Drawing and cutting BIG circles

Last week, I shared different ways to draft small circles. Modern Quilts Unlimited often features projects that showcase circles, whether pieced or appliqued, and sometimes the physical magazine doesn’t always have the space to print the pattern for big circles! While most of those patterns do end up under Web Extras!, it’s always helpful to know how to do things on your own. I’m going to share how I draft much larger circles today.

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One of my favorite tools is the Dritz “Quilt-N-Sew See-Thru Ruler” (seen above). I got it years ago when I was just thinking about sewing stuff!  It makes great circles because it has small holes every half inch, and I think that’s primarily what I use it for, come to think of it. at 18″ long, it is capable of making a circle up to 34″ on a single piece of unfolded fabric.

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To do this, I stick a pin in the first hole (which is at the 1/2″ mark) and use a very sharp pencil in the very last hole to scribe whatever circular thing I want: a full circle, a half circle, or a quarter circle.

There are two things you need to know

1) If you are scribing a full, half- or quarter-circle with this ruler and need a seam allowance, you will only add a 1/4″ to the size of the circle. For example, if I wanted a 7″ circle, I would need 7 1/4″. 

2) Because this ruler only has holes every 1/2″, this can be a problem.

One way to get around this (or to make circles even bigger) is to use some tools I bet you already have in your tool kit: a ruler of any kind, sturdy pins and twine. I like to mark the center point with a knot, and then stick the first pin through it.

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Next, I stretch the twine out to the distance I need, and make another knot there. Then I insert the sharpened end of a pencil through the knot which holds the lead stable

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while I sketch in the circumference of my circle.

The red pin is the center of the circle, and the pencil led is scribing the circumference while keeping the string taut.
The red pin is the center of the circle, and the pencil led is scribing the circumference while keeping the string taut.

Depending on the size of the circle, you may need a second set of hands!

Got a technique you would like to share? Send us a submission!

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