Going in circles doesn’t have to be a bad thing! In fact, when it comes to pretty stitching embellishments, the circle is always a winner. But… how on earth can you stitch in a truly perfect circle?! Even following a drawn line can lead to bumbles and bobbles. Our secret: the Janome Circular Sewing Attachment. It locks into position on the machine and works like a compass to sew a perfect circle every time. We’ve used it on some of our most popular projects, and although we do love it when you think we are just amazingly skilled and can do anything without even trying… we thought it was time to share our circle secret with a step-by-step tutorial that shows how easy it really is behind the scenes thanks to this cool tool.
As with other decorative stitching projects, you must do some work before starting. You’ll need to decide on the look you want, the number circles, and the diameter of those circles, which in turn translates to how far apart each circle needs to be. Test first to select all the stitches you want to feature, then test again to determine each stitch’s length and width.
The final stitch settings will help you determine how far apart you want your concentric rings to be. We like to have a bit of air between circles when using this attachment, but you can certainly stitch the circles one right next to another for a dense, almost medallion-like look.
The Circular Sewing Attachment in our step-by-step photos is designed for a mid-range Janome model and attaches to the machine in place of the bobbin cover. There are three different versions of the Circular Sewing Attachment for different types of Janome machines, which means your attachment method may vary slightly. Check the Janome website or your local Janome Dealer for the version to best fit your machine. Janome also has a short video that shows the attachment in action.
Let’s sew in circles
The elements of this tool are simple: a measuring slide with a pivot point that can be moved along the length of a locking arm. The distance between the pivot point and the needle determines the size of the circle. You can stitch circles up to 10” in diameter.
The arm is marked in inches and centimeters, but you may also want to have a ruler or seam gauge on hand to confirm precise placement as the etched lines can be a little hard to read. And, when using decorative stitches, a clear Satin Stitch foot or Open Toe Satin Stitch foot is your best presser foot choice.
Collect all your tools.
As mentioned, the Circular Sewing Attachment attaches in place of the bobbin cover.
Remove the bobbin cover.
Snap the Circular Sewing Attachment into place with the slide/pivot pin extended all the way to the left. Double check to make sure the attachment is firmly snapped down and doesn’t wiggle.
As with any decorative stitching, it is important to properly stabilize your fabric. Our sample shows a square of mid-weight linen stabilized with fusible interfacing. If your fabric is lighter weight, you may want to consider additional layers of stabilizer at the very center where the pivot pin will pierce the fabric. We used a standard 40 wt polyester embroidery thread and a pre-wound bobbin with 80 wt bobbin thread.
Measure to find and mark the exact center point on your fabric panel around which you want your circle. You need to know where that center will be as well as the finished diameter of each circle. You may want to first draw your concentric circles on paper to insure you have the look you want. Remember, the measurements below are the distance from the needle drop to the center pin.
Move the slide/pivot pin to the right to the first position you’ve pre-determined. Our first circle was 3” from the needle. We recommend using the markings on the arm to initially align the desired distance.
Then, we like to double-check that setting with a seam gauge.
With the presser foot raised, remove the cap from the pin and place the fabric over the pivot pin at the marked center point.
Re-place the cap over the pin to hold the fabric in place and protect your fingers from its very sharp point.
Set-up the machine for your first pre-determined decorative stitch. Use the needle up/down function to pull the bobbin thread to the top of the fabric. Slide the threads under the foot and toward the back of the machine.
Similar to machine embroidery, start the stitching, then stop after just a few stitches and trim the thread tails close to the fabric.
Continue sewing, allowing the machine to feed the fabric in a circle. Don’t try to “help” the machine feed; the precision is better when you let the machine do the work.
When the circle is almost complete, slow down to insure the alignment of the stitches is precise.
Use the lock stitch function on the machine to secure the stitching when the circle is complete.
NOTE: If you do not have a lock stitch function, simply stop where the end meets the beginning and leave the thread tails long (do not try to backstitch). You can pull the tails through to the back of the project when all the stitching is complete and hand knot to secure.
When the circle is complete, fold the fabric out of the way so the arm is visible.
Slide the pivot point to the next pre-determined position. For our sample, this was 2” from the needle (5cm).
NOTE: It may not be possible to adjust the position of the pivot point with the fabric in place. If this is the case on your project, no worries; you can carefully remove the fabric from the Circular Sewing Attachment. Adjust the slide to the proper position, then replace the fabric using the center mark.
Sew the second line of decorative stitches. We recommend stitching all circles that feature the same thread color one after the other, reducing the need to stop and re-thread with each circle.
With each new circle, rotate the fabric slightly so the start/stop points do not line up. This tricks the eye into seeing the most continuous pattern to the finished concentric circles.
Continue in this same manner to re-thread and re-set for each circle. We added a pretty starburst circle in between our first two circles in a slightly different thread color.
We then re-threaded once more for our last three circles. One ring features a small Satin Stitch.
The inner contrasting ring is a Triple Stitch. We used this option to show that you needn’t always use a fancy decorative stitch. When done in a perfect circle, even a simple straight stitch takes on a new beauty.
The outer circle on our sample was placed at the 4” mark and featured a wide Scallop Stitch. When using a distinct shape like this, it’s important to match the start and ending point as precisely as possible. To do this, sew the circle, stopping the stitch about 1 to 1½” from the starting point. Measure a group of three scallops. On our sample, that a group of three scallops measured 4 cm or approximately 1½”.
The space still to be stitched measures just a little less than this amount, about 3.75 cm or 1⅜”.
To fit the three remaining scallops in this space, reduce the stitch length by a small increment. Our original Scallop Stitch had a width of 9.0 mm and a stitch length of 0.40 mm, so we adjusted the stitch to a width of 9.0 mm with a stitch length of 0.35 mm. This small change allowed the stitches to meet, and the line of stitching looks continuous.
If you wish to use the outer circle as a decorative edge as we did, simply apply a line of seam sealant to the wrong side of the scallops. Iron dry, then trim close to the scallops all around.