Circles Block #16-EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circles 16_OPQuilt_markedRadiating Compass Rose
Final Block of Shine: The Circles Quilt

This is the Sixteenth and Final Block for my Shine: The Circles Quilt.  It’s kind of a bittersweet moment, as I spent more than a year designing and sewing these blocks, and have sent them out into the world with a wish and a hope that others may enjoy them, too.  And I hope you have!

As I did for the fifteenth circle block, I based my design on the fancy compass/North designator of old maps, throwing my ideas into EQ7, and having fun.  There are elements of other blocks in this one, with the undulating narrow blades and the small points.

EQ7 Circle 16

For this final block, I liked that this design had echoes of Circles Block Four, and that you can see a dimensionality to it.  I have the final four patterns as a group up for sale on Craftsy  [and Payhip, if you are purchasing from an EU country that collects VAT] and the tutorials for each block can be found on this blog (an index in is the tab above).  The finishing instructions pattern for Shine: The Circles Quilt is also listed on Craftsy and Payhip.

Printing Circle 16

Set your printer to scale at 100% and print out four copies.  Count your pieces (I have too many outer points and outer arcs by accident–you only need sixteen, not thirty-two), and gather your fabrics (below) and jump in.

Circle 16_1A circle leftover from another center circle for another block.  It worked great here!

Circle 16_2

To get the blades going the same way as shown in the illustration, lay the printed side DOWN.  I include lots of tips and tricks for these circles in each pattern, so if you found this one first, head to the tab up above marked Shine: The Circles Quilt EPP to find the others.   Circle 16_3 Circle 16_4The outer points have no direction, so you can place them printing up. . . or down.

Circle 16_5 Circle 16_6All the pieces are glued down to the papers.

Circle 16_6aI print out a smaller version of the illustrated circle and carry it around with my pieces as I’m working on the project.

Circle 16_7 oopsPay attention to which way you sew on that first blade wedge.  This is an OOPS! on the right.  Un-sew and do it again.

Circle 16_7a

First round all sewn.

Circle 16_8

Second round all sewn.

Circle 16_9

Join the blades of the rays together.  Because I have such strong color shifts in these pieces, I opted to use different colored threads in each section. Here I’m sewing the teal pieces together, then I’ll switch to other thread and join the next band. . . and the next.

Circle 16_10

Start joining the units into pairs.

Circle 16_11

I just thought this was a fun photo of the project tucked into my Sew Together Bag.  There’s a free mini version tutorial of this on my blog, but you do have to have the original pattern to figure it out.

Circle 16_12

Okay, back to the sewing.  To place the points on accurately, pinch to find the center of the curved edge.

Circle 16_12a

Align that as shown. I use one pin to keep it in place, but start sewing from the point’s outer corner, as shown in the next photo.

Circle 16_12b Circle 16_12c

Repeat the pinch-to-find-center action and sew that on.  I always take a stitch at the point corners to join them to each other.

Circle 16_13

Here’s how they look when finished.  Keep going until you’ve gotten the points on all your ray-pairs.

Circle 16_13a Circle 16_14

Join a ray pair together.

Circle 16_14a

Then stitch down the flopping-loose yellow point. Repeat with the other two pairs.

Circle 16_15

Now you are getting somewhere!  This looks great, doesn’t it?  Don’t sew the two half-circle parts together.  Keep going.

Circle 16_16

Time to add in the dark blue outer arcs in between the points. Again, I take one stitch at the outer points to join the arcs together too.

Circle 16_17

This is what you have so far.

Circle 16_18

Join the two units, sew down the yellow points, then fill in with the arcs.

Circle 16_19

Nice work!  Here it is from the back with all the papers still in.

Circle 16_19a

Remove all but the outer arc papers.  You’ll need those to appliqué the circle onto the background.

Circle 16_20

Don’t put it on the background just yet.  First appliqué the center circle, as in Circle Block #1.

Circle 16_21

Lay your center circle over the center hole, measuring to get it on evenly, then appliqué with tiny stitches (above).

Circle 16_21a

I trim out the excess.

Circle 16_21b

And then trim more excess–this time the appliqué center, leaving about 1/4″ seam allowance.

Circle 16_22

Cut a background square 14 1/2″, and as in the other circles, decide the placement of your circle and pin it down.  When you come to a place with the seam allowances. . .

Circle 16_22a

. . . first fold in one side. . .

Circle 16_22b

. . . then the other, and keep stitching it to the background.

Circle 16_trimming away background

When finished, cut away the background.

Circle 16_trimming sa

I also trim off some of the more wild ends of seam allowances, as you don’t need all that bulk.

Circles 16_OPQuilt_markedAnd you are done with all your circles!!  Congratulations!!

Shine_Quilt Top Final800

Now you can finish your quilt.  I wrote the finishing instructions in a pattern and put it up on Craftsy and PayHip (for EU readers) so you can finish yours too.  I am in the middle of quilting this, and will put it up on the blog when I’m finished.

I hope you have enjoyed this series.  It all started when I wanted something to sew by hand at night to relax, but was tired of all the straight edges of hexagons and such.  Just after I started, we visited an ornately painted church in Slovenia, which inspired many of the circle blocks.  If you are sewing them, please send me a note by way of comment, or share a photo with me by way of email.  I can’t wait to see your creations!

