Saturday, January 15, 2011

Making great circles

I added another border to this dragonfly. It needed more punch and I think this has certainly delivered punch! I made up blocks with random sizes and sections of circles. Then I put four blocks together for each side, put one strip on top of another and cut through them with my rotary cutter in a wavy line. Then I swapped sections and put them back together, just to break up the colour even more.

Here are some instructions for making perfect circles.

You will need:
  • freezer paper
  • compass
  • glue stick
  • 'No More Pins' or 'No Sew' glue
  • 2 squares of fabric
  • the usual sewing tools

Cut out a square of freezer paper the size of your block. Find the middle by drawing in the diagonals. Draw a circle of desired radius. Cut out the circle and iron the freezer paper on to the back of the outside fabric. Cut out the middle of the fabric leaving a good 7-10mm seam allowance. Clip the inside edge of the circle but don't go right to the paper. Stop about 2-3mm from the edge. Put a good smear of glue on the paper side of the freezer paper, all round the edge of the circle. Fold the clipped edge around the paper and stick it to the glue. Try to get the fold butted up against the paper. Press well from the right side.

Still working with the outside fabric, run a thin line of the 'No More Pins' glue around the wrong side of the edge of the circle. Make sure that it is a continuous line and as close to the edge as possible. Practice on the scrap you cut out of the middle until you can get an even flow from the bottle. Place on top of the circle fabric and press with your fingers. Do this on the table and not the ironing board. You need a firm surface.

Leave to dry for about 10 minutes then carefully peel the fabric off the paper just to the edge of the circle.

Remember the paper is glued to the clipped part with glue stick so you don't want to pull on those bits. Also, you don't want to leave it too long from the time you glue the clips down until this stage otherwise the paper really sticks well to the fabric. Tear the paper and ease the paper off the clipped area starting from the middle. Save the freezer paper so that you can trim the block to the correct size.

Once the paper is off, put a few pins in across the folded edge.

I have tried the sewing stage with a zipper foot and an ordinary foot. The zipper foot with the needle on the left seems like the logical choice since the fabric is flat on the right and all bunched up on the left. But I found that ordinary foot made a better job. Use the line in the middle of the foot to line the needle up on the fold. You have to sew slowly and stop frequently to flatten out the fabric on the left (as I am doing here) but you shouldn't have to lift the presser foot if you guide it round the circle.

I've done this in red thread so you can see what it looks like. That stitching is exactly in the fold.

Trim the circle fabric back to your usual seam allowance. As you can see, I gave the outside fabric seam allowance a bit of a haircut too.

I washed my blocks at this stage because the glue can be rough as it dries. They only needed a short soak and squeezed to get rid of the glue. After pressing, to get the block the correct size, iron the freezer paper pattern to the front of the block, add your seam allowance and trim the block.

Is that not a lovely circle!

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