Sunday, April 12, 2015

Quilting Concentric Circles on a Longarm Machine

I was recently commissioned to quilt off-center concentric circles on a customer quilt. I thought it fit perfectly with the quilt design, which was quite modern.

This is the second time I have done concentric circles on a quilt. 

What most people don't realize is that this is one of the hardest designs to do on a longarm machine. It's much more doable on a domestic machine, because you can rotate the quilt and use the feed dogs to get accurate spacing between each circle.

I've searched the internet multiple times looking for the easiest way to accomplish this design on a longarm. The truth is there isn't any easy way.

Well, sharing is caring...
so in hopes of making it easier for some of you that want to attempt this design, 
I'm posting a small tutorial on how I do this design.

The first, and most important, thing to do is mark the quilt, because you'll be loading it on a longarm quilt frame and will only have access to sections of it at a time.

I've marked my quilts two different ways. The first way is by using a string and a marking pen.

The following image is from They have a great tutorial on how to make and measure circles without a pattern.

Keeping the string taut, draw a perfect circle using your homemade compass.

In order to get the concentric circles, you'll want to use a ruler to mark the spacing between each circle (typically 1 to 1.5 inches apart). Then put your pen on each mark, pull the string taut, and pin or hold the string in the center of the circle.

The second way I have marked my concentric lines is by using a template. This takes a little more prep work. I had my husband create templates on Adobe Illustrator by creating circles and printing out a small wedge of the circles. Each circle has a different curve because of their different circumferences.
The picture below shows one of the paper templates.

Once your quilt is marked and loaded on the frame, follow your marked lines to quilt each section.

You will have many stops and starts, because you're only working on one section of the quilt at a time. To make the stops and starts less obvious, try doing them at the pieced seam lines, as pictured below.

The hardest part about quilting these huge circles is making a smooth line of quilting, because there are no rulers that match every circle's curve exactly.

I have found that a straight ruler works best for the largest circles.

Change the angle of the ruler slightly as you quilt.

Once you've finished a section of the quilt, roll to the next section.

There might be a few wobbles here and there with your quilting lines, but don't stress about those too much.

In the end, it's worth all the hard work!


  1. Wow! Beautiful quilting, great tutorial

    1. Thank you for your kind words! So glad you found it helpful!

  2. This is awesome!! Thank you for taking the time to show how to do it!!!!!

  3. Hi,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your talent and knowledge. It is really helpful.

  4. Gracias Mindy por enseñar. ¡Felices Fiestas!

  5. This tutorial was really helpful and answered a lot of my questions, thanks so much for taking the time to share!!!