Category Archives: Reach for the Stars sampler quilt

Dawn’s Star Block

Here’s the latest addition to my current sampler project. It’s basically a glorified Sawtooth Star but I’m calling it Dawn’s Star because I’ve never seen this particular version anywhere before — except in one of my own quilts. I dreamed it up in 2014 to replace a basic Sawtooth Star block in the very first sampler quilt I ever made, Catch a Falling Star, based on Terri Krysan’s Reach for the Stars quilt. (I still get queries almost every month from quilters looking for her pattern; more on that below).

So why did I choose this block for my current project? Happenstance. You see, Catch a Falling Star is arranged on a quilt ladder in the Annex (the room across the hall from my sewing room) in such a way that Dawn’s Star is the only block you see in its entirety. My eye fell on it the other day and made me want to make it again.

This is my first version of the block, the one made for Catch a Falling Star:

It was designed to be set on point:

My current version looks good set on point, too:

Setting it on point is still an option as my current project features blocks that will finish at both 12″ and 18″ square. I could easily convert this 12″ block to an 18″ block by adding triangles at the corners. No need to decide yet. It’s still early days in the making of this quilt.

Here’s a glimpse of the blocks so far, arranged randomly on my design wall in the Annex:

The 18″ block in the upper left (Chicago Star) and the 6″ blocks I call Atomic Stars are part of an optional Block of the Month quilt project organized by the kind folks at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego for my students and me as we participate in monthly Zoom calls till my in-person classes resume next month.

I’m adding other blocks of my own choosing along with the ones Kristin at Montavilla selected when she designed the quilt. Montavilla has a Zoom call scheduled for next week. My plan is to get one or two of Kristin’s other block choices completed before then. And now that I’ve revisited Catch a Falling Star, I’m thinking about making yet another block I swapped out for one in Terri Krysan’s original design.

Speaking of which, here’s a photo of Terri’s beautiful quilt . . .

Reach for the Stars by Terri Krysan

. . . and here is my version:

Catch a Falling Star by Dawn White (2015)

Now on to the PSA for people asking about a pattern for Reach for the Stars. This is what I tell them:

“There is no stand-alone pattern for Reach for the Stars. Instructions for Terri Krysan’s quilt appeared in seven consecutive issues of Quilters Newsletter Magazine (QNM), beginning with Oct/Nov 2013 and ending with Oct/Nov 2014 (issues 436-442). QNM ceased publication a few years ago.

“Occasionally you can find single issues for sale on eBay or Etsy. You might also check with a local quilt guild to see if a member has copies of the magazine to sell or loan.

“Recently I learned that a website called Quilting Daily ( sells digital copies of individual issues of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine. If you go to, click on the search icon (a magnifying glass) and search for those issues. Good luck! — Dawn”

Now, let’s take another look at my current blocks:

Hmmm. See that block on the upper right side? That’s a 12″ block that I set on point and turned into an 18″ block. I really like the block but it needs something more . . . and I think I know exactly what that “something more” is.

Stay tuned!




Posted in Block of the Month (BOM), Quilt-Along, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 5 Comments

Throwback Thursday: Catch a Falling Star (2015)

Today marks Week Six of Throwback Thursday. Each week since the beginning of the year I’ve highlighted one quilt made in successive years beginning in 2010. This week we’re up to a quilt made in 2015.

Choosing my quilt for 2015 was easy. It had to be Catch a Falling Star, my version of Terri Krysan’s Reach for the Stars:

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

Often when I finish a quilt, there are one or two things I would have done differently. Not with this one. I love every block, I’m happy with every modification I made to Terri’s original design, and I’m thrilled to pieces with the combination of computerized and free-motion quilting done by Loretta Orsborn.

Instructions for Reach for the Stars appeared in seven consecutive issues of Quilters Newsletter Magazine, beginning with the Oct./Nov. 2013 issue and ending with the Oct./Nov. 2014 issue. Sadly, QNM is no longer in publication.

Almost every month I receive a request from a quilter wanting to know how to get directions for Reach for the Stars. A few years ago I could point to eBay or Etsy for the needed issues but copies are getting harder to find. My advice nowadays is to check with a local quilt guild to see if any member has these seven issues and would be willing to lend or sell them to the person wanting to make the quilt.

