Butterflies in Circles Tutorial

This is a repeat of a blog post from 2014 featuring some beautiful fabrics from Benartex.

Beautiful fabrics from the Sakura Collection by Benartex
I was especially drawn to the large scale print featuring butterflies. What do you think of these?
Oh. You want me to show you how to make them? Allow me!

Butterflies remind me of Spring. Are you coming, Spring?
I wanted to make something simple, letting the fabric take the stage. Simple shapes: circles and squares. Did I say that circles are simple? Easy? Of course. Let me show you how!

Isolate a butterfly. Cut out a circle of freezer paper.
I drafted a 6" circle and printed it. Then I traced it onto freezer paper. I will center it on my butterfly.

Captured all of the butterfly within the circle
Now I iron the freezer paper circle to the WRONG side of the butterfly. It will be my sewing guide.

Cut a piece of medium weight interfacing larger than the circle
Now for the fun part!
Sew along the EDGE of the freezer paper circle (I've already peeled the circle off)
 Now we trim, leaving 1/8" - 1/4" seam allowance.
OK. Now you're confused, right? It's like I painted myself into a corner. How do I get out?

Clip into the interfacing and turn the butterfly circle right side out. Press well (but not on the interfacing side)
OK. How does it look from the front?

Butterfly auditioning for a background fabric
Chose this due to the irregular etched lines.
Butterfly pinned and ready for stitching
What color thread did I use? Black, but I also found that finer-than-usual thread disappears into the fabric much better. I changed my thread after the first circle was stitched. I also used black in the bobbin. Why? Because sometimes the bobbin thread "beads" up to the top and I didn't want little specks of white or cream to show on the front.

Now it's time to clip away background fabric and interfacing
Notice that I used a narrow, short machine zigzag stitch. I made five butterfly blocks this way. Now it's time for my alternate block for the 5 butterfly blocks.
Make simple 4 Patch blocks
 And how does the quilt look?

Sakura Butterfly Quilt

10" blocks. 42" x 42" quilt. I will quilt it with my friend Jeannine's walking foot along the straight lines. Then I'll free motion quilt each block individually.

But, wait! Did you notice that I started with 3 butterflies on a light background. Yes, I rediscovered those in my piles of leftovers. Let's see if I can do anything with them. Not sure if I have more of those butterflies, but I'm going to check!

OK. I'm back and I grabbed a few companion pieces to go with those butterflies on light background. What do you think?

My go-with fabrics for the light butterflies
Not sure what my background fabric will be, but I'll keep you posted. I'm on the road again teaching in Lakeland, Florida. I'm always happy to get back home and play with my fabric. These will be waiting for me and I know I have enough for another small quilt to delight any child!


  1. Why did you cut out the backing fabric and interfacing after sewing the circle to the block? What is the difference instead of leaving it like an applique?

  2. I just found some butterfly fabric, quite old, but I found it. This would be a great idea. Thanks.

  3. Hi Debby! I love this wall hanging, although it is really bigger than that isn't it. The butterflies look so nice on the black background. Happy Wednesday to you. ~smile~ Roseanne

  4. What a fantastic idea! I have some butterflies, love 'em, and they will work out just right. Many thanks for another inspired project.


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