Circle Template Maker (Available from office supply stores).
This is one tool I simply cannot live without!
Light Cardboard (Using cereal boxes, or anything else at hand)
Place Template Maker over circle to be appliqued. For this example, I needed 1/4 inch circles. Find correct size, and using pen, make as many cardboard templates as you need. Using cheap (but sharp) scissors, cut around marking line. I like to store the cardboard circles in a plastic ziplock snack bag. Set aside.
Find a larger circle on the template maker which is almost a quarter inch larger than the original circle.
Using a dark pen, mark this circle on the back side of the fabric. Don't worry about the pen mark. It is on the wrong side of the fabric. Cut around this marked line an additional quarter inch, so that you can easily complete the next step.
Using strong thread in your needle, double knot the thread at the end. (This will keep it from coming loose later on when you tug at the thread.)
Bring the needle from the right side of the fabric to the wrong side of the fabric.
Complete a series of small running stitches close to the line you have drawn. Add two more stitches past your beginning stitch. Finish by placing the needle from the back to the front of the fabric.
This is how the front of the fabric will look.
Pull needle all the way to the front.
Keeping the thread tail out of the way, cut the fabric along the marked line with the back of the fabric facing you.
This is the back side of the cut and threaded circle.
Front side of the cut and threaded circle.
(Discard left over fabric.)
Place prepared cardboard template (1/4 inch in this case) in the center of the BACK side of the prepared fabric circle.
Use anything stable to hold down the cardboard template so that it doesn't move (in this example, I used a scissor point).
Pull string tightly to draw up the fabric around the cardboard template.
Remove scissors and secure the drawn circle with another set of running stitches to secure it in place.
Circle as viewed from the right side of the fabric.
I clip the thread about one inch away, so I have something to hang onto. Others leave the needle threaded (but I didn't want to tie up 30 needles).
As you can see, I used a contrasting thread to make the circles. Any thread is OK, since the work is done from the back and cannot be seen from the front.
However, when it comes time to applique the circles, one should use matching thread.
Once I have completed 30, 40, 50 or however many circles, I will go to the ironing board, lay all the circles on a piece of light fabric, treat them with sizing liquid (some use starch), place another piece of light fabric on top of all the prepared circles, and iron them until they are dry or nearly dry. (I usually will let them finish drying overnight.) The light colored fabric will not only keep the treated circles from sticking all over the bottom of your iron, but will also signal you if they feel like bleeding.
Using a seam ripper, I then remove just a stitch or two, and using forceps remove the cardboard, and applique away!
It is possible to make 30 or 40 circles a night in a short time while watching TV.
If you have any questions, please ask in the Comments.