Category Archives: Reach for the Stars sampler quilt

Reach for the Stars: Another Finish

It started with this, back in July 2015:

You’re looking at the center medallion and first five blocks of Annette Holder’s Reach for the Stars quilt. Annette lives in Jonesboro, Arkansas. We met online as part of a community of quilters making the dazzling sampler quilt designed by Terri Krysan that was featured as a series quilt in Quilter’s Newsletter magazine during 2013 and 2014.

By June of last year Annette had completed her quilt top:

A few weeks ago she sent me pictures of her completed quilt and I am delighted to share them with you. Look what she has the pleasure of sleeping under:

Like many of us who started with Terri Krysan’s sampler quilt design, Annette made some design modifications. She replaced one of the original blocks with this friendship star, whose center square shows off her beautiful paisley focus fabric:

Annette credits “Jana and her elves” at Jana’s Quilting in Jonesboro, Arkansas with the longarm quilting. Here are a few close-ups:

I spy a lot of stitching in the ditch to outline the blocks and give dimension to the quilt:

Annette named her quilt Oh My Stars.

If you’d like to see other versions of this stunning quilt design, take a look at my Reach for the Stars page on Pinterest. If you’ve made your own version, I would love to hear from you! You can email me at dawn (at) firstlightdesigns (dot) com.




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Reach for the Stars: Four More Finishes

I’m excited to share pictures of four more versions of Reach for the Stars, Terri Krysan’s stunning star sampler quilt that was featured in Quilter’s Newsletter magazine three years ago. By writing about the construction of Catch a Falling Star, my own version, on this blog throughout 2014 and into 2015, I became acquainted with other Reach for the Stars quiltmakers locally and from as far away as Australia.

We have all become fast friends, bonding over our love of quiltmaking and our fascination with Terri’s design (even if some of us decided to modify it a bit, swapping out certain blocks or making changes in the border, for example.

Candy L. from Colonie, New York, is one of my newer cyberspace quilting friends. She recently finished this beautiful version of Reach for the Stars in blues, yellows, and greens on a crisp white background:

Did you notice the fussy-cut butterflies? If you look closely, you can also see the feather quilting motif in this close-up of the center medallion:

The next three Reach for the Stars (RFTS) quilts were made by quilters I know from teaching at the Pine Needle in Lake Oswego, Oregon. First up: Lana K., who started with a lovely floral print that allowed her to expand her color palette to include a range of colors. Note how just a few touches of pink and gold act as foils against the main blue and green color scheme:

Lana made this quilt as a raffle item for her grandson’s school. The winning bid came in at $2,000! I know how much time, effort, and money went into the making of that beautiful quilt. What a generous heart Lana has! If I had made that quilt, it would have been very difficult for me to part with it.

Joie L.’s quilt features a deep purple and forest green color scheme, with pops of fuchsia and lime to liven it up. Joie wanted her quilt to be wider and not quite as long as the original design, so she modified the borders in a clever way to make that happen:

Sharon S. did something unexpected and wonderful with her version of Reach for the Stars:


Doesn’t her multicolored checkerboard border make you think of harlequins, those colorful characters from Italian commedia dell’arte dressed in checkered costumes? Sharon’s border ties all of the colors in the individual blocks together in a bold and innovative way.

I’ll continue to publish photos as more of my friends from near and far finish their versions of Reach for the Stars, so please stop by from time to time. If you type in “reach for the stars” in the SEARCH ME box on the right side of my home page, you will be taken to all of my RFTS posts in chronological order.




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Revisiting Reach for the Stars

Reach for the Stars, the spectacular sampler quilt designed and made in 2012 by Terri Krysan of Lakeville, Minnesota, continues to enchant quilters all over the world. Terri’s quilt was pictured on the cover of the Oct./Nov. 2013 issue of Quilter’s Newsletter. My guess is that hundreds, if not thousands, of versions have been made — or at least started — since then.

