Denim Circles Quilt


Hello, it’s Debbie from Sewing with Rascal again. I am happy to share another recipe, this time for a Denim Circles quilt.   I love the look of a blue jean quilt but am not fond of the weight blue jeans add, they are quite heavy and stiff.  When I saw the new Moda denim in a lighter cotton weight, I knew I just had to use it in a denim quilt.  Oh what a difference, it is soft and warm but not heavy.

Another nice feature about this quilt is that it’s a “quilt as you go” project, meaning once the circles are sewn together the quilt will be finished completely and ready to snuggle up in or take to your favorite picnic spot!



4 charm packs  or 1 layer cake cut into 5 inch squares.  I used Bon Voyage by French General
12  yards Moda denim 6.5 oz Indigo or dark color (prewash for shrinkage)*
3 12  yards Moda denim 6.5 oz Chambray or light color (prewash for shrinkage)*

denim size needle for your machine
denim thread
*repurposed jeans can be used but the quilt will be much heavier.


(168)  4  3/4”   low loft batting squares.  If using blue jeans,  I suggest leaving the batting out because it gets very heavy.

Olfa CMP-3 Circle cutter – recommended but not required

Fiskars Easy Action Rag Quilt Snips –  recommended but not required


Step 1:  Cutting 7” diameter circles.

There are a few options for cutting the circles listed below.  This tutorial includes directions for using the Olfa Circle cutter (Option A) but you can skip ahead (to Step 2)  if using a different method for cutting the circles.  Whichever method is used, you will need 168 total 7” diameter circles: 84 light and 84 dark.

Option A:  OLFA CMP-3 Rotary Circle Cutter. This is what I used and it works amazingly well.  It cut thru two layers of denim at once and made uniform circles.  I was able to cut all 168 circles in about 30 minutes.

Option B: June Tailor Charming Circles Ruler.  Haven’t tried this but it is a 7” diameter circle template used with standard rotary cutter.

Option C: Cut a 7” diameter circle template on cardboard, trace the circle onto the fabric and cut out with scissors.


Directions for cutting the circles using the OLFA CMP-3 Rotary Circle Cutter

Set the compass point to 3.5″  radius so that it will make a 7” diameter circle.  Remove the cap from the compass point and the safety on the blade.


Prepare the prewashed fabric for cutting by folding in half selvedge to selvedge. Using tailors chalk or erasable marker draw a vertical line 4” from the right edge and then every 7.5” to use as guide lines for cutting the circles.

Draw a line horizontally across the bottom at 3 1/2 inches from the selvedge.  This creates an intersection for the first circle cut.



Denim Circle 68





Use intersecting line nearest the right edge as a guide for placing the compass point and cutting the first circle.

Denim Circle 75

Cut the 7″ diameter circle

Denim Circle 93

Cut 3 sets of circles per line.  Use the lines as a guide for placing the compass. If the circles are cut close enough you can get three circles per row on the doubled fabric (total of 6) .

Step 2 – Marking sewing lines and sewing rows together:

On wrong side of each circle, draw two lines 1″ inch from edges.  These will be your sewing lines.  Be sure the lines are parallel to each other so the circles will line up correctly when joining.

Denim Circle draw lines

Align two circles (a dark and a light), right sides together, so the lines match up and pin.

Denim Circle 41

Pair up all circles making 84 sets of dark and light.

Denim Circle join


Chain piecing, sew all 84 pairs along one line with a backstitch at the beginning and end of each circle.  You can also use an auto-lock stitch if your sewing machine has one.

Denim Circle backstitch

Sew the pairs into rows of 12 circles ensuring light and dark circles are alternating.  Make 14 rows of 12 circles each. 

Iron the flaps open.

Mark a sewing line 1 inch down from the top of circles.Denim Circle 50


Denim Circle 51 top

Pin 2 rows (right sides together) alternating light and dark with seams nesting so the points will match up nicely on the back.

Denim Circle 56


Nest the seams together and sew across the top of the rows following the sewing lines. Avoid small holes at the intersections by making certain fabric is sewn below the intersecting points of the circles.

Denim Circle 60 fabric

Nesting the seams will give a nice point on the back of the quilt.

Denim Circle 130


Denim Circle 72 ironed

Denim Circle backrow


Step 3 – Adding charms and optional batting squares:

Lift flaps and insert batting (if using) and a charm square.  Arrange the charm squares so that there is an even distribution of fabric colors.

Denim Circle 144

Denim Circle 146

Pin flaps back over the charms.Denim Circle 149

Sew the flaps down in a figure 8 using 3/8″ seam , pivoting with the needle down  and backstitch at the start and finish.  Sew all the vertical rows first.

Denim Circle 142 vertical2

Next, sew the long horizontal row in a figure 8.

Denim Circle 142 take1  Denim Circle 142 combined

Sew the flaps down on all 7 sets of double rows.

Denim Circle 153

Back view of stitching.  This is the quilting design that will be on the back of your quilt.

Denim Circle 152

Step 4 – Sewing rows together:

Mark a sewing line across the top of row, 1 inch down.  Use this sewing line as a reference to sew sets of rows together.

Denim Circle 123

Place 2 sets of double rows right sides together with alternating dark and light circles. Pin nesting seams together so that the back will have nice points.