Rosette #4–New Hexagon Millefiori Hot Mess Patchwork Quiltalong

Rosette #4_1

This is where I got stalled on Rosette #4 for The New Hexagon Millefiore Quilt, or as I call it, The Hot Mess.  It may not turn out to be that, but we’ll see.  I had rotated six of the blocks and it left chunky dark hard edges.  Hmmmm, I told myself.  Hmmmm.

Rosette #4_2I tried out the outer rosettes one night on the kitchen table.  Shaking of head.

Rosette #4_3 Rosette #4_4

The solution was to subdivide the offending piece.  The clunky outer bits are transformed, making what had looked like a snarling traffic circle into a lovely ring of batik-y writing.

Rosette #4_5a

Here’s the magic piece.

Rosette #4_5Rosette #4The finished rosette.  This is number four, and the tenth month of the year starts in a couple of days, so that makes me only. . . eight months behind.  This one was hard, not only because I was doing a lot of it during my recovery, but also because I got stuck at the traffic circle dilemma, and it took me a while to find a solution.  But I feel pretty good about it now.


Circles Block #15–EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circles Block 15_OPQuilt

Compass Rose
Number 15 of the circles blocks in Shine: The Circles Quilt

About this time, I was running out of ideas for another two circle blocks, so of course I turned to the internet, but didn’t type in “quilt circle blocks.”

Collections Bibliotheque Municipale de Rouen. Photo : Th. Ascencio-Parvy

Collections Bibliotheque Municipale de Rouen. Photo : Th. Ascencio-Parvy

 Instead I typed in “compass rose” as every map from the ancient days had an elaborate compass design in the corner, orientation the sea-faring ships to North, keeping them on track.  I found several I liked from those old maps, and modified them to be suitable for my quilt, and drew them up in Electric Quilt 7:

EQ7 Circle 15 w:o split rays EQ7 Circle 15 with split rays

The difference between the two is the subdivision of the spikes around the inner circle into two rays.  I liked that, but I also knew a short cut so I wouldn’t lose my mind piecing them.  If you like the solid rays in the inner circle, just don’t cut them apart (but don’t cut them apart anyway. . . keep reading).

I have the final four patterns as a group up for sale on Craftsy  [and Payhip, if you are purchasing from an EU country that collects VAT].  I will post the tutorials each month until the set is complete.  The finishing instructions pattern for Shine: The Circles Quilt is also listed on Craftsy and Payhip.

Printing Circle 15

Print four of these out at 100% scale.  Cut them out, but count as you do this, because on one of these last patterns, I may have missed a beat or two and added an extra ray.  BUT FIRST!  To cut down on your EPP efforts, you can leave the rays and the diamond pieces together, cutting them out as a unit. I’ll show you what I mean, so please read down further before you snip snip snip.



Pull your fabrics, using a good range of colors and value (light to dark).


Okay, here’s what I mean about some time-saving.  I didn’t cut the diamond apart.  You can seam two strips together, then lay out your diamonds to cut.  Here I am measuring for the diamond strip width (above, which will be 2″), and below for the rays (which will be 1 1/4″ inches wide).  I use a lighter version and a medium version of the fabric color I chose so the difference will stand out.  Above you can see the two colors, layered.



Seam the long strips together, then lay out your pieces, making sure that the center line of the ray is exactly on your seam, as shown.  Trim away the excess like I did in the upper ray example.


Ditto for the diamonds.  However, the layout of the pattern has you cutting some apart.  No worries.  Just tuck them up under the seam allowances (as shown in lower right diamond above) and proceed cutting around them and gluing them as normal.  The seam allowances are a wee bit smaller on these two pieces, as I didn’t need a full 1/4″ inch.  The seam allowances are at about 3/16″ of an inch, just a bit narrower than usual.

After gluing them, I put them in a baggie and I print out the drawing (way above) of the block, and slip that into the bag, so I can keep things straight.


Since the outer diamonds are all sewn together (or if you constructed them more traditionally, stitch them together first, then come to this step), you can start sewing them to the outer points, making sure that the curved edge is pointed towards the eventual circle.


Sew all your groups; I did a grouping of three.

While I don’t have a photo for it (where was my mind?), stitch the rays to the inner circle points (the green points in my block interspersed with the blue double-rays).  Do those in groups as well.  Now to get them sewn together.


Find the lower center of the outer point, and pinch it, leaving a mark.


Match it up with the outer edge of a green inner circle point, and take a stitch, as shown.


Find the center of the next outer point, and put in a crease, as shown.  Line up the ray with this crease. I sometimes like to put a single pin to keep me on track.


Stitch carefully, neither adding — nor subtracting — any ease, moving one stitch at a time around the arc.


Keep pinching in the centers, and matching up the rays until you’ve got this set together.  Yours may look different than mine, in terms of how many rays you sewed together, or outer diamonds and points you sewed together.  But the principle is the same for matching.


Stitch the next set of inner rays and points to the existing set.


Join the next outer set of diamonds and outer points to the existing, as shown.


Using the “pinch the center method,” join those two arcs together.


Here we go again.  This time I sewed on the outer diamonds/points unit to the existing.


Then I stitched the inner points/rays together on one side only.  The circle is not completed!!  Leave it as a giant arc on both sets.


Continue the process of pinching to find the center, and matching it up with the rays.  It will serpentine in your hands as you work.  Perfectly normal and easier to do than if you had joined them both into circles.  (Don’t do that!)


That outer arc seam is almost done.  I left the last orangey-red bit unsewn.  Now I’ll stitch the blue ray to the green inner point.  Then stitch the orangey outer point to that inner circle.  And last, I’ll close the outer yellow-diamond-orangey-point circle.


