Dec 11, 2013: It’s Day 41 of The Tiny Star project and I have completed 41 stars. That’s 41 stars in 41 days! Just a star a day! Are you surprised? I am – kind of! Back in the beginning, thinking a ‘star a day’ too lofty a goal, I set out to complete 7 per week. I thought I would get bored and drop behind a day or two from time to time. And it’s true, I have missed a few days along the way – but I made up for them a day or two later by stitching two stars. Now, here we are, 41 days into this project with 41 stars completed! Yahoo!And not only are my stars completed, the first set of nine blocks are stitched together! It just keeps getting better doesn’t it?
Dec 15, 2013: A person can’t hand stitch a star a day without learning a few tricks!
1. Regarding the asymmetrical templates: The designer is very clear about this fact in her instructions but I was probably 10 stars deep before I figured it out. Sooooo, trace one set of four diamonds with the template right side up and the other set of four diamonds with the right side down and your stars will come out flatter.
2. Regarding setting in the outside squares and triangles: I have tried it every which way – First setting in four corner squares then going back and setting in the triangles. Blech. Next, I set in four side triangles and went back and added the four corner squares. Better. Finally, I settled on alternating a square and a triangle and stitching counterclockwise around the star. Very nice. (lefties might want to go clockwise).
3. Regarding seam allowances: One of the benefits of hand stitching is that you don’t have to press as you go and you can leave all the seams free instead of stitching them pressed to one side or the other (or open). I got a little private tutoring with friend and hand piecing expert, Donna Lynn Thomas, and learned to put a back stitch on either side of the free-standing seams to bring the connections really close together. Donna also showed me how to stitch with one thread all the way around the star while setting in the squares and triangles. My, does that ever save time and thread!
4. Regarding the very center of the star: A few years ago I took a precision piecing class from Sally Collins. In the workshop we made 6″ LeMoyne Stars with set in Y seams. On that particular day I thought my 6″ star was mighty small -today it looks like a giant ! Although Sally was teaching us to machine piece, I have been applying some of her techniques to my 3″ hand pieced beauties. Two of the most valuable tips I learned from Sally are: a) Close up the center of the star. If you leave a hole in the center you will, well, have a hole in the center. b) If it doesn’t have a set in piece, bring the stitching all the way to the outside edge of the star. (Don’t stop where the lines cross).
5. Regarding pressing: I had some pretty wonky stars in the first few weeks and pressing only helped mildly. Nearly two months into the challenge, I have developed a system for pressing that seems to be yielding consistent results. With the completed star wrong side up on the ironing board use the tip of the iron and press the seams into a spiral going counter clockwise (if you’re a lefty, try going clockwise). Press the center seam open. After sewing the stars and plain squares into a nine patch block, press the connecting seams toward the plain 3″ square. (This may require a little snip into the seam allowance.) Turn it to the right side and give it one more overall pressing. Ta Da! Flat and smooth and every little point is pointed. I love these tiny stars!