Cutting Circles? With a Rotary Cutter???

According to the dictionary, a circle is a closed plane curve consisting of all points at a given distance from a point within it called the center. In other words, a circle is round. I’ve tried cutting circles from fabric but it isn’t my favorite thing to do because circles need to be round. Cutting something round from something that moves and stretches (like fabric on the bias) can be complicated.

I love to learn new things and to try new tools so when we got a package of products from Olfa that included the Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter, I had to give it a try. According to the packaging, the Circle Cutter can cut circles from 1½” to 8¾” in diameter.

I pulled out a layer cake and a bit of yardage from the Sugar Pie collection by Lella Boutique for Moda Fabrics and the pattern for Bubbles from the August/September 2012 issue of McCalls Quick Quilts. That issue of McCalls Quick Quilts is still available in digital format.

I started on my quilt but I experimented with a different technique than what was in the original pattern. Let me tell you what I did.

I cut a 5½” circle of fabric and 5½” circle of Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy (a sticky wash-away stabilizer) for each block. I cut them both at the same time with the Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter. I found that it worked easiest with the Fabri-Solvy on top. Things stayed in place better with the fabric next to the mat.

cutting circles Large circles cut Cutting Circles? With a Rotary Cutter???

Large Circles Cut

I stitched the Fabri-Solvy to the fabric circle with a ¼” seam. I placed the paper side of the Fabri-Solvy to the right side of the fabric. I stitched all the way around the circle; I didn’t leave an opening. My goal was to get a great circle with no swoops and dips.

cutting circles Layers stitched together Cutting Circles? With a Rotary Cutter???

Layers Stitched Together

The next step was to tear away the paper from outside of the seam.

cutting circles removing stabilizer Cutting Circles? With a Rotary Cutter???

Removing Stabilizer

Then I carefully cut a slit in the stabilizer. I checked to be sure I was only cutting the stabilizer and not the fabric.

cutting circles ready to turn Cutting Circles? With a Rotary Cutter???

Ready to Turn

Now it was easy to turn the circle of fabric right side out. The paper on the stabilizer made it super easy to turn the circle clear to the stitching line for nice round circles. (That always makes me laugh when I say round circles. If they aren’t round, they aren’t circles but still I say it.)

cutting circles turned right side out Cutting Circles? With a Rotary Cutter???

Turned Right Side Out

I removed the paper from the stabilizer, stuck the circle to the center of the patch and I was ready to blanket stitch the circle in place. (I didn’t press the circles, fearing the heat and steam of the iron might distort the stabilizer.)

cutting circles ready to stitch Cutting Circles? With a Rotary Cutter???

Ready to Blanket Stitch

Then I decided to test the Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter a little more. First, I used it to cut a 5½” circle from a fabric that was layered with backing and batting and quilted. The Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter cut a great circle of the 3-layer quilted sandwich. I can’t show you a photo of that; it’s for another project but it worked nicely.

The next thing I wanted to try was a very small circle. So I set the Circle Cutter to its smallest setting. I spray starched my fabric until it was pretty stiff. (Hint spray starch the right side of the fabric and then press from the wrong side and you won’t get little flakes of starch.) The fabric moved a little ahead of the blade when I was cutting it, so next I used Steam-a-Seam 2 on the back of the fabric and it worked great! I cut 8 little circles and I was pleased.

I stuffed all the blocks, circles and extra fabric in a bag to complete the quilt top at home. When I got home, I couldn’t find my little circles so I started them again. This time, I fused HeatnBond iron-on adhesive to the back of the fabric. HeatnBond is a little stiffer in the quilt but for the small circles, I didn’t think it would be a problem. I finally figured out the best way to hold the Olfa Circle Cutter and I got some great circles.

Just because I was curious, now that I knew how to hold the Circle Cutter, I tried cutting a few more circles without the stabilizer and it worked! I still needed the stabilizer on my little circles because I wanted to do raw-edge applique so I hadn’t wasted anything but it was good to know that I could cut them without stabilizer.

I have the little circles fused in place and ready to stitch down. Isn’t this going to be a cute quilt?

cutting circles The Quilt Top Cutting Circles? With a Rotary Cutter???

The Quilt Top

Knowing me, I would have never tried to make this quilt if I hadn’t had the Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter. I’m a perfectionist and shapes that are supposed to be circles have to be round or I don’t want them on my quilts. The Circle Cutter made it super easy for me to cut round circles. (There it is again round circles )

If there is a quilt with circles in your future, the Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter is worth checking out.

Happy quilting!


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