Don’t you feel like you’ve crossed the oceans, charting by a compass and the stars only?  But look how beautifully it came together–no puckers anywhere.  Just move slow and steady.


You knew I’d work that constellation fabric in here somewhere, didn’t you.  Yes, it’s my outer arcs, and I now stitch them into place.  Take a stitch at that outer edge, just over the yellow points, to hook the two blue arcs together.  Just a single stitch, to keep them together around the circle.


I love seeing all the papers lined up in a row.



Remove all but the outermost blue arc papers, flip it over and give your circle a press.


In thinking about what size center circle you’ll want, lay your templates out on the block.  You’ll want a circle that covers the open area, but doesn’t hide the points, like the one above.  The one below obscures the rays’ inner points and makes it look like something is missing.

Circle15_26a Circle15_26b

This was the dimension of circle I used.  I’m using Kaye Buckley’s Perfect Circle templates.  Trace your circle on your chosen fabric, then cut 3/8″ around it for the seam allowance.  Stitch a running stitch around the outer edge, then slip the plastic template inside and draw up the thread to enclose the circle.  Give it a shot of spray starch, press it, then let it cool and slip out the circle.  I show how do do this on *this post.*

Cut a square 14 1/2″ and find the centers, as you’ve done for the other blocks.  At this point, at block number 15, you are used to doing some of the steps, so if you are joining me just for this block, I’d suggest browsing back through other Circles blocks (see tab Shine: The Circles Quilt EPP above) to learn the tips and pointers.  Appliqué the circle to the block.


I always pin around, then when I get to a join area, I first fold in one side, then the other, before continuing on (see below).


Circles Block 15_OPQuilt

That’s it for this block!  The tutorial for the last circle block, Block #16, will post October 1st, then our series is complete.  While you work on your blocks, I hope to work on the quilting of this quilt and have it ready to show at the beginning of October.  Have fun stitching!

Circles Block #14–EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circle Block 14_OPQuilt

Peppermint Candy
Circles Block #14 in the Circles Sew-A-Long

Yes, I know Peppermint Candy isn’t orange and pink, but the swirl — a bit fat swirl, this time — reminded me of unwrapping crinkly cellophane and seeing those fun swirls on the candy before I popped it in my mouth.

I had to steel myself to get going on these last four, as I was a bit fatigued, but when you want something (like a peppermint, which I’m hunting for in the desk drawer as I write this), you want something, and I wanted a sixteen-block arrangement for my Circles Quilt.

I have the final four patterns as a group up for sale on Craftsy [and Payhip, if you are purchasing from an EU country that collects VAT].  I will post the tutorials each month until the set is complete.  The finishing instructions pattern for Shine: The Circles Quilt is also listed on Craftsy and Payhip.

Printing for block 14

The usual caution applies about making sure that your printer settings are set to 100%; please print off four copies of this pattern.  Surprise! There is no center circle this time, as we’re going for glory and piecing it as accurately as we can.

The tricky thing is the swirls.  I had no idea that FAT swirls are harder than the thin ones, but they are.  There is more bias, more clipping needed, and more care as you lay them out.  But the block’s upside is that there are fewer pieces, so that’s got to count for something.

Circles 14_2fabrics

Fabric selection is getting easier because I am more practiced?  Or maybe that the fabrics I like are on the top of my stack?

Circles 14_3printing down

If you want your swirl to go the direction of the pattern’s swirl, lay the pieces FACE DOWN on the wrong side of the fabric.  Pin, then slice around them with a rotary blade.

Circles 14_5printing whatever

Since the outer wedges have no direction, you can place them face up or face down.  If you are just coming right at this pattern from the Internets, and have not made any of the other circles, there are lots of tips and tricks in the other circle block posts.  You can find them in the tab above.

Circles 14_4clip curves

I took time to do a bit of clipping as I glued down my seam allowances over my paper.  If you don’t, your edge won’t fit neatly with the other swirl’s edge, and will leave puckery bits.  Clip.  You’ll thank me later.

Circles 14_6layout

I like this!  This is always the jumping-off place.  If I like it here, I’ll proceed.

Circles 14_7in bag

I bag the pieces up with a printout of the block (below) to help me with color and placement.

EQ7 Block 14Circles 14_8beginning sewing

I just did not know how to go about putting this together, as the swirls are so swirly.  I finally figured out that old adage: just begin at the beginning (above), so I did. Remember there is almost no easing–just add a stitch and curve it around as you go.

Circles 14_8aIt will curve up in your hand, and this is normal and to be expected.  It will lay flat once you get all the side sewn.Circles 14_9sewing together

Once you get the sets of two done (making sure you are consistent as to which side the dark color is on), sew the twofers into a set of four, as above. Lather, rinse and repeat.Circles 14_10whoops

Then you’ll have two half-circles, which should look like they fit.  Keep going.Circles 14_11alltogether

Now . . . finish sewing it together.

Circles 14_12inner points

Now the points.  Curves against curves–these babies just seem to be opposites today.  Again, start at one tip and move along to the other, letting the piece cup into your hand in an arch as you go.  Circles 14_13hook together

I always like to hook my pieces together, so up above, I’m taking a stitch or two to nail those green points together before I start sewing the next one on.  I think it gives the block some inner support once all the paper is gone.

Circles 14_14before pressing

Points on.  Now, for those of you who believe that fabric is the same as paper, you are going to be freaked out by the little puckers and pfhlttts you see in the photo above.  But here’s the truth: fabric is NOT paper, and it will move and shift and make you worry until you take out the paper at the end and give it a little bit of steam and the fabric settles into itself and you breathe again.

