Round and Round in Circles


  • Scraps of purple, lime, magenta and yellow at least 6in square. You need eight pieces in total but can repeat some of the fabrics (Mandy used 3 plain purple, 2 cool lime, 1 green leaves, 1 yellow lime, 1 plain magenta)
  • 25cm of 1in wide bias strip in yellow lime
  • 15cm fusible bias tape in tangerine
  • Matching threads
  • 31cm square wadding
  • 31cm square of lightweight backing fabric for quilting
  • 25cm fabric for cushion back
  • 30cm (12in) Cushion pad
  • Starch

Finished Size

30.5cm (12in square)

Skill Level



Similar fabrics are available at all good quilt shops or have a rummage in your scrap bag and see what you can find

This project is great for getting to grips with free form cutting, using fabric leftovers. Mandy says she always washes and starches her fabrics before she uses them so her scraps are ready to go. She just runs an iron over them to freshen them up.

Patch 1 - green leaves on magenta
Patch 2 - purple on cool lime
Patch 3 - purple on cool lime
Patch 4 - yellow lime on purple

Figure 1: Arranging the patches
Figure 1: Arranging the patches
  1. Cut your cushion top fabrics into eight 6in squares. Stack your squares into four piles to make a four patch, two squares in each pile. All fabrics should be RS up. lf you are using plain it makes it easier as there isn't a right and a wrong side. See Figure 1.
  2. Now we are going to cut gentle curves from the top fabrics, leaving a channel for the base fabric to show through. All curves are cut by eye and are intended to be asymmetrical. If you have never attempted free form cutting before you may find it surprising how much you usually rely on your ruler to protect your work. Your ruler keeps your other hand busy! When first cutting without a ruler starch up your fabric well to provide some resistance and use a sharp blade. Use your other hand to anchor the fabric behind the blade or hold the cutter with both hands. Be careful.
    Figure 2: Cut patches in position
    Figure 2: Cut patches in position
  3. Start by cutting patch two. Lift off the top fabric (purple), place on your cutting mat and cut a gentle, smooth curve starting about 1in from the corner and finishing about 1 1/2in from the opposite corner on the purple fabric (This is just a guideline). Press the cut edges on both pieces under 1/4in and lay back in position on top of the cool lime fabric.
  4. Cut the purple fabric of patch three, starting and finishing about 1 1/2in from each corner. Press both pieces under 1/4in and lay back in position on top of cool lime fabric.
  5. When cutting patches one and four the curves should miss the ones already cut on the other patches. Patch one ends up on the inside and patch four starts outside and ends inside. Cut and press both of these and place back on base fabrics. See Figure 2.

Applique Variations

  1. Each patch is finished as a different variation that way you can decide later which method suits you. All top stitching is 1/4in in from the edge of the line.
    Finished Cushion
  2. For patch two, Mandy created a bias strip 1in wide. This was pressed in half and inserted evenly under the outside curve and pinned. Both purple curves were then top stitched with matching thread and the excess lime fabric cut away from behind the purple leaving a 1/4in seam allowance. The bias insert adds a three dimensional element.
  3. For patch three, top stitch both purple curves and cut away the lime from behind, following the line of stitching and leaving 1/4in seam allowance. Press this edge under 1/4in and place on top of the purple on the outer curve. Pin and topstitch in place. Trim the finished patch back to 6 1/2in and trim away excess purple from behind.
  4. For patch one, top stitch the green leaves fabric onto the magenta with matching thread. Cut away the magenta from behind. Lay the tangerine fusible bias tape asymmetrically inside the previous curve and press in place. Top stitch on both sides of the bias tape with matching thread. Using the larger piece of cut away magenta, press under 1/4in and lay on top of green leaves fabric leaving a wider gap than in patch three and top stitch in place. Trim the patch back to 6 1/2in and cut away excess green fabric from behind.
  5. For patch four, topstitch yellow lime of fabric with matching thread and cut away purple from behind. Using the smaller piece of cut away magenta from patch one, press under 1/4in and lay over the inside corner of patch four. Pin and topstitch in place. Cut away the yellow lime fabric from behind.


  1. Trim all patches to 6 1/2in square. Join patches locking in centre seams and press seams open to reduce bulk. Layer up with wadding and backing. Quilt echoing the curves. Mandy drew the quilting lines on freehand with chalk, sometimes adding more to the design in plain areas and quilting in the ditch where the design is already busy.
  2. Trim to a square. Cut two pieces of fabric 9 x 12 1/2in for the envelope back and neaten the overlapping edges.
  3. Place the quilted cushion front face up and the backs face down. Line up the raw outside edges making sure the over lap is straight. Pin in place. Using your walking foot, stitch 1/4in all the way around the edge, curving the corners. Trim the excess fabric from the corners and turn through to the right side. Insert the cushion pad.

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 14 Number 8 - Summer 2006