5 Turned-Edge Circle Techniques

Making turned-edge fabric circles can be a challenge. Not only do we need to keep the edges smooth, like on any curved shape, but our eye will detect any irregularities in the form of the circle. It can be done! Let’s take a look at five ways to make beautiful turned-edge circles.

All of the turned-edge circles in this tutorial are 1-1/4″ in diameter. A circle is really just one continuous outside curve. Outside curves have excess seam allowance and the extra fabric must be eased in as the seam allowance is turned. Each turned-edge circle technique handles this in a slightly different way.

Needle-turned Circles

Needle-turn appliqué is a technique where the fabric edges are turned with the tip of the needle as they are being hand sewn. Begin by marking the shape of the circle on the right side of the fabric with an erasable fabric marker.

Position the marked fabric circle onto the quilt block and use small appliqué pins to hold it in place.

Turn under a small portion of the seam allowance along the marked line.

The trick for achieving smooth curves is to keep the stitches closely spaced together and work out any little bumps that have formed along the folded edge. Don’t worry about turning a large portion of the seam allowance at once – you only need to turn enough for a stitch or two at a time.

The final few stitches are the biggest challenge. How can you ease in the extra fabric when you have no room to maneuver? Here’s a trick. Push all the remaining seam allowance under, almost until it forms a straight line. Then use the tip of the needle to pull the seam allowance back out into a circle shape. Somehow it is easier to complete the circle from the inside out rather than from the outside in.

Gathered Circles

A great way to deal with excess seam allowance is to gather it. Here’s how it works for turned-edge circles.

Mark the circle on the wrong side of the fabric and cut out with a generous 1/4” seam allowance. Take a running stitch in the seam allowance, approximately halfway between the marked line and the raw edge.

Place a heat-resistant circle template on the marked line and pull on the thread to gather the seam allowance around the circle template. You can purchase ready-made circle templates or make them out of Mylar. Brush liquid starch over the seam allowance and press.

After the fabric has cooled, gently release a bit of the gathering to remove the circle template. Pull the thread to return the circle back into shape and give it another light press.

Apliquick Circles

The Apliquick method makes turned-edge circles a breeze. Trace the circle shape onto light-weight fusible Apliquick interfacing and cut it out on the marked line.

Press the interfacing circle onto the wrong side of the fabric. Cut out the fabric leaving an edge around the interfacing template for a seam allowance.

Apply water-soluble glue to the seam allowance, then use the Apliquick rods to turn and ease the edges over the interfacing template.

With this technique, I have been able to appliqué turned-edge circles less than 3/16″ in diameter!

Note: The next two techniques are new to me and you are seeing the results of only my second attempt. As with any technique, the results will only improve with practice!

Applipop Circles

Applipops are sets of metal rings that form the shape of a circle. They are available in sets of four sizes: the 3/8″ variety pack (to make 3/8″, 3/4″, 1-1/4″, or 1-3/4″ circles) or the 1/2″ variety pack (to make 1/2″, 1″, 1-1/2″, or 2″ circles).

To make a 1-1/4″ turned-edge circle, use a ring with a 1-1/4″ outer diameter and a larger ring with a 1-1/4″ inside diameter. Place a piece of fabric, right side down, on top of the larger ring. Place the smaller ring on top of the fabric and press the two rings together.

Cut the fabric around the edges of the larger outer ring.

Apply liquid starch to the seam allowance, then push the edges of the fabric into the center of the inner ring. Turn the rings over and run your fingers over the top fabric, pressing down on the edges. Flip the rings over the back side again and press.

Wait until the metal rings have cooled completely. Pop out the turned-edge fabric circle and press again.

Foil Circles

For this technique, you will need aluminum foil and a heat-resistant circle template (I used Mylar template plastic). Cut a piece of fabric larger than the circle template and a piece of foil larger than the fabric. Lay the fabric, wrong side up, on the foil and place the template on top.

Fold and ease all the edges over the circle template. The foil will hold the fabric in place and can be manipulated into the form of the circle. When all the edges are smooth, press the foil circle.

Wait until the foil has cooled completely, then unwrap to reveal the turned-edge fabric circle.

The edges of this circle aren’t quite as smooth as the others, so perhaps a bit more time needs to be spent manipulating the foil around the circle template. The technique definitely has potential – it is easy, inexpensive and can be done with everyday items from around the house. Try using buttons, coins or screws for the circle templates!

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