teaching sewing confidence, tip by tip

Monday 5 December 2016

Beginner's Guide To Turned Edge Circles [Applique Tute]

Let's put our hands together for raw edge applique - I love it, absolutely love it - but now and again, a project calls for turned edge applique.  Urrrgh.  Did I hear someone groan?  It might actually have been me, but to be fair, turned edge applique really isn't that bad.  

My latest project didn't need any applique at all, then at the last moment, I had a bit of a funny turn and thought to add a fussy cut turned edge circle to the centre of my piece would bring something special to the finish.

Making the circle reminded me just how easy turned edge applique is, so I thought I'd share my method with you.  It's nothing original, and the technique doesn't belong to me or to anyone else either! It's just the way it's done and has been for a very long time - so here it is:

Beginner's Guide To Turned Edge Circles

This post is for informational purposes only, the Karen Kay Buckley Bigger Perfect Circles 
used in the guide are mbCD's own, and no payment or commission is received 
on click-throughs to links shared. 

You can do this technique by cutting circles from a piece of cardstock or even the side of a cereal box, and you'll get the same result as I'm showing you here today.  A long time ago, I invested in a set of Bigger Perfect Circles by Karen Kay Buckley that I love, and when you see me using them, I think you'll love them too.  In this pack, the circles are in various sizes from 2-1/4" to 4-1/2", but the best thing about them is that they're translucent, bordering on transparent, heat resistant plastic so you can see through them to fussy cut your circles and know that your design will be in exactly the right place the first time around.  If you've got some quilters' plastic template, that will work in exactly the same way.

⬧Pick the fabric design detail you want to turn into a turned edge circle.  
Find the Perfect Circle that's the perfect size to cover the whole design - in this case, a 3" circle.
⬧If you're using card, measure across the widest point of your fabric design and make that your circle's diameter, draw a circle of that diameter on the card using a pair of compasses and cut the card out.  If you have something circular that's the correct size that you can draw around, that will be perfect for you too.

You need to cut the circle out with a 1/4" seam allowance all around it - so for 1/4" larger on BOTH sides of the circle, you need to cut a circle that's actually a 1/2" larger than the design - in this case, a 3-1/2" circle. Still, your size will be different depending on the size of your fabric design.

This is a 3-1/2" Perfect Circle over the design, and that's the 3" still lying next to it.

Centre the design under the 3-1/2" circle - you can see why it's so great that these circles are translucent as you can see the design right through it.
Draw around the larger circle - can you see in the photo below that I've popped the smaller 3" circle back inside my drawn circle so you can see how there's a seam allowance around it?

Cut out the fabric circle with sharp fabric scissors.

Take a needle and thread, knot the end or leave a LONG tail.  
Start to create a running stitch around the edge of the circle somewhere between 1/8" and 1/4"; it doesn't matter as long as you stitch within your seam allowance.  

It may help to lightly draw around the smaller plastic circle on the wrong side of the fabric with a marker that won't be visible later, and that way, you'll know you're definitely working within the seam allowance.  

The length of the stitch doesn't matter, and at this stage, it doesn't matter which way up the fabric is facing either.

Continue the running stitch fully around the circle - KEEP the needle attached to the thread end; you'll need it again shortly.

Slip the smaller circle, in this case, the 3", onto the wrong side of the fabric circle.

Keep the fabric and the plastic on a firm surface and use a finger from one hand to keep them still and in place.  With your other hand, start to pull one end of your stitch thread.
The fabric will start to pull up around the sides of the plastic circle.
The plastic circle will inevitably start to move from the centre - you'll be able to see it happening as the design moves beneath the plastic.
Gently wiggle the plastic back to the correct position while keeping the upturned fabric edges in place around the plastic.

You'll soon get the hang of it, but there's no panic if the plastic comes out; simply smooth out the fabric and thread length and start again.

When the fabric is finally pulled tightly around the plastic, put a couple of small tight stitches through the last loose stitch to stop the fabric from releasing and opening up again.
It's now safe to turn over the circle and see how well centred your design is.  
If you're not happy with it, start again!
If you are happy with it, then press lightly over the fabric with an iron - YES, the plastic is still inside the fabric at this stage.

The plastic is heat resistant and can tolerate the iron well still, don't hold it in one place for too long, or it'll warp, not melt, just bend (ask me how I know!).

When you're happy that you've pressed a well-formed edge around your circle, you can peel the fabric away from around the plastic.  

If you've pressed the edges well, the circle shape should stay throughout.

Once the plastic is out, you can give the circle another press to really crisp up those edges.

Then you can place your turned edge circle on your chosen project.

I kept the circle in place for this project using spray baste; it held it perfectly and long enough for me to get my hand quilting stitches in around the circle edge.  

You can also use water-based glue stick such as Elmers or Pritt, and, of course, you can use pins too.

And this is the project I was working on, my Dresden Plate Table Topper / Wall Hanging.  If you'd like to know how to make one for yourself, you can click through to my tutorial here.

Beginner's Guide To Turned Edge Circles

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This post is for informational purposes only; the Karen Kay Buckley Bigger Perfect Circles used in the guide are mbCD's own, and no payment or commission is received on click-throughs to links shared.

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  1. fantastic. I had a paper pieced star that needing fixing so I parked it. Now I can get it out and get it finished.

  2. Thanks for this tutorial - always nice to be reminded of what to do :)

  3. This is a perfect tutorial for me, because I've never mastered circles anywhere, though you make it sound really easy. Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party this week. Pinned!


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