Catch a Falling Star was my first ever sampler quilt. I wasn’t sure I would ever make another one. But I did. You’ll see that one when I reach Week 10 of Throwback Thursday.

Thanks for joining me on my weekly trip down Memory Lane!




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, faux-kaleido quilts, free motion quilting, mitered corners, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, Sew-Along, Throwback Thursday, update | 4 Comments

Old Fabric Crushes

I happened across one of my posts the other day written in October 2012, a little over five years ago when my blog was in its first year. I was writing about three fabric groupings in my stash that I was wild about even though I hadn’t yet decided yet what to make with them. What a pleasant surprise to discover that I have, in fact, used all three groupings!

The first was this one, a mix from several lines anchored by the red and aqua floral print in the center from Denyse Schmidt’s line, “Flea Market Fancy,” reissued earlier in 2012:

Several of the fabrics wound up in this sewing machine dust cover . . .

. . . and this set of king-size pillowcases, both made in 2013:

The second group was this one, primarily from the “Ainsley” line by Northcott Fabrics:

From this group came a small project, a kaleidoscopic table topper made in 2014 . . .

. . . and a large project, my queen-size sampler quilt Catch a Falling Star, completed in 2015:

The third group was from the “Scarlet” line by Pamela Mostek for Clothworks:

These fabrics remained in my stash until 2017, when I used them to make my current Junior Billie Bag . . .

. . . and matching accessories:

Now when I see a new group of fabrics I just can’t live without, I’ll remind myself that the fabric in my stash is indeed getting used. I’ll just need three additional lifetimes to sew my way through all of it. Can you relate?




Posted in Billie Bag, home dec, Junior Billie Bag, kaleidoscope quilts, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, roll-it-up pillowcases, sewing machine cover, sewing tool caddy, table topper, update, windmill block | 5 Comments

Northwest Quilting Expo 2017: Reach for the Stars

Among the many special exhibits at last week’s Northwest Quilting Expo (held in Portland, Oregon) was a small one called “Reach for the Stars” featuring quilts made using Minnesota quilter Terri Krysan’s design of the same name. The quilts were made by Portland quilters who had seen my version on display at the Pine Needle and wanted to make their own.

Here is Maxine’s bold and beautiful quilt in black, white, and blue:

Blue Giant, Made and Quilted by Maxine Borosund

Joie’s quilt is a vision in green and purple, one of my favorite color combinations:

Made by Joie Lattz, Quilted by Debbie Scroggy

Lana’s lovely quilt was made as a fundraiser for her grandson’s school (it sold for over $2000!):

Made by Lana Kamerer

The owners of the quilt graciously loaned it to Lana so it could be part of the special exhibit.

Andrea’s quilt was made from the same line of fabrics as Lana’s but with a more limited palette of blues and greens:

Star Bright, Made by Andrea Hinderhofer, Quilted by Kazumi Peterson

So serene! Did you notice the different border treatment? Andrea opted not to carry the checkerboard blocks to the outer borders so she put the unused ones on the back:

Back of Andrea Hinderhofer’s Reach for the Stars Quilt

You can see some of the lovely motifs that longarmer Kazumi Peterson used.

Sharon R.’s scrappy checkerboard border cleverly pulls together all the colors used in her blocks:

Made by Sharon Ripley, Quilted by Melissa Hoffman

Sharon S. used the bright colors in her butterfly focus fabric to great dramatic effect, then calmed it down with her earthy brown and black checkerboard border:

Made by Sharon Schaper, Quilted by Melissa Hoffman

This is my version, also displayed in the exhibit:

Catch a Falling Star, Made by Dawn White, Quilted by Loretta Orsborn

Andrea was out of town during the quilt show but the remaining six of us gathered for group shots in front of each quilt. Here we are in front of Maxine’s:

Left to right: Sharon Schaper, Sharon Ripley, Joie Lattz, Maxine Borosund, Dawn White, and Lana Kamerer. With us in spirit: Andrea Hinderhofer.




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, Northwest Quilting Expo, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 18 Comments

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.




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 10 Comments

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:

joies-quiltSharon R. 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.




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 4 Comments

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!




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 10 Comments

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