Circles Block #12–EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP ButtonCircle Block #12_OPQuiltNine-pointed Compass Rose Block

This is the twelfth block in a series of Circles Blocks.  Why circles?  Mainly because I had done some English Paper-Pieced projects and I was sick of straight lines.  And hexies, although I quite enjoy them both.  The other eleven blocks are available above, under the tab Shine: The Circles Quilt EPP.

Sometimes the inspiration in this series has come from other sources, but this one came out of my head.  And a creative mistake I made when designing another circle, yielding a circle has NINE points, whereas most any other circle you find in the world is divided up into an even number of points.  I liked it and went with it.

I have been giving away these patterns for free, as I want to share my designs for anyone else who wants an interesting pattern to sew up on those days.  But 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.)

 

Print off three copies, making sure your printer settings are set to 100% scale.  Cut the pieces apart, but cut only one circle.  This is an easy block to sew, I think.

Circles 12_1 OPQuilt

Fabric auditioning.  This one was pretty straight forward, without any substitutions along the line.

Circles 12_2 OPQuilt

I cut out all the pieces, glue-basted them on (see earlier Circles Blocks for tip and tricks for this series).

Circles 12_3 OPQuilt

I like to print out a picture of my circle, gather the threads I’ll use, and collect everything into a ziploc baggie for easy toting.

Circles 12_4 OPQuilt

When hand sewing the curves, it’s okay to let the pieces curve in your hand.

Circles 12_5 OPQuilt

Step one: Sew the smaller “sky” piece (light blue) to the larger “sky” piece (dark blue).

Step two: Stitch the points and wedges together in groups of two (and one three) each, as shown above.

Circles 12_6 OPQuilt

Step Three: Sew the bright orange triangle points to the smaller green triangle points, in groups of two or three.

Step Four: Attach these to a corresponding yellow triangle/sky combo.

Circles 12_7 OPQuilt

Step Five: Start stitching the units together, however, not like I did above.  Keep track of where the orange/yellow units go, so they all mesh together.  It might be helpful if you lay out half of the circle when you start putting the units together, just to keep track.

Remember: I make the mistakes so you don’t have to.  (Although you can make new ones if you want.)

Circles 12_9 OPQuilt

Since EPPing center circles and I don’t get along, I appliqué them all now.  Fluff out the seam allowances on the green so you can appliqué on the large center circle. (I should have thought this one ahead.  Okay.  A new mistake.)

Remove all the papers except those at the outer edge in the dark blue (you’ll need them in the next part when you put the circle onto its background).

Circles 12_10 Point Up

This time, I pinned on the center circle first, then auditioned it on the background, a square cut to 14 1/2.”  Yes, this will give you a little extra room around the edges, handy for when you decide to finish this thing.  Fold the background in fourths, iron a bit of a crease, then align the circle with those creases.  Usually this is easy, but since this is a nine-point star, you may want to measure in from each edge to get it evenly spaced on your background..

Do you want point up on the upper edge (above), or. . . valley up (below)?

Circles 12_10a Valley Up

Yeah, okay.  You know I already went point up.

Stitch down the circle to the background, folding in the point areas as you come to them to make a smooth line.  Trim away the background, one-fourth inch away from the appliqué stitching line.

Then appliqué on that center circle.  I also like to trim away fly-away seam allowances, especially on those points, getting rid of unnecessary bulk.

Press lightly (face down on a padded ironing board is probably the best–use a light hand as they are hand-stitched and you don’t want to iron them into oblivion.  Any puckering that you see will be gone after quilting this thing, so no fretting unless you have pleats. . .

Double Sunflower

Here’s the drawing of the block in case you want to print it out for a guide.

 

Twelve Circle Blocks Shine.jpgHere are all twelve circles.  You can finish your quilt now!

I hope you have enjoyed this series of circles as much as I’ve enjoyed creating and sewing them.  Please drop me a note as you make yours, sharing a photo or two.

IG circles blocks

Karen tagged me the other day on Instagram, and I about flipped over with happiness that someone had found these useful.  I love her colors and combos–so fun to see!

Mary_NeedledMomEPP

And here’s another from Mary who blogs at Needled Mom.  I love her colors, too–the pop of that lime in the red star points is terrific against the blues.

