General Tutorials

Sewing Full Circles Tutorial

Sewing Full Circles

To piece the circles for the Rockabilly Baby quilt, I sewed full circles into the background fabric. Today, I thought I’d share with you how I put them together via a photo tutorial.

Sewing Full Circles: Assemble Materials

Sewing Full Circles: Assemble Materials

The circles I made for the Rockabilly Baby Quilt finish at 8-inches in diameter. I created a half circle template set to use, and you can download the 8-Inch Half Circle / Arch Template set here. Print out the template at actual size, checking to make sure that the reference square measures 1-inch.

You will also need material for your circle (I recommend at least 9-inches square), material for your background (I recommend at least 11-inches square), and a fabric marking device of your choice.

Sewing Full Circles: Cut Out Templates

Sewing Full Circles: Cut Out Templates

Note that I do not recommend you use fabric scissors to cut out the paper templates. I like to leave one “tape this edge” side to make it easier to tape the templates together.

Sewing Full Circles: Tape the Templates and Trim Corner of Half Circle Template

Sewing Full Circles: Tape the Templates and Trim Corner of Half Circle Template

Align the templates and tape together. I like to tape the front and back for more stability. If you left an edge along the half circle template as I indicated in the previous photo, a quick trim of the angle will probably be necessary to form the half circle shape.

Sewing Full Circles: Prepare Fabric

Sewing Full Circles: Prepare Fabric

Cut your circle fabric down to 9-inches square and your background fabric to at least an inch larger than your unfinished block size. In this case, I plan to trim the block to 10-inches square, so I cut the background fabric to 11-inches square.

Sewing Full Circles: Press Fabric in Half, Right Sides Together

Sewing Full Circles: Press Fabric in Half, Right Sides Together

Sewing Full Circles: Align Templates and Trace Half Circles

Sewing Full Circles: Align Templates and Trace Half Circles

With the folded edge of the fabric facing down, align your templates. Note that because the templates are actually half circle templates, they contain a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Because we are making full circles, just move the template down to align the 1/4-inch seam allowance line with the folded edge of fabric prior to tracing with your favorite tool to mark fabric.

Sewing Full Circles: Cut Along Marked Line

Sewing Full Circles: Cut Along Marked Line

With the fabric still folded in half, cut along the marked line, this time using your fabric scissors. 😉

Sewing Full Circles: Create Indication Marks, Press into Quarters

Sewing Full Circles: Create Indication Marks, Press into Quarters

Sewing Full Circles: Create Indication Marks, Press into Eigths

Sewing Full Circles: Create Indication Marks, Press into Eighths

I fold and press the units two more times to create indication marks to help align the two parts as I sew.

Sewing Full Circles: Opened Background and Circle with Indication Marks

Sewing Full Circles: Opened Background and Circle with Indication Marks

When I open the fabric (right sides up), I look for a firmly pressed line that folds up on the circle and place it at the 3 o-clock position and a line that folds down on the background fabric and place it at the 3 o’clock position.

Sewing Full Circles: Preparing to Sew Seam

Sewing Full Circles: Preparing to Sew Seam

Slide the circle under the background fabric, …

Sewing Full Circles: Flip Background Fabric To Align Cut Edges

Sewing Full Circles: Flip Background Fabric To Align Cut Edges

…and flip the background fabric to align the cut edges …

Sewing Full Circles: Nesting Pressed Indication Lines

Sewing Full Circles: Nesting Pressed Indication Lines

…while nesting the pressed indication lines. At this point you may chose to pin around the circle, aligning the various indication lines. Or you can be a free spirit (like me) and align the marks as you sew.

Sewing Full Circles: Placing on Machine

Sewing Full Circles: Placing on Machine

One word of caution if you do not pre-pin your fabric. Make sure that you place your fabric at the machine like the image above. You do not want your circle on one side of the presser foot and your background fabric on the other side of the presser foot, which is easy to do.

Sewing Full Circles: Aligning Indication Marks

Sewing Full Circles: Aligning Indication Marks

I align the fabric one indication mark at a time and sew slowly through the arc. One of the best tools to use as you sew the pieces together is a stiletto; it can help keep your fabrics aligned as it moves under the presser foot.

Sewing Full Circles: Lift Presser Foot Often

Sewing Full Circles: Lift Presser Foot Often

I sew a few stitches, re-position the fabric, and lift the presser foot often as I progress along the circle.

Sewing Full Circles: Sewn, Prior to Pressing

Sewing Full Circles: Sewn, Prior to Pressing

I marvel at the way the piece looks just after the seam is finished being sewn!

