Monday, April 13, 2009

Back to Bubbles

I recently played major catch up (though I'm still not quite caught up) on my Common Threads bee blocks. You can see the whole lot here.
This is the last one I finished.

It's for Jacquie who is making a quilt for her teenage son. The instructions were "minimal, modern and masculine." The inspiration for this design came partly from reading about Dale Fleming's technique for sewing pieced curves which I found here at If you want to learn this technique you can visit either of these sites for thorough instructions but I thought I'd walk you through the basics of this block. It was a little different because of the multiple overlapping circles. If this all seems confusing you should visit one of the above links. Then it'll all make sense, I swear!

To cut out my circles from the freezer paper, I used this handy dandy tool. It works ok. Better on smaller circles than large ones. You could use scissors as well as long as you draw a perfect circle on the paper to cut out.
I started with the circle in the corner since it was on the "bottom" of all of the overlapping circles. I cut out the size of circle I wanted from freezer paper and ironed the shiny side to the wrong side of my background fabric like so, positioning the hole where I want the pieced circle to be.

The piece of colored dot fabric is what I'm going to piece to the background. It's about 1/2 in bigger all around than the fabric you see inside the circle.
Next, I cut away the BG fabric inside of the circle, leaving a roughly 1/2 in seam allowance.
Then I clipped the curve right up to the paper, all the way around.

Next, I took a glue stick and glued the clipped edge to the back of the freezer paper. This should make a nice smooth curve if you look from the other side.
When that glue was dry (which only takes a few seconds) I applied more glue to the back of the clipped fabric which I pressed the colored dot fabric to, thus allowing me to remove the freezer paper all together.

Tada. Unfortunately I have no photo of the actual sewing. You press and sew along the nice little crease you've got there, all the way around your circle, or semi-circle in my case. Flip it over and voila.

To make an overlapping circle I just placed my next freezer paper stencil over the seam, doing everything the same, treating the pieced er, piece as a solid background.
This only got tricky when it came to gluing the seams down. Because there were multiple layers of fabric I had to do some creative trimming. Also, this background fabric was some thick-ass linen! Things got a little bulky which is why some of my circles aren't exactly perfect. I would not do this again with fabric like this. Cotton on cotton though would be much less of a hassle.
I did the last three circles all at once since they weren't overlapping each other at all. The smaller circles were harder to sew than the large ones.
And that's it! Again, this is no where near a comprehensive tutorial so if you really want to try this technique visit the links above.


  1. dude. this is awesome! I pick up one of those circle cutters at a thrift store, but could never get it to work for me.

  2. Thanks for posting this! It looks like a lot of work, but I'd like to try it sometime soon

  3. thanks for posting this! It reminded me that I have seen this circle sewing somewhere before ... I´ll give it a try now!