Category Archives: Churning Stars quilt block

A Couple of Surprises

I finished sewing the blocks together for Scattered Stars, my cheddar and indigo quilt, this evening. Take a look:

Light from the window on the right side of the room isn’t spreading evenly across the surface and the bottom part of the quilt top is puddling on the floor but I think you can get a good idea of what this quilt is going to look like.

With three sizes of blocks (six, 12 and 18 inches) scattered across the quilt, I figured there’d be plenty of partial seams. They’re not especially difficult but I wanted to plan for them so I didn’t sew an entire seam and then have to rip out part of it. The plan was to sew the blocks into smaller sections that could then be joined together.

I started by printing a photo of my layout and marking the sections with a Sharpie:After studying the diagram I realized there are only two partial seams in the entire quilt. What a pleasant surprise! (One of the places is in the lower right side of the quilt around “that singleton block” — the one with the 3″ Churn Dash in it. Can you spot the other?)

I sewed the six-inch blocks together first — six pairs and two trios — and then the 12-inch blocks — three pairs and one trio. The star points meet in these blocks and I knew I’d have to pin the intersections — all 28 of them — carefully. When those were done to my satisfaction (yes, there were a few that had to be redone) I started creating the sections.

That’s when I realized there are several other places where star points meet — stars of different sizes. That surprise wasn’t quite as welcome. Turns out there were 17 of those, all needing to be carefully pinned. I’ve circled them in the next photo:I admit a few of those had to be redone as well.

It took the better part of three days to get these blocks together. Coco was a frequent visitor in my sewing room during this time. Here she is staring at me intently, willing me to stop what I’m doing and fix her dinner:

The top measures 66½” x 90½” which is just about right for a twin size quilt so I’ve decided not to add borders. I’m thinking about finishing it with ½”-wide binding.

Next up: a pieced backing using a couple of 18″ blocks that didn’t make the cut for the front.

 

 

 

Posted in cats, cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 10 Comments

That Singleton Block

I think this is the final layout for my cheddar and indigo quilt:

I’ve been moving the little six-inch Sawtooth Star blocks around to get the best distribution of the stars with light and cheddar centers and am finally satisfied with the layout you see above. They’re surrounded by larger Sawtooth Stars with Churn Dash blocks in their centers, called “Churning Stars” after the design by Jenifer Gaston.

As you can see, the little Sawtooth Stars are grouped in twos and threes. In my layout I had one six-inch spot left over — and that’s where “that singleton block” appears. But it’s not a Sawtooth Star; it’s a Churn Dash. Do you spot it? Look in the lower right part of the photo.

Isn’t that a sweet little Churn Dash? It started out as a three-inch block . . .

. . . that now nestles inside a block that will finish at six inches:


I have my friend Colleen to thank for the creation of this block. Back in November when we were together at Quilt Camp I was making my first Churning Star blocks — the ones that finish at 12″ and 18″ inches square — with no plan as to what I would do with them. It was Colleen who suggested I add some six-inch blocks. That was a great suggestion because it turned out I would need a whole bunch of them.

Then Colleen said, “Why don’t you make a three-inch block?” So I did. Just one. It wasn’t until I had completed my layout of the quilt on graph paper that I saw a special place for that one wee Churn Dash block.

Standing back 10 feet from my design wall, I am really liking the way the blocks are offset due to the layout and their different sizes. And I am liking the way the Sawtooth Stars are scattered over the surface of the quilt.

Hmmm! Scattered Stars . . . that just might turn out to be the name of this quilt.

 

 

 

Posted in cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 13 Comments

Cheddar and Indigo Star Blocks: Taking Stock

In my last progress report I talked about playing with the cheddar and indigo blocks on my design wall and realizing more blocks were needed. This quilt is going to contain blocks in three sizes — six, 12 and 18 inches — in an arrangement still to be determined. I made four more blocks of each size — and then I stopped. Why? I hadn’t yet decided what size my quilt would be — an important piece of information when figuring how many more blocks to make!

I finally settled on a twin sized quilt for a rather compelling reason:  I am ready to finish this project and move on to something else! After spending time moving blocks around on my design wall I realized how difficult it is to create a layout with different sized blocks. And it’s complicated by the fact that I’m combining various prints and trying to get them distributed evenly around the quilt.

I figured I’d better move to graph paper. Here’s the result, achieved with much erasing and with the bottom of the layout cut and pasted on:

 

The blocks with the big X are obviously the 18″ ones. The squares with the circle in the middle are the 12″ blocks and the squares with the small X are the 6″ blocks. The quilt will measure 66″ x 90″ (assuming I don’t put a border on it).

With paper layout in hand, I arranged the 18″ and 12″ blocks on my design wall . . . and kept moving them around until finally deciding on this distribution of blocks:

The white spaces you see are where the 6″ blocks will go, mostly in twos and threes but there is one space for a singleton block. I have something special in mind for that one.