Circles 14_15 back

Beauty Shot, showing how pretty all those little seams look.Circles 14_15afterpressing

Okay, I pressed it with the paper in.  Still a few puckers and pfhlttts, right?  That’s why we make quilts–once you get this thing over batting and get stitching on it, you won’t even see them.

Circles 14_16hollow up

Stitch on the outer wedges, then remove the papers from the green points and the swirls and it’s Decision Time. Hollows up? (above) or Points up? (below)Circles 14_17point up Circles 14_18background fabric

Cut a 14 1/2″ square of background fabric, fold it in fourths, and press in a registration mark so you can get your circle placed in the center.
Circles 14_19pinned for appliquePin the circle down, and appliqué it onto the background, tucking in the points as you go.  Flip it over, and cut out the back 1/4′ away from your hand-stitching line.  Remove all the remaining papers, then give it a good press on a padded ironing board, face down, then face up.  Let it cool, and admire!

Circle Block 14_OPQuilt

2c_Fifteen Circles

Okay, this should give you encouragement.  While you’ve seen all of the blocks in the Shine: A Circles Quilt post, I still think they are look fun  to look at like this, all together.  Now I think you can see about how the fabric choices up to this point dictate what I can and can’t throw in–and that’s okay with me.  Only two more patterns to go!!  The tutorial for Number Fifteen will be released September 1st, or, if you can’t wait. . . you know where to find them.

Shine: The Circles Quilt


Shine: The Circles Quilt
66″ square
First block started June 2014 • Top finished June 2015

I’ve finished my quilt top and am happy to release it into the wilds world today.  I started sewing these English Paper Piecing patterns after I’d finished Kaleidoscope and needed a new hand project.  I was also sick of straight lines, and though I’d do some circles.  Those of you who have followed along know that I took a lot of inspiration for the circles from a church my husband and I had visited while traveling in Slovenia, the art which found its way into fabric.

Shine_Quilt Top Final800

I named it Shine because of all those circles, those suns, those compass points, radiating out from the quilt.  I could see this all done up in solids, too.  I’ve seen a few of your starting your project.  Please tag me on IG (occasionalpiecequilt) or drop me an email with a photo so I can see what you’ve begun.

I’ve now completed the instructions for this quilt, and have priced it at six dollars for a PDF download.  For those in non-EU countries, the pattern is in my Craftsy Store, listed as Shine: Circles Quilt Finishing Instructions and is available for purchase, so you too can finish off your quilt.  For those in EU countries with VAT tax, the pattern is in the PayHip shop.

I know I haven’t released the last circles — numbers 13 to 16 — yet (well, you have one of them), but I’ve made up a pattern for the final four, which is also on my Craftsy store if you can’t wait through the end of summer to get them all.  The Final Four Blocks from Shine (I made the pattern earlier) is also priced at six dollars, for a PDF download.  For EU readers, please use PayHip.

I’ve loved creating these and sharing them for free, so I hope you’ve enjoyed grabbing them and making them.  At some point in the future, I’ll start moving the downloads to Craftsy, as I’m trying to gather all my patterns there for ease in locating them.  Sometimes it gets hard to navigate blogs, even with the excellent search engine that my blog software provides.

Shine Sashing inspiration

Where did I get the inspiration for the finishing?  One day when I was walking around San Diego, I looked up and saw the facade of the building and thought, aha! — those crosses with circles would be perfect in between my circles.  I ended up leaving off the circles as my quilt had a lot going on and they were just too much.  Your quilt may be different, so you decide (the option is in the pattern).

Zagreb doorway design churchAnd the border?  I started here, in this archway from the church in Slovenia, with those triangles.  But again, I wanted my circles — and all that handwork — to stand out, so I simplified it with trapezoidal pieces in between the triangles.

Now to quilt this, a good summer project since we’ll be local most of the time.  I’ll find the next Inspector Gamache book (I heard a new one is coming out in August) and sew my brains out.  Can’t think of a better thing to be doing when it’s scorching outside.   The tutorials for the final patterns will post regularly throughout the summer, but feel free to grab those final block patterns early, if you want to get going on them.

Thanks for all your support and EPP love while I’ve been working on this project. Happy Piecing!

Circles Block #13–EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circles Block 13

Tiny Swirly Gig
Circles Block #13 of the Circles EPP Sew-A-Long

Since I so rationally decided that I needed SIXTEEN blocks to make up my quilt, all I can chalk it up to is summer heat (coupled with our drought, we are going to have, regular old garden variety stress (having cloth in your fingers lowers blood pressure so I heard), or a blissful existence of sitting on sofas eating bonbons while watching videos and stitching.  Choose one.

But here I am again on the Final Four of the Circles Blocks, created because I wanted something more than straight lines to English Paper Piece.

I have been giving away these patterns for free, as I want to share my designs for anyone else who wants an interesting pattern to sew up on those days.  But Please: do attribute the source of this to Elizabeth at OccasionalPiece-Quilt  (or and do not print off copies for your mother or your friends.  Please direct them here to get their free copies.  Many thanks.  Here’s the pattern in a PDF file for you to download: EPP Circles Block 13 from OPQuilt Printing for block 13

I print out my papers on 24-lb. weight copy paper, a bit heavier than the usual stuff, and make sure my printer scaling is at 100%.  Print off four copies of the pattern, and cut them out around all the lines. You only need one circle, though.

