Circling around for the perfect circle…..

After a week of experimenting, I think that I have finally found the way to prepare perfect circles for hand appliqueing…..read on to see my technique……

Last week, I talked about my plans for the center of my Color Wheel quilt….you can read about the decision process here. Now it was time to put the idea into effect which meant preparing LOTS of circles for hand applique.

When I was at Houston last year I spent a few minutes listening to Karen Kay Buckley talk about her method of preparing applique pieces before sewing. I not only listened, but did a little retail therapy, coming home with a bunch of her templates including two sizes of “Perfect Circles”……

Karen’s templates are made from Templar which means that you can iron on them and they will not melt and can be used over and over….all VERY good things!!

I started with the smallest circle, thinking that I knew EXACTLY what to do. Well, the finished circle had lots of little points and dips and was not circular at all. Okay….let’s start over and try a few different things!! After having made almost half of the needed circles, I now have a fairly good protocol!!!

Getting it ready……

I first placed the template on the reverse side of the fabric and made numerous dots around the template so that I would know where the circle would go……

On the first few, I drew in the entire circle but realized that I was just making more work for myself to remove all of those heavy lines…..so dots it is!!!

Next step is to sew a running stitch around the circle…..

I tried using the sewing machine to sew around the larger circles, but it never looked as good as hand stitching. Also, I had originally pulled the thread knot all the way thru but found it was better to leave BOTH strands of thread loose so that I could gather from either side. ALSO, it is important to both start and end the stitching on the FRONT side of the fabric.

I took it to the ironing board and brushed Magic Sizing on the outside edge of the circle…..

Originally I had sprayed the entire circle but decided that it was unnecessary and just made a bigger mess…….

Now For the Magic……

I put the template in the middle of the fabric circle and started gently pulling BOTH of the threads until the fabric gathered around the perfect circle template…..

While holding the two gathering stitch ends tightly, I pressed the edge of the circle until it was dry, then moving the iron carefully over the gathers until it dried as well. After flipping the template over, I did a final press of the circle……

Removing the template…..

Before taking the template plastic out of the circle, I learned that it was SUPER important for the entire circle (and template) to be cool. Then I loosened the gathers close to the string tails and pulled out the template, leaving something that did NOT look like a perfect circle……

The final step was to carefully pull on BOTH of the thread tails until the edges laid down again…..

The first few times I did this, I pulled too hard and misshaped the circle again, so be GENTLE!!!

When it was back in perfect shape, I turned it over again and gave the front one final pressing.

The result is one PERFECT CIRCLE!!!!!……

I know that these don’t look round but I promise that they are. The pinning distorts how they look in the photo!!!

So, the current status is 50 circles made and 58 to go!!!

As I am working on these, I am starting to think about what fabric I want to put in the middle of the quilt and I am toying with the idea of a black gradation that gets lighter as it moves to the middle of the piece. And that means that I am going to have to dye it myself….of course it cant be easy!!!

And then I have to actually applique all of these circles!!!

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