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Inset Circles

No, they're not appliqued

NINA Connect 5.jpg

Front Detail


Back Detail

"Connect 5"
52 x 52

I LOVE the look of inset circles because of their simplicity.  The blocks are clean, crisp, flat and sleek.  Inset circles are a great accent to any quilt, especially for fussy cutting. So, the main purpose of this class is to learn how to inset the circles.  Once you know the technique, the sky's the limit.

Bring to Class:


  • Your starched  pre-cut fabric squares

  • Sewing machine with quarter inch foot or guide, thread, pins and bobbin

  • 45mm Rotary cutter (with a fresh blade)

  • Spray starch

  • Iron and ironing mat

  • A sharp stiletto (I use a dental scaler)

  • Small cutting mat

  • Circle templates or circle cutter

  • Small, sharp scissors

  • Pencil or pen and paper for taking notes.  There'll be lots of notes:)  

Let's Talk Supplies


  • The Circles - You want your cutting to be accurate.  I find that the Martelli Circle Template Set works the best.  There are also "rulers" that cut circles.  Although they give you more size options than the Martelli, they weren't as easy to use. Creative Grids Circle Savvy and EZ Quilting Circle Cut, are options, but I found it more difficult to keep the rulers from slipping while keeping the rotary cutter centered in the narrow slot.  Bottom line...the Martelli templates were easier to us, and were more accurate.  

  • The Stiletto - I use a a simple Dental Scraper because it has a curved blade, it's angled, and it has a good sharp point which gives great control.

  • Spray Starch - I like my fabrics to be quite stiff, which makes it easier to get a nice flat circle.  I really can't speak to any of the products out there, but you'll want more than just Best Press.  I actually use a spray bottle and fill it with liquid starch and water. That way I have control over how strong the starch is...too heavy I add more water, to thin I add more starch.  I start with a ratio of about 1:3 starch to water.

Let's Talk Fabric

If you're familiar with my work, you know that I don't use a lot of color in my quilts.  My go-to palette is neutrals.  But I wanted to use color for this particular class sample and I wanted the colors to be a little more muted.  I almost panicked because it's been such a long time since I've had to pick colors.  My solution?  I used coordinating layer cakes.  The manufacturer has done all the work for me and it keeps the quilt more cohesive.


For "Connect 5" I chose blenders and separated the squares into lights and darks (my go to).  I used two layer cakes because ultimately you need 50 squares and a layer cake is precut to 10". To keep the quilt colorful yet harmonious, I decided to use both sides of the same color squares, which meant I needed two of the each colored square to achieve the look.  The "circle" is simply the other side of the fabric square.  After all, you've paid for both sides of the fabric:)  The darker blocks have great contrast, whereas the lighter blocks are more subtle.

But those were my choices.  You can use any fabrics you want.  Prints, solids, blenders as long as you have contrast between the circle its background square. 

The circle is 6", and after I set it into the background, I trimmed all of my finished blocks to 9-1/2" so that they're all the same size and the quilt is nice and flat after the blocks are joined.


Cutting Specs For Class

Just bring an assortment of starched 10" squares with good contrast.  Scrap fabrics are fine.    Twelve to fourteen squares should be plenty.  Then once you know the technique you can use your forever fabrics.


The quilts that I have made are twenty-five blocks.  You can make your quilt as big or small as you'd like once you are able to mass produce inset circles.


51" x 51"

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