EQ7 Block 13I also print off a color picture of the block (this one made in EQ7) and keep it in my little baggie full of pieces.  It helps when my brain fades, or too much is going on around me, or I’m trying to remember what the heck all those little pieces are for.Circles 13_1fabric selection

Fabric selection is usually based on what falls out first of my stack, as I glance over at all my blocks up on my pin wall and try to find fabrics that I’ve used before, so the quilt will blend.

The other day I put a photo up on IG and someone asked me what my fabrics were.  If you’ve been following me for any length of time, while I am totally impressed that a designer can make up a line of 14 fabrics that all go together, and I love love love them, doesn’t mean I’m going to use them all in a quilt at the same time (although I have done it once.  Or twice.)  And I’m a selvage cutter-offer, so the chances of me knowing what they are might probably be very slim.  I’ll probably know the designer, but the name of the fabric?  I have a thing for using a LOT of different fabrics in a quilt.  I mean, it’s a great big fabric universe out there.  Why not have fun?

Color and Value Wheels

The other tip to picking good fabrics is to know your color wheel–how it works, as well as your value scale (light-to-dark).  (Illustration above from *here* which has a quick primer on color and value.) More quilts have been ruined by the inclusion of medium-value fabrics only, especially by the use of medium gray (ACK! ACK!).  Try to get a range of hues (colors) in light (tints) to dark (shades).

Circles 13_2Which direction do you want your swirls to go?  If you want it to look like the pattern, place the printing face down on the wrong side of the pattern.  Which ever way you do it, be consistent on both colors of swirls.  I pin the pieces, slice around them with my rotary cutter (no, I am not exact), then use the glue method of getting the fabrics on the papers.

Circles 13_3

Ta Da!

Circles 13_4

I like to lay out all the pieces to see how they play together.  I like this bunch.  Often this is where I’ll switch out fabrics, trying to catch it before I get everything sewed together and then hate it.  If haters gonna hate, let it be at this stage.Circles 13_5Sew a light swirl to a dark swirl, being consistent as to which color is on the left or the right.
Circles 13_6Sew the sets of two into sets of four.Circles 13_7Add the points to the sets of four, attaching the rounded edge of the pointy piece to the swirls.Circles 13_8Stitch the background points in between those.  I make sure that the “extra” background point always ends up on the same side, in this case, the right.Circles 13_9Don’t they look great?Circles 13_10Now join two sets of four to make a set of eight. Circles 13_11Beauty shot.  I stitch at night while watching movies with my husband and this dark leather foot rest makes a good backdrop.  I am NOT eating bonbons because a) my hands are busy, and b) it would get chocolate on the fabrics.Circles 13_12Now join the last two seams.  Yes, it’s okay to switch thread colors if you want to along one seam.  In this case I used yellow on the swirls and white on the points.Circles 13_14Another beauty shot.  Cut a 14 1/2″ square of background fabric, fold in fourths and lightly iron in the creases so they will serve as registration marks for aligning your circle.  Remove all but the outer-edge papers.  If you see some wild seam allowances, trim them now (you’ll do it again at the end).Circles 13_15You know the point-up or point-down drill by now. [If you don’t know what I mean, I have lots of tips and tricks in the other twelve circle patterns.  Click on the tab, above, to see the other circles.]  Take time to try yours out on your background.  Obviously I went with point up.  Now I am not liking the center circle I had planned.Circles 13_16I have a bag of Rejected Center Circles, and I’m trying more out now.  Circles Block 13 EPP_OPQuilt.comBut in the end, I went with this one, because often you just need a dark center to anchor the circle.  And sometimes you just need some dark chocolate to anchor a life.  But hold off, you are not done yet.  Applique the large circle to the background, then cut off the back, as shown in earlier circle posts (you can access them all by the tab up above).  Again, trim any wild-looking seam allowances.  Now appliqué on your middle circle, using tiny stitches.  Press face down on a well-padded ironing board (or a folded towel, if your board isn’t padded).

Now you can hit the chocolate bonbons!

Circles Block #12–EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP ButtonCircle Block #12_OPQuiltNine-pointed Compass Rose Block

This is the twelfth block in a series of Circles Blocks.  Why circles?  Mainly because I had done some English Paper-Pieced projects and I was sick of straight lines.  And hexies, although I quite enjoy them both.  The other eleven blocks are available above, under the tab Circles-English Paper Piecing.

Sometimes the inspiration in this series has come from other sources, but this one came out of my head.  And a creative mistake I made when designing another circle, yielding a circle has NINE points, whereas most any other circle you find in the world is divided up into an even number of points.  I liked it and went with it.

I have been giving away these patterns for free, as I want to share my designs for anyone else who wants an interesting pattern to sew up on those days.  But Please: do attribute the source of this to Elizabeth at OccasionalPiece-Quilt  (or and do not print off copies for your mother or your friends.  Please direct them here to get their free copies.  Many thanks.  Here’s the pattern in a PDF file for you to download: EPP Circles #12 from OPQuilt

Printer Settings Block Twelve

Print off three copies, making sure your printer settings are set to 100% scale.  Cut the pieces apart, but cut only one circle.  This is an easy block to sew, I think.

Circles 12_1 OPQuilt

Fabric auditioning.  This one was pretty straight forward, without any substitutions along the line.

Circles 12_2 OPQuilt

I cut out all the pieces, glue-basted them on (see earlier Circles Blocks for tip and tricks for this series).

