I didn't give up! You Dear Readers were so encouraging about having me continue to try to make this block, and gave me all kinds of good advice! I went out and bought a book on making the Winding Ways block, and got some great tips and tricks that had me making nice blocks in no time. The book, Winding Ways Quilts, is written by Nancy Elliott MacDonald and is available on Amazon.com. The author claims her method is practically pinless, and she isn't lying. You hardly pin at all.
When I had my less than successful previous experience trying to make this block, I was using templates designed by Marti Michell. The templates are good, and I continued to use them after I learned a few lessons from Nancy's book. My biggest issue wasn't sewing the curved seams, but attaching one half of the block to the other. At the center point, I found there was too thick a layer of fabrics coming together to get a nice center point.
The narrow template that runs through the center of the block is above. You are supposed to cut a total of four units for each block. With the instructions given with the templates, one is instructed to sew two of the pieces together and make one long piece that connects the two halves of your block. With a bulky seam at the center.
The brilliant idea from the book is that for one of the center pieces, you place the template on the FOLD and cut. You then end up with one long unit with no center seam. Love it. I marked the seam allowance (which you don't want on this piece) with some pink plastic tape, placed the edge of the tape on the fold and cut away. For the other two center units, you do not place the template on the fold, but cut normally, and end up with two units. So, instead of four center units, you have three: two short ones and one long one.
You sew the two shorter center units to connect the shield shaped sections. You end up with two halves just like the one shown above. (My stitches look a little wobbly there. I guess I was nervous!)
Next, you attach the one long center section (that you cut on the fold) to one half of the block. One nice thin piece of fabric, with no nasty seams to get in the way. Pin at the center and sew.
Now you are ready to sew the two halves of the block together, and things will lay nice and flat and smooth. Getting that seam out of my way made such a difference. You do have to be careful about sewing with a scant 1/4" seam allowance though. You can see how little fabric there is at the center of the block, so you want to go slow and easy when you are stitching.
Woo hoo! Flat and smooth on the back.
And flat and smooth on the right side. I am so happy I stuck with this. I am going to have a Winding Ways quilt after all!
And just so you know that no new fabrics were placed at risk in this experiment: I used leftover scraps I had saved from a couple of previous blue and white quilts I had made. A free quilt Friends! Shop at home.