But here’s the catch.  After I finished the twelvth circle, I arranged them and rearranged them, and then decided that I didn’t really want an oblong quilt, and that I needed four more circles to make it the shape I wanted.  I’m working on them now, and will present the next one to you in one month’s time. I’m already sketching in sashing and border ideas, and if possible, will try to present those to you soon, as well.

Until then, enjoy this last block!

 

Circles Block #4, EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

EPP #4 front

Circle #4: Pravoslavni Park

Here is the fourth circle in our EPP Sew-A-Long, another circle taken from Ljubljana, Slovenia in an ornately painted church.  I chose not to make the outer arcs in a different color in order to let the star points pop out of this eight-point star.  (If I were doing this one again, I’d make the arcs in a different color.  I just like the look of that circle shape.)

IMG_3660.jpg

Here they are all together, all different, but they play nicely together, I think.  I was asked about color selection for my blocks.  I have to admit I just have chosen my favorite fabrics from my stash.  I do keep in mind that they need to coordinate, but I also know that the repetition of this circular shape would also tie the blocks together.

Like I said, this Circle Block is an eight-pointed star, and I again used the technique of making the circle by English Paper Piecing (EPP) but appliquéing it onto a 14 – 1/2″ square.  Click here to download the pattern for the pieces:  EPP #4.  I do spend a lot of time on these, so 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.)

 

Pieces for EPP4

As before, print out enough copies so you can make your eight-pointed star, then staple them all together heavily so you can cut them out without them shifting.

EPP 4 cutting pieces

Again, if the pieces have no direction (are the same shape if folded along an axis line), lay them with the printing either up or down. If they are specific, like the point-pieces, lay them out on your fabric with the printed side facing the wrong side of the fabric, and then cut them out.  Sometimes if I whack off too big of a seam allowance, I’ll trim it later as I’m basting around it.  It’s all very forgiving, so don’t stress.  There are more tips and instructions on Circles #3, Ljubljana.

Block Number Four Inspiration

The inspiration for this block came from a combination of the two above blocks.  I wanted fewer points than are shown in the church paintings but I did like the division or the “layers” of points.  Again, these circles are high above floor level, so they are a bit hard to capture in a photograph.

Here’s some “making” shots:

EPP 4 Circle Block making_2

All three sections joined together, the left side and the right side done separately.

EPP 4 Circle Block making_1

I put pins in the joining seams to keep them aligned as I sew.

EPP 4 Circle Block making_0

I located the tip of the paper inside my basted piece and started sewing them together from the bottom, matching that teensy end first.

EPP 4 Circle Block making_3

EPP 4 Circle Block making_4

This is when I had one done.  I laid out all the pieces to see if I liked it.  I didn’t.

Circles Four Gathering Fabrics

I had started in the usual way,with the fabrics like this, trying to lay them out as I think they will work in the design.

Old and New Fabrics

It looked okay as laid out, but after I finished one, I didn’t like it at all.  I brought out more fabrics.

Choosing New Fabrics

I liked this better, but I kept trying.  As usual, I try not to obsess too much about perfection in design and color and pattern and all those other things we quilters worry about.  Scrap quilts can sometimes boggle our minds as they don’t fit together as easily as those ones we make from one line of fabric, that line of fabrics perfectly keyed to work together.  These kinds of quilts can stretch us as quilters, as well as teach us patience and confidence.  But it’s good practice to make up one point of your star to see if you like it, knowing that with a  few snips, you can change it out.  I kept doing this until I was happy with my choices, and again, made one more star point to check.

EPP 4 Circle Block making_5

I liked it a lot better.  Carry on!

EPP #4 outside

This is the photo I took this morning before I starched and ironed it, and you can see  how it looks, all soft from the handwork.

EPP #4 back

Back.

I used the same technique I used in Circles #3, of appliquéing the large pointed circle onto a 14.5″ square of background.  Then I appliqué that smaller center circle on, cut out the underneath, snipping away the yellow points.  Before I’d done that, it was a bit lumpy there, but it all flattened out once I cut away the points.

EPP #4 front

I love that color of blue against that tangeriney orange in the second division.

EPP 4 Pravoslavni Park drawing

A couple of quilters have written to me, showing me their circle projects.  Here are a couple:

Missie Carpenter Circle Blocks

Missie Carpenter of Traditional Primitives

Dittany Matthews Circle

Dittany Matthews of Blue Moth

And I found this post from Quilt Inspiration about another quilter’s journey in circles.

