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  • Nicola

Vintage Circus Sew-along: month 2

Welcome to month two of the Vintage Circus sewalong! Richla, from Got Kwilts, and I are topping up our popcorn before we tackle this month's blocks...

Performing Seal, Noble Lion & Nimble Elephant

In last month's post I introduced you to the key techniques we're using for our blocks: snowballed corners, placement templates and raw edge applique. This month we'll be using them all to make our most acrobatic characters, the Performing Seal and Nimble Elephant, adding a new one - creating Dresden fan blocks - to make the Noble Lion's magnificent mane and using some beautiful contrast background fabric.


Fussy cutting:

If you've ever wondered, fussy-cutting is the art of carefully choosing and cutting out a motif in a piece of fabric. It adds an extra layer of detail to our quilts and is a lovely way of making the most of scraps of fabric.

When cutting out the circle for the seal's ball I found it helpful to audition my fabric motif with a template. And you don't need fancy template plastic: I actually made this little template from a carton lid. Another option is to section off a portion of your ruler with some washi tape.


Follow steps 5-7 in your pattern.

Creating Dresden plates:

I have created lots of blocks - from umbrellas to bird wings - with Dresden fan blocks over the years, but I think this is my favourite yet, because it has ears! You may well have already used acrylic templates to create Dresden fans, but this version - using my trusty placement templates - is a little different.

I first saw this technique in Joanna Figueroa's Craftsy Class Simple Fresh Quilts (which I can highly recommend) and it was a bit of a eureka moment for me, as I'd struggled making accurate Dresden fans with acrylic templates. I've found that using a template to mark a stitching line, rather than a cut edge which can stretch, is a far more accurate way of creating these beautiful units.

Lay out your units to before stitching to distribute the prints evenly...


Creating unusual angles in a quilt block can sometimes be a bit of a mammoth challenge (!), but the placement template technique we used to create last month's circus podiums is used again here to achieve the elephant's legs.

For those of you who asked if there was a Foundation Paper Piecing template for the elephant: you can now download one by clicking on the links, below.

Elephant FPP Template
Download PDF • 125KB

I hope you're starting to feel like a seasoned performer in the sewing room. Please join me next month to juggle a few more beautiful Bloomsville prints,

Nicola xx


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