How to Quilt A Perfect Circle

...

IMG-1651 2.JPG

I originally learned how to quilt a circle from a wonderful tutorial by Dale Fleming. There's a great video of it here. Since then, circles have become one of my FAVORITE shapes to quilt and I've also added a few steps that I believe make it a little easier - so, I'm really excited to share this surprisingly simple technique with you!

Things to know before you start: the smaller the circle the harder it is to sew. So, for a beginner, I would recommend starting with a circle around the size of a plate. 

Supplies you will need: Freezer paper, elmers washable glue stick, fabric marker (not a frixion pen), fabric scissors, paper scissors, snippers, two contrasting fabrics, thread, and a bowl or circle for tracing.

IMG-3434.JPG

1.) Trace a circle onto the non-waxy side of the freezer paper and cut it out.  

IMG-3435.JPG
IMG-3436.JPG

2.) With the waxy side of the paper facing down, iron the circle template onto the wrong side of the fabric. For solid fabrics it doesn't matter which side you iron the template onto. Once ironed, trace around the edges of the circle with a fabric marker - this will be your guide once you begin sewing.

IMG-3437.JPG
IMG-3438.JPG

3.) Cut out the middle of the circle leaving about 1/2 inch of fabric and notch the fabric every 1/2 inch. PRO TIP: the smaller the circle the smaller the notches should be and the larger the circle the larger the notches can be. Smaller notches make it easier for the fabric to bend backwards and take on a circular shape. 

IMG-3439.JPG
IMG-3440.JPG

4.) Lightly apply the elmers glue around the entire edge of the freezer paper and tack back the notches as you go along. Apply the glue in small sections, if you try to apply glue around the whole circle and then tack back the notches the glue will dry before you've gotten to all of the notches. I want to emphasize "lightly" because this glue is acting as a very temporary place holder so only apply enough glue to hold the notches in place 

IMG-3441.JPG
IMG-3442.JPG
 After all of the notches are tacked back the back side of your block should look like this. 

After all of the notches are tacked back the back side of your block should look like this. 

5.) Apply a liberal amount of glue to each notch. You want there to be enough glue to hold your circle in place while your sewing so you'll need to apply a fair amount.

IMG-3445.JPG

6.) Place the fabric that will be the inside of your circle, right side down, onto the notches covered in glue. Firmly press the fabric in place with your finger tips or iron the fabric into place.

IMG-3446.JPG

6.) Peel the top layer away from the freezer paper.

IMG-3447.JPG
IMG-3448.JPG

8.) With your finger tips, press down on the notches to hold them in place and carefully peel away the freezer paper until you've removed the paper entirely. It's very important that the notches stay in place otherwise you'll loose the shape of your circle.

IMG-3450.JPG
IMG-3451.JPG
 Once peeled away, your piece should look like this. 

Once peeled away, your piece should look like this. 

9.) Start sewing! Put your needle into the guide you created with the fabric marker and slowly follow it until you've sewn around the entire circumference. Since the fabric is not laid flat, it tends to bunch up as you go along. So, take your time and adjust/re-flatten the fabric every couple of inches.  

IMG-3460.JPG

11.) Trim the excess fabric around the back, press down the notches with an iron, and press the front of your piece to get it nice and crisp.

IMG-3462.JPG
 After being trimmed and pressed the back side of your piece should look like this. Also, if your circle turned out a little wonky you can check your work by looking at the stitching. It should look like a perfect circle but if not then you can figure out what areas you went astray. 

After being trimmed and pressed the back side of your piece should look like this. Also, if your circle turned out a little wonky you can check your work by looking at the stitching. It should look like a perfect circle but if not then you can figure out what areas you went astray. 

IMG-3470.JPG

Annnnddd, VOILA! You now have your first quilted circle!

How to Design A Half Square Triangle Block In Illustrator

I start all of my quilts in Illustrator. I usually quilt in all solid colors and use a kona cotton swatch library that was made by Alyssa Lichner to ensure color accuracy but recently I bought a stash of vintage fabric and realized I would have to figure something else out. So after a little bit of head scratching, I came up with a solution that I just had to share! 

1.) Take pictures of the fabric you intend to use. These pictures will become your swatches.

2.) Drag and drop your "swatches" into Illustrator and place them to the side of your piece. 

3.) Use the rectangle tool to create a square.

Step 1.png

4. Use the line tool to the left of the rectangle tool to draw a triangle within the square to create your Half Square Triangle

Step 3.png

5. Delete the square and select the lines. Hover over Object at the top of the drop down menu, scroll down to Path, and select Join. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 10.41.24 PM.png

6. Fill the triangle with white, duplicate the swatch that you would like to turn into a half square triangle, place the triangle over the swatch, select both the triangle and swatch. Hover over object, scroll down to Clipping Mask, and select Make. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 10.49.49 PM.png

7. Taa-Daa! You've created your first HST! Repeat these steps as many times as it takes to design your desired quilt block. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 8.23.30 PM.png

I used an HST for this example because it's the most versatile quilting shape but you can create all kinds of geometric shapes using the line tools and following the rest of the steps. So, have fun and get creative! Here's the block I came up - I can't wait to start stitchin :)

Vintage_Fabric_Block.png

Here's a design that I mocked up and the actual fabric reality. As you can see, this mock-up method is pretty precise and takes all of the guessing work out of designing patterned fabric :)

Untitled-6.jpg