Circles 12_3 OPQuilt

I like to print out a picture of my circle, gather the threads I’ll use, and collect everything into a ziploc baggie for easy toting.

Circles 12_4 OPQuilt

When hand sewing the curves, it’s okay to let the pieces curve in your hand.

Circles 12_5 OPQuilt

Step one: Sew the smaller “sky” piece (light blue) to the larger “sky” piece (dark blue).

Step two: Stitch the points and wedges together in groups of two (and one three) each, as shown above.

Circles 12_6 OPQuilt

Step Three: Sew the bright orange triangle points to the smaller green triangle points, in groups of two or three.

Step Four: Attach these to a corresponding yellow triangle/sky combo.

Circles 12_7 OPQuilt

Step Five: Start stitching the units together, however, not like I did above.  Keep track of where the orange/yellow units go, so they all mesh together.  It might be helpful if you lay out half of the circle when you start putting the units together, just to keep track.

Remember: I make the mistakes so you don’t have to.  (Although you can make new ones if you want.)

Circles 12_9 OPQuilt

Since EPPing center circles and I don’t get along, I appliqué them all now.  Fluff out the seam allowances on the green so you can appliqué on the large center circle. (I should have thought this one ahead.  Okay.  A new mistake.)

Remove all the papers except those at the outer edge in the dark blue (you’ll need them in the next part when you put the circle onto its background).

Circles 12_10 Point Up

This time, I pinned on the center circle first, then auditioned it on the background, a square cut to 14 1/2.”  Yes, this will give you a little extra room around the edges, handy for when you decide to finish this thing.  Fold the background in fourths, iron a bit of a crease, then align the circle with those creases.  Usually this is easy, but since this is a nine-point star, you may want to measure in from each edge to get it evenly spaced on your background..

Do you want point up on the upper edge (above), or. . . valley up (below)?

Circles 12_10a Valley Up

Yeah, okay.  You know I already went point up.

Stitch down the circle to the background, folding in the point areas as you come to them to make a smooth line.  Trim away the background, one-fourth inch away from the appliqué stitching line.  Then appliqué on that center circle.  I also like to trim away fly-away seam allowances, especially on those points, getting rid of unnecessary bulk.

Press lightly (face down on a padded ironing board is probably the best–use a light hand as they are hand-stitched and you don’t want to iron them into oblivion.  Any puckering that you see will be gone after quilting this thing, so no fretting unless you have pleats. . .

Double SunflowerHere’s the drawing of the block in case you want to print it out for a guide.

All Twelve Circles

Here are all twelve circles.  You can finish your quilt now!

I hope you have enjoyed this series of circles as much as I’ve enjoyed creating and sewing them.  Please drop me a note as you make yours, sharing a photo or two.

IG circles blocks

Karen (@karelaorange) tagged me the other day on Instagram, and I about flipped over with happiness that someone had found these useful.  I love her colors and combos–so fun to see!


And here’s another from Mary who blogs at Needled Mom.  I love her colors, too–the pop of that lime in the red star points is terrific against the blues.

But here’s the catch.  After I finished the twelvth circle, I arranged them and rearranged them, and then decided that I didn’t really want an oblong quilt, and that I needed four more circles to make it the shape I wanted.  I’m working on them now, and will present the next one to you in one month’s time. I’m already sketching in sashing and border ideas, and if possible, will try to present those to you soon, as well.

Until then, enjoy this last block!


Circles Block #11–EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circle Block #11_OPQuilt

Circle #11: Vintage Test Pattern

This is the eleventh block in a series of twelve circle blocks, conceived and created when I needed another hand-sewing project, and wanted something beyond hexagons.  I had several sources of inspiration for this one:

Vintage TV Test Pattern



1960s-Color-TP-v1As a child, I remember these “television test patterns” on the tube when I’d get up too early, before the station had signed on.  And I liked the Greek Cross reference, too, since many of these circles were designs taken from a Greek Orthodox Church in Ljubljana, Slovenia (from our vacation last year).  So I give credit to both sources of inspiration.

I have been giving away these patterns for free, as I want to share my designs for anyone else who wants an interesting pattern to sew up on those days you are too tired to do anything but watch a good movie, and do some stitching.  But Please: do attribute the source of this to Elizabeth at OccasionalPiece-Quilt  (or and do not print off copies for your mother or your friends.  Please direct them here to get their free copies.  Many thanks.  Here’s the pattern in a PDF file for you to download: EPP #11_OPQuilt_Circles.  Print off four copies and cut out, but you only need one circle.

Printer Settings block 11

Please make sure your printer settings are set to a 100% scaling, as shown above.

Circles Block Eleven

Here’s the circle drawn up in my quilt software.  I’ve taken to printing out this little color drawing and putting it in a small bag with all the glued-up pieces.  I like referring to the drawing as I work.

Circles 11_1Choosing Fabric

Picking fabrics–I always lay them out.  I jumped the gun and cut the cross-bars early, as I have another circle with that fabric and while I wanted these circles to be different from one another, I still wanted them to be able to have a conversation, so I repeat fabrics here and there.  When you cut out your circle, I’d make it about 1/4″ bigger than it is. See Circles #10 for some tips on the circles.

Circles 11_2points layout

Once I got all the little points around the top of the circle printed out, I noticed that it would be hard to figure out where the “curve” of the triangle was, so I drew little arrows on every one of them.  As it turned out, I was okay about figuring out how they went, but if you think you might need the extra assist, do it now.

Circles 11_3glued points and raysKind of looks like a tomato with leaves.

