Tiny Swirly Gig
Circles Block #13 of the Circles EPP Sew-A-Long
Since I so rationally decided that I needed SIXTEEN blocks to make up my quilt, all I can chalk it up to is summer heat (coupled with our drought, we are going to have so.much.fun), regular old garden variety stress (having cloth in your fingers lowers blood pressure so I heard), or a blissful existence of sitting on sofas eating bonbons while watching videos and stitching. Choose one.
But here I am again on the Final Four of the Circles Blocks, created because I wanted something more than straight lines to English Paper Piece.
As usual, I assume you know how to do some EPP, but do like to give tips and more instructions here on the blog. For starters, I print out my papers on 24-lb. weight copy paper, a bit heavier than the usual stuff, and make sure my printer scaling is at 100%. Print off four copies of the pattern, and cut them out around all the lines. You only need one circle, though.
I also print off a color picture of the block (this one made in EQ7) and keep it in my little baggie full of pieces. It helps when my brain fades, or too much is going on around me, or I’m trying to remember what the heck all those little pieces are for.
Fabric selection is usually based on what falls out first of my stack, as I glance over at all my blocks up on my pin wall and try to find fabrics that I’ve used before, so the quilt will blend.
The other day I put a photo up on IG and someone asked me what my fabrics were. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, while I am totally impressed that a designer can make up a line of 14 fabrics that all go together, and I love love love them, doesn’t mean I’m going to use them all in a quilt at the same time (although I have done it once. Or twice.) And I’m a selvage cutter-offer, so the chances of me knowing what they are might probably be very slim. I’ll probably know the designer, but the name of the fabric? I have a thing for using a LOT of different fabrics in a quilt. I mean, it’s a great big fabric universe out there. Why not have fun?
The other tip to picking good fabrics is to know your color wheel–how it works, as well as your value scale (light-to-dark). (Illustration above from *here* which has a quick primer on color and value.) More quilts have been ruined by the inclusion of medium-value fabrics only, especially by the use of medium gray (ACK! ACK!). Try to get a range of hues (colors) in light (tints) to dark (shades).
Which direction do you want your swirls to go? If you want it to look like the pattern, place the printing face down on the wrong side of the pattern. Whichever way you do it, be consistent on both colors of swirls. I pin the pieces, slice around them with my rotary cutter (no, I am not exact), then use the glue method of getting the fabrics on the papers. (Your pattern pieces will look different than what is in the photo above, as I have revised and improved the pattern multiple times.)
Ta Da! All glued down. I don’t glue down that inner bit as it will be covered by the center circle.
I like to lay out all the pieces to see how they play together. I like this bunch. Often this is where I’ll switch out fabrics, trying to catch it before I get everything sewed together and then hate it. If the choices will fight with each other, let it be at this stage.
Sew a light swirl to a dark swirl, being consistent as to which color is on the left or the right.
Sew the sets of two into sets of four.
Add the points to the sets of four, attaching the rounded edge of the pointy piece to the swirls.
Stitch the background points in between those. I make sure that the “extra” background point always ends up on the same side, in this case, the right.
Don’t they look great?
Now join two sets of four to make a set of eight. Beauty shot. I stitch at night while watching movies with my husband and this dark leather foot rest makes a good backdrop.
Now join the last two seams. Yes, it’s okay to switch thread colors if you want to along one seam. In this case I used yellow on the swirls and white on the points.
Another beauty shot.
And another, from the back.
Cut a 14 1/2″ square of background fabric, fold in fourths and lightly iron in the creases so they will serve as registration marks for aligning your circle. Remove all but the outer-edge papers. If you see some wild seam allowances, trim them now (you’ll do it again at the end). While this is what you will cut for a background, in the Finishing Pattern, the block may be smaller when trimmed.
You know the point-up or point-down drill by now. (If you don’t know what I mean, I have lots of tips and tricks in the other twelve circle patterns. Click on the SHINE tab, above, to see the other circles.) Take time to try yours out on your background. Obviously I went with point up. Now I am not liking the center circle I had planned.
I have a bag of Rejected Center Circles, and I’m trying more out now.
But in the end, I went with this one, because often you just need a dark center to anchor the circle. Appliqué the large circle to the background, then cut out the back, as shown in earlier circle posts (again, you can access them all by the tab up above). Remove all the papers. Now is the time to trim any wild seam allowances.
Now appliqué on your middle circle, using tiny stitches. When finished, press face down on a well-padded ironing board (or a folded towel, if your board isn’t padded). Now you have another circle!
The circle patterns for numbers 13-16, plus new blocks 18-22 are available in my pattern shop.
Also available is the pattern for finishing SHINE: The Circles Quilt.
updated July 18, 2022