Saturday, October 17, 2015

6-Minute Circles, Redux

If you have followed my blog for a while, then you know I have embraced Dale Fleming's 6-minute circle technique and it has become a beloved tool in my bag of quilting techniques and tricks.

2 Circle BlocksRecently, I was asked to demo it for my mini-group and then we decided to practice by making circle blocks for a small group quilt.  This morning I needed some playtime, so I made these three blocks.

We are using two southwest-inspired fabrics for all the circles and adding fabrics from our stash to frame them–purple for the one with the gold background and green for the red background.

For those unfamiliar with the technique, there are a few good videos online of Dale Fleming demonstrating her technique:

Simply Quilts
The Quilt Show (you must be a member to view this one)

Her book is also a great resource and goes far beyond the "6 minute circle" in showing you how you can use this technique–here's a link to the kindle version:


I mostly followed the steps as outlined, until seeing the circle tutorial Marie put together where she leaves the freezer paper on until after the seam is sewn. I found it SO much easier to see where I was going ...

Sewing the circle blockMarie has great step-by-step photos of the entire process in her tutorial, but here's a quick look at what sewing the seam looks like.

I had not before switched to a zipper foot (as recommended by the author) so I thought I'd try it today. I liked how easily I could follow the edge of the freezer paper circle, but it bugged me that I couldn't see the needle going into the fabric like I could when I used my open toed foot.

Now that I've been making these circles for a while, I have a little checklist of methods and reminders that work for me:

  • Take the time to create a double-layer of freezer paper.  It creates a sturdier edge in the center and will last through 5 or 6 blocks.
  • If you are putting a circle in the center of a block, make it easy to get it centered perfectly by cutting the freezer paper the same size as the background/frame.
  • The circle (or whatever shape) is always cut to be the FINISHED size
  •  If you are gluing fabric-to-freezer paper, go lightly. When you are gluing fabric-to-fabric, be generous, especially along the circle edge.
  • Press well after every step. 
  • Leave the circle fabric large if you want to be able to move the frame around and decide what goes in the circle. Otherwise, I start with a square that is 1 inch larger than the finished circle size.
It's a fun block, which is 90% preparation and 1 seam.  Ours are 9 inches (finished size) with a 7 inch circle.  I have a couple layer cakes that could become simple circle quilts for community service next year.

5 comments:

Kathryn said...

Thanks Sophie. Do you need to cut the circle fabric as big as the background, or just large enough that you can hold onto and manipulate it when you are doing the machine sewing? I can see that you definitely can't just make it the size of the circle plus a 1/2 inch. Can you get the archival glue at Joann's? I'm guessing it might be in the papercrafting aisle.
Enjoy the weekend, Kathie

shilsenbeck said...

Sophie -- thanks for this. Great technique.

desertskyquilts said...

That really is great, and leaving the freezer paper on took care of the one thing I saw that would cause me a problem. That's why I didn't do it last time you mentioned it. Thanks!

Cathy said...

I really need to try this method. I've tried other methods and always ended up with some lopsided or lumpy circles. So I usually applique when a circle is involved. I recently learned a method using rickrack that I like. Wish I had read about it sooner and before I started on my Dresdens for RSC this year.

Those will make a cute quilt, by the way.

Jeanne in Ohio said...

I've heard about this technique, but now I REALLY want to try it. Thanks for the tips and the link. I've been mostly lurking on Block Lotto but it's one of my favorite blogs and I don't miss a post. Thanks for what you do for us!

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