Applique Circle {Tutorial}


I’m working on the perfect little “hand bag” project. When I say “hand bag” I mean that it’s perfect to keep in your hand bag, and then to work on, while you’re waiting in the car for the kids to come out of school, or during their after school activities.

I get so much of my hand sewing done while the kids are at karate or gymnastics.


Applique Circle


I posted a couple of pictures of my Applique Circle project on Facebook and Instagram. I received so many lovely comments, plus a few requests for a tutorial, so I thought I’d share it here today.

I first came across this method of appliqueing circles through a fab tutorial by Michelle of Button Tree Lane. I started following Michelle a while back on Instagram and that is where I discovered her gorgeous blog. If you’ve never been, go on and have a look at her quilts and projects.

The difference with my method, is that I use cardboard circles. I didn’t have Mylar circles for applique (but bought some the other week at the craft fair), so I used circles cut out of cardboard. I’ll definitely try the mylar circles for my next applique circle project.

Depending on the size of the quilt or project, you may need a few cardboard circles. They quickly lose their shape when they get wet with starch.

Step One:

Cut a circle approximately 1/2” larger than the template.


Applique Circle 1


Sew a basting stitch approximately 1/4” around the edge of the circle, on the right side of the fabric. In my project, I used a charm pack.


Step Two:

Flip the basted circle over and place the cardboard template in the centre.


Applique Circle 2


Hold the template down with one hand and pull the basting threads with the other. Firmly, but not so firmly that you tear your fabric.

While holding down the basting threads with one hand, press around the fabric edge with a medium dry iron.


Step Three:

Spray some starch into the lid and brush the starch onto the edge of the seam with a small paintbrush.


Applique Circle 3


This is where mylar templates would be great. The cardboard starts to warp a little bit with each circle you make and saturate with starch - have a few extra circles cut out and ready to go.


Step Four:

Press around the seam again and hear the starch sizzle. Once it’s all been pressed, I flip mine over and flip on the right side (making sure that the seam is all nicely tucked under and that I have a nicely shaped circle).

Remove the cardboard and cut the basting thread. Remove the thread.


Step Five:

Now it’s time to add a little bit of glue. Obviously, applique glue is best, but I use kids glue. It’s water soluble, cheap, easy to find and most importantly, it works perfectly! 


Applique Circle Glue


Dot some glue around the seam, but not too close to the edge.


Applique Circle 4 

Turn it over, place it carefully on the background square of fabric and press it down. I just eyeball where to place the circles.

Let the glue dry, or if you’re in a rush (like I usually am) flip the square over and press quickly on the back.


Applique Circle 5


And there you have a circle, ready to applique.

Find a comfy chair, put your feet up, flick over to a good show on the televisions and applique (with coordinating thread).


Applique watching telly


I’ve made approximately 35 circles blocks and I’m still not exactly sure how I’m going to incorporate them into a quilt… but it’ll come together.

If you make some applique circles, let me know how you go. I’d love to see your progress.

What applique tips or tricks can you offer to a beginner?

What is your preferred method of applique?

I used to blanket stitch everything but now it’s all little teeny tiny stitches.


  1. I love your circles!!! M preferred method at the moment is needle turn!

  2. Brilliant tutorial this is the method I use too.

  3. thankyou for sharing Anorina,great ideas thankyou.xx

  4. I do basically the same thing, except that I don't include the starch step. I will press the circle on high heat & steam, both top and back, then remove the cardboard before pressing again. I will then place it on the background fabric, occasionally adding a dash of glue if a large piece (otherwise I may just use a pin) to keep it in place, and stitch around. I remove the basting stitches when I am about 2 or 3 stitches from the end. ... I'm tempted to try it out with some starch though - might make the edges a little crisper, and allow me to remove those basting stitches earlier. Something to try in the future, especially if I'm making more than a few circles!! Thanks for the tutorial!!

  5. Great tute! I use that method too.. works well. I haven't used the glue but will give it a try. Careful placement ,so it doesn't gum up the needle.

  6. Love your circles!! I cover my cardboard with foil. I read somewhere that the extra heat from the under-foil helps the shapes to set. I have no idea if it really works or not, but I do it anyway!!!

  7. I saw your quilt in Down Under Quilts today and looked at the photos of the technique used and said "Hey that's my technique!!". What are the odds? But then I did a search and came across this post where you credit me. Thanks for that. That tutorial took me hours to construct so it's good to be acknowledged.

    Beautiful quilt by the way - congratulations on your publication.

  8. And now some 8 + years later I'm finding this technique the easiest method out there for large circles - 2 1/2-4 inches. I generally like the freezer paper method but that generally requires slitting the back of the background to pull out the freezer paper. That works if you are appliquéing a single circle on a single piece of background. But I'm needing to put multiple circles on a single piece of background approximately 32" x 45" and I don't think I can manage the instability this might cause. So, your method is a god send. I do need to find some lighter weight/thinner cardboard but I can do that.

    I really appreciate you sharing your process!

    Happy New Year! from Colorado, USA.

    I hope the 2023 find you happy, healthy and creative!


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