Tiny Stars – Month #2 Progress Report

Dec 30: Christmas is past, the New Year is upon us. When it comes to a star a day for 2014 I say, bring it on! Yes, I thought it would be interesting to make a star a day for a year. And yes, I thought I could do it. I imagined myself with a shoe box full of the little cuties by the end of the year.

Then – I read the instructions and one line stood out from the print like a warning light. Designer, Karen Styles, cautioned that it would be overwhelming to sew the stars together at the end and suggested sewing them into blocks as you go. She went on to advise joining the blocks into sections. Smart lady. I followed her advice and I’ve been happy so why did I have to go mess with things? I thought, why stop there? Why not quilt as I go too?

Umm, hum. You’ve got it, I am now set on quilting each section as I go.

Marti Michell wrote a great book about Machine Quilting in Sections. I re-read it then sandwiched my 1/9th of a quilt and set it under the needle of my sit down HQ Sweet 16 quilting machine, and took a tentative stitch. Did I really want to do this? Maybe I should just quilt a block or two and see how it looks. Anyone here enjoy ripping out machine quilting? Not me, so there’s no turning back now! first section tiny stars quiltedLater on I’ll show you how I’m quilting but for now, notice the bottom and right hand edges are left un-quilted? That’s so I can connect the bordering sections. Ooooo, I hope I don’t regret this!

It’s the end of the second month and here’s my score card:

Section 1 stitched together AND machine quilted (41 stars)

Three blocks of Section 2 completed and ready to be stitched into a row (13 more stars)

Five more stars completed – enough to stitch into a nine patch for the second row of Section 2. end of month two

Add them all together and get 59 stars in 59 days (60 by the time I got to bed – YES! I’ll get it done!)

I know it’s still early in the project, but I like making these stars so much that I feel like I could do this for years and years and not tire of it! (Tune in around Oct to see if my feelings have changed!)

Are you making a Star a Day quilt? Do tell!



More Tiny Stars

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!Little stars first sectionAnd 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. 028With 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.) 029Turn 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!


Cover Story in Basehor Sentinal

I love the Basehor Library– it’s home to my weekly writer’s group, so when my friend Donna Thomas, fellow quilter and author, suggested we do a quilting program for the library I enthusiastically said yes.

It was such fun to dig deep into our sewing treasures to find tools, quilts and publications to illustrate our talk. We thought it would be fun to show library patrons how much quilting has changed over the past 40 years by setting up a display for each decade from the 1970s to the present. And it was fun! If you build it they will come – nearly every seat was filled.

The library staff report that the patrons have really enjoyed seeing the quilts on display and they (the library) wants to keep them! We have politely declined! But in exchange I have convinced some of my local quilting buddies to put their quilts on display at the library. To see a local news article about our event click here.

Showcasing quilts and books at the Basehor Library

Showcasing quilts and books at the Basehor Library

Quilts on display at the library.

Quilts on display at the Basehor Library



Design Wall Monday – An Ice Cream Cone sort of Summer

You know those quirky roadside attractions that we see and say someday we will stop? Well, we did it! We stopped. Last week my husband I took a three day trip across Kansas specifically to go to some of those curious attractions. I have stories to tell and pictures to show but today is Design Wall Monday so here’s what’s on my design wall – ice cream cones!

ice cream conesI’m participating in a row exchange with a group of ladies in my quilt guild. We are supposed to make 6 rows, each the same, and we’ll swap and get 6 rows, each different. The only guideline, besides the theme of summer, was that the rows must be 48″ finished. Here’s a little picture of my full row:

row of ice cream cones

That’s an 8″ block – I found the pattern on my EQ program. It was fun finding the right fabrics for the cones (printed basket weave to the rescue!) and deciding which 6 flavors of ice cream I would stitch. I ended up with Mocha, Strawberry/Blueberry Cheesecake, Butterscotch Ripple, Chocolate Mint Chip, Berry/Cherry Swirl, and French Vanilla. (Note: you will not find any of those flavors in my freezer – only on my design wall!)039

The Real Deal! Lemon Ice-box Ice Cream on a sugar cone.

Oh wait! I think I have flavor that  in fabric! I’ll never look at my stash the same way.

Check out what others are working on by clicking here. And check back soon for a post about our quirky roadside attraction tour.