Directions for the quilt were presented in a series beginning with that issue of Quilter’s Newsletter and ending with the Oct./Nov. 2014 issue. My version, named Catch a Falling Star, was completed early in 2015. During the year I spent making my quilt, I became part of an on-line community of Reach for the Stars makers that continues to this day.

About a year ago I heard from Annette Holder in Jonesboro, Arkansas, who was just starting her RFTS quilt and had a construction question. A couple of weeks later, Annette sent this picture of her center medallion and first five blocks:

annette holder's medallion and first five blocks

In addition to the center medallion, Reach for the Stars contains 14 pieced blocks. Annette replaced some of the blocks in Terri’s original quilt with some more to her liking. (I did the same.)

Just a few days ago Annette sent me photos of her completed quilt top. It is gorgeous! See for yourself:


Here’s a view from a different angle:


Beautiful, Annette! I can’t wait to see it quilted.

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of meeting Judi Schwenk, a quilter from Vancouver, Washington — just across the bridge from my home in Portland, Oregon. Judi’s version of RFTS is called Shadows in the Fog:

Judi Schwenk's RFTS quilt

Perfectly named, considering the misty blues and muted lavenders and greys in the quilt. Here’s a close-up of the center medallion, which also gives you a glimpse of the lovely swirly quilting motif:

Judi Schwenk's RFTS detail

This is a stunning achievement, given that Judi is a relatively new quiltmaker.

Chris Tabuteau of Melbourne, Australia is also a beginning quilter. She, too, created a fabulous version of Reach for the Stars. Chris bought a set of 40 Barbara Brackman Richmond Reds fabrics “on a bit of whim,” as she recalls. She thought a sampler quilt would allow her to use most of the fabrics and develop some sewing skills.

An avid gardener, Chris replaced some of the star blocks with her own very stylized adaptations of flower blocks. The result is Cottage Garden:

Chris Tabuteau RFTS
Can you believe this is Chris’s third quilt? This close-up shows her accurate piecing as well as the fine work of her longarm quilter:

Chris Tabuteau RFTS corner detail

Chris also pieced a lovely back, a finished quilt in itself . . .

Chris Tabuteau RFTS back

. . . and made a set of pillowcases from the very last of the scraps:

Chris tabuteau RFTS pillow

Thank you, Annette, Judi, and Chris, for sharing your beautiful creations!




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A New Day, A New Year

The first day of 2016 is here! It’s a time for looking ahead but also a time for looking back. Specifically, looking back at what I accomplished in my sewing room in 2015. I never accomplish as much as I think I will, especially when it comes to finished quilts, but I have to remember that I made a variety of small pieces and craft items last year in addition to quilts. It will be fun to revisit them as well.

First up, the quilts.

My first finish of 2015 was Catch a Falling Star, based on Terri Krysan’s star sampler, Reach for the Stars:

Catch a Falling Star (2015)

Catch a Falling Star (84″ x 105″) was quilted by Loretta Orsborn of Orsborn Specialty Quilting.

Then came Toile Story (73″ x 89″), started in 2009 but not finished till 2015. Designed by Alex Anderson and featuring fabrics she designed as well, Toile Story was quilted by Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted LLC:

Toile Story bv photo 800
Next: Olivia Twist, a 31″ x 76″ bed runner made using my own 4-Patch Wonder with a Twist pattern. It was quilted by Jolene Knight of Good Knight Quilts:

Olivia Twist bv 2

Using leftover fabric from Olivia Twist, I made Billie’s Star (56″ x 55″), an original design inspired by my favorite quilt teacher Billie Mahorney, who taught me a lot about drafting and sewing star blocks:

2015-4, Billie's Star, 55x54 (2)
Billie’s Star was quilted by Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting.

