Thursday, May 21, 2020

Tiny Circles Tutorial

There are a lot of ways to make circles for appliqué, and most work quite well. Karen Kay Buckley's Perfect Circles are a great tool to have, and we have used them many times. There are also plenty of YouTube video tutorials out there about making circles for appliqué using other methods.

 It is great that there are so many options, but a while back, I (Kara) wanted to make a lot of very tiny circles for a block I was making. I wanted them to be made out of fabric and not embroidered, but all the recommended methods were for much larger circles. Needleturn appliqué was certainly an option, but I thought that would be a bit tricky to keep the circles a consistent size. Necessity is the mother of invention, and I came up with this method to make a quantity of very small fabric circles using fabric, big nails, starch, and foil. 

This block needed tiny berries!

Recently, as I was working on the Fraktur borders, I realized that once again I would need a lot of tiny circles for berries. As I was making them, I thought the process would be a good tutorial for the blog, so here is my method for making these little circles.

Supply List

2" roofing nails (You need as many nails as the amount of circles you need)
Fabric of choice
Liquid Starch or Starch pen
Paint brush (if not using starch pen)
Aluminum foil (cut into 1" squares)

To find the right size nails, I needed nails with a large head. I raided the workroom in the basement and, thankfully, found what I needed. My husband has informed me that they look like roofing nails.

I traced around the head of nail on my fabric, making sure to leave enough space between the drawn circles to cut out an 1/8th of an inch allowance.

Circles ready to cut out with an 1/8th" extra around the drawn line.

After I had traced all the circles, I cut them all out. Next, I cut out my foil squares and I was ready to get started. I placed a foil square down, then my fabric circle and used my Traditional Primitives Starch Brush to coat my circle in starch. If you don't have this, then a paintbrush and liquid starch works just fine.

Ready to be brushed with starch

Traditional Primitives starch brush

When the fabric circle is coated (not drenched 😉) with starch, place the nail head directly in the center of the fabric. Next, fold up the edges of the foil around the nail head pressing tightly.

Center the nail head.

Wrap foil tightly around nail.

Continue this same process for all your circles, and then let all your prepped nails sit overnight. If you need your circles sooner that that, you can take a mini-iron and press all around the foil-wrapped nail head. This would be a bit tedious for a whole bunch of circles, but if you only need one or two, it would be faster.

Assembled and ready to dry overnight.

The next day, open up one of your circles carefully to see if it is dry. If it isn't, let them sit for another 6 hours or so. Once they are dry, you can take off the foil and gently remove your fabric circle from the nail.

Carefully remove the fabric circle from the nail.

They really are tiny!

A pile of berries ready to be appliquéd!

Stitched down

This may seem like a lot of trouble for a few berries, but it works well if you need to do a whole bunch, or if there is a particular fabric you want to use. They take very little time to stitch down since they are so small. Hopefully, you have enjoyed this "tiny" tutorial, and you will be able to use it for your appliqué!

Happy Stitching! Thank you for stopping by the blog!


  1. How much seam allowance are you ending up with on the back?

  2. Thank you.What a workable idea.Till today I was doing needle turned applique but only a few.

  3. What a wonderful tutorial, thanks for sharing!

  4. I thought I had seen all methods of appliqué! I'll have to give this one a whirl! Thanks for the tutorial!

  5. Una idea genial!
    Gracias por compartirla!

  6. Amazing. I bowled over. Thank you!

  7. Love this. Will have to give it a go. I love that we continue to learn in this beautiful craft.

    1. Thank you and it is great that we can all learn from each other!

  8. Thank you--I think I will be trying this!

  9. What a great idea, I'm going to find some roofing nails and give this a try!!! Wonders never cease!!