, not to worry, but it is a little different than sewing a straight seam. Fortunately, the right tools help a lot, including making sure your presser foot is working properly.
In fact, one of the first things you should do before getting started with this task is make sure your sewing machine works properly. If it’s not working properly, rounded corners will be much more difficult for you.
Rounded corners are used frequently in quilting, but they can also be used in standard sewing projects. Regardless of what type of project you’re working on, you need to start by making sure the two pieces of fabric are perfectly aligned.
Since this is always your first step whether you’re sewing or quilting, you can use a variety of methods to help make sure the two pieces are aligned correctly. This includes your machine lines, an edge marker, a magnetic marker, or even your presser foot (told you the sewing machine was important!).
For this step, you have to find the method that works best for you. If you think a certain method is more efficient but you’re not comfortable with it, you should instead choose a method you’re more proficient at so the results come out perfect.
Is it Really That Difficult?
When you’re learning how to sew rounded corners, you’ll find a lot of the difference is simply in the way you hold the fabric. Let’s face it, sewing a straight seam or line on a piece of fabric is so simple even non-sewers can accomplish it, but that isn’t the case with rounded corners.
To do this correctly, your left hand is going to be busy when you’re working with rounded corners. Since you’ll be guiding the fabric through the machine on the right-hand side with your right hand, you’ll be using your left hand – or more specifically, the fingers on your left hand – to guide the fabric around as you sew.
You’ll truly feel like you are making a curve with the fabric as you work. Your fingertips will go toward the center of the curve and will essentially move the fabric around so that the needle never has a chance to go in a straight line.
Another tip that’s important for any type of curves in fabric is to go slowly. Indeed, even if you’re experienced with this type of work, speeding through the task is never recommended. This is especially important because you’ll be helping guide the fabric with your fingers.
In fact, you’ll need to stop frequently just to make sure the fabric is going in the right direction. This may slow down the process, but it will be worth it in the end when you see your beautiful rounded masterpiece.
Some Tips to Keep in Mind
Just like any other sewing task, there are tips you can follow to make rounded corners a little easier. One of the first ones is to make sure you concentrate on the raw edges of the fabric as you’re working. Don’t concentrate on the needle because it could throw off your measurements.
Fabric curves also come in many different sizes and types. In other words, some are looser than others. For the tighter curves, you’ll have to stop frequently so that you can reposition the fabric and keep it in the correct position.
Every time you reposition your fabric, make sure you do so with the needle down. If the sewing machine needle isn’t down, you can mess up the entire project and end up with a lopsided design, which no one wants.
Another tip that helps with curves, especially with tighter curves, is to use a stitch that is shorter. If you’re used to using a 30 mm stitch, try a 20 mm stitch instead for your rounded corners.
Two more important tips are: (1) you should guide the fabric through, not push it through; and (2) make sure the raw edges of your fabric are in line with your marker so that nothing ends up being crooked or out of line.
In fact, if you think of this project as a series of small stitches and not one long stitch, it might help you focus on making sure the fabric moves in the right direction so that you get a nice smooth design in the end.
When you’re concentrating on how to sew rounded corners, you may have to occasionally take your foot off of the pedal and use your hand wheel instead. The smaller your curves are, the more important this suggestion becomes.
Concave and Convex Curves
When you’re learning how to sew rounded corners, you’ll be working with either concave or convex curves, or maybe even both. Your convex curves will look like the tops of mountains, whereas concave curves will look like “dips” in those mountains.
Why is knowing this important? Making cuts in the seam allowance to keep away the bulkiness is done two different ways, depending on which type of curve you’re working with. Here is the breakdown:
- For convex curves, you’ll want to make small notches in the seam. In other words, there will be “V” shaped marks in the seam when you’re done, complete with spaces.
- For concave curves, you’ll want to snip the seam. There will be no spaces but instead, just small nips in the material.
This is the best way to make sure that when you’re finished, there is no bulkiness or misshapen fabric around the curvy parts. Instead of using pinking shears, though, you’ll simply use your cutting scissors on these seams.
Learning how to sew rounded corners is not as difficult as you might think. If you think you’d like to practice first, you can always practice on some thick paper before you sew on real fabric.
The way you handle the fabric is the biggest difference between this type of sewing and sewing of basic projects. When you sew skirts, handbags, and shirts, as well as other articles of clothing, you could very well run into rounded corners of some type, which is why it’s so important to learn how to do them correctly.
The good news is that you can follow these tips and still be successful regardless of the project at hand. Whether you’re working on an article of clothing or even a tote bag or other item, these tips are certain to work.
Also keep in mind that you may have to practice a few times to get it right. Don’t let that stop you, though, from giving it a try in the first place. Sewing rounded corners is just like sewing anything else – the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.