Next came Simply Dashing (58″ x 74″), a simple design that combines 4-Patch Wonder blocks (my name for four-patch kaleidoscope blocks) and Churn Dash blocks set on point. Simply Dashing was featured on the cover of the Pine Needle Quilt Shop’s fall 2015 catalog. Quilted by Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted LLC.

Simply Dashing 58 x 74
Pieced in 2014, I finished Sun Flowers, a wall hanging based on my Season to Taste pattern. It’s #9 in my series of kaleidoscope quilts and the third of four quilts I’m making to reflect the seasons of the year. It measures 18½” x 55½”:

Sun Flowers (2)

My final quilt finish of 2015 was Loose Leaf, begun in a workshop with fiber artist Pat Pauly. Made from her New Big Leaf design, it finishes at 24½” square:

big leaf, nov 2015
I quilted the last two pieces myself but was happy to have the larger quilts go out to some extremely talented longarm quilters.

In my next post I’ll show you the array of Pretty Little Things I made in 2015.




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, bed runners, faux-kaleido quilts, free motion quilting, kaleidoscope quilts, New Big Leaf, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 3 Comments

What the Judges Said

Catch a Falling Star (2015)
Catch a Falling Star, 86″ x 105″ (2015)

Catch a Falling Star, my quilt pictured above, hung in the Northwest Quilting Expo show in Portland last week (Sept. 24-26). It was a terrific show, with over 650 quilts on display. A friend and I spent the entire day there, walking slowly up and down every aisle, admiring the quilts and enjoying the vendor mall. Really enjoying the vendor mall, if you know what I mean. Someone did not come home empty-handed.

Northwest Quilting Expo is a juried show, and entrants could opt to have their quilts judged, with written comments delivered when the quilts were returned after the show. I decided to do that. These are the comments from the three judges:

“Lovely color palette. Sampler blocks are very well balanced.”

“Exceptional border treatment and frames central panel well.”

“Wonderful selection of quilting motifs.”

Those are very nice comments. I’m not sure what I was expecting — perhaps something about what I could have done better?

I was very pleased to see that last comment because Loretta Orsborn, the longarm quilter who quilted Catch a Falling Star, did such an outstanding job. On the day I took my quilt to her studio, we spent three hours looking at designs and choosing motifs. She expertly combined digitized and free motion quilting. If you’d like to see some close-ups of her work on my quilt, you can check out this earlier post.




Posted in free motion quilting, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 7 Comments

Star Crazy

Does this look familiar?

It’s the center medallion of my quilt Catch a Falling Star, based on Terri Krysan’s Reach for the Stars star sampler quilt. During all of 2014 I was engrossed in making this quilt. Regular readers were with me each step of the way.

Here’s my quilt, 84″ x 105″, reduced to a thumbnail:

Catch a Falling Star (2015)

Back in February 2014, after making the center medallion and a couple of blocks in the quilt you see above, I started playing around with a different set of fabrics — Barbara Brackman’s Morris Tapestry line for Moda. I made a couple of test blocks to see how I liked the focus fabric:

RFTS Wm Morris Blocks 1 and 2 on point
I liked it.

I decided then and there to make a second version. Those two blocks were as far as I got, though. Now, several months after finishing Catch a Falling Star, I have returned to that idea.

Here is the center of medallion of my Reach for the Falling Stars, Version 2 quilt:

RFTS Version 2  Center Medallion


You must think I’m crazy. Or maybe just star crazy.

Ah, but there’s a method to my madness. You see, I am not going to make the 14 blocks that surround the center medallion. My Version 2 of Reach for the Stars is going to be a bedrunner. I’m going to choose my six favorite blocks from the 14 I made for Catch a Falling Star. I replaced a couple of blocks in Terri Krysan’s quilt design for some I liked better, and at least one of those will wind up in my Version 2.

Either I’m a committed quiltmaker or I should just be committed. What do you think?




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 6 Comments

Reach for the Stars, Revisited

Thanks to modern technology, I made virtual friends last year with several quiltmakers who, like me, were enchanted with Terri Krysan’s star sampler quilt, Reach for the Stars, and decided to make their own versions. Directions for the quilt were released in serial form by Quilter’s Newsletter beginning with the Oct./Nov. 2013 issue. As each issue was released, our little band of quiltmakers would share our progress and cheer each other on.

Last fall I began corresponding with Fawn S. of New York, who was working on two versions of Reach for the Stars — one as a birthday gift for her mother and one for herself. Several of the quilters in Fawn’s group, the Honey Bees, were also making RFTS. Now Fawn has sent me photos of quilts and quilt tops made by her and her quilting colleagues Rose, Linda, Nancy, and Janet. I am so happy to share those photos with you.

First up, the quilt Fawn made for her mother:

RFTS by Fawn 2 June 2015
This quilt, featuring fussy-cut cardinals, was made with deep reds, tans, and browns. Here’s the center medallion . . .

RFTS by Fawn center medallion detail

. . . and here’s a close-up of one of those fussy-cut cardinals:

RFTS made by Fawn block detailFawn quilted this herself on her mid-arm. Beautiful!

Rose’s finished quilt is a handsome combination of blues, greens, and tans, very dramatic against a white background:

RFTS by Rose June 2015Love the batiks. And did you notice the accent pillow?

Linda’s focus fabric is a lovely floral on a soft blue background. Her palette of greens, pinks, and creams, combined with that floral focus fabric, yielded this romantic result:

made by Linda

The version of RFTS that Fawn is making for herself is made with teals, tans, and browns:

RFTS by Fawn

It features a different bird print than the one she used on her mother’s quilt.

Nancy’s version also features birds. Her color palette includes deep reds, tans, and blues:

RFTS by Nancy June 2015
Can’t wait to see both of those quilts with the borders added.

Although this next photo is not in sharp focus, you can still appreciate the gorgeous combination of fabrics in Janet’s quilt top:

RFTS made by Janet June 2015Rusts, corals, tans, and greens on a cream background — so striking. And the batik print in her checkerboard border sets off the inner fabrics beautifully.

Thank you, Honey Bees of  Honeyville, NY, for sharing your beautiful quilts with me! I hope seeing them inspires others who are also reaching for the stars to keep working on their own versions.




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Blogger’s Quilt Festival: Large Quilt Category

Here it is, my entry in the Spring 2015 Blogger’s Quilt Festival hosted by Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side:

Catch a Falling Star (2015)
Catch a Falling Star, 84″ x 105″ (2015)


My regular readers know all about this quilt. A year in the making, Catch a Falling Star is based on a design by Terri Krysan called Reach for the Stars that was offered in Quilter’s Newsletter over the course of seven issues, beginning with Oct./Nov. 2013 and ending with Oct./Nov. 2014.

Using my own color scheme, which is quite different from the original, I replaced three blocks and made a few changes to some of the other blocks. I also challenged myself to incorporate a fussy cut image into every block and redesigned the border to make it symmetrical.

The Jacobean floral fabric and a few others in the quilt are from the Ainsley line by Northcott Fabrics. The remaining fabrics came from my stash.

Many of my blog posts in 2014 are about the creation of this quilt. If you are interested in seeing how it came together, block by block, simply click on the “reach for the stars sampler quilt” link at the bottom of this post. All of the posts will come up in reverse  chronological order. In particular I hope you will look at some of the close-ups of longarm quilter Loretta Orsborn‘s beautiful free-motion and digitized quilting designs.

My quilt is entered in the large quilt category. To see some of the other large quilts entered in the festival, check out this link:

But wait, there’s more! There are 10 other categories of quilts in the festival: mini, small, appliqué, art, hand quilted, home machine quilted, original design, ROYGBIV, scrappy, and viewer’s choice. Be sure to check them out. And prepare to be inspired!