 I’ll post the next circles block sometime around the first part of November.  Have fun sewing!

Circles Block #3, EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

This month the block is a tad more difficult, but my primary motto on these things is “I Make The Mistakes So You Don’t Have To.”  Here we go.

Circles Block Three EPP

And where did the inspiration for this block, titled “Ljubljana” come from?

Ljubljana Serbian Church

From the Serbian Orthodox Church in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which is beautifully painted on the inside (see blurry photo below), and has rich colors and lots and lots of circles.  We recently visited that country, and my husband was under strict instructions to photograph any and all circles, so we gathered quite a few ideas.

(Note from the 2020 Elizabeth: A new, revised pattern is coming soon, so I’ve removed the old ones from these posts.  Many thanks.)

As usual, you’ll need to print out several copies of each.  Since this is a free pattern, 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.

 

Please make sure your printer is set for 100% and is not scaled down, otherwise the pieces won’t fit together to form the correct diameter of circle.  (How do I know this to be a problem?  Call that my first rookie mistake on this process.)  I print out the number of sheets I need for each, then staple the stack of 3 or 4 or 5 together all over in the spaces.  ALL OVER, staples everywhere in between the pieces.  Then I can cut them out as a group without the paper shifting.

Please read through the entire post before beginning, as I give out helpful tips and tricks.

Fabric Selection

Choose your fabrics for your circle by laying them out so you can see the combinations up against each other.

Laying out Inner Diamonds

If the pieces have a certain direction or shape and I want to reproduce the picture above exactly, place the paper with the printing FACE DOWN on the fabric, then pin.

Layout Inner Arcs

If the pieces don’t matter (like the symmetrical small arc, above), you can place the pieces either printing UP or printing DOWN, or a mix.  I don’t care, nor should you. Notice that I just curve around them with my rotary cutter, as you don’t have to be so precise on that quarter-inch seam allowance for English Paper Piecing (EPP).  Just get sort of close to that quarter-inch, but not less than.  I pin through each of my pieces, then I fold over the seam allowances a side at a time and baste them down with that icky thread from the back of my sewing box.  (I’ve got to use it up somehow.)  I make sure the beginning knot and the ending tail are on TOP of the piece, not on the paper side.  This is good stuff to do while you watch  television.

Process 3_EPP

The basic idea of EPP is to sew your basted pieces together.  Begin by matching up a corner.  I slide my needle into the corner between the paper and the fabric seam allowance so my knot is buried inside.

Process 4_EPP

EPP is basically just a teeny overcast stitch.  Take only a thread or two on each side when sewing the sides of your shape together.

EPP3 Assembling

I sewed the first center together half-diamond shape by half-diamond shape.  (More on that first thing, later.)  Then sew all the shapes together.

But let me tell you about a cheater trick that will be helpful.

Take Two Center_EPP3

First seam together on your sewing machine the two fabrics for the diamond, then cut apart into segments (below).

Take TwoA_EPP3

Trimming SeamAllowances_EPP3

Before basting the fabric onto your paper shape, trim down the edges of the seam allowances beyond the edge of the paper.  I hope that doesn’t sound confusing; see above for illustration. Those two little slivers came from the seam allowances.  I’m just trying to get bulk out of the process and this won’t affect the structural integrity any.

EPP3_Basted Piece

It’s okay to let the corners extend.  No need to hammer everything down.

Take Two Center2_EPP3

Use pins as you need to to get control as the pieces get narrower.  I always take a double stitch at the end of my seam, then take the needle through the loop and draw it tight to secure.

Take Two Center3_EPP3

Yes, it will look like a volcano but we’ll be taking care of that later, so no worries.  I then sew the dark smaller arcs onto the circle of diamonds.

EPP3_Outer Ring

I stitch the left and the right sides together into groups of two. I have done this next part two ways.  One way is to sew groups of two onto the inner circle (you see them above in the background), then afterwards stitch the sides of those together.  Another way is to sew all the two-part shapes into a large circle, then attach that.  I use pins to keep the intersections lined up.

BAckside of Large Circles Block#3Everything sewn together, from the back.  I’m sure you noticed that this time I didn’t include the four corner pieces on the pattern.  I decided to try putting this on the backing a different way.  Take out all but the outer arc of papers.  Take out the papers by releasing the basting threads from the front, then popping out the papers from the back. You can see it in the photo below.

