perfect circles

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gini Posted: Fri, May 6 2011 6:30 PM

i thought i should put a note in on how to make perfect circles.  i use dimes mostly, because they are a great size, but you could use any coin.  recently i had a lightbulb moment and got some smaller washers at the hard ware store.   cut a circle out about a half inch bigger in diameter than the dime.   it doesn't have to be a perfect circle, just circlish.  knot your thread and do a close running stitch on the outer edge. plunk your dime in the middle of the fabric and pull up on the loose end of the thread until your fabric is closed around the dime.  scooch the fabric around with your fingernail until all the puckers are gone on the edge, all the while holding onto that loose end of the thread.   now put it down on the ironing board, raw edges down, plop your iron on it and let it steam on that circle for a while.  you don't want to scorch your material, but you want the fabric to remember that fold.  set it aside to cool with the dime still inside.   when you are ready to use it, loosen the gathers just enough to pull out the dime, tug on the loose thread end again to cinch up the gathers.  you are now ready to sew your perfect circle onto your background.

the more seam allowance you have underneath your circle, the more your circle will stand up on the background, so don't be chinsy with the seam allowance.   you could also stuff a wee bit of stuffing in, a few stitches before you close it up.

i usually have several dimes going at a time. one that i am sewing on and two or three cooling.    gini

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Kris replied on Sat, May 7 2011 1:08 AM

I love this tip Gini. I'll stop by the hardware store tomorrow.

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gini:

i thought i should put a note in on how to make perfect circles.  i use dimes mostly, because they are a great size, but you could use any coin.  recently i had a lightbulb moment and got some smaller washers at the hard ware store.   cut a circle out about a half inch bigger in diameter than the dime.   it doesn't have to be a perfect circle, just circlish.  knot your thread and do a close running stitch on the outer edge. plunk your dime in the middle of the fabric and pull up on the loose end of the thread until your fabric is closed around the dime.  scooch the fabric around with your fingernail until all the puckers are gone on the edge, all the while holding onto that loose end of the thread.   now put it down on the ironing board, raw edges down, plop your iron on it and let it steam on that circle for a while.  you don't want to scorch your material, but you want the fabric to remember that fold.  set it aside to cool with the dime still inside.   when you are ready to use it, loosen the gathers just enough to pull out the dime, tug on the loose thread end again to cinch up the gathers.  you are now ready to sew your perfect circle onto your background.

the more seam allowance you have underneath your circle, the more your circle will stand up on the background, so don't be chinsy with the seam allowance.   you could also stuff a wee bit of stuffing in, a few stitches before you close it up.

i usually have several dimes going at a time. one that i am sewing on and two or three cooling.    gini

Great tip! Thanks gini.

Circles are tough, I use glue and a stick or pointed end of a thread ripper to smooth out the puckers at the edges. I first glue around the seam allowance then, start folding under and smoothing out with the stick (an orange stick works perfectly) until it is circular. I have some mylar washers and I might try one of them.. I'm always uncertain about sewing something inside for fear I cannot get it out without tears?

I like the idea of stuffing the circles, especially if they are cherries or grapes. The same technique works on any curved item including hearts.

 

 

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gini replied on Tue, May 10 2011 10:26 AM

Ms MoomMist:
I'm always uncertain about sewing something inside for fear I cannot get it out without tears?

 i don't take the stitching out.  i tuck the loose tails underneath and leave the gathering stitches in place.   gini

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I just came back from a quilt retreat.  There were only 5 of us, and two of the ladies I had not previously known.  These two ladies were accomplished quilters and had a couple tidbits of information that were very helpful.  One of the tips was regarding perfect circles.  I had explained how I used a button as my guide so that I could easily slide it out, but I was advised that there was a better way.  I think the washers from the hardware store might be a good alternative (and much cheaper), but these circle templates she recommended are called Perfect Circles and they are made from a mylar type material that is heat resistant.  The significance with this purchased set of circles is that they are very thin and when you iron the circle with the template inside, it creates a very sharp edge.  Because it is shaped like a washer and is flexible, it comes out real easily.  I'm not sure how many sizes there are in the package, but I think it is 18, and there are 4 of each size.  They range in size from about  3/8" to 2". I have not used them on a block yet, but I tried making a circle with one of the mylar templates last evening and it turned out perfectly. 

