Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Penny rug tutorial with perfect circles...

 I have received a lot of requests to share my technique for making perfectly round applique circles, the kind used in the two Penny Rugs I recently made from the newest Tilda fabric line, Hibernation, and from my Tilda scrap box of older fabrics. 

Needle-turn applique was something I rarely did in years past, but over these last twelve months I've indulged quite a bit in it, honing my skills by trying different techniques until I found one that works for me (and it could be very different to what works for you). But anyhow, the perfect circles on my penny rugs have certainly created interest so I decided to do a detailed tutorial which (hopefully) is easy to follow, and I'm including a second tutorial for making the little buntings which sit along each end of my penny rug table toppers. 

First of all, we'll make the circle. I begin with some thin cardboard, and a circle template. The cardboard needs to be thin and I'll show you why later, but it must be thicker than your everyday 80gsm printer paper. If you have some heavier weight 250gsm printer paper that will work well, as does a cardboard cereal box. 

Choose what size you want your circles to be. In my two penny rugs I made circles in two sizes - 3" and 3.25" as I liked the shuffling around of the slightly different sizes on the completed table topper. The circles don't need to be a precise size for the penny rug, as long as they sit nicely inside a 4" square. 

To make a Penny Rug like mine you will need-

* sixteen, 4.5" squares of assorted fabric

* eight, 5" squares of solid cream fabric (I used linen) for the bunting tongues

* eight, 5" squares of backing fabric for the bunting tongues

* twenty-four, 4" squares of assorted quilting fabrics in your preferred design

* one, 16.5" square of fusible light-weight Pellon, quilt wadding, or Parlan

* Perle 12 thread in cream

* eight, 4.5" squares of thin fusible fabric stabiliser (I use Staflex 3045)

* Aluminium foil

* thin cardboard

I have a lot of pre-prepared circles in my templates box because I use them quite often these days. 

Trace around a glass tumbler, a jar, a bangle, or use a pre-made plastic circle or compass on to your cardboard, just making sure the circle is no larger than 3.25" if you're going to make the Penny Rug table topper. I don't have a 4" circle in my collection yet, so I decided to make a couple today as I show you how I make my templates. 

Once you have cut our your circle, write in the centre what size it is. Lay it onto a piece of aluminium foil and cut a circle of foil about a half inch bigger than your cardboard template. Fold the foil around the circle. The foil assists in giving a very crisp edge when you press the completed circle.

These are so easy to make that I tend to have around six or eight of each size on hand for projects. I suggest for the Penny Rug table topper you make eight 3.25" diameter, and eight 3" diameter (or all sixteen in one size). Use a template to trace a circle onto the centre of a 4" square of fabric. 

I love the little field mouse print, and it's perfect for this type of project! I have loads of 2.5" circle templates so that's what I'll use for today's photos...

Sew a line of running stitch just inside the outer edge of the fabric circle. Place the template inside and pull the threads to gather the fabric around the template. Tie a double knot in the threads, and press the fabric circle with a hot iron on the dry setting. 

Once cool, peel the gather over one edge of the circle and remove the template. (this is why the cardboard needs to be thin)

Press the circle again. Perfect. You will need to make twenty-four of the circles for the topper and the bunting tongues. 

If you're making the Penny Rug table topper you will need to make the background next. Sew the sixteen 4.5" squares of fabric together in four rows of four. Fuse the Pellon/wadding/Parlan behind the background, and then stitch one of your completed circles into the centre of each square. Your topper will now measure 16.5" square.

Now we need to make the bunting ends. 

For this part of the tutorial I'm using completely different fabrics from Tilda because I really want to make a third Penny Rug when I have a spare few days, and this was my way of auditioning the fabrics I intend using. They looked perfect so when I have a chance this will become part of my next topper. 

Using the steps above, you will have already made the extra eight circles we need for the bunting tongues. I chose to make this version in subdued creams, blues and pink (there's a wee bit of old Tilda which came to the party after all!). 

I'll write the following steps for one bunting tongue, but you will need to make eight in total.

Fuse a 4.5" square of thin fabric stabiliser behind the 5" squares of cream fabric. I use Staflex 3045 white woven fusible stabilser.

Using the template from the DOWNLOAD SHEET I have for you, trace the bunting tongue shape onto the centre of a 5" square. 

Position one of your circles 3/4" above the traced line at the bottom of the bunting tongue and pin in place. 

Blind stitch (needle-turn applique stitch) the circle to the background fabric. 

Cut out the shape along the traced line. Lay the bunting tongue face down on another 5" square of cream fabric and pin in place. Sew 1/4" inside the edge to secure the tongue and backing fabric together. 

