Fun With Circles


Debi Warner shows you some fun ideas to design and make your quilts using circles. Enjoy and share with those you love!

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Fun With Circles

There are no straight lines in nature. There might be some that look straight, but it's only appearances. So, it's interesting that early quilt blocks such as Log Cabin, Jacob's Ladder, and the other classics are composed of straight lines. Of course, that makes it a lot simpler to use a ruler and a rotary cutter to cut the pieces for your quilt.

Fun With Circles


There are circles in nature. The moon is round, bubbles are spheres because of surface tension, and any number of flowers, etc. appear round. What's interesting is that early quilt blocks didn't do much with "round". Drunkard's Path does include a curve, and if you sew 4 of them together, you can make a circle.

DP circle


Many scientific studies have shown that most people prefer circles and curves to straight lines, so the techniques of achieving a circle in early quilting must have been more difficult. We do have some classics, though, such as Double Wedding Ring, and Dresden Plate.



For those doing Wool Applique, circles are a natural. Penny rugs have always been popular, and circles are not hard to cut from wool. This is a purse with circles and flowers.



Using real circles in quilting is pretty much an outcome of the modern quilt movement. One of my early experiments with circles is called "Moons of Jupiter." Lucky for me, Jupiter has 57 named moons, but they are not all uniform in color or in shape.

Moons of Jupiter


The next circle technique that I learned was also from modern quilting. "Tom Russell Circles" is about using the position of the circles to recall flowers and using leaves and beading to highlight them. Not being one to follow the crowd, my first attempt at this technique involved a quilt called "The Universe." I always ask myself "what else can be done?" with this new technique.



Using my die cutter, I cut a bunch of circles and ended up with this modern quilt which I call, "Path of the Frisbee". I'm on the hunt for more unique looking circles. Can an attractive circle be cut from a jelly roll? Scrap block? Bargello? I'm experimenting to find out.



For pure fun, though, nothing beats making circles with thread on your sewing machine using a thumbtack, tape, and a cork. Find the center of your fabric. Tape the thumbtack an appropriate distance from your needle.



Put the center of your fabric over the tack and hold it down with a cork. Find a fancy stitch you like on your machine and go! The thumb tack will cause the machine to sew in a perfect circle!



Sometimes the mother of invention is playing, so go and play!


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Attaching individual pieces of fabric to a background to form a design.

Same As: Appliqué

See Also: Freezer Paper Applique, Needleturn Applique, Machine Applique, Reverse Applique, Shadow Applique
A quilt that is so badly damaged or worn that it's only purpose now is to be cut up for other craft projects.
Double Wedding Ring
Arced pieces of squares sewn together to form interlocking rings or circles.
Log Cabin
A quilt pattern in which narrow fabric strips, or logs, surround a center square to form a block. These may be pieced from strips or sewn onto a foundation of paper or fabric.
Rotary Cutter
A very sharp tool that looks like a pizza wheel which is capable of cutting through multiple layers of fabric.
A heavy plastic measuring guide that can come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Debi Warner
Author and humorist, Debi Warner, retired after many years as a clinical librarian and information specialist. She has her Master’s in Library and Information Science and achieved a Distinguished level in the Medical Library Association’s Association of Health Information Professionals. She has worked on teaching physicians to use computers and electronic resources. She also worked on several grants teaching the public how to use the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus public database and is co-author of several articles on health literacy. She took up quilting after retirement in 2012 and chaired the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Show in 2019. She currently teaches several quilting classes over Zoom and writes for QuiltingHub.
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