Circles and curves? Now they’re no sweat (+ fabric giveaway!)

Quilt blocks from Simple Circles and Quick Curves

Quilts from Simple Circles and Quick CurvesCircle quilts can be so inspiring to look at—and so insufferable to stitch! Leave it to quilting powerhouse Nancy Mahoney to come up with an easy approach to this intimidating task. In her new book Simple Circles and Quick Curves, Nancy’s approach looks like patchwork, but it’s all a beautiful illusion from a seasoned quilter who knows her way around a needle and thread.

VIDEO: See Nancy’s smart tip for centering circles

In addition to writing more than a dozen books with Martingale, Nancy’s quilts have been featured in more than 100 magazines. She’s created more than 75 patterns for fabric companies. And she’s designed over a dozen fabric collections with P&B Textiles (including her latest, “Urban Classics”—see below). If you want to know how to make a quilt, Nancy’s more than qualified to show you how!

We’re thrilled to have Nancy here today to tell you more about her latest love—circle quilts. If you’ve tried piecing circles and curves without success, heed Nancy’s advice: appliqué those arcs, bends, and bows by machine. Her method for making circles and curves is easier than piecing, quicker than hand appliqué, and most importantly, headache free. Tell us more, Nancy!


FABRIC GIVEAWAY ALERT! Our friends at P&B Textiles have generously donated a stack of fabrics from Nancy’s latest line, “Urban Classics,” to give away to you! It’s so hot off the press, it’ll be shipped to the winner right from P&B headquarters. Here’s a peek:

Nancy Mahoney's Urban Classics fabric line for P&B Textiles

Find out how you can win the fabric AND Nancy’s latest book at the bottom of this post.


Nancy MahoneyI’m delighted to tell you about my thirteenth book with Martingale, Simple Circles and Quick Curves. For this book I created scrappy quilts featuring beautiful curved-appliqué designs. I’ve been fascinated with curves and circles in quilts since I started quilting in the mid-1970s. I’m intrigued by the variety of designs that can be created with arcs, quarter-circles, and circles. I love how curves, or segments of circles, can be connected and arranged in various ways to create design elements in quilts. Curves add wonderful movement to a quilt design.

However, the downside for most quilters, including myself, is piecing those curves. For some of us, piecing curves is pure agony. Just the thought is enough for me to break out the chocolate! Then one day, I realized I didn’t have to piece the curves…I could appliqué them! Just think of the possibilities!

On the other hand, I wanted that appliqué trick to be my little secret. So I looked for an easy, time-efficient, cost-effective way to achieve the look of patchwork using appliqué. My solution was starch appliqué, using heat-resistant plastic templates (which can be used over and over), invisible thread, and a tiny machine blanket stitch. Violà! The desired results without all the headaches!

Blue Bayou quilt
“Blue Bayou”

If you have an aversion to using invisible thread, you can use matching thread and a decorative stitch. Or, if you want a take-along project, you can hand appliqué the curved edges. “Passion Vine” and “Sugar Plums” incorporate fusible appliqué, and I’ve included instructions for my fusible-appliqué method in the book.

Passion Vine quilt
“Passion Vine”


Sugar Plums quilt
“Sugar Plums”

You can use this method for appliquéing all of the curved pieces, especially if you are making a child’s quilt or a baby quilt. Although I encourage you to try my starch-appliqué method, I also want you to use the appliqué technique that works best for YOU.

Lots of Dots quilt
“Lots of Dots” makes a darling baby quilt!

All of the quilts in Simple Circles and Quick Curves are lap size, which I’ve come to realize is just the right size. They can be displayed on a wall, draped over a sofa, or cuddled under. Best of all, because of their size, lap quilts take less time to make. I love integrating traditional designs with bright colors and modern aesthetics, but don’t feel you have to use the same colors as I did. It’s your quilt and you can use any colors you like!

Sun Spots quilt
“Sun Spots”

As I travel the country to teach and lecture, I’m often asked how much I buy of a given fabric. Honestly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer and my buying habits have changed over the years. Years ago, when fat quarters were first introduced to quilters, I thought they were the perfect size. I could have a little bit of lots of different fabrics—they were simply irresistible! Then, somewhere along the way, I didn’t think fat quarters were big enough. What if I needed more of a specific fabric or I wanted to use it for a border? So, I started buying a half yard, one yard, two yards, or more of each fabric. Can you see where this is going? I was one step from being a hoarder! I had more fabric than I could use in two lifetimes. So, I gave away the fabrics that no longer appealed to me and got my fabric stash under control. Now, I’m in love with fat quarters, again, and fat eighths are so charming. After all, scrap quilts only need little bits of fabric.

Star Rubies quilt
“Star Rubies”

So, you could say I’ve come full circle. Simple Circles and Quick Curves is filled with things I adore—scrappy lap quilts with lots of curves and circles. I hope these quilts will inspire you to dive into your fabric stash and start stitching!


Simple Circles and Quick CurvesNancy, thanks for being here to share a peek into your 13th book. We’re already curious about what cool quilts you’ll be dreaming up for #14!

How do you typically sew circles and curves into your quilts—or have you been too timid to try? Leave your answer in the comments and you could win a copy of Simple Circles and Quick Curves PLUS a gorgeous bundle of Nancy’s new “Urban Classics” fabric from our friends at P&B Textiles! We’ll choose a winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win. Good luck!

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Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The randomly chosen winner is Bonnie, who writes:

“I definitely fall on the timid side. My piecing has never strayed from straight lines. Nancy’s technique sure looks doable though. Love that new fabric!”

Bonnie, we’ll email you about your prize. Congratulations!


Watch Nancy’s video “How to applique circles by machine: quick tip” on YouTube


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