Circling the Brain QAL with Patti Auten


 By Patti Auten

Hello amazing quilters! Welcome to the South Florida Modern Quilt Guild Quilt Along for 2019. We are happy to have you along for the ride! And what a ride it will be! Strap yourselves in for a fun ride!

This year’s Quilt Along is named….. (drum roll). . .  CIRCLING THE BRAIN. This QAL has many of the things written on Nicole’s fear list: sewing curves, paper piecing, improv and sewing from patterns. Don’t worry – we will be with you every step of the way with monthly assignments and encouragement. Watch the SFMQG Facebook page for hints, tricks and attagirls and don’t forget to post your progress as we go along.

So let’s get ready to rummmmmmmmmmmmmmble!


The quilt along will start in April 2019 and will be announced at the monthly meeting. Each month, there will be an assignment, although QALers may work ahead. It will continue for five months, culminating in a special presentation in September of 2019 to show off your amazing creations.

April 2019:  I’m planning to explain how the quilt along works. Each member that signs up will receive a two patterns; one for the smaller 18 inch block and one for the larger 27 inch block, along with complete instructions and three sheets of extra large paper in order to use when sewing the design, and a coloring sheet to color so you can sketch out your designs. 

The smaller 18 inch block will make a smaller quilt measuring approximately 28-30 inches. The larger 27 inch block will make a 50-52 inch lap size quilt. You may add borders to enlarge the size of your quilt.

Ever want to sew circles in your quilt but you’re afraid of the puckers and unintentional wonkiness? You can use the patterns in Circling the Brain to sew quarter circle designs, then put them together for circular designs.

FABRIC SELECTION: Will depend on what kind of design you want. Like solids? You can even cut each pattern piece out of solids for a quick bold graphic design (how about that baby quilt you’re meaning to make). Each paper pattern piece can be broken up into smaller pieces – this is where your own personal creativity and stash comes in. Pick a color scheme you like – use scraps from your stash – what about some orphan blocks hanging around just looking for a purpose? All of these can be used for design possibilities with Circling the Brain!


The directions for each quilt are the same – sew each quarter curved block, measure and trim, and then sew the four blocks together. The pieces are made to be actual size, but you may add a quarter inch seam allowance to each circle block.


This is where it gets fun. Each pattern piece, when cut apart, becomes its own playground. You can make each arch the same, or each one different. You can sew directly on the paper in order to increase accuracy, then trim down in anticipation of sewing the four blocks together.

Hmmm, how to fill in those arcs? Here are a couple of suggestions: (scroll down - This link has a curved piecing that can be used for the arcs as well as some cool ideas for how to paper piece the curves)

(this page has some curved piecing ideas to jump start your arcs).

(this is not where I got the quilt along idea, but it certainly fits with our theme and shows some super cool ideas on how to add to the curved paper piecings) (How about adding some improv curved piecing to your arcs?) (If the link doesn’t work, try entering through the Vancouver MQG link here:

(more info about how to piece curves)

(more ideas on quarter circle improv quilt blocks)


  • APRIL 2019 MEETING – Explanation of Quilt-Along pattern and distribution of pattern

  • MAY 2019 MEETING – Design of center for all four quarters and completion of first “ring”

  • JUNE 2019 MEETING – Completion of second “ring”

  • JULY 2019 MEETING – Completion of third “ring”

  • AUGUST 2019 MEETING – Design of backing fabric for outside background – putting rings together 

  • SEPTEMBER 2019 MEETING -Completion of Circling the Brain Quilt Top