Royal School of Needlework-- 2015 Courses

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How to make fabric circles .

Sherry has asked me how I make circles. I have to say that I have invested in several pre-packaged, pre-cut circles which one can purchase at quilters' supply stores. There are several companies that make these, and I will admit that when I first started making circles I felt it was necessary to purchase the pre-packaged templates. I wanted my circles to be perfect and I felt that if they were to be perfect I would need to buy professional quality circle templates. I even went through a phase where I visited all local hardware stores and purchased every size of metal washer I could find, as back-ups to the quilters' circle templates. I never stopped to add up the grand total invested in various circle templates, but it was more than I care to say. Once the templates arrived in my mailbox, I removed them from their plastic bags and ran my fingers over each size, wanting to become "one" with the templates. When I noticed shiny spots appearing on the carpet, it dawned on me that the templates needed to have an adequate storage area so that they would not end up on the floor. I collect pretty boxes at flea markets, so I selected one of the numerous boxes in my collection to use to store my circle template treasures. When I needed to make a circle all I would have to do is locate the special circle template box, take out the correct size template, and make my circle. Once the special circle box had been located, (after lifting the lids of 50 collectible boxes), I decided to purchase a clear plastic box for storage. Now it was time to micro-manage the templates. There were, after all, about 25 different sizes of templates, so I would need to find a flat, clear plastic storage box with 25 mini-boxes to separate the templates according to size. I spent hours looking for the perfect box. Once purchased, it took hours of scrubbing to get the horrid price sticker off the container. Once I had the templates organized, I put them in a safe place. Now and then, when I don't need a circle template, I find the box and move it to a "better" location, so that I can find it next time.

Meanwhile, I use the following supplies--
1 multiple circle template maker (available at any craft store)--usually light green in color.
1 pen or pencil for marking
1 piece of med-thick cardboard (about the thickness of a manila folder or a dry cereal box)
1 pair of sharp paper scissors
1 pair of sharp fabric scissors
Fabric, and thread to match the fabric, needle
Sizing, and tiny dish (Do not use starch. Silverfish love to chew on starchy things.)
Hot iron
Small piece of muslin

Using the master template guide, draw the size circle you want on the piece of cardboard.
Using paper scissors, carefully cut on the marked line on the cardboard. Lay the cardboard template on the wrong side of the fabric you want to use and mark around the cardboard template with a pencil or pen. Using the fabric scissors, cut beyond the drawn line, leaving no more than 1/4 inch between the drawn line and the cut line. (If the circle you are making is 1/4 inch in diameter, you will need to reduce the outside cutting line to 1/8 inch.) With a knotted thread and needle, make a running stitch halfway between the marked line and the cut line on the right side of the fabric. Lay the cardboard template once again on the inside of the fabric. Gently pull, until the outside of the fabric is snug against the cardboard template. Continue stitching a running stitch around this gathered area until you feel it is secure (usually 2 times around will make it secure enough). When you have made several of these fabric-covered templates, go to the ironing board and warm up your iron. Spray a puddle of sizing into your small dish. Thoroughly soak the fabric-covered template in sizing, front and back. Cover the soaked templates with a piece of muslin (so that the templates do not stick to your iron), and press until most of the sizing moisture is gone. Let set overnight. The next day, using your fabric scissors, snip one or two or the running stitches in the back of the template. Using the toothpick, gently push a small opening to expose the cardboard. and using the tweezers, remove the cardboard. Finger press the open area back down, lay your fabric circle on the area to be appliqued, and stitch the circle down. If the circle is very small, use 100-weight silk thread to stitch it down. Keep the stitches tiny and close to each other. After stitching, use the toothpick to make any further adjustments to an uneven area.

This is actually a very frustration-free way to make fabric circles to applique. When making a lot of circles (over 100, for example), it is fun to make 25-30 at a time.


Quilt fanatic said...

Amazing. I will definitely try this method once I find some sizing. Thanks for your detailed instructions.
Sherry McDonald

Judy said...

Hi Margaret,
Congrats on the blog. I do my circles the same way you do & it works great. Sometimes I use the heat resistant plastic template material for the circles.
Judy in New Brunswick

Margaret said...

So many of the Baltimore Album flowers have centers which are circles, too. I use the plastic templates when I can find them. Like a lot of stitchers, my storage area is slightly disorganized.