I’m not very good at “going scrappy.” The quilt looks awfully busy to me — even before adding the 6″ blocks. But I love the block design and the fabrics  so I just have to trust I will be happy with the end result.

 

 

 

Posted in cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 9 Comments

Progress Report: Cheddar and Indigo Quilt

Perhaps I should have titled this post “Plodding Along: Cheddar and Indigo Quilt.” Even with all the extra sewing time available to me (thanks to the coronavirus pandemic), I don’t feel like I’m taking proper advantage of it. Part of the problem is that I seem to spend as much time petting my fabric as I do cutting and sewing it.

And I must confess to whiling away a big chunk of time last week just playing around with blocks on my design wall. Based on that pleasant exercise, I realized I need about twice as many blocks as I have. I decided to make a few more of the largest Churning Stars blocks — the 18″ Sawtooth Star blocks containing 9″ Churn Dash blocks in the center.

As I made each block, it instantly became my favorite. In this block the background dark navy print in the Churn Dash block and the background print in the Sawtooth Star are the same print in different colorways:

The same print in a third colorway makes the star points in the next block:

A very modern print from Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s “Futurum” line shows up in the Churn Dash block– but look how well it goes with the very traditional prints in the Sawtooth Star:


One more big block with indigo Sawtooth Star points is in the works. When it’s done I’ll have a dozen big blocks. Will that be enough? Time will tell . . .

My layout (the one in my head) calls for blocks of different sizes to be staggered. I expect there will be a lot of 6″ Sawtooth Star blocks used as filler so I’m gearing up to make a boatload of them. Here are three I made last week:

Look how cute they are from the back:

I have a new way of pressing the seams that makes them as flat as possible at the intersections. It does involve clipping to the seamline, which is something I used to avoid doing. But after making two large sampler quilts involving lots of angled seams, I have come to embrace the idea of clipping seams. The teeny tiny four-patches are an unexpected byproduct of the technique.

Maybe by the end of the week I’ll have some potential layouts to share with you. I hope you’ll stop by for a look!

 

 

 

Posted in cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 5 Comments

Out of Sight . . .

. . . out of mind. Isn’t that the truth!

In February my design wall was starting to fill up with Churning Star blocks. (Churning Stars is the name designer Jenifer Gaston gave to a quilt with Churn Dash blocks centered in Sawtooth Star blocks.) I’m combining different size Churning Star blocks in cheddar and indigo fabrics for a quilt whose layout is still in my head. All I know so far is that it will be a bed-size quilt and blocks will vary in size.

I took the blocks down from the design wall to make room for a couple of smaller projects and the stack lay untouched in my sewing room. For four months. Part of the reason is that the coronavirus came to Oregon and I moved on to making face masks. I’m still making masks but this weekend I was inspired to dig out those cheddar and indigo fabrics, get my blocks back up on the design wall, and make some more Churning Stars.

Here are my latest blocks:

The two blocks at the top will finish at 12″ square and the one on the bottom will finish at 18″ square. The blocks are easy and fun to make. I do believe it’s taking me more time to decide which fabric combinations to use than it is to actually make the blocks!

Here are close-ups of the blocks:


Those two are the 12″ blocks. The one below is the 18″ block:


Not all of my blocks have fussy-cut centers but these three do. That’s part of the fun!

I’m going to concentrate on this project and see if I can wrap it up by the end of the month. And this time I’m going to keep the blocks on my design wall until I’m ready to sew them together.

 

 

 

Posted in cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 14 Comments

Update: Cheddar and Indigo

The best way to describe progress on my Churning Stars quilt is “intermittent.” I’ve not spent much time in my sewing room recently. Over the weekend, though, I did find the time to make a few more big blocks — the ones that will finish at 18″ square. Take a look:



Last month I discovered that a seller on Etsy had a Layer Cake of “Cheddar and Indigo,” the fabric line from Penny Rose Studio that launched this project. Even though it was not a bargain, I snapped it up because a) fabric from this line that came out in 2015 is virtually impossible to find now, and 2) I really wanted more of these background fabrics:

If I’m very careful in cutting up these 10″ squares, I’ll be able to maximize the number of blocks that contain the fabrics as background.

Curiously, I was able to find a lot of almost every cheddar and indigo print from the line — I started looking three years ago — but only two of the six light background prints, the ones you see on the left:

I’m especially fond of the smaller of the two background prints. Good thing, as I have plenty of it. And I have enough of the other prints to make at least one more cheddar and indigo quilt. Even though I’ve practically just begun working on this one, I’m already auditioning patterns for a second one.

Is this normal behavior (for a quilter) or am I obsessing?

 

 

 

Posted in cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 7 Comments

To Dye For

I made a new Churn Dash block the other day for the quilt I’m currently working on using fabrics from the line called “Cheddar and Indigo” by Penny Rose Studio. Because these fabrics have been out for five years, I don’t have a full set of the line and am lacking light prints for the background. I’ve filled in with cream tone-on-tone prints from my stash.

