How to Quilt Concentric Circles - Walking Foot Quilting Tutorial
Welcome back to the Machine Quilting Party! Circles are one of my favorite machine quilting designs and Concentric Circles quite possibly the most elegant of all the different circle designs. They can be a bit trick to quilt, so make sure to watch this quilting tutorial to learn how to quilt it with me:
Click Here to find the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day. Inside you'll find 30 fun walking foot quilting designs with tips on how to use them in real quilts. This book also includes the quilt pattern for Marvelous Mosaic, the quilt we're making together with these squares!
Check out the other tools and supplies shared in this video:
Tips for Quilting Concentric Circles with Walking Foot Quilting
On paper Concentric Circles is a very easy design to quilt. It's just circles within circles within more circles!
But quilting this design entirely with your walking foot can be a little tricky to manage. The smaller the circle, the more direction changes you will need to do in order to create a smooth, curving shape.
For this reason, the best place to start is NOT with the smallest center circle. It's much better to stabilize the quilt by quilting along some of the bigger circles, then tackle the tiny shape in the center.
When you quilt the smallest circle, it's a good idea to count your stitches. Press lightly on the presser foot and take 1 or 2 stitches, then stop with the needle in the down position, lift the foot, rotate the quilt a tiny bit, drop the foot, take 1-2 more stitches.
This will ensure the edges of the circle are smooth and round. If you take too many stitches in a line, the edge can become jagged and angular, especially with walking foot style quilting.
Just a quick reminder about my machine settings:
For walking foot quilting I always set the stitch length to 1.5 mm and place a Queen Supreme Slider on my sewing table to the left of the feed dogs like so:
However, for this Marvelous Mosaic Quilt, I have Minky fabric on the back which likes to grip the machine and table. When using this fabric on the back, I increase the stitch length to 2.5 mm.
What's that weird thing on top of my machine? That's a small magnetic pincushion and a cheater needle. I keep those handy for tying off and burying loose thread tails as I quilt. Click Here to check them out.
Do I have to break thread that much?
No, you don't have to break thread with every circle if you don't want to. When I connect the circles together with a line, I call that design UFO and it's a handy way of "escaping" from one circle to another.
But as you can tell from this UFO design, that line is noticeable.
If you're quilting a wholecloth or placing this in an area with no seamlines to hide that escape hatch, this wouldn't be the best choice.
Sometimes you just have to deal with the thread breaks and the slightly slower quilting process in order to get the beautiful look you're going for!
Marking Circles on the Quilt
I marked the starting circle and a few rings on my quilt sandwich, but not the entire design. As the circles became larger, it was easy to align the guide bar on my walking foot with the last circle and quilt around the shape just using the guide.
The bigger the circle, the easier it will be to quilt because the curve will be shallower which means less need to stop and lift the foot to shift the quilt.
Remember, while it's tempting to try to stitch and steer around the curve at the same time, that is often too much torque from the pressure of the walking foot and can result in ripples forming called Whiskers. Take your time and if you notice strange ripples forming, slow down and lift the foot more often as you angle the quilt.
Concentric Circles is a design you should use for special quilts where you want to take a bit more time and effort in the quilting process. It's a bit fiddly, will require more thread breaks and special handling, but the finished effect is totally worth it!
Would you like to learn new machine quilting designs and make a big, beautiful quilt?
That's what we're making with Marvelous Mosaic!
We're quilting all 30 designs from the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day and we're going to connect together the best 20 to create the Marvelous Mosaic Quilt. Find the quilt pattern and detailed instructions in the book, available in the following formats:
Click Here to find all the walking foot quilting videos I've shared so far. We're making three quilts together from this book and you can join in the fun and follow along anytime!
Let's go quilt,
Find more walking foot quilting tutorials by clicking the links below: