Quiltmaker 100 Blocks

Quiltmaker 100 Blocks
My block is in the November 2015 issue!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Stars in Stripes - Scrap Addicts #3

My last Scrap Addicts project was dubbed “Stars in Stripes’ by my daughter when I was deciding how to arrange the blocks, and the name stuck!

For this quilt, I decided to go with a controlled scrappy theme.  I challenged myself to work with value, rather than color, for the large and small star points.  In order to make that work, I chose to use all one fabric for the background and all one color for the center squares.  I then dug in my scraps for darks for the small star points, and mediums for the large star points.  The darks are burgundy, black, navy blue, hunter green, etc.  Some of the mediums are dark mediums, some are lighter mediums, but as long as they showed a good contrast with the background fabric and the dark points, I used them! If all the mediums were the same value, it would be boring. Using anything from brights to 30’s reproductions as my medium fabrics really made the stars sparkle.  I used whatever was in my scrap bin, including a potato print fabric left from making a microwave ‘baked’ potato bag and a candy corn print.

Some of the blocks are pretty by themselves, some are downright ugly!  But when they are thrown together, it is the contrast that matters, not the print.

I ran into all sorts of issues when I was putting this quilt together.  My original setting idea didn’t work out, so I had to start over – several times.  I finally decided on a stripe-y setting, but only after I had already put some of the rows together. Matching the sashing on the rows was a challenge, even when I pinned them. (Lower left, near the fall leaves print.)

Another issue was matching intersections.  Here are three blocks that have intersections that I wasn’t happy with (upper left in the first two pictures; upper right in the last one.) 


I had to decide whether it was worth taking them apart and remaking them.  My inner perfectionist said “yes”, while my inner realist said “am I really going to notice once they are set in the quilt with all the other blocks?”  The realist won this time.

Each quilter differs on how perfect their work has to be.  One quilter friend of mine says that perfection is overrated.  After ripping out and re-sewing the offending rows several times, some of the sashing still didn’t line up.  I decided that she was right, at least for this project. If I was planning to enter this quilt into a quilt show, I would tear it out again and again until it was perfect.  Since this quilt is destined be a couch quilt, which will get used and abused, I decided that it was OK that the sashings didn’t line up exactly and that the points and intersections aren’t perfect.  

Some things however, HAD to be fixed.  For example: 


Somehow I managed to not only sew the bottom row on upside down, but I had some units in the wrong place!  The take away lesson here is to always look at the pieces that you are sewing together BEFORE you sew them together!  In this block, the bottom row should have been the vertical row on the left hand side, and the middle left unit belonged on the bottom.   So I grabbed Jack, and got busy remaking the block.  Oh – Jack is my (seam) ripper. I know, bad pun.

When deciding how to quilt it, I wanted to emphasize the diagonal lines of the quilt. So I used my walking foot and stitched diagonally through the stars from one side of the star stripe to the other with an off white thread, pivoting when I reached the navy strip. The good thing about that method is that I didn’t need to mark the quilting lines; I just stitched from one intersection to the next.  It’s easier to see the quilting from the back:

In the sashings, I stitched straight down the center of the hourglass blocks. That wasn’t quite enough quilting, so I switched to a navy blue thread for the top thread and added a line of stitching down the center of the navy solid strips.
I discovered that was not the best choice. Since the navy strips are narrower than my walking foot, I couldn’t keep the quilting line straight down the center, and it meanders somewhat in places. 

I was seriously considering tearing out that quilting and trying something else when my daughter walked into the room.  I asked her if she thought that I should rip out the navy thread and stitch down both sides of the solid instead of making one line down the center.  

She looked at me like I was nuts. The conversation went something like this:
Daughter: Mom, your quilting OCD is kicking in again.  Why did you use navy blue quilting thread?  Me: So it would blend in and not be as noticeable.   
Daughter: Sooo…..
Me.  Oh. (pause) Yeah. (pause)  Let it go, right?
Daughter: Right.

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