How To Quilt Circle Borders Using Templates

Kimmy Brunner instructs the new Bluprint quilting class, Machine Quilting with Templates: Creating Design Perfection. This class is a fun and fascinating way to learn a range of new methods for creating breathtaking and precise machine-quilted designs with a combination of different templates. To give you a taste of what you’ll learn, Kimmy gave us a bit of her time to let us film this great free tip for creating a double-spine circle border, which can be filled with all kinds of original freehand work.

Video transcript:

Hi, I’m Kimmy Brunner, and I’m a quilting instructor on One of my favorite designs—one of the most elegant, classic designs, in my opinion—is a double-spine circle border that’s filled in with whatever freehand work you choose to use. It looks really complex and difficult, but when it’s broken down into little steps, I think you’ll be amazed at how simple it really is. Let me show you.

To stitch this design, you’re going to need a couple different templates, and it’s hard to say what size you need because, obviously, the size depends on the size of your border. For this example, I’m going to use a larger circle. It’s about maybe eight or eight and a half inches in diameter, and a smaller circle that nests right inside of it (like those little matryoshka dolls: you pop it open, and little dolls keep coming out). The reason I like these nested templates is that it allows me to stitch two spines that are exactly a half an inch apart. And that gives me the layout that I want for my whole border.

As you can see in my example, I have stitched one set of double-circle spines. I lay down my larger circle, and I stitch on the inside to create the smaller circle. And then I lay down my smaller circle, and stitch on the outside of it to create the larger circle. I’ve drawn in a couple simple chalk guidelines: one to show me the middle of these two circles; one two show me the middle of my border space to be filled; and one to show me where the very edge of where this circle sits on that mid-line, because I don’t want to overlap too much.

To stitch my second set of circles, I’m going to lay my larger circle down. And I’m not going to have a hopping foot in there yet so I can show you what I’m doing. I’m going to lay my circle down so that the crosshairs lay right on the mid-line, and right on this north-south line. That lines my circle up perfectly so that it will overlap my previously stitched circles just the way I want it to overlap. Now to stitch on the inside, the circle has a little slit on one side. You gently pry open that slit, move it around your hopping foot, and now you can stitch on the inside of the circle, as well as the outside. Once again, I’m going to line up those crosshairs, start my stitching line right over here. Pull up my bobbin thread, and slowly and carefully stitch all the way around my circle. Now when you’re stitching a circle, you need to reposition your hands a lot, otherwise you’re going to stitch over your fingers. So when you stop, you want to stop with your needle down so that your machine doesn’t roll away. Stitch until you need to move your fingers, stop with your needle down, stitch again, reposition your fingers, and finish right where you started.

Okay, now I’m going to break my thread because I’m done stitching that circle. I’m going to move this template out of the way, and I’m going to position my smaller template so it’s laying with those crosshairs right where I want them to be. Once again, I will begin my stitching line right on the mid-line. Bring my needle up, bring my bobbin thread up, and I’m going to stitch around, gently gliding my hopping foot around the template. I’m stitching all the way around to where I first started, then I break my stitching line. And now, as you can see, I have two sets of overlapping circles. The outer circle on this set comes right up to that mid-line of the first set. So when I bring another set of circles from this direction, they’ll butt together right in the dead center of this first set of circles. Now I can come back in and I can fill these little melon shapes in with whatever shapes I want. I’m going to try filling it in with feathers. Let me show you how.

I’m going to bump up my stitches-per-inch a little bit. I stitch a little teardrop. And once I’ve filled that center, I can just keep moving on the whole length of my border until it’s all filled with circles and freehand work.

I hope you’ve found this tip helpful. If you’d like to learn a little more about stitching with templates, please take my class at It’s called Machine Quilting with Templates: Creating Design Perfection. I’m Kimmy Brunner. Happy quilting!


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