Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #10

I feel like I have been running in circles lately.  So I thought a Thread Talk post on quilting circles is in order.

1.  Circles to form a strand of pearls.

<Boring technical details:  Quilting strands of pearls works great for sashing strips that are no more than 1 1/2″ wide, in my experience, when normally I would just quilt in the ditch.  The pearls give the sashing strips a bit of a customized look.  To quilt the circles, simply draw a line down the middle of the strip with a washable fabric marker.  Free-motion quilt the circles using the line as a guide for the center of the circles. >

2.  Circles around applique for a funky twist on echo quilting:

<Boring technical details:   Using circles around appqliued shapes gives echoing with new and stylized twist.  For the quilt block shown above, I echo-quilted very close to the applique, maybe 1/8″ or less, and then, quilted circles on top of the echo before launching into background quilting.  The circles made my applique look more fancy, I think. :)>

3.  Circles of different sizes to just fill in the blank spot.

Quilting circles of different sizes is a great way to practice your circles.  The different sizes makes it easy to hide the occasional not-so-perfect circles, and not to mention the lovely texture the circles create.

<Boring technical details: Just start with a circle anywhere in the area you want to quilt, and add circles as you fill up the area, using smaller circles to fill in the gap between bigger circles.>

4.  Adding circles just for fun!

<Boring technical details: Adding circles on my “tentacles” add visual interest to the quilting.  So, be adventurous and add circles where you normally wouldn’t.  You might be pleasantly surprised by the effect!>


Different people quilt their circles differently.  Some do the “8” shapes.  Some would quilt a continuous string of semi-circles, and come back with another continuous string of semi-circles to complete the circles.   I found those hard for me to manipulate.  The way I do it is I would go ahead and quite a complete circle, and backtrack on part of the circle to go to the next spot where I want to start another circle.  The process is repeated and repeated until an area is just filled with circles!


Give circling around circles a try when you quilt your next quilt, and let me know what you think! :)

Have a great week ahead!


37 thoughts on “Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #10

  1. Thanks for that technical info. I hope to start doing machine quilting soon. My brother is cutting a hole in a table top I purchased and making a shelf so I can sink my machine and have better work surface. In past I have tried machine quilting and found I was fighting to move quilt around so gave up and either hand quilt or get some with a longarm to quilt it for me.

  2. Enviuos isn’t the word for what I feel when I see you quilting. The applique is beautiful and the quilting is over the top. I hope to achieve some of this talent at a point and yet I am scared to try. Thanks for the tutorials. Chris

  3. Hi Wendy,

    How beautiful!!! I would not have thought of surrounding applique with circles, but it is gorgeous! Thank you for sharing such beautiful pictures and your wonderful skill.


  4. fantastic post, beautiful photo’s.I’m with you on how you quilt your circles…seems easy.I sometimes use the wee circle for the centre of flowers, they look like the seeds.

  5. Do you stitch the tops of all circles first and then go back and stitch the bottoms of all circles to complete them or do you have a different technique? Whatever you do it is very nicely done!

  6. Once again, I am amazed at your quilting expertise.
    I really have to get busy and venture into free-motion more. I am truly amazed at how you get everything to work together. I love the circles. Keep showing and encouraging us to try something new. (Maybe not new to you, but certainly new to me.) Thank you again.

  7. Pebbling is really a nice feature. You might also add that the sashing strips look cleanest too when ditch quilted on either side (IMHO!). Beautiful quilting as always!

  8. I have recently discovered your blog and am extremely grateful for your FMQ tips. I’ve been FMQing for eight years, and while I have the mechanics down pat, I still struggle with which patterns to quilt where. Your close-up photos are invaluable inspiration. Thank you very, very much!

  9. I agree with Linda’s comment, Getting the mechanics down is one thing but getting ideas for what to FMQ is the hardest part. I love your posts with such good tips and inspiration. You should write a book!!!

  10. I’ve tried to quilt circles on some test pieces, and it’s challenging! Your beautiful quilting will inspire me to try again, though, until I see progress!

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  12. Lovely,thank you so much for the instruction It’s funny I tried this last night before reading your blog….looking forward to additional posts!

  13. Thanks for the NOT boring information. I think I’ll follow your blog, I could use all the tips you can share. I’ll be buying a longarm in the next few months.

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