Thursday 20 April 2017

Concentric circle quilting for my new Snowballs Around the World Quilt Kit

For my second new quilt kit of the month (!) I decided to develop one of my existing patterns, Snowballs in Spring, this time using these gorgeous Papillon fabrics from Makower. I've named this kit Snowballs Around the World as the blocks are laid out in an off-set Trip Around the World - can you see the centre snowball five rows down, three in? This quilt finished at approx. 52" x 61" so will sit comfortably on top of a single or double bed.

Each of these kits contain 104 pre-cut 5" squares, plus 2.10m of solid ivory for the corners and borders, so you'll have some cutting to do yourself! The kit also includes a 50wt thread, six binding strips in that cute stripe and of course, full colour instructions.

To accompany this new release, I thought I would do a quick tutorial on quilting concentric circles to accentuate the off-set Trip Around the World layout. I know Twiggy & Opal wrote a similar tutorial last week which you can read here, mine is more or less the same, I just start differently.

To create my first circle, I use freezer paper as a guide. Draw around something circular - a cup, glass, use a compass - onto the paper side of the freezer paper and accurately cut out. Use a hot iron to press this into place where you would like your circles to grow out from, in my case it was the centre square of my Trip Around the World pattern.

This quilting is done with a walking foot and with the machine's teeth up as normal, so no clever free-motion business here! The trick is to just take it slowly and to gently manoeuvre the quilt around to create each circle. This gets easier the larger the circles become.

When you wish to start quilting anywhere on your quilt that's not off the edge into the wadding, you need to bring up your bobbin thread to the top so you can move both top and bottom threads out of the way before you start stitching. So, holding onto your top thread, place your needle down where you want to start sewing, bring the needle up and pull up your bobbin thread, tuck both threads under your foot and out of the way.

How you secure your threads is up to you, on my Snowballs in Spring quilt I left all my ends long and like a good girl, stitched each of them into the wadding at the end - hard work! Luckily my Janome machine has a 'locking' stitch so I decided to use that this time at the beginning and end of each row. This basically just sews a few tiny stitches on top of each other to secure the thread, which you can still do yourself if your machine doesn't have this function. Just take the stitch length down to say 0.6, sew three or four stitches, then take it up to your chosen length for the main stitching, I think I had mine on 2.8 - you don't want them too long else you'll lose the smooth curve in the circle. 

Moving slowly, stitch around the outer edge of the freezer paper, when you come to where you started, Jayne of Twiggy & Opal had a great tip, if you hold your starting thread ends in front of the foot, you will be able to see your starting point and where to stop sewing. Secure and break thread, and remove the freezer paper.

To start your second row, move your quilt so the left edge of your walking foot is sitting against your first line of stitching which you're going to use as your new guide. Secure your threads as before, and slowly sew your second circle. Try to move your quilt round in small increments to avoid getting sharp angles in your circle.

Carry on sewing circles - when you get to an edge you'll be able to start and end your threads into the wadding which makes life so much easier! As long as you keep that edge of your walking foot against the preceding line of stitching as a guide, your concentric circles should be nicely evenly spaced.

This is a great quilting pattern for so many quilts and always looks impressive!

If this quilt kit takes your fancy, get 15% off by subscribing to my Newsletter 

I'm also having a fat quarter bundle sale this weekend, with all these new fabrics flying in, I want to share the fun! Use the code Bundle20 until midnight on Monday (24 April) and get 20% off all fat quarter bundles.

This week I'm linking up with Let's Bee Social, Midweek MakersNeedle & Thread Thursday and Main Crush Monday


  1. Great tips on quilting circles. I have yet to do it, though it's probably tricky on a longarm. I'll think about that some other day! Thanks for sharing on Midweek Makers!

    1. Thank you Susan, yes, I think it would be fiddly on a longarm... good to know there are some things you can still do on a sit down machine that you can't on one of those babies :)

  2. Your concentric circle quilting looks great.

    1. Thank you very much Bonnie, and thanks for stopping by :)

  3. I adore quilts that have circle quilting, and can't wait to try it some day. It is definitely on my list of things to do. I love the way it looks on your quilt!

    1. Thank you Beth, it's really worth doing, and as you say, it makes a quilt look really great!


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