I was also convinced that no needle threader would work with the milliners needles and the very small eye that they have.  I was proved wrong.  The Clover needle threader (desktop model) that one of the ladies had, threaded my needle every time first try.  I bought one of my own as soon as I could find one in a quilt shop.  I also ordered some online so that I could share my discovery with my hand applique friends.

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gini replied on Tue, May 10 2011 5:10 PM

sal    the washers are cheaper than the mylar and nearly as thin.  i get a nice sharp edge.   i like the metal because it holds the heat and sets that seam. because they are so cheap you can buy several per size and make several at a time.  i can leave them on the metal washers until i need them    gin

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There is no question that the hardware store washers are cheaper and work probably just about the same.  These  that I bought weigh less and would be easier to lose.  I would probably have bought washers like you did if I had thought of it (or known about your post).  It is good to know what your options are though.  Some of them save you money and some of them dive deep into your pocket.  The mylar templates are nice, and I am sure I will get alot of good use out of them.  The direction sheet had a tip about the running stitch  on the edge of the circle that I would not have thought to do ... so that was a good thing.

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gini replied on Tue, May 10 2011 6:00 PM

the teensier the running stitch the better the edge and less fussing you have to do to it.  

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Sometimes it is the smallest little detail that can make such a difference.  I was using a button previously to make my circles, and I did a tiny running stitch very close to the edge, but the difference was I did not tie a knot on the end to start with.  When I got back to the start, I pulled on both ends to gather the edge, then tried to tie it securely at that point.  Sometimes in the process of tying  the knot it would loosen a bit.  What the instruction sheet said was to tie a knot at the end and do your running stitch.  At the end you put the washer in the center, then you pull the loose end of the thread across the center to the opposite side.  When the gathers are snug around the washer... the teenier the stitches, the smoother the edge... still holding the thread taut, you iron.  It advised to use starch on the edge, but I think that is overkill... steam does a fine job.  Once I take the washer out, I tug on the thread just slightly to get the gathers back in place and give it another press.

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Linny t replied on Wed, May 11 2011 11:21 AM

Thanks for the tip, Gini.  I'll have to visit the hardware store.  Quarters are a little too thick :)

Linny T

 

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I have used this technique with card stock weight paper by tracing around a coin, jar lid, whatever size I needed. I've also made other shapes and pulled my fabric to fit, sometimes basting back and forth if the shape went inward. It worked, but I'm getting better at getting my shapes to work out right without going to that much trouble.

Something else I have tried with some success for other special shapes is to trace it onto some iron-on interfacing, cut it out and stitch to the back side of the fabric. It makes it easier to get the fabric to turn to exactly the right place. Again, I haven't done it this way very often.

Janice 

 

Bible Quilts, www.biblequilts.com

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Martha replied on Wed, May 11 2011 7:33 PM

The Perfect Circles are from Karen Kay Buckley. There are two sets - one smaller circles and one larger circles. They are great. What else is great is that Karen belongs to the same quilt guild I do- what a resource!

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gini replied on Wed, May 11 2011 8:20 PM

martha, lucky you     gini

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Mollymo replied on Mon, May 16 2011 5:46 PM

Thanks to all who are discussing the best way to get the "perfect circle"...I'm not sure why I'm making this harder than it should be!!  I once heard if you are hesitant about something then you probably need more information.  I'm sure I have the info now and my question is where is the best place to get the Karen Buckley sets to make the Perfect Circles.  Does she have a website?  I'm going to save the question/answer/discussion page, work on another part of my quilted tablecloth and when the mylar circle sets arrive I'll be ready!    I'm going no watch the tutorial also.  Thank you so much.  If I spend my time on making the circles I want them to look great.   

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I bought my Perfect Circles at a local quilt shop, but my friend ordered a couple extra sets for some other friends online.  If you put "perfect circles quilting" in a Google search, several places will come up where you can order them online.

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