Circles 11_4 pieces laid out

As is my habit, I lay out all the glued pieces for one final check before I start sewing them together.


Then I loaded them all up in my little bag with the drawing and went outside to the patio to stitch, while listening to my audio book.


This time it was The Last Chinese Chef, and I was craving Chinese food by the time I finished listening to this.  But not Americanized Chinese food; I wanted the food in the book.

Circles 11_5 first units stitched

Stitch the upper row sections together, then the lower, then join them, keeping those seams aligned if at all possible.  Notice that I have not glued down the lower edges of the lower section to their papers (the innermost part of the circle), as I want to appliqué the center circle onto the piece, and it’s a lot harder if I’ve folded the edges and glued them down.

Circles 11_6 more bits laid out

Then, line up four green triangles with their curved edges at the bottom, and the points that go in-between them (three pieces). Lastly, lay the half-triangle on each side.  NOW sew them together.  You don’t want to be sewing on a full-triangle on those outer edges, like someone else I might just know.

Circles 11_7 crown stitched

When sewn together, it should look like this.  It’s now after dinner and I’m inside, still listening, but sewing by lamplight, instead of by sunlight.  I couldn’t stop listening, nor stop sewing.  These get addicting.

Circles 11_8 crown onto first unit

Join a checkerboard unit to the triangles unit.

Circles 11_9 rays to first units

Then stitch one of those ray-sections to the checkboard units, making sure you are attaching it to the same side on all four units. In this photo you can clearly see the raw fabric edges of the lower checkerboard pieces.  Sew together two of these units, then sew those two units together to create a full circle.  At this point, you can remove all the papers, except any that are at that outer edge.  If the papers are hard to slip out because they are glued, use the tip of your small scissors or a stiletto to loosen the fabric (so you won’t have to tug and pull).

Cut a 14 1/2″ square of backing fabric.  Yes, it is bigger than the circle, but I want to make sure I have enough to work with when I figure out how I’m setting all these together.  (I have no clue at this point!)  Now it’s decision time.  This version, with the red rays arranged North-South-East-West, or. . .

Circles 11_10 OPQuilt

Circles 11_ 10aAlternate Circle. . . this version, with the rays arranged like a flower?  I marked the centers of my large backing square, and set down the circle, pinning it for appliqué.  I went with the traditional version (North-South-East-West).

Circles 11_11 OPQuilt

Cut away the backing fabric, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance. I love these little Karen Kay Buckley scissors, as the tips have little teeth that grip the fabric, holding it while trimming even the smallest bit of fabric.

Circles 11_12 OPQuilt

Pin on, then appliqué the center circle.  See Block #10 for some appliqué tips.  I should have placed that “weave” pattern aligned straight up and down, but instead I just slapped it on.  As a result, I always want to tip my head to the side when looking at the center circle.  I’m sure no one else will notice (well, now you will) so I’m not redoing it.  Keeps it real, keeps it interesting.

Circles 11_13 OPQuilt

Remove all the papers, and admire your work.

Circles 11_14 OPQuilt

Circles  All Eleven by Ironing BoardHere are they all are, lined up on an ironing board that is obviously used for other things than ironing.  (Anyone else have to clear off their ironing board in order to iron something?) I think they do play well together!  I’ll post the last circle at the beginning of June, and then hopefully, the quilt setting on July 1st.  I’m posting this circle block a wee bit early as we have our Quarterly Four-in-Art Reveal in two days, on May 1st.


I hope you’ll join me then for our little gallery of art quilts!

Circles Block #10–EPP Sew-A-Long


Circles EPP Button

Circles Block Ten_OPQuiltDresden Plate, Rainbow Style — Circles Block #10

Here we are again, with block ten of the dozen or so blocks I have planned for this series, and I have to say it’s one of my favorites.

On Kitchen Cupboard

In fact I liked it so well, I taped it to my kitchen cupboard, where I can enjoy it.  My husband says it looks like a winking smiley face.  I just see a rainbow.

Circles Block Ten _Dresden

As I mentioned before, unlike earlier patterns, there are now no hand-drawn designs since I am able to work in a new version of quilt software.  But Please: do attribute the source of this to Elizabeth at OccasionalPiece-Quilt  (or and do not print off copies for your mother or your friends.  Please direct them here to get their free copies.  Many thanks.  Here’s the pattern in a PDF file for you to download: EPP #10_OPQuilt_Dresden Plate

Print Settings Ten

Print off four copies and cut out the blades, but cut out only one circle.  Make sure your printer settings are set to 100% scale.

Cut Pieces Laid out

Here’s the blade papers pinned to fabrics and cut out.  I used pins initially as I was checking for a smooth gradation of colors for my rainbow.  Yes, I realized later I’d done the rainbow the reverse of what is normally shown.

Glued pieces laid out

After I liked the arrangement, I used a glue stick and glued them to the papers.  I talk about gluing vs. basting in an earlier circle post, so read back through those to learn about that technique.

Perfect Circles1

The one new thing for this circle is confessing my undying love for Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circle templates.

Perfect Circles2

I have them in two sizes: smaller, and bigger.  It’s what I use for my circles, instead of cutting out the paper pattern.  I choose a circle a little bit bigger than the paper pattern, then lay it down on the wrong side of the fabric, and trace around it.  I then cut about 1/2″ away from the line.  I did talk about the construction of them *here;*  just scroll down to where you see me taking a gathering stitch and pulling it up around the circle, then read on.