EPP3 Cutting Center Bump

Then, cut off your volcano top, or, as we call it around my sewing group — getting rid of the training bra effect.

EPP3 Cutting Center Bump2

Then trim out the center a little bit more.  Just not too much. I just want it to lay flat.

EPP 3 Circles Block Center Added

Pin your little circle on for the center.

EPP3 Adding Background

Fold a 14 1/2″  square of background fabric into quarters, then press to leave lines for placement.  Start pinning the circle to the backing, using the pressed lines to get it on straight and even.

EPP3 Trimming on outer circle

As you get to that place where all the seams come together, trim down the seam allowances like you did with the diamonds, getting rid of bulk to help the edge to lay flat. I pop out the arc papers one by one as I go, but you can also take them out later (stay tuned).  Proceed carefully, trimming and pinning, and smoothing out the edge to create a nice circle.

EPP3 All pinned down to background

Using an appliqué stitch, attach the circle to the backing.

EPP3 Trimming out back

After stitching the circle on, trim out the backing, leaving a quarter-inch seam allowance, then take out any remaining papers.

EPP3 Center Circle Appliqued

Using a smaller-than-usual stitch, appliqué on the center.

EPP3 Center Circle More Trimming

Then turn it over and carefully cut away more of those volcano-y seam allowances, again leaving a quarter-inch seam allowance.  Press everything lightly, using steam.  There are a lot of pieces and a lot of grain lines to deal with, so you don’t want to kill the fabrics with too much handling, although the block is very sturdy.

Circles Block Three EPP

You’re done! And congratulations, it’s just as beautiful as the one in Slovenia.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And now I’m going to tell about all the mistakes and problems I had, just so you know that I test sew each block before putting up the pattern.  If you have found places that need tweaking, please leave a comment and I’ll work on it.

Backside of First Draft_EPP3

I have actually sewn the block twice.  Here’s how the first one’s center ended–with a definite volcano center.  Actually more like a chrysanthemum, I think.  So I thought it was my pattern, or the way I did things, so I remade the yellow/orange diamonds, as described above, by seaming the fabrics together first.

Still Such a Mess_EPP3

I tried to smooth it out by twirling it with my thumb. Yeah, what a mess.

Oh What a Mess EPP_3Still a mess even though I sewed on the outer arcs.  What was needed was a design change, like adding the center circle to the design.  Even though the fine artists in Slovenia can paint the center of the circle to a distinct point doesn’t mean that fabric will allow us to do that.

So I took off all the outer little dark arcs, and started again.  Here comes the next mistake.  I got it all done, and cut the 14 1/2″ square for the backing and just about died when I saw that the hand-sewn EPP circle was tooooo big for the backing.  AAAGH!

EPP3B Circles Block Drawing

I went back to the pattern and measured, and sure enough, I’d drawn it too large. The yellow lines are the new re-drawn lines. I re-drew the pattern, re-cut all the outer pieces and arcs and started again, but used the first series of yellow/orange center diamonds, as I didn’t want to take apart the completed Ljublana Circle Block.

EPP3_Basted Piece Front

That’s when I hit on the idea of seaming the two colors together first to cut down on bulk.

EPP3B Better Center

But I still had that hump in the middle.  Still have to make a design change with the center circle.

Auditioning Center Decor2_EPP3

Auditioning Center Decor1_EPP3

Here I’m auditioning center circles for the other block that was too big.  I like the top one in person, but the bottom one in a photograph.  I ended up recutting and sewing the correct size block so still have the large circle to make into a pillow or to put on the back.  You, too, can audition center circles once you are finished to see the different looks they give to your block.

I hope my story of my mistakes and do-overs hasn’t confused you.  The accurate pattern is up there in PDF.  If you are following along, send me a photo of your finished blocks and I’ll throw them up here for everyone to admire.  I know this one has a lot of moving parts, but once I got the quirks out, and used the shortcut for the diamonds, it went quickly.  Have fun!

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Circles Block #1, English Paper Piecing

Circles EPP Button Circles Block EPP #1 Worn out from two back-to-back trips, I spent the day quietly hand-sewing my Circles Block #1, using the English Paper-Piecing Method.  A couple of weeks ago, I had decided I wanted to make a series of circular blocks, but I wanted to do them slowly, with hand-sewing.  So I’ve turned to English Paper-Piecing, which involves using paper shapes sewn inside your fabric.  For a pretty good how-to video, watch *this one,* which uses hexagon shapes.  The only difference between this video and how I do it, is that I sew from the back to the front with my whipstitch.  Do whichever one you like.)

