I've experimented with improv blocks, for both the circle and the background, with good success. This time I wanted to try some precision pieced blocks, to see if there is any difference. I was also interested in testing out the new machine with my trustworthy technique.
These were orphan blocks I found in my closet. I didn't make any of them and, to be honest, I'm not sure where they came from. Perhaps extra donations from the Just One Slab charity quilts? They seemed perfectly appropriate to experiment with.
The small circles were regular appliqué circles. I had some old templates out and they were just the right size. The technique works great, but next time I would just make new templates. My guess is that I set these templates aside because something about them wasn't quite round. Not to mention that freezer paper loses its crispness after a while. As a result, my circles aren't terribly round. But, the idea of this with the pieced blocks works great.
The big blocks were made with the Reverse Circle technique I teach. I thought it best to try this with the big ones for a couple of reasons. One, new freezer paper. And two, I suspected these would end up looking better. The seam allowances of a pieced block don't make the edges of the circle bulky. My suspicions were confirmed. I kind of love these blocks.
If you do use pieced blocks for circles keep in mind that part of your piecing will be cut off. You can lose points of a star, or entire sections of a rail fence. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is a design consideration. I actually think it could look cool if you had a quilt of chopped off blocks, but each block was chopped off differently. Or maybe you take an entire quilt top that you don't like, and make circles out of it. Then piece the circle blocks together in the order of where they were cut. It would be like portholes into another quilt. Whatever you cut off are generally useful scraps too, so don't be afraid of wasting fabric.
All year I am going to be posting more and more circle techniques. This is some time to play with circles and there are so many things to do beyond the basics. Join me for the monthly series, Playing with Circles in Quilting.
If you want more details on making circles or any of the techniques I introduce here, check out my Craftsy class: Inset and Applique Circles by Machine or my workshop in the book, Lucky Spool's Essential Guide to Modern Quiltmaking.