Starting at Point

To construct this block, line up the “shoulders” of the upper edges, as shown.  Take a stitch, then loop through it to make it more secure, as shown in the next photo, pulling it snug.

Make an extra loop

EPP Stitching

Then keep going, taking tiny “bites” of fabric of each blade, whip-stitching them together.  It goes really quickly.

Pieces of Dresden

I did mine in sections, depending on which thread matched, then sewed the sections together.

Stitched to backing

Cut a 14 1/2″ square for the background, and crease in the centers on all four sides; if you are not near an iron, just finger-press it.  Now it’s Decision Time: Point up, or valley up?  I went with the valley between the two points, but my friend Lisa, who was sitting beside me at quilt guild, preferred the point up.  I tell you this story to say that there is no right or wrong–just what you like. Applique this to the background using a neutral thread.  There’s a trick to good appliqué, and that’s to not have the thread come all the way to the top of what you are appliquéing, but instead kind of split the fold.  Then don’t pull the thread too tightly.  You want it to float on your background, not be nailed to it.  I have a photo below, when I appliqué the center, showing what I mean about “splitting the fold.” (At least I hope it does.)

Cut away backing

After you appliqué the rainbow Dresden Plate onto the back, trim away the underneath, about 1/4″ away from your stitches.

Loosen papers

Using either a pair of small, sharp scissors or the business end of a stiletto, loosen the glued edges, and pop out the papers.

Backing Cut Away

Like this.

Applique split the fold

Arrange your circle on your Dresden, pin.  Now appliqué on.  I need to start making my circles a wee bit bigger, because it was a close call on some parts, so I sewed with teensy little stitches in a neutral thread (here: a grey-green).  See how the needle is kind of splitting the fold on that left-hand part of the photo?  You want to try to get a good bite of fabric, but not so the needle comes out on the top.  You want it at the “side” of the piece, if you can think about it that way, like if you were looking at a really flat layer cake–you’d want the needle to come out about where the filling is, not on top where the decorations are.  Don’t pull the thread too tightly. . . just snugly.

Circle on back view

Whew.  Some of those seam allowances are barely a quarter-inch, but my stitches are tiny and the center will hold. (Quick! which poem is that from?***)

Circles Block Ten_OPQuilt

Here’s your completed block?  Why a Dresden block?  Doesn’t every circle quilt need one?  I’d been making them for my bee groups.  We used *this tutorial* and sewed them on the sewing machine (although I used my version of the centers, and machine appliquéd them on), but truthfully, sewing them by hand didn’t take that much longer.

dresden plate_Opquilt

First, Rene’ had us make one in blues and greens.

2015 MCM March w0 label

And then Cindy had us make one in bright colors, so how I could I resist?

Ten Circles

And then there were ten!


***  The poem is from Yeats, and he actually said the “centre cannot hold,” but your lovely hand-stitched center will.  Here’s the first part of his poem, and although I analyzed it to death when teaching it to my students, I still barely get the whole meaning, but it does have to do with the horrors of our twentieth century.  It’s pretty scary out there.  Too bad Yeats didn’t do English Paper Piecing.  He might have felt better about things.

THE SECOND COMING, by William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. . . . .

New Hexagon Millefiore– Rosette #2 Started

Rosette #2 Starts

Well, I’ve started Rosette #2 of The New Hexagon Millefiore Quilt-A-Long, originated by Katja Marek.  We even have our own Facebook Group (link is also on Katja’s page), and now I’ve found something I can post there, having stopped putting anything personal on Facebook once one of my very scary students found me (getting past all the privacy controls, because we all know how Facebook loves to play with our privacy controls!).  Now there are nearly 3,000 people on this group, and I think a lot of them are actually doing this, not just Looky-Loos.

Plitvice2b_view up the valley

Plitvice3_two toned again

I’m basing the colors in this quilt on our trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, where we traveled last year.  The colors range from the greens and yellow-greens to the blues and indigos.

Plitvice2_green lake

There was also aqua, and turquoise.  It was a beautiful place, and we loved hiking throughout all the lakes and waterfalls one afternoon.

Plitvice ESE

Oh, and white and sound and green and water and trees and browns and rocks and everything.  What a place!  I had a hard time with that second round, trying out multiple bits of cloth where the yellow with dots ended up.  It just needed a lift, a happy spot that wasn’t too ornate or over-done with pattern.  Sometimes the eye needs a rest.  Even if I am making a quilt based on Plitvice.


Rosette 1 on fence

So this was Rosette #1, where I went for the blues.

Rosette #2 Starts

Okay, one more time for the beginning of this green/yellow-green rosette.  I’m thinking violets/blue-violet/indigo for the next.  It took me a while to get going on this again, as I actually had to do some housework, and some cooking, and some grading.

Circles EPP Button

Then there was finishing up the circle block for the April 1st post–it’s our tenth! and I loved making it.  I moaned mentioned to my sister that I hadn’t been very productive lately in the quilt department as I wanted to be, and yet I realize that these hand-pieced quilt blocks do take some time in the designing, and making.  So I guess I haven’t been a total slacker, but there are days that I would like to clone myself, and knew which part of my life I’d be doing, while the poor clone would be stuck with a mop or a grading pen.  Oh, and I’d also be reading blogs, to see what you are all up to!

Flower Spring 2015

It’s been a lovely week of Spring Break here, and the weather is a bit too warm for March but the wonderful side effect is loads of flowers on all our bushes and trees, so that made me want to work in rosettes again, too.  School starts again Monday, then a stack of papers comes in a week later.  Where’s that clone, now I need it?