I’m much happier with this block in my Sea Sampler project after replacing the lower left corner of the block. If you read my previous post, you know that vertical seam was angling to the right. It’s straight now. Funny thing, though: it was sewn straight the first time. Turns out it was the seam directly to the right, the one connecting the bottom left and bottom center sections, that was off.
I made one more change to the block: the seam of the inset circle is now pressed toward the center of the circle:
It was originally pressed away from the circle, making the circle lie very flat within the square. When the seams of an inset circle are pressed toward the center, it raises the edges of the circle slightly, making it look appliquéd.
Monday of this week was Labor Day in the U.S., a federal holiday that celebrates the achievements and contributions of American workers. I was working on a little labor of love on Labor Day: a block in my ongoing Sea Sampler project. But I wasn’t happy with my fabric selections so today I remade the block with all different fabrics. This is the result:
The block’s a keeper. It doesn’t have a name that I know of. (If you recognize it, please let me know.) I think of it as my Nebraska Star block because it’s on this coffee mug that I brought home a couple of decades ago from a trip to Nebraska:
If you look above the capital N of Nebraska, you’ll see the block. It’s very striking as a two-color block but also lends itself to other color combinations.
I drew the block in EQ7, the quilt software program . . .
. . . and colored it with fabrics similar to the ones I actually used:
I cut the fabric a little on the bias so the fishies are swimming slightly upstream.
Because I wanted to lead your eye to the center of the block where those little fishies are, I opted not to include the blue triangles in the outer corners of the block, although they can be added later if need be.
I really hate to draw your attention to a problem but I’m going to remake the lower left section of the block. It wasn’t obvious until I saw my photo: that vertical line between the two small squares is not truly vertical; it’s definitely slanting to the right. How did that happen? No idea but it’s going to bother me no end until it’s fixed.
Labor Day 2021 also marked my return to the quilt classroom after 18 long months. All in-person classes at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego came to a screeching halt in March of 2020 when the the coronavirus pandemic reached Oregon and we started to fully realize its impact. Monday evening was the first of four “Sew with Dawn” classes that will meet during fall term, September-December.
To say I was thrilled is an understatement. It was so good to see my friends and fellow quiltmakers in person again! We are all fully vaccinated — students, staff at Montavilla, and myself. Of course we were fully masked the entire time but even with masks on we could see everyone was smiling.
Here’s the latest block in what I have started to think of as my “Sea Sampler” quilt:
The block is basically an Ohio Star with half-square triangles (HSTs) in the corners. I’ve been finding fabrics in my stash with a watery vibe that go really well with my other fabrics in this Block of the Month project through Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego.
Take a look at this close-up of my block:
The white on white fabric reminds me of bubbles and that light periwinkle print looks like waves and whitecaps. And could those shapes swimming in the waves possibly be turtles? I like to think so.
Look again at the first picture. If you really use your imagination, the green swirls against the dark blue in the center of the block could be floating algae or seaweed. Ferns, maybe? Pondering this will lead me to a name for my quilt eventually.
I now have these four blocks that will finish at 12″ square:
They play together very nicely, don’t you think?
For the layout I am envisioning, I need to make four more 12″ blocks, three more 18″ blocks, and a few more of these 6″ atomic star blocks:
Thanks to my dear friend Vickie R., I don’t have to worry about using up the last of this precious aqua print from a line that came out over a decade ago. It’s so hard for me to use up fabrics I love. Vickie knows this about me and she also knows I was running low on this fabric because I had mentioned it in an earlier blog post. Miraculously, she found a yard of it for sale on Etsy and surprised me with it last week. (Thanks, Vickie!)
It’s time to start another block and I’ve already decided what it will be. I seem to be moving at a snail’s pace on this project (make that a sea snail) but I am enjoying the process so much.
“Something more.” That’s what one of my sampler blocks needed. Here’s the “before” shot:
I started with Cluck Cluck Sew’s No Point Star design (a free pattern!) and set it on point. I really like this block but as I pointed out in my last post, it wasn’t quite holding its own with the other sampler blocks made to date:
I decided to embellish the block with a flower fussy-cut from my focus fabric, seen here:
Now take a look at the block with the flower appliquéd in the center:
Better, yes? I’m especially liking that touch of green in the very middle of the blossom.
Here’s a shot of the embellished block with its companions:
I think it’s safe to say it’s holding its own now.
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 . . .
. . . and here is my version:
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 (quiltingdