It glows

We’re introducing dear daughter to Gilligan’s Island. This morning she watched the episode about the radioactive seeds that Gilligan found washed up on the island. She asked what radioactive means. You know, that is kind of tough to explain.

While thinking about the various vague notions I might have about radioactivity, I thought about glowing radioactive things (I did find out that radioactive things don’t glow on their own, that they must be mixed with some type of fluor in order to see a radioactive glow, blah blah blah, science-y things). Whilst thinking these not-so-deep, nor-very-clever thoughts, I thought of the latest round of Annabella fabric and the Blue Underground Studios‘ Renaissance pattern. You know, it kind of has a glow, and so I bring you Radioactive Renaissance:

I just love all of these acidy colors mixed with some black.

The wedgie wheels are finished with rick rack. I even used black rick rack on the smaller circles that are on black backgrounds. This amounts to the ultimate in laziness. So far, I have appliqued all of my wedgie circles, but haven’t been entirely pleased with the results. I decided to resort to a favorite rick rack trick this time. Maybe I’ll explore the six-minute circle method from Pieces Curves So Simple sometime in the future.

In the meantime, I thought I would try to illustrate this trick (yes, with black fabric, black rick rack and black thread–BRILLIANT!).

Here is the large circle with its rick rack edge:

In this case, I am using 11/16″ rick rack, but I also used 3/8″ with fine results. If you try this, a wider rick rack is probably better starting out.

So, take your circle and your rick rack to the sewing machine and lay the rick rack on the raw fabric edge ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE CIRCLE so that the approximate middle of the rick rack is approximately on the 1/4″ seam line. Use a straight stitch to sew the rick rack to the top of the circle.

When you start sewing, leave about an inch of the rick rack unsewn at the beginning so that you can finagle  it at the end. When you do get all the way around the circle to the end, try to figure out a tidy overlap that hopefully brings two ridges together. Fold one edge and lay the other raw edge on top of that fold (all of this happens on top, don’t fold anything under–sorry I don’t have a photo of this…) and finish stitching the rick rack.

OK, take the whole thing to your pressing surface and start to flip the rick rack to the back. Finger press a good portion of this, pulling out the rick rack edge as needed, and then press with your iron.

Work your way around the circle, folding the rick rack under and pressing on the top.

This is what the back looks like (it pretty much looks like the top did when you sewed the rick rack on the top, except now you have that brilliant finished edge hiding underneath):

Now, you’ll edge stitch the circle to your background:

I line up the inner opening of my 1/4″ foot with the finished edge of the circle.

And there you have it. Clear as mud, I’m sure.



  1. Stephanie said

    Radioactive Renaissance is absolutely stunning. Oh the rick rack just makes it all perfect. Great tutorial…now there’s something else to add to my “try it” list. Thanks!!!

  2. Nanette said

    Your work is so good. I love this post and I’m going to come back and study it some more. What even stitching and perfet positioning of the rick rack. Not as simple as it may seem, I know. Its all very lovely and actually the affect is stunning.

  3. Becky L said

    AWESOME!! I love all of the colors. I want to go home and play with my Dresden ruler that I just bought. Love your blog.

  4. Kathy said

    Oh Mrs. S, you are so clever! Your instructions are MUCH clearer than mud, and nicely illustrated, too. Not being the rickrack type, I’m thinking this technique would also work with folded bias strips or piping. That’d be bulkier, but would prevent the 70s flashbacks I experience with rickrack. I will investigate when the air quality improves and the humidity drops about 30 points.

  5. JudyC said

    Very clear and VERY cool!

  6. pam said

    Wow, I so totally love that quilt!!!! Love the black solids for sure and thanks for the wonderful rick rack tutorial. I’ve always been curious about your technique!!! Awesome as usual.

  7. Lily Boot said

    Tee-hee-hee-hee – I LOVE the rick-rack! that is the best idea Amy – I’m not fussed on turning under circles for applique either, and I think rick-rack always looks marvellous in any situation so it’s win-win! But -“finagle”!?!?! Yeees I know what you mean, but I was sure you were going to show me your brilliant “this is how you solve the dreaded join dilemma!” Then again, it’s comforting to know that you too find rick-rack just dumb when it comes to the join. We need the Professor to design some kind of whizz bang tool – like a laser light stick – that we rub carefully over the ends and they enmesh, beautifully, evenly and without any evidence of a join. Just think how much Maryanne would enjoy this!

  8. MichelleB said

    What a great idea, and what clear instructions! The quilt top is stunning.

  9. Kim said

    Oh it’s so funkadelic! I love it! And thanks for the explanation on the rick-rack! I love that finish! Can’t wait to try it!


  10. lil said

    Amyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, you’re as creative as h…………..
    this one is fabulous, have to find that fabric line
    and I have to do one like these too, but first I need the wedge ruler

    gosh, you’re my hero

  11. jmbmommy said

    I am diggin’ this ninja rick rack move…love circles, love the rick rack….both together is too much to bear!

  12. Oh yes. I love this “cheating” technique!!! Thank you.

  13. Wendy said


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