First, start with a sheet of heat resistant template material. I like to use Templar, you can usually find it at any craft or sewing store. Pick a size for the circles, I just go into my kitchen and audition cups, bowls, plates until I see something with the size I want. Trace the circle onto the template material and cut.
Cut circles of fabric about a half inch bigger than the template all the way around. It doesn't have to be perfect, you can just eyeball it...
Next, with needle and thread, do a running stitch all the way around the edge of each circle (about 1/8" from the raw edge). Leave some thread at the beginning and end of the run, so you can tie it later.
Place the template inside the circle (wrong side of fabric facing up), and pull on the two thread tails, gathering the fabric in the process. Tie a double knot to secure snugly around template.
Here is the trick that makes this process so easy... Magic sizing or starch (I prefer Magic Sizing, as if leaves the fabric softer so it becomes easier to appliqué). Spray a light mist over the gathered fabric edges. If you don't have a spray bottle, you can use liquid starch, just dilute it with some water and brush it on the fabric edges with a small brush.
With the iron set on cotton, press around the edges until the sizing or starch is dry and the creases are flat.
Carefully remove the template by bending it a little bit and pulling the edge of the fabric over. I prefer to leave the thread tied just to keep the circle a little more "tame", but if you have a hard time taking the template out, just clip the gathering thread. Press the full fabric circle one more time to make sure it is nice and flat. Reuse the plastic template to make the remaining circles.
Once you have all your circles, place them in a pleasing way and pin in place. You are now ready to appliqué, by hand or by machine. My favorite stitch is the blanket stitch, which I do in my machine, but that can easily be achieved by hand. Or you can give a more primitive look by using a basic running stitch... I will show you my finished pillows in the next post! Have fun with polkadots!!!