Circle Patchwork

Circle patchwork is a technique that gives you Cathedral Windows style results without all the delicate handwork, without additional finishing or quilting afterward. Each circle patch is a complete unto itself, so when you are done with one, you are done!

To make the patches you need two templates, one circular and one square. The circle can be any size you like. Use a template like a plastic lid to get even, consistent circles. (Or you can even buy templates specially made for this technique) A six-inch diameter is a good size to start with, this will give you a finished patch a little under four inches square. Figuring the square template size takes a little bit of math, but you have a computer to help you: it's the square root of the result of diameter times itself divided by two. (Don't panic! This is easier than it looks!)

1.) Get a calculator with a square root key: it looks like a checkmark. (Use your computer's calculator function)
2.) Multiply your diameter (minus seam allowances) by itself.
3.) Divide that number by 2.
4.) Hit the square root key.
5.) The number you have is the length of one side of the square template you will need. It should be, roughly, two-thirds of your circle diameter.

If you are working with a template such as a plastic lid, and you don't know the diameter, or you really hate math, you can do this: trace your template onto paper and mark the seam allowances. Cut out along the seam line. Fold into quarters. Unfold and use a ruler to measure the distance between fold lines along one edge.


For each patch you need two circles of fabric. One circle of your background fabric and one of a bright print or contrasting fabric for the center front of each patch.

Key to diagrams

Sew your two circles right sides together like a pillow. You can do this by hand or on a sewing machine. Complete the circle, do not leave an opening to turn the thing inside out.


Iron it flat, clip the curves, and lay your square template inside the seam lines.

In an area not covered by the template make a small slit in the "front" fabric, just large enough to get the circle turned inside out.


Turn right side out and iron flat.

Use your square template to mark lines on the front side of the circle. Mark so that the slit you cut will be hidden when you fold the sides over. You can whipstitch the slit closed if you want.


Fold four edges of the flat circle inward along your marked lines to make a square, with the backing fabric folded over from the back to cover the sides of the print front fabric. Iron to crease in place.


To join the circles to each other you line them up back to back with the fold lines matching. Sew along one fold, just inside the line you marked. Open the pair of circles -- you have something reminiscent of a butterfly now -- lay them out flat, and tack down each half-circle side of the seam.


When joined, your circle patches will look something like this. You can leave the outer sides of each circle open in order to create a scalloped edge, if you wish. Individual circle patches can be made into ornaments by adding a ribbon loop at one corner.

Here is a picture of some circle patchwork I did several years ago, using different print fabrics for each circle and black for the backing. As you can see, the circles which have good contrast between the front and back are the ones that look best.

A quote from Pam H. to use on your Circle Patchwork quilt: "When you SEE these windows, remember that your love for each other will SEE you through your marriage."

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