how to do circles – circles are different..

In my last post I talked about the method I use for applique. I use that method for most shapes but when doing circles, I use another method to get the seam allowance turned under without any of those little pleats or tucks around the edges. And these lollipop trees have lots of circles!
First of all, you need a plastic circle shape. I either make my own by cutting out template plastic. Or even better, is to use little plastic shapes that are made specially for this purpose- they come in sets of varying sizes and are usually found in your local quilt shop. They are also heat-proof, which the template plastic isn’t.
I’ve tried two different methods- one using alfoil, which I’ve seen a few well-known quilters use, as well as the more traditional method with a gathering thread. Personally, I think the gathering thread actually gets smoother edges and is less likely to have little puckers than the alfoil. Try it yourself and see what you think.
First of all, place the shape on the wrong side of the fabric, trace around the plastic and then cut a circle with about a 1/4″ allowance. This doesn’t have to be exact- it just gets turned under anyway.
Alfoil method: take a square piece of alfoil, layer the fabric, right side down and then the circle shape.
Press the alfoil around, pinching the alfoil tightly around the edges and smoothing to avoid little pleats at the edge.
After you have it as smooth as possible, just scrunch the alfoil together at its opening and then press with a hot iron on both sides.
Put it aside to cool down a little. If using a plastic shape, don’t press for too long or it will melt!
When cool, take the alfoil off, remove the plastic shape and you have a fabric circle with its edges turned under, ready to applique.

Gathering thread method: after cutting out the fabric circle, run a line of large stitches around the edge and leave the ends with a long tail- don’t backstitch at the start or end.
Place the plastic shape in the middle of the circle, and pull the ends of the thread so it gathers the fabric around the circle. It will naturally pull the fabric in tight without any pleats along the edge- I find this more successful than when using the alfoil.
Press the fabric circle with the iron, just around the edges. You could also use starch if you want, to give a bit more crispness on the edge.
When you are ready to applique, just remove the plastic shape and tuck the loose thread ends under. You don’t remove the gathering thread. It can just stay there because it won’t be seen.