Yes, you read right. Thircles. You may already know that a squircle is the shape somewhere between a square and a circle but what’s a thircle?
If you’ve seen my Opal Essence quilt you’ll notice that all the circles are made up in thirds. The first quilt was made by appliquéing the third of a circle on to a diamond shape. A simple way to make sure you get a smooth circle is to use a template under your appliqué piece. The great thing about using this technique with a thircle (tee-hee, it still makes me giggle!) is that you can easily remove your template and reuse it.
My template of choice for this technique is a really smooth, bump free freezer paper template. You trace your pattern piece on to freezer paper and cut it out very carefully.
My cheaty applique thircle how to…
1. Press your freezer paper template to the wrong side of your fabric. As you will be folding the fabric over the template to appliqué try to place the curved edge on the diagonal grain. The stretch that lies here on the bias helps to create lovely soft curves with less bumps and folds.
2. If you are fussy cutting and placing the paper on the bias isn’t possible, consider using the fabric in a larger thircle. A larger, gentler curve is more forgiving with stiff fabric.
3. Next, use a ruler with a 1/4″ marking to add your seam allowance to the straight edges of your thircle shape. Cut with a rotary cutter or scissors. I love using an Add-A-Quarter ruler for this step. Using scissors cut a generous 1/4″ seam allowance around the curve.
4. Use a fabric glue stick to keep the seam allowance tucked under. Use a fine line of glue, about 1/8″ away from the curved edge of the freezer paper. That will help when it comes to sewing the shapes down and will also reduce the chance of your fabric fraying along the raw edge.
5. Match the seam allowance of your thircle with the corresponding point of your diamond background. Pin or lightly glue your shape into place. I like to pin along both seam allowances where there’s no freezer paper.
6. Using a thread colour that disappears appliqué the piece down. Use small stitches and pull the thread a little to hide it.
7. Once the shape is appliquéd down, trim away your background with scissors leaving a generous 1/4″ seam.
8. Finally, whip out your freezer paper template to reuse. The less glue you use, the easier it is to remove and reuse the papers.
Now that your thircles are appliquéd down, you can piece your diamonds into a hexagon and fan your centre seam.
I’ve been teaching workshops using this appliqué technique as well as the machine pieced thircles and most students are surprised by how much they enjoy the process. The smaller thircles are definitely less stressful if you appliqué them. The larger thircles can be rotary cut and machine pieced pretty quickly and painlessly. You can even mix both techniques in your quilt, maybe stick to one technique in each block though…
Hope that helps someone out there too afraid to try appliquéd curves. Let me know if you have any questions!