How to Cut Big Circles – a Must-Know Sewing Hack!


Big circles of fabric can come in handy for so many things, including pillow forms (you can see I made a bunch), quilt patterns, skirts, and tablecloths. In this installment of Sewing 201 I will show you an easy way to cut big round circles of any size.


First, to avoid any confusion (and make sure you get the size circle you want), let’s make sure we agree on a few words. The Diameter of your circle is what you get if you measure all the way across the widest point. The Radius is what you get if you measure from the center (or centre) to the edge.  The radius is always 1/2 of the diameter. 

Once you decide what you want the diameter of your circle (or pillow form) to be, next figure out the radius. This is really easy since you just divide the diameter in 2. But I made a handy chart anyway. Add 1/2” to your radius if you are making pillow forms since you will need a seam allowance. 

Handy Circle Cutting Chart

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Now get out a pencil or pen, some string, and a ruler (or use your cutting mat). 


1.  Tie the end of the string securely around your pen or pencil about an inch from the tip.

2. Place your pen vertically with the tip on the ruler (or measurement part of the cutting mat). The tip of the pen should be ‘pointing’ at your desired radius measurement. In the picture above, I was going for a 9 1/2” radius.

3. Angle your string down to the ‘0’ on the ruler and make a mark on the string. I used a sharpie so you could see my mark.

You made a DIY compass! 


4. Fold your fabric into quarters. As you can see, I just folded the end of my fabric into quarters. 

5. With one hand, hold your string on the spot where you placed a mark securely on the center corner of the square. 

6. Use your home-made compass to draw one quarter of a circle. I traced over my line with a sharpie so you could see.


7. Once your quarter-circle is drawn, cut through all layers with sharp scissors. Here’s my list of the 7 Best Sewing Scissors (3 pairs you can’t sew without and 4 more you will also love).


Unfold it and 

Viola! Big circle. 


Make lots of big circles for all of your circular needs.

To make a round pillow form, sew two same-size circles together with a 1/2” seam allowance. Be sure to leave about 4” open for turning and stuffing. When your pillow is sufficiently plump, turn the raw edges in and sew your opening closed.


And if I were you, I’d make lots of round pillow forms because I have an amazing Christmas tutorial coming that’s gonna use them! 

Check out my round tufted pillows here and more fun things to sew for your home below:

Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