Sewing Full Circles: Press Seam Toward Background Fabric

Sewing Full Circles: Press Seam Toward Background Fabric

Sewing Full Circles: Trim to Size

Sewing Full Circles: Trim to Size

To help keep the circle in the center of the trimmed block, I use the pressed lines that are still visible on the circle to align the center of the block. In this example, because I want to trim to 10-inches, I align the 5 inch lines along the fold lines of the circle.

Sewing Full Circles: Finished Block

Sewing Full Circles: Finished Block

Sewing curves is easier the larger the curve size. These 8-inch finished circles were doable, but larger would be easier. For a larger half circle template, you can check out my Connection Block tutorial on Sew Mama Sew from last September.

Linking up with Lessons Learned Linky and Tips and Tutorials Tuesday.

28 thoughts on “Sewing Full Circles Tutorial

  1. Carolyn says:

    Nice tutorial. I have been making the pop up bags and I fit the bottoms the same way . It works…. No need to be afraid of circles. I enjoy seeing your quilts and seeing you on periscopes craftroomies. I wish you much success.

  2. Cindy says:

    Circles can be daunting, but you’ve shown how easily they can be managed and sewn.

  3. RuthB says:

    Great stuff, I love the look of pieced in circles – always seems so neat to me!

  4. Great tutorial- thank you!

  5. Debbie says:

    Very nice! Thank you!

  6. Miriam says:

    Great job! I usually sew arcs and rings by hand. Now I need to check out doing a circle on machine… and my arcs and rings… Thank you!!!

  7. Oh! Share this one too! http://quiltingmod.blogspot.com/2016/02/lessons-learned-linky-2.html
    I’ve been doing 1/4 circles, and I wonder if I should just use a 1/2 circle for some parts. You got me thinking…

  8. Good Morning Yvonne! I really enjoyed reading and learning a great deal on your tutorial this morning! I do not remember ever making a circle this way for a quilt, but it sure would be a fun and interesting way to showcase some hand embroidery designs or applique patterns and put together a whole quilt or even just a few here and there. The layout designs are endless. Thank you for sharing your great tutorial and the links! Have a fantastic creative day!

  9. Yvonne, it’s like you read my mind! I was just telling a quilty pal yesterday that although I’m really great at Dale Fleming’s three minute (or is it two? orfive? Whatever, it’s fast) circles, I haven’t mastered the circle without glue – and I really wanted to. So here we go – this looks doable. Can’t wait to try it! thanks so much – I am a circle fiend, really – love them so much my sister in law calls me “Dottie!” So many many thanks.

  10. Great tutorial, sewing curves and circles totally scares me, maybe one day I will be brave enough to attempt these 🙂

  11. Thank you for sharing this tutorial! I was hoping you would! I’m impressed with how easy you make it look and the circles are amazing. I will be using this method, template and have your tutorial at my fingertips!

  12. Vera says:

    Interesting. I would never think to put it together this way 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  13. Great tutorial! I like the way you sewed the circles together. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Thank you for the tutorial! Great method for sewing circles!

  15. Very interesting…definitely not how I thought you made these. Great idea.

  16. Lisa says:

    Thanks for sharing this Yvonne.

  17. Nice tutorial. Curves are always intimidating because the pieces always look like they can’t possibly fit together but somehow it all works out.

  18. Serena @ Sewgiving says:

    I’ve only ever been shown how to reverse appliqué full circles, so thanks for this!

  19. I’ve never tried full circles before! You make them look easy… I’ll keep this tutorial in mind if I get brave enough to try!

  20. katyquilts says:

    Great tutorial! I might try this. it feels do-able.

  21. Renee says:

    I was so relieved to see that the finished block was large enough to trip down after a pressing! I hate when blocks are supposed to be exact, they rarely are.

  22. No pins? You are a free spirit. I would pin like crazy!!

  23. Thank you for such a detailed tutorial- and a pin free one to boot!

  24. Ompompali says:

    Thank you so much for guiding us through your method. It is a great help and as I have always wanted to learn to sew circles without glue this comes just right! thanks again!

  25. Good Morning Yvonne! I receive a newsletter from CraftGossip daily and go through it looking for any project of interest or a great tip. Scarlett Burroughs has had many great posts with wonderful links and today her link led me to your post on sewing circles. Which I still have not had the opportunity to try, but hope to soon. I read over your post once again and will again before I do make the quilt with the circles. So thank you for sharing your great tutorial! Have a fantastic creative day!

  26. Sally says:

    Lovely clear tutorial as usual, I like the tips with the creases.

  27. Janet says:

    That was very helpful. Thank you for making this!

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)