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.
1.) Trace a circle onto the non-waxy side of the freezer paper and cut it out.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
6.) Peel the top layer away from the freezer paper.
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.
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.
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.
Annnnddd, VOILA! You now have your first quilted circle!