Carolina Patchworks

a closer look at: No. 061 — Circular Reasoning

Seattle. This city is all about water — whether it’s falling from the sky, in the Sound, Bay or a lake, or frozen on the mountain you’re skiing on.


I’ve been craving anything and everything serene — and when I need calm, I head to the water. Hearing the waves recede through the rocks is perhaps the most soothing sound imaginable.


The blues of the sky, mountains and water that surrounds us is what inspired this quilt. This quilt is a subtle gradient of the blues of home + my obsessive love with letters.


Angela Walters had the job of quilting this one. My guidance was just something within the letter circle vs. the background. I love her swirls — and I know that sounds dorky, but seriously, they rock. I stare at them and try to figure out where she starts and ends and have yet to figure it out.


The fabrics in this project are Robert Kaufman’s Kona Cotton Solids. I pulled out my Kona Chips and started looking on the blues and aquamarines and then realized there was a ‘Poseidon‘ fat quarter bundle. A quick head-smack later and my colors were picked.


The pattern includes full-sized templates and applique instructions for how I chose to applique it. Feel free, however, to stitch as you please.

Click here for the shop listing.

But wait! There’s more!

First, I must clarify, this version of the quilt is not part of the pattern. If you want to make it, just substitute the colors of the rainbows instead of those listed in the pattern and you’ll be set.

After the success of hanging a quilt on the wall in the family room, I wanted to try another and have a change of scenery in the dining room. But with scraps — Scrap Republic style.


I didn’t have room for the background portion to be as large as it is in the pattern, so I changed it to fit the space. Honestly, it just was easier than changing the size of the dining room.

The background is entirely pieced of scraps — and not all of them are large. Most are quite tiny.


I took on the task of quilting this one. I really do like the quilting part of making quilts, I’m just usually lacking time and (lately) mojo to keep doing it. I challenged myself to do it, and to do it right. I have bitty bubbles in the circle, surrounded by concentric rings with random spacing between them.

The applique portion is also different than how I described it in the pattern because I wanted to experiment with using Aurifil’s 12wt thread (currently being used for the Designer Block of the Month) in the machine. I put 50wt in the bobbin and started sewing. And it worked. Fabulously. I’m totally hooked on it. The only hitch is to make sure your needle can accommodate the thicker thread.


Liam was my helper for these photos. He was by my side for every shot — except for those when he was taking a picture of me taking a picture of him. The kids love this quilt and are always trying to spell words with all the letters. Liam’s only complaint? Some of the letters are sideways and upside down. He gets very distressed over this.


You can see the two rainbows in this shot — plus my little helper. Liam is already planning the next quilt to hang on the house. More about that in Friday’s post.


I apparently have a thing for rainbows in a basic circular shape. I wonder what this means?

Tomorrow… No. 062 — Ascend.

23 thoughts on “a closer look at: No. 061 — Circular Reasoning”

  1. Shea says:

    What a cool quilt! And that rainbow version?! Seriously! I love everything about it, especially the background made from different neutrals.

    Totally hear you on the distressed feelings about the direction of the letters… my daughter is like that, too!

  2. Audrey says:

    I adore this pattern, and I love your scrappy version!

  3. Robin says:

    I mean, I loved it before. But then seeing it in rainbow? AWESOME!!!

  4. Nicole says:

    Emily, this is gorgeous! I especially love the rainbow version! Wow!

  5. emily says:

    @robin… rainbows make everything better <3

    thanks all!

  6. elsa says:

    So looking forward to getting this pattern (bought it yesterday!) ~ going to make it for my son and daughter-in-law. They like darker colors, so thought I’d do it in shades of gray. I can already see it in my imagination.
    Thanks for being so creative, Emily. I just love your designs!

  7. mjb says:

    I love this twist on an alphabet sampler. The rainbow version opens up so many possibilities!

  8. Marcy says:

    Your quilts are amazing. I could sit and stare at this one all day. Thanks for sharing your designs.

  9. Regina DeMatteo says:


    That quilt is amazing. Are you going to make a pattern for it?

    Do you remember me? I used to work at Quiltique in Henderson , NV and spoke to you quite often with orders and e-mails, too! I love your work and look for your patterns every time I am in the shop. I am still making samples and teaching classes there although I stopped working full time a year ago.

    How are things in the Pacific Northwest? I know you are loving it there!

    Best to you and yours, Regina

  10. Regina DeMatteo says:

    How silly am I? There it is in your blog. I will make sure Jennifer gets some of this one!

  11. Jenny Scott says:

    Hi Emily
    Love the quilt design. The blue version is soothing and the bright scrappy version is stunning.

    I noticed your comment about using Cotton Mako’ 12 on the machine.

    I like using Cotton Mako’ 28 in the bobbin if I am stitching straight lines or blanket stitch patterns. It gives a better stitch balance than the Cotton Mako’ 50 for that type of stitching. However, if I am stitching heavier designs, or satin stitch, I stick with the Cotton Mako’ 50 in the bobbin.

    I also suggest that people use a 90 or 100 top stitch needle, loosen the top tension, take a longer stitch and slow down when machine stitching with Cotton Mako’ 12. It needs a little more thought than the other thread weights but the results are well worth the effort.

  12. Mona Keegan says:

    This a one of the loveliest quilts ever. So you quilted with the 12 on top and the 50 in the bobbin? Was this walking foot quilting or FMQ? Inquiring minds want to know, please. Again, this is an amazing and inspiring quilt.

  13. emily says:

    @ Jenny — I totally see where 28 would make for a more balanced stitch. I used 50wt because that’s all I had! Slow and patient is too a key! Mine was already going a little slower because it was a large top with lots of curves. And to everyone, it is worth the effort — such an amazing look!

    @ Mona — This was 12wt in the needle and 50wt in the bobbin (see Jenny’s comment above re: 28wt in the bobbin). I used a larger blanket stitch with the default sewing foot (1D on my Bernina). The bubble quilting was FMQ and the rings were straight stitch/walking foot. Both with 50wt top and bottom.

  14. katie says:

    Oh em, I love this quilt and you must share the blue color name on your walls.

  15. Jen says:

    I came across a photo of this quilt months ago, and I literally can’t stop thinking about it, it’s so awesome! I’m inspired to try making my very own version… I have a bit of an obsession with typography & rainbow colors myself!

  16. mary says:

    Wow. This takes modern quilting to a whole new level. Absolutely gorgeous (and brilliant.)

  17. mary says:

    OK…I think I might have to try and make this. How would you rate this in terms of difficulty? I haven’t done appliqué before.

    1. emily says:

      Not hard technically but does require some time and patience. It’s not traditional hand-sewn applique so that helps a lot!

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emily cier.

quilts. color. fun. life. seattle.


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