Here’s the first-of-this-series downloadable pattern, which makes a 12″ circle block: EPP Circles#1  Because, in 2014, I didn’t own any quilt software capable of circles, this pattern is my hand-drawn pieces, with notations.  I have included a gauge so when you print it out, you can adjust your printer settings to equal the 12″ circle.  Feel free to leave a comment if you have questions, and I’ll try to answer them.  **NOTE: Since this is a free pattern, 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 one.  Many thanks.)

Laying Out Pieces EPP A word about laying out the pieces.  The straight grain (threads parallel to the selvage) and the cross grain (threads running across the fabric) have less stretch that does the bias, which is what we call the diagonal line across the fabric.  So when you know you have to ease that 1/4″ seam allowance over a curved edge, lay it out so that diagonal bias will align with that edge, as shown above.  I didn’t lay out the swirl pieces with regard to grain (paying attention instead to the fabric’s design), but certainly any time you need a little more ease, or want the fabric to fold easily over a pattern piece, put that bias to work for you. Stitching First, cut out the shapes, then cut out the fabric, leaving 1/4″ seam allowance around most of the pieces.  Baste the pieces onto the paper (good time to use up old icky thread that you don’t want to use in your quilts).  Some people like to use freezer paper, others like to use glue.  If you do a search on English Paper Piecing, everyone has a favorite method.  Mine is folding the seam allowances over the paper edges and sewing them to the paper.

When I started sewing the inner swirling pieces together, it was easier if I placed the piece with the outward (or convex) curve on the top (like Spun Sugar does *here*, but I never clipped any of my seam allowances, nor used glue–just pins).  I lined up the outer corner and sewed a couple of stitches to anchor it.  Then I moved on down the seam, using an overcast whipstitch.  I was happy that it went quickly. Circle Block Circles Here’s my Instagram photo of the first few swirls sewn together.  I was sewing these as my husband drove us home across the Arizona desert.  I have a rigid plastic box that hinges in the middle, folding out like a portable desk, and I keep everything in there. Stitching Circle BlocksAfter I sewed together most of the inner circle, I went back to joining the last three together independently, then added them to make the circle. Next up were the little triangle points and the outer arcs. Concave Piece in Front I tried sewing these on two different ways: first the little triangle points, then the arcs in between them.  Fail. Better to sew a few triangle points to their outer arcs, then attach that to the existing circle.  Then repeat.

I sewed about five points and arcs, attach it to what I’d sewn on before, attach that new section to the circle, and then start again with a few new arcs and circles.  Above you see me finishing off the last of the sewing the arcs/triangles to the circle. Backside of Outer Arc Things can get a little skitty-wampus, but this is the back, showing it sewing with all their papers.  I was trying out some designs with my colored pencils, so you see some different colors on the paper.

I’m sure you noticed that the swirls move a different direction in the fabric, than from the drawing.  Everything is dependent on how you lay out the printed pieces, text UP or text DOWN.  In one of our blocks, we’ll lay them the reverse direction, and have it swirl the other direction. Inner Circle Pieced

Everything is sewn together, and pressed.

Circle #1 EPP Paper Still In The outside corners have been seamed together, then sewn on.  Again, it’s a little wonky-looking because the papers are still inside.

UPDATE: After doing a couple of circle blocks I found I liked it better using a 14 /12″ square and appliquéing on the circle.  Your choice. Perfect Circles I used Karen Buckley’s Perfect Circles to make my center circle, sewing a running stitch around the outside edge, then drawing it up around the plastic circle, then pressing it into place.  You can iron two pieces of freezer paper together and trace off the circle on the pattern to use as your template, if you don’t have the Perfect Circles. I was having a hard time figuring out how to get that circle on.  I took out all the papers, gave it a good steamy press, pinned on the circle and just appliquéd it on. Circles Block EPP #1 And that’s the first circle block!  I am still learning about which colors and shapes and directions will go where with these circle blocks; feel free to experiment as well.  I have learned that I can be overly critical with a particular block, but when worked into a quilt, my concerns and criticisms often disappear, so I just keep going. I’ll post one of these about every month, somewhere near the beginning of the month.  I hope to get twelve different circle patterns by the time I’m through.  I hope you join me on the journey! Circles EPP Button