Tiny Stars

I’ve been lured in. Lured in by charming little stars. Lured into a star challenge; just one star a day – for a year. Are you thinking, what’s the big deal – star blocks are easy? Here’s the thing, these stars are hand pieced and they are tiny – just 3”, and they are LeMoyne Stars.

with ruler showing size

BUT, it’s just one star a day. AND, it’s just for a year.

I once got myself into running a marathon because when my friend asked, “Will you run a marathon with me?” I said “Sure.” After agreeing to run with her I asked, “How far is a marathon?” I tried to back out but she took me at my word when I said I would do it. So I did. I trained for 12 weeks then ran the 1983 San Francisco Marathon – all 26.2 miles of it.

1983 SF marathon 001

It was time consuming and painful, but I did it. Here I am crossing the finish line!Barb at SF marathon finish 001

I should add, I haven’t run since. I marked ‘run a marathon’ off my life list before I even knew of such a thing as a life list.

In 2012 I completed another type of marathon – this basket quilt:

Baskets quilt

It has 311 hand appliqued basket blocks. I agreed to participate in this simple little, friendship exchange before I knew they were 5” blocks. Baskets quilt detailI think I stopped breathing for a minute when the pattern arrived in the mail and I saw the size. It’s from the book, When the Cold Wind Blows, by Barb Adams and Alma Allen. Once I started sewing the baskets, I liked them. They were cute. They were fun. I could have stopped at 60 blocks, like most of my friends in the exchange, but, oh no! I was lured in by the picture of the full quilt. Some ask, “Why did you make it?” I answered, “Because I’ve never made a full sized quilt with 5” appliqued basket blocks before, so why not?”

It was time consuming and painful, but I did it.

I should add – there are online support groups for people making this quilt.

So you would think I learned my lesson on agreeing to such things as marathons and sewing little blocks. So why did I agree to another time consuming and potentially painful quilt challenge? Because, I was lured in.

It stared in Portland, Oregon on a rainy day last May when I met Karen Styles at the International Quilt Market. She was minding her own business greeting visitors to her booth. I didn’t have to stop. But from way over yonder her quilts attracted my attention. I had never seen these patterns. They were gorgeous. Like a beacon, the rows of tiny pieced blocks drew me in. Compelled to take a closer look, I soon found myself standing in the booth engaged in pleasant conversation with Karen and her husband. From Somerset Patchwork and Quilting in Australia, with their ‘down under’ accents, they explained the origins of their patterns to me. Precise and detailed with tiny pieces and perfectly balanced settings I let down my guard. I fell in love with Mrs. Billings Coverlet. I admired  Merrimack and I walked away with a complete pattern set for Robin’s Nest.

I have the pattern on display in my sewing room. But I’ve been  traveling and teaching and barely home long enough to do laundry and repack. “2014”, I said to myself. “That is the year I will make Karen’s quilt”. So it waits.

Fast forward 6 months. This time it was Houston, Texas at the Fall International Quilt Market. There she was, Karen and her beautiful quilts. As soon as I recognized Mrs. Billings Coverlet hanging in the booth I stopped to say hi. I admitted to Karen that I had not yet started my project. And Karen, in her lovely Australian accent, told me, “It’s a commitment once you start, but you can do it!” She went on to say that the ladies at her shop who made Mrs. Billings Coverlet wanted a break once it was finished so she designed a new project for them. “Just a star a day for a year”, she said. “See, here it is.” My gaze zeroed in on her hands, I saw my own hand reaching out to the package she held. It was an innocent looking package – a slim, 5” x 7” folded pattern sheet with three acrylic templates tucked inside. That’s all there was to it! No pages and pages of instructions, no miles of paper piecing and no applique’. Just three little templates.

Pattern and templates

There wasn’t anyone there to say, “Stop! Remember the baskets! Remember the marathon!” There wasn’t anyone there to warn me, “It will be time consuming! It may be painful!”

“Oh,” I whispered, “I could make a star a day!”


November 1, 2013 – launch day of my Star a Day Challenge. I woke up extra early – at 5 AM. Quietly, lest I disturb my sleeping husband, I slipped out of bed and started hand stitching my first star block. One hour and 20 minutes later I put in the last stitch. There. It was done. My first block was completed. 1 down, 364 to go. So far, so good! I celebrated by going back to bed for another hour of sleep.

First block5 days 5 stars

November 5, 2013 – Happy Birthday to me! And there’s more than a birthday to celebrate – it’s day five and I have completed five blocks. Five in Five. Easy, peasy! Only 360 stars left to stitch!First 9 inch block

November 6, 2013 – Karen’s pattern includes a tip to sew the 3” blocks together as they are completed.

November 18, 2013 – It’s day 18 of my Star a Day Challenge and I have completed 18 stars. Yahoo! However, I will confess – I don’t always get a star completed each and every day but if I miss a day I sew two stars the next day – I’ve set my goal at 7 stars a week.  Some days I’m tempted to sew an extra star and get ahead but I resist the urge and move on to other projects with the promise that tomorrow is another day, with another star in it.

Are you tempted to join me? You may order a pattern and template set from Quilting Bits and Pieces in Eudora, KS. (Call the shop to request a pattern). Their Star A Day challenge will begin in Jan 2014.