Sew across top using the sewing line as a guide, press flaps open and then sew the flaps down in figure 8 as in Step 3 above.

Denim Circle 140 Denim Circle 100

Continue sewing the sets of rows together  and sewing the flaps down until all rows are sewn together being careful to alternate the dark and lights for a checkerboard effect.


Step 5 – Sewing quilt edges: 

Iron over the remaining flaps and sew them down, creating a flat border.  Use a 3/8 seam here also.

Denim Circle 168


Denim Circle corner

Step 6 – Creating ragged edges : 

It’s starting to look like a finished quilt!   Just need to rag the edges on the front.

Denim Circle 178

The edges of the flaps need to be clipped.  I use the Friskars Easy Action Rag Snips but small sharp scissors can be used as well.


Denim Circle 181

Snip the edges every 1/4 to 1/2 inch being careful not to snip past the sewing line.

Denim Circle 184

Use a stiff brush to fluff the snipped edges.  Once the quilt is washed and dried the edges will fray more evenly.


The back is already finished, complete with a checkerboard pattern and quilting.



59 x 66 lap quilt or picnic blanket

Debbie Ivey
{Sewing with Rascal}

33 comments on “Denim Circles Quilt

  1. Marie says:

    Fantastic tutorial! Thanks so much, was looking for something like this. Gorgeous work 🙂

  2. i really like this quilt-it calls to me to make one……and so i will-thank you

  3. CruiseFan says:

    Nice job!
    It is actually quite easy sewing with leaving the flaps like that to eventually get ragged.
    Even for a beginner, just need some confidence….
    I don’t use a circle cutter though, instead I use a glass, draw around it and cut it with very sharp scissors. Yours, of course, is more effective skipping one step.
    Very good tutorial – thanks for sharing.

  4. Shelor says:

    Great quilt and tutorial. Definitely on my to do list!

  5. Cindy Meredith says:

    Lovely quilt. I recently bought a circle tool for my Bernina but haven’t tried it. Does anyone know if this will work for the circles in this quilt?

    • Debbie Ivey says:

      Cindy – I don’t have a Bernina but I think the circle tool is for sewing circles not cutting. This quilt doesn’t require sewing circles but sewing curves. Hopefully someone familiar with Bernina’s will answer definitively.

  6. kathyinmn says:

    Great tutorial! Made one with a coworker last December for her first quilt. Very easy to put together. Suggested she use a decorative stitch (even a zig zag) with colored thread to sew the arcs down. She grew her project from lap to bed sized. So I d say definitely a beginner friendly project! Oh-and she used flannels for her charm squares.

  7. Neat quilt Debbie and perfect for a memory quilt as well — where you use swatches of a loved ones shirts/flannels instead of the charms. I would love to make this — now to find the time! Great instructions too — thanks so much.

  8. Pauline Cook says:

    I save the legs from old jeans and needed a new project. This will fit the bill! Thank you.

  9. Georgia Goodlett says:

    What a fun looking project. Thanks so much for sharing.

  10. Carol Bair says:

    Awesome! Need to make this too and have to find the time—I great quilt for guys of all ages….grandpas, dads and boys. Cute, bright colors in the middle would be great for the gals! 🙂

  11. Karen Seitz says:

    I’m so glad to have your great instructions here on the Moda Bake Shop! I’d seen a pattern like this in a magazine, but it would take me forever to go through my stash to find it, and your step-by-step instructions and photos are awesome!

  12. Karen says:

    Awesome quilt for picnics!. Thanks for sharing your project. Your instructions are great! Can’t wait to make one!

  13. BeckyLeeSews says:

    What a great idea! This is a great pattern for a memory quilt. I’ve got a bag of my father’s jeans and flannel shirts under my cutting table just waiting for the perfect pattern and I think this is it. Thanks.

  14. Jackie C says:

    Thank you!! Thank you!! I have seen quilts like this and though they must be impossible to make, but you broke it down so beautifully I can’t wait to put this project on my list. Hubby is going to love this one. I can even fussy cut some of my Steeler fabric and hubby’s Packers fabric for a few of the squares…I am so excited about this project.

  15. Barb says:

    Thank you! I haven’t seen a quilt like that before. It’s very tempting to try:)

  16. cherilee says:

    I really like this

  17. Desa Harmert says:

    Oh.I love that.I’m ging to USS up my stash oft old Jeans for this.Great quilt.

  18. Debbie says:

    Thank you for a great tutorial. I love the denim but very heavy. hat about fleece? I have so much leftover scrap pieces. It would not have that rag feel but could use up some scraps..

    • Lisa Calle says:

      Hi Debbie! Moda Fabrics denim is a much lighter weight that denim used for jeans. It’s similar in weight to a linen/cotton blend and has a very lovely hand.

  19. Marcia says:

    Thank you for sharing this quilt with us! It’s a real eye-catcher! Which low loft batting did you use? Was it pre-cut squares? I’m eagerly preparing to try this to give to my 14-year-old grandson. 🙂

  20. Marlene Eidem says:

    Cute pattern. Looks like a fun quilt to make. Would any other fabric work besides denim? Would like to make it in a different color combination. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks

    • Debbie Ivey says:

      Hi Marlene,
      I think that flannel would work nicely. You could also use white denim with a bright color center.
      Hope you enjoy making one

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