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Reach for the Stars: Side by Side

My quilt Catch a Falling Star, based on Minnesota quiltmaker Terri Krysan’s Reach for the Stars quilt, is currently hanging in the Pine Needle Quilt Shop where it is receiving very nice comments from customers.

Several people have asked how my quilt differs from Terri Krysan’s (other than the obvious difference of fabric choices) so I thought I would give you a look at both quilts side by side:

Reach for the Stars3
Left, Terri Krysan’s original quilt “Reach for the Stars” (86¾” x 106½”), 2012. Right, Dawn’s version, “Catch a Falling Star” (84″ x 105″), 2015.

(Photo on left copyright Quilter’s Newsletter. Used with permission. Photo by Melissa Karlin Mahoney. Photo on right by Bill Volckening.)

The center medallion and three of the blocks were made following Terri’s design. From there I departed in ways both large and small. I’ll use the quilt outline below to explain those differences:medallion quilt layout

Blocks 1 and 2: no changes.

Block 3: incorporated fussy-cut images in outer part of block.

Block 4: changed center of block to a fussy-cut image enclosed in an inset circle. Moved to Block 11 position.

Block 5: no change.

Block 6: replaced pinwheel in center of block with a 4-Patch Wonder block. Moved to Block 7 position.

Block 7: eliminated appliquéd circles, incorporated fussy-cut image in center of block. Moved to Block 14 position.

Block 8: incorporated fussy-cut image in center of block and changed design of outer part to incorporate fussy-cut border stripe. Moved to Block 6 position.

Block 9: added four triangles to create a star. Moved to Block 13 position.

Block 10: replaced block completely with design spotted on a coffee mug.

Block 11: replaced block completely with a block I dreamed up (although it may well exist elsewhere). Moved to Block 4 position.

Block 12: made the center a square within a square and changed the color value in the corner four-patches to avoid having dark fabric in the points where they would bleed into the black sashing. Moved to Block 9 position.

Block 13: incorporated fussy-cut image into circle in center. My circle is inset rather than appliquéd. Moved to Block 8 position.

Block 14: replaced center of block with a double pinwheel block incorporating fussy-cut images. Moved to Block 12 position.

That’s it for the blocks, though I should note that Terri used fussy-cut images in seven of her 14 blocks. I challenged myself to incorporate fussy-cut images in all 14.

The setting triangles were made following Terri’s design but I altered the design of the checked border to make all four corners symmetrical. I’m very proud of that achievement.

Now you probably think all 14 blocks are different, don’t you? Not so! Two of the blocks are exactly the same design. They just look different because of the fabrics used. Can you spot which two are the same? Here’s a bigger photo of my quilt to help you look:

CAFS front BV photo 800Happy hunting!




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 7 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Jenn Varney’s Quilt

Ladies and gentlemen, we have another Reach for the Stars quilt finish! Jennifer Varney of Hudson, New Hampshire is one of several quilters across the country I met virtually last year as we each worked on our own version of a star sampler quilt designed by Terri Krysan and featured as a series project in Quilter’s Newsletter. Over the course of 2014 our little band of stargazers shared pictures, compared notes, and cheered each other on.

We all made changes — some great, some small — to the design. Jenn chose to make a smaller quilt with fewer blocks and to use a straight set rather than putting her blocks on point. Here is her finished quilt:

JV's RFTS quilt-001
The muted browns and blues are offset by shots of metallic gold, giving the quilt such a rich look. The center medallion shows this off especially well:

JV's center medallion
Lorri Wurtzler of Seventh Heaven Quilting in Nashua, New Hampshire did the longarm quilting. I hope you can see Lorri’s lovely quilting in this close-up . . .

JV's RFTS block detail
. . . and this one:

JV's RFTS quilt detail
By changing the setting, Jennifer reduced the number of blocks (not counting the center medallion) from 16 to 12. If my math is correct, her quilt measures about 60″ square, perfect for a lap quilt or throw. And wouldn’t it look terrific on a wall?




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