Imagine my delight when I stopped by an LQS (that’s Local Quilt Shop for you non-quilters) the other day and happened upon two fat quarters of a light print from a different Cheddar and Indigo line, this one by Nancy Gere for Windham Fabrics. A perfect addition, I thought. After making my block I thought it looked just fine . . .


. . . until I put it up on my design wall in the company of some other blocks:

I had thought the new background fabric was creamy but it looked positively snowy white against the other blocks. What to do? I wondered if I could tea-dye the fabric. I’d never done it before but how hard could it be? After a bit of research on the Internet, I approached my task.

First, I found the widest shallowest bowl in my kitchen, one that was big enough for the block to lie almost flat on the bottom:


After removing the block, I plopped one tea bag in the bowl and filled it halfway with boiling water. I let the teabag steep for 90 seconds, then fished it out of the bowl when the water was a nice light brown. In went the block for a timed tea bath of three and a half minutes:


I could have let it steep longer but I wanted just a bit of color. I figured I could always dip the block a second time if it wasn’t dark enough.

After removing it from the bowl I plunged it into a bowl of cold water to which I had added a couple tablespoons of white vinegar (a tip from the Internet, intended to set the dye so it wouldn’t wash out when laundered). When the block was dry I gave it a good pressing . . .

and put it back up on the design wall:

Can you see the difference? It’s very subtle but unmistakably a better match with the other backgrounds.

Here’s a look at the block before and after:

Mission accomplished! Now I just have to tea-dye what’s left of the two fat quarters so I can make some more blocks.

 

 

 

Posted in cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 7 Comments

I Swear . . .

. . . I could make Churn Dash blocks till the cows come home.

The Churn Dash really is one of my very favorite traditional blocks. It’s right up there with stars of any kind — note the Sawtooth Stars above. Last year I spotted a quilt called Churning Stars in a book by Jenifer Gaston (Primitive Style) with this combo of Churn Dash blocks inside Sawtooth Star blocks and was instantly hooked.

I made a couple of test blocks back then, dipping into my collection of cheddar and indigo fabrics from Penny Rose Studio. Then nothing until Quilt Camp in November, when I made a few more blocks. Since then I’ve picked up a few fabrics from other lines to add to the mix.

I stole a few moments last week to make a handful of blocks, all destined to be part of a bed-size quilt. I’m not working with a pattern. I’m just making blocks in different sizes, ranging from the 3″ blocks you see in the upper right corner to the 18″ block in the lower left corner. I’ll play around with them on my design wall when I have enough to make a quilt.

This is my idea of fun! What’s yours?

 

 

 

Posted in cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 6 Comments

Suite Stuff

With a new Junior Billie Bag in my sewing room and a coordinating tool caddy, it was just a matter of time before I gave into the temptation to complete the suite of accessories. Pictured with the tool caddy below are a scissors case, a rotary cutter coat, and a fabric box:


I love these fabrics and colors so much!

You can find picture-heavy tutorials for the scissors case and rotary cutter coat under the Tutorials link at the top of my home page . . . or you can just click on this link.

Speaking of Junior Billie Bag accessories, I forgot to show you the tool caddy I made recently to go with the JBB completed last spring for a class I was teaching:

My friend Cheryl S. was the surprise recipient of this JBB and tool caddy when we were together at Quilt Camp earlier this month.

I’m so ready to shift gears! There’s a new-ish project I’m eager to get back to as soon as I finish up a couple of ongoing projects. And as my twin sister Diane keeps reminding me, the newly remodeled kitchen won’t be complete until I make those valances . . .

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Churning Stars quilt block, Junior Billie Bag, sewing tool caddy, tote bags, tutorial, update | 3 Comments

Finally a Finish! Here’s Junior Billie Bag #10

I put the finishing touches on my latest Junior Billie Bag yesterday. Take a look at #10:


I can’t decide which view I like better! The block on the left is a Sawtooth Star with a Churn Dash in the center. The block on the right features an inset circle set off by a narrow flange. It’s hard to see from the photo that I used a variegated thread of blues and greens to quilt lines radiating from the circle.

I’ve used both block designs before in other projects (including other Junior Billie Bags) because I really like to make them.

Coco the Cat Inspector approves:

She found it so comfortable that she actually took a little catnap, which is why I don’t have a picture of the inside pockets to show you just now.

This JBB is one that I’m keeping for myself. It’s already loaded with my favorite rulers and other essential tools, as is the coordinating tool caddy I made from the Travel Case pattern from p3designs.com:

I made a few modifications, including the addition of a fourth pocket.

This is what it looks like closed:

I keep it in a plastic brochure rack so that it is always upright, with my smaller tools right at hand.

Still to come: the other accessories I like to make with each Junior Billie Bag, including a rotary cutter coat, a scissors case, and a 4″ square fabric used as a thread catcher.

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, cats, Churning Stars quilt block, Junior Billie Bag, update | 3 Comments