Template Free Circles

Making circles, berries, grapes, etc. using the Template Free method is no different than making any other shape.  Please refer to my Pictorial Tutorial Template Free for a refresher on the basic Template Free technique.   Like any other technique, the accuracy of your finished piece will only be as good as the template/tracing.  Take your time and use a plastic template to draw accurate circles.  My favorite template is Skinny Stems & Tiny Circles Ruler by Mary Sorensen.

I like to give my circle shapes a little dimension by adding a small bit of batting.  I use 100% cotton batting so that it can withstand the heat of an iron.  Blended battings that contain small amounts of polyester melt when pressed and the circles become mini hockey pucks.

After all the circle shapes are traced on the wrong side of the background fabric, place a bit of batting  on the right side of the background fabric.  Pin in place.

Pins hold cotton batting in place.

Baste batting just inside the drawn line.

Stitch a line of basting stitches just inside the drawn pencil line.  Make sure that the starting thread knot is on the back.

Trim batting as closely as possible to the basting line.

From the front of the background fabric, trim the batting as closely as possible to the basting line. Be very careful to not clip the basting thread.

Baste applique fabric right on drawn line.
Pin the applique fabric over the basted batting circle.  From the back, sew a line of basting stitches right on the drawn line.  Make sure the starting knot is on the front.

Check the accuracy of your basting.
 Place a circle template over your basting lines to test the accuracy of your stitc.  If I only had one or two circles to applique on an entire piece, I may remove the basting in the example and re-do.  However, this particular block has over 100 circle shapes so this is close enough.

Small shapes need very narrow seam allowances.
 Very small shapes require very narrow seam allowances.  However, I try to always have at least an 1/8 inch seam allowance to help avoid fraying.
Remove the inside line of basting stitches.

 Clip the knot on the back and remove the line of basting stitches holding the batting in place.

Clip knot.

 Clip the knot on the basting stitches holding the applique fabric in place.

Remove only one basting stitch at a time, needle turning and stitching as you go.

In order to hold an accurate shape, do not remove too many basting stitches at one time.  I only remove one or two (at the most) at a time and needle turn as I go.  Continue stitching all the way around and keep going a few stitches beyond where you started. This helps avoid a noticeable start and stop of stitching.

 When finished, test the roundness of your shape again by placing the template over the applique.  

Pin batting for entire bunch at one time.

To make LOTS and LOTS of berries, grapes, etc. it's speedier to baste the all the batting down first.  Place a piece of batting down large enough to cover the entire bunch or grouping.  Baste all of them and trim.

Baste as many applique fabric pieces as possible at one time. 

Baste as many applique shapes as possible at one time.  Leave the larger seam allowance on each circle until you are ready to stitch.  Then only trim the circle just before you begin stitching it.  Pre-trimming can lead to the entire seam allowance raveling away before you get to the circle.

All the batting basted and starting to baste the applique fabric.