Turn the tongue right side out, carefully pressing the edges flat. Sew along the top edge with a scant 1/8" seam. Use the Perle 12 thread to sew a line of running stitch just inside the outer edge.

Sew four of the tongues together along their top side edges to make one row of four. Sew them together from the top edge down, about 1" using a blind or slip stitch. You can see in the photo below photo that I have done this with my Hibernation topper. I'm showing the back of the toppers as it's easier for you to see. I didn't do this with the second pastel topper, but wished I had as it really does make the following steps easier. 

I don't have photos of how I completed the toppers, but here's the steps...

Sew a row of four bunting tongues together as described above, and then sew them to one end of the 16-square topper with slightly less than a 1/4" seam, keeping the right side of the tongues and the right side of the topper facing each other. Leave the tongues folded in on the topper, don't press them away. 

NOTE: The row of tongues will measure 16" long, whilst your table topper end will measure 16.5". This allows for the 1/4" seam either side of the bunting when you sew the topper and backing fabric together. 

Repeat with another row of four bunting tongues at the opposite end of the topper. 
Lay the right side of the topper, with tongues still folded in towards the topper, face down onto the right side of your backing fabric. The backing fabric is a little larger, but that's okay as we will trim later. 
Pin the topper front to the backing fabric. Sew around all four sides with a 1/4" seam, leaving a 5" opening along one side for turning out later. Be very careful not to catch the side of a bunting tongue as you do this. 
Trim away the excess backing fabric.
Turn the topper right side out, carefully pulling the tongues to help straighten those ends. Push out all four sides with a large rounded tool (I use a very large wooden knitting needle) and press the topper flat. Slip stitch the side opening closed and press it. 

Once you make this topper, you'll discover just how much quicker it is to make a second, and a fact, this pattern is a good one for using up fabric scraps and for gift giving. 
The circles, once you get the hang of them, are also wonderful for making other things, like one of my new mini-quilts from The Stitchery Club...

I loved the variety of circles on circles for the flowers, and then smaller circles for the surrounding berries. 

I'd love to see your own version of this pattern if you make it! You can email me a photo HERE or tag me on Instagram HERE

Now, I shall sign off for today as after this mammoth tutorial I am in dire need of a nice hot cuppa and perhaps some raspberry scones with lemon curd (photos of those next time!),

God bless you heaps, and may your creative fingers dance a merry jig as you stitch and sew in the days ahead. 

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Joanne said...

A huge Thank You Jennifer for sharing this turorial ! Wow ! What a lot of work you put in to making today's post ! The use of aluminium foil is a game changer ! I have all these ingredients in house to give this a go ! Enjoy your scones !
hugs, take care,

Anonymous said...

What a darling runner! I am imagining it I. Christmas fabrics, fussy cut, as a series of ornaments in the squares🙂

gracie said...

Oh i love your technique. I must try this . thank you for an excellent tutorial.

Susan said...

Thank you, much easier than I had estimated. Your scones sound delicious! I've become fond of a Stash Tea that's herbal Turmeric Chai, and SO good and relaxing. I bought a special drinking bottle that will keep it either warm or cool for a long time, and I'm enjoying it all times of the day. Sounds like a great companion to applique, too!

Anonymous said...

Dear Jennifer, Your work is always so gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your talents with such a lovely tutorial. Your tender and generous heart bless me with joy!

Mary-Lou said...

Jennifer that is so beautiful!!! You make it look so easy! What a lot of work, however after that wonderful tutorial I might make a few circles!! And use them on clothes or bags I make! I would not have the patience to do that. It's so beautiful! Thank you for taking the time to share! Xx

Shanii Alwis said...

Enjoy your creative time and those scones!

Jihanh Almeda said...

Thank you for this incredibly detailed tutorial; it's a game-changer! Blessings and happy stitching! 🧵🌸

FlourishingPalms said...

Thanks very much for sharing how you make your circles! Taking the extra step to gather-stitch around the perimeter of the fabric sure makes a difference. And it's interesting that you place the aluminum foil on the outside of the cardboard template with the fabric on top. I've previously seen the foil used on the outside of the fabric. As you said early-on, it might not be what works for me, but I'm sure going to give it a try! Thank you very much! I'm now inspired to begin stitching what I've been thinking about for a long time.

shirley flavell said...

for the tutorial, lovely design.

Caroline said...

What a great tutorial, thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

I always feel uplifted mentally and spiritually after reading your blog post. Reading them is like a quiet, restful time in my life. I actually print them out and I have a little binder that I keep them in.

My prayers for your husband and son-in-law to find the work that God chooses for them in the time he chooses for them to start a new position