For our February Mini Quilt of the Month we decided to venture into the world of circles.  So often in quilts straight lines and right angles dictate our designs since they seem more approachable, but with this super simple technique of appliqueing circles, the possibilities are endless!  Inspired by the design of our Liberty Swatch Portrait Wall which greets our customers as they arrive in our Soho shop, we used the wonderfully soft and cheerful Liberty of London's Tana Lawn in a rainbow of colors.  We love the whimsical charm of these colorful circles floating on a soft white background.

One can easily get lost in the enchanting designs and exquisitley detailed printing of Liberty of London's Tana Lawn, and its colors, especially when viewed in a rainbow spectrum, are so rich and saturated.  This quilt is the perfect way to use small amounts of precious Tana Lawn to make a big impact.

Materials

Fabric for the Circles

Fabric for the Background, Backing and Binding

  • 2 yards of Robert Kaufman's Essex, Ivory

You will also need . . .

Size

21 1/2 by 25 1/5 inches.

Pattern

Make the Circles

To make your circular templates, draft a variety of circles onto some scrap paper with your compass (or trace around circular objects from around the house). We made our circles 2 1/2-inches , 3-inches, 3.5-inches, 4-inches, 5-inches, 6-inches and 7-inches in diameter.  Carefully cut them out.

Pick out a Liberty print and trace around one of the circles onto the wrong side of the fabric. It's up to you which size circle to use for which print.

Cut the traced circle away from the rest of the fabric into a rough square and pin it wrong side up to a piece of the fusible interfacing facing fusible side up.

Sew all the way around directly on the marked line of the circle. Trim the seam allowance to approximately 1/8-inch.

Flip the circle over and cut an opening into the middle of the interfacing.

Turn the circle right sides out through this cut in the interfacing.

Finger press your hemmed circle flat.

Make a hemmed circle for each of your Liberty fabrics.

Cut a piece of the Ivory Essex to approximately 28-inches by 30-inches.

With masking tape mark a rectangle to the size you want your finished quilt to be (we made ours 21 1/2-inches by 25 1/2-inches).

Arrange the hemmed circles into a pleasing order within the marked rectangle (we put ours in rainbow order of course!). If you find that you need more or less room you can adjust the tape to make a smaller or larger rectangle.

Applique the Circles

The fusible side of the interfacing is on the back of all of the circles. Use a hot iron to lightly press the circles into place once you have finalized their arrangement.  Please note, sometimes through handling the fuse comes loose so we also pinned our circles to the backing fabric to keep them from shifting around during the applique process.

To applique the circles use the neutral colored sewing thread. We used a contrasting thread for the example so you could see it clearly in the photos.

Since the cotton lawn is delicate you'll want to avoid damaging it, so you should start by coming up through the back of the background fabric with your threaded needle (rather than through the front of the lawn and popping the knot to the inside as you would for traditional applique) and exiting right at the edge of the circle, just catching the edge of the circle fabric as you exit.

Take a tiny stitch from the background fabric just at the edge of the circle as shown above.

Push your needle back into the edge of the circle just at the point where you exited the background fabric. Then slide the needle through along the inner edge of the circle and pull it out approximately 1/4-inch beyond where you went in as shown above.

Take another tiny stitch from the background fabric just at the point where you exited the circle.

Then push the needle through the edge of the circle once again for approximately 1/4-inch. Repeat to complete the perimeter of the circle.

Repeat to attach all circles.

Cut the quilt top down to be 21 1/2-inches by 25 1/2-inches (or whatever size you decided on above). This is your quilt top.

Baste

Cut a piece of the Essex to be 4-inches longer and wider than your quilt top.

Lay the backing fabric right side down onto a flat surface and tape it down using masking tape.

Cut the batting to be 2 inches longer and wider than your quilt top and lay it down smoothly on top of the backing.

Lay the quilt top smoothly on top of the other two layers, right side up.

These three layers are your quilt sandwich.

Thread the curved needle with a long length of the contrasting thread. Sewing though all three layers of your quilt sandwich, take a series of 1 1/2-inch long or larger stitches with the curved needle, starting at the center of the quilt and moving out in a spiral shape. Do not tie a knot at the end of the thread, but leave a long tail which will make it easier to pull out later.  The backing fabric will still be taped to the surface throughout the basting process.

Continue on with these large stitches in a spiral shape until the whole piece is basted.

Un-tape the backing fabric from the floor. The back of the quilt sandwich should look like this.

Quilt

Place the quilt sandwich loosely into the quilting hoop.

To hand quilt this piece simply thread an 18-inch length of hand quilting thread onto the hand sewing needle and stitch through all three layers approximately 1/8-inch from the edge of the circles. Each stitch should be no more than 1/4-inch wide. Once you get the hang of it you can take more than one stitch at a time.

Quilt around each circle in the same way.

Once all the circles are quilted gently pull out the basting stitches.

Bind

Trim the backing fabric and bating to match up with the quilt top and bind your quilt using the remaining Essex fabric.

If you haven't bound a quilt before please visit the binding instructions from our January Mini Quilt of the Month: Courthouse Steps here. This quilt (and all quilts!) can be bound in exactly the same manner. Once you get to the story, scroll down near the end to the sections called "Prepare the Binding" and "Bind the Quilt".