21 the circle quilt tutorial, part two: assembling the blocks.


Update:  I've re-written this tutorial, you can find the new one here!  But you can still use this old one if you prefer instead :)

Now that you've made your blocks, it's time to put them together to make a circle quilt!

1.  Arrange all of your blocks the way you'd like them to be for your quilt.  To make a 38" x 50" quilt, you need 6 blocks across by 8 blocks down.  You can arrange them randomly or in a pattern.  I am incapable of doing anything completely random, so there is a pattern to mine.  Each row has one circle of each color in it.  If you look at the green circles, you'll notice that down the rows, the green circle shifts over by 2 blocks.  Then the yellow is next, then orange, then blue, then I wrap back around to the beginning with purple and then brown.  This pattern continues throughout the quilt.  Then label your squares using paper, tape, etc so you know where each circle goes.  I used a letter for each row and a number for each column, so my first green circle is A1, then the yellow is A2, and the purple circle in the next row is B1, then B2, etc.

2.  Sew each row together.  Take two adjacent circles (A1 and A2 for example).  Place A1 right side up and A2 right side down on top of A1 and pin them with right sides together.

3. Sew along the right side with a 1/2" seam allowance.  Note:  I think 1/4" is a more common seam allowance for quilting, but since we are beginners, it's nice to have the extra room!
4.  Open your blocks.  They're connected now!  Trim your threads on each end of your seam.
5.  Pin the next block in the row (in this case F3) to the rightmost block (in this case F2) with right sides together and sew along the right edge with a 1/2" seam allowance.

6.  Repeat step 5 until your entire row is sewn together.

7.  Press the seams open.

8.  Repeat steps 6 and 7 until all of your rows are finished.
 9.  Now it's time to connect your rows.  Take your first row (A1-A6) and place it right side up.  Place the second row (B1-B6) on top of the first row face down (so rows A and B are right sides together).  Pin together, trying to match up the cross seams if possible so you will have a nice grid pattern to your blocks.  If the seams don't match up perfectly, don't worry too much, no one will look that closely (at least that's what I tell myself!).
10.  Sew along the bottom edge of the rows using a 1/2" seam allowance.  Trim your threads at each end when you're finished.
11.  Press seams open.

12.  Repeat steps 9 and 10 until all your rows are sewn together.
13.  Your quilt top is finished!  This is a good time to square up your edges to make sure they are straight.
14.  Cut your backing fabric to the size of your quilt front (which should be about 38" x 50").  Note:  Measure twice, and cut once or you will have to sew multiple panels together like I had to!

15.  Now we are going to make our quilt sandwich.  Lay your backing fabric out on a large surface with the right side facing down.  Smooth it out the best you can.
16.  Trim your quilt batting to size.  It's okay if it's slightly larger, you can trim it exactly one you're done quilting. 

17.  Place your quilt batting on top of your backing fabric and smooth it out.  Make sure it comes to the edges or overlaps them a bit on all sides.
18.  Place your quilt top on top of the batting with the right side facing up.  Smooth it out the best you can and make sure the edges are aligned with the quilt backing.
19.  Carefully pin your quilt sandwich together.  Quilting pins are the best thing to use for this, but regular large safety pins work okay too.  Start in the middle of the quilt and work your way to the edges, smoothing it out as you go.  I pinned at the intersection of each block to make sure it all stayed in place while I sewed it all together.  Make sure your pins go through all the layers (top, batting, and backing).  
20.  When your entire quilt sandwich is pinned in place, it's time to start sewing it together.  Use a regular straight stitch and outline each circle again.  It's helpful to start in the middle and work your way to the edges.  On a regular sewing machine (not a long arm machine) you will have to roll your fabric to push it through as you sew.  Go as slow as you need to, this part takes awhile!
21.  Make sure to pull your threads to the back for each circle, tie them in a knot and trim the threads.
22.  When you're finished quilting, your circles will look nice and puffy!  The hardest part is now over.  Trim the edges of your quilt sandwich to make them straight and square.
23.  Now it's time to sew on your binding. I watched this video to learn how to bind a quilt.  Hand-stitching the binding to the back of the quilt is definitely the most tedious part.  It takes forever but it's worth it in the end.
24.  Wash and dry the quilt.  It will come out all wrinkly and soft and guess what -- it's finished!  Wrap up your little one in their beautifully modern circle quilt!
I really hope you enjoyed this tutorial!  Please share pictures with me if you decide to make one, I'd love to see them all!  Also, I'd be happy to answer any questions you have, just leave me a comment.

Looking for part one of this tutorial?  Click here.


  1. This is so cool! Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. I love it... I so want one ... hehe
    You are talented. I haven't even opened my sewing machine and I've had it 6 months. ;)

  3. This is so special. I am envious of your talent. maybe I should learn how to sew.

  4. I just discovered your blog and love this quilt! Maybe it will be next on my ever growing list of quilts to make.

  5. Holly this is so amazing! Very nice work and you are inspiring me to try making this super cute circle quilt!

  6. HI! I just came across your circle quilt tutorial, and I'm glad mine was so helpful! Happy quilting!

  7. So adorable! I hate quilting but I loved this so much and I figured, since they were applique instead of actual quilt squares i might survive it. While I've learned I still hate quilting and I'm NO GOOD at binding, I hate it a lot less when making long strips instead of squares! It's not perfect, by any means, but it's good enough for another office baby and it was an entertaining project for a few days! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial!


  8. I am in love with this quilt and I featured you on my quilting blog, thequeenquiltingbee.blogspot.com

  9. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have made a few quilts (all with squares). I want to make a quilt for my daughter but wanted something different than my usual & I think this is it! I love the bright pop of color on the white and the circles are great. Thanks again!

  10. This was a great tutorial! i didn't quite get to do it the exact way..lol. but for someone who has never done a quilt before i loved it! Thanks so much.. Here are photos:

  11. Thought I'd come back to the original post and let you know I finished my circle quilt, and I love it! My friend is having a baby and picked out the fabrics, which are perfect for her new baby girl. Thank you for such an awesome tutorial - I love reading your posts!

  12. Beautiful tutorial! You clearly spent a lot of time on this quilt and it turned out so perfect! I am linking this quilt up to my blog.


  13. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU so much for this tutorial! I spent an awesome week with my mom making a blanket for my {soon to be here} little one. We did a little each day, she taught me how to sew along the way. It was my first sewing project, and my first quilt. I blogged about it, {with pics} here: http://photognazi.blogspot.com/2011/06/my-first-quilt.html

  14. I loved this tutorial so much that I used it to make a baby quilt for a friend. If this link works, it should be the most recent set here:

    I wanted to thank you again for the wonderful squares that I won in your giveaway, too! I'm still plotting out what I'm going to use them for, but I'll definitely keep you posted (it *might* involve this awesome duvet cover that I found in the Ikea closeout bin) :)

  15. This is such a beautiful quilt and I would like to attempt to make it as I have never made a quilt before, so would you be willing to help me figure out how I would make this for a twin bed? Or would it just be better to keep it the size of the 38x50 as a throw? What do you think? I have ideas for the colors I would like to use, just have to find fabric in them. I was just thinking a twin because I haven't seen any bedsets that are in black, teal, and hot pink, like my daughter wants with zebra print. I would really appreciate your opinion or help. You can email me at purplbtrfly1 at msn dot com. Thanks for your time and this awesome tutorial!

  16. Thank-you so much for this great tutorial! I'm pregnant with my first baby (a little boy) and I think I might make this quilt for him! This is my first quilt, but I think your tutorial is awesome enough to help me successfully finish it!

  17. About straight-stitching, outlining the circles...I just need to know if the stitches are to be "outside" the applique stitching, or can they be "inside". How far from the applique stitching are the outlining stitches? Maybe it doesn't matter.
    At any rate, I love your quilt!

  18. Ran across this site while cking my email. Really like this babyquilt. It will be just what I need for a gal from our church. She is having a baby boy & decorating her nursery in bright polka dots. How appropriate this will be when I give it to her. She will be thrilled. Thank you. Had no idea "how" I would have made it look, nothing sparked, till I saw this. Thank you so very much!!!!!!!!!

  19. Anita,

    I just outlined the circles directly on top of the applique stitching, right along the edge of the circle fabric, but they can definitely be wherever you want!

  20. I had one question please....how do you pull the thread to the back of the quilt? I finally learned, from another great blogger, how to get your starter thread to the front!! now if I can learn how to get your ending thread to the back, omg, I will slightly better!! thanks!


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