It’s a new year, and with our new circles block #7, we’ve turned the corner and are more than halfway done. Yes, this does look remarkably similar to Block #1, because it is–only the blades swirl the other way, and I’ve blocked in the spaces between the points for a different look. The complete collection of Circles Blocks, all done with English Paper Piecing (EPP), is found on the tab above titled Shine: The Circles Quilt EPP.
As always, the patterns are hand drawn and are free, downloadable PDF files. And as always, please do attribute the source of this to Elizabeth at OccasionalPiece-Quilt (or OPQuilt.com) and do not print off copies for your mother or your friends. Please direct them here to get their free copies. Many thanks.
(Note from the 2020 Elizabeth: A new, revised pattern is coming soon, so I’ve removed the old ones from these posts. Many thanks.)
Playing with the patterns in the fabrics can be interesting. In the above, I liked the bigger, bolder, polka-dots so I clustered my points through that section. I also decided I wanted to repeat the high contrast swirling blades, so chose fabrics that brought out that aspect. To get the blades to swirl the opposite direction of Circles Block #1, place the pattern with the words visible, or facing up, as shown above. I’d originally thought a fabric that coordinated with the magenta-y purple blades and the orange points would be interesting. Here I’m trying it in the cut-fabric stage, before I’d basted it onto the papers. It looked all right, so I proceeded. But something just didn’t look right once I had the pieces basted. So then I cut out and basted the points with the pink dots. I fussy cut those to get the dots in the center. As always, I tried out my block in multiple ways, and decided on what I wanted. Most often I do this at the cutting stage, before I have basted them down, because, wow, it’s too much work to baste and then not use the pieces. But this block didn’t reveal itself until this stage, like a sulky teenager or something. I start by joining small pieces together. Then those small pieces get joined to become larger sections, and so on (and sew on?). I read on Instagram last week a discussion of how much the stitches show. However, please don’t re-do any of your stitching until you remove the papers, as one commenter noted. With all the papers in, the stitches have a “tension” on them and tend to show more. I thought that was great advice. Of course, because we are moving between strong colors, you can’t always get a thread that will match both sides of your seam. I’ve heard people sewing with Bottom Line, a very fine thread from Superior Threads, almost silk-like, and that would certainly that would help. Another commenter said she used a “ladder stitch,” taking a small “bite” of fabric on one side and running her needle through the fold, then the other side, alternating. At the end she would pull her thread tighter and the stitches nestle in. Here’s one illustration of that: And here’s a video, sort of showing the same thing. I use an overcast stitch, taking tiny bites of fabric, and just don’t worry about it all. You can see close-ups of my stitches in other Circles blocks posts. Cut a 14 1/2″ large square of your background fabric, fold it into fourths and press in the folds so they’ll serve as guidelines for centering your circle. Remove all but papers except the ones in the outer blue wedge-shaped pieces. I also trim off any wild or excessive seam allowances at this time, too, so as to remove bulk.
Pin down your circle, using small appliqué pins (so you won’t get stuck so much), and then stitch your circle onto the background, removing the papers, tucking under the points as you go. Turn it over and cut away the background fabric 1/4″ away from your appliqué stitching. Then stitch on your center circle, again using an appliqué stitch. I’ve done the EPP method on this part, and believe me, it’s easier just to appliqué it down. Like always, I auditioned several different centers (I’m getting quite a collection) but decided to go with this one. Not every center is a home run. The idea is to get them to play together, like the six shown below: Now there is one more! While I give tips and trick about the stitches in this post, every circles post talks about something a little different, while going over similar ground. Please refer to the other circle posts for more specifics, with all of them found on the tab above. Circles Block #1 mentions the basic method of English Paper Piecing. Circles Block #2 talks about fussy cutting your fabrics to yield a certain design, as well as joining the background via EPP, rather than appliqué. Circles Block #3 shows a cheater method for sewing together your fabrics on your machine before cutting them out, then proceeding with EPP. And so on. Have fun and we’ll see you the first part of February. It won’t be on the first day, because that’s the day for our reveal for the Four-in-Art Art Quilts, but shortly after that. Have fun sewing!