Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Couple with Tree + Making Small Circles to Applique

The hard part of this month's section of Sweet Land of Liberty is finished.  In fact, this particular block is finished -- unless I decide to embroider the writing that's on the pattern.  (Which I probably won't, though maybe I'll write it with a marker.)

appliqued couple with tree for Sweet Land of Liberty quilt by Cheri Payne

I thought this was a hard block to make because of the narrow tree branches, the tiny hands and feet, and the wee fruit on the tree.  Those little circles finish at about 3/8".  I think they are the smallest pieces I've ever appliqued.

The next time I make a block like this I think I'll machine stitch some seams:  where the man's shirt joins his pants; where the head joins the neckline of the shirt/dress; and possibly where hands and feet join clothing.  I think it would alleviate the overlapping layers that I have now.

Someone asked for suggestions about how to make small circles.  This is how I do it.  (Not all steps have photos.)

#1.  Cut the circle out of cardboard -- a used file folder, an empty cereal box, any stiff cardboard will do.  Just not plastic!

#2.  Place the cardboard circle on the fabric you're using and cut the fabric 1/4" outside the cardboard.

#3.  Knot a piece of thread (long enough to go around several circles).  Put the needle in the fabric close to the edge and let the knot end extend an inch or two.  Make a running stitch around the circle close to the edge.  When the last stitch meets the first stitch, take one more stitch so stitches overlap a little.  Be sure the ends of both threads are on the same side of the fabric.  Leave a tail on this end of the thread, too.

preparing fabric to make a small circle to applique

#4.  Place the fabric circle on your ironing board with the thread tails next to the ironing board.

#5.  Place the cardboard circle in the center of the fabric circle.

preparing fabric to make a small circle to applique

#6.  While holding the cardboard circle down with one finger, gently pull the thread tails so they gather the fabric around the cardboard circle.  If you're not careful, the cardboard circle may pop out of the middle.  Your circle should look like this.

preparing fabric to make a small circle to applique

#7.  Press.  Hold the iron in place long enough to make a crease around the edge of the circle.  It doesn't hurt to press both sides.

#8.  When the circle is cool, gently pull the gathers apart just enough to remove the cardboard circle, then pull the thread ends to make the circle round again, and press once more.

I wait to remove the basting thread until I'm just about finished appliqueing the circle in place.  I clip the tail without the knot, then gently tug the knotted tail while holding the circle with my thumb and finger.  If the thread doesn't budge I pull just a little harder and if it still doesn't budge, I clip the tail and leave the basting thread in place.

Gayle of mangofeet left a comment on a previous post recommending this Craftsy tutorial by Sarah Fielke.  She uses aluminum foil to fold the edges around the circle, then presses in place.  I succeeded with this method once but then couldn't manage to make it work again.  The circle I made this way didn't hold the edges in place as well as the stitches did.

I know many of you probably use needle-turned applique but I still haven't had success with that method yet.  (Yet!)  If you don't do needle-turned applique, how do you prepare small circles for applique?

I'm linking this post to
> Moving It Forward Monday at Em's Scrapbag
> Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
> Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
> BOMs Away at What a Hoot Quilts



  1. I love the fabrics you have chosen; the ladies dress, the man's shirt, the background. It just all goes together very well. This was the first block I made when I started the quilt five years ago. I've made two rather intensive applique quilts since then so my applique skills have improved greatly. But, this humble little block with it's misshapen fruit will fit right in a primitive quilt. I could fix the wonky fruit but it makes me smile. I haven't had time to work on the snail's trail blocks but I still have a couple of weeks to get them done before the next step. Isn't this the funnest quilt?

    1. Thanks for your kind compliments about this block, Robin. It turned out to be easier than I thought though it took me a long time. I think stitching the tree took over 3 hours.

  2. Your block is lovely! I make circles the same way you do, tho I love it if I can use a coin for the inserted circle. 3/8" is so tiny tho. I might have done raw edge wool in this case.

    lizzy at gone to the beach

    1. Thanks for your kind comment about this block, Lizzy. I think I have used coins before but forgot. I would have had to dig out some pennies from El Salvador to have them small enough. I don't use wool because I know I'll use and wash and dry this quilt. Wool usually shrinks.

  3. I think your tiny circles came out beautifully! I'm normally a needle-turn appliquer, but I always prep circles ahead because they're such a challenge.

    1. Thank you, Gayle! One of these days I'll succeed with needle-turned applique but I'll probably continue to prep circles. The tinier the harder they are to make round (in my experience, anyway).

  4. Great looking block, Nancy.
    I rarely applique, but when putting center circles on Dresden Plate blocks I used Karen Kaye Buckley's Perfect Circles. I have the small ones and the next larger size. Just got them last year, and they really helped me!

    1. Thank you, Janet. I remember someone else mentioning Karen Kay Buckley's Perfect Circles. I'll have to think about getting them. I looked at them after I read your comment and I don't think they would have worked for these circles because they are smaller than the ones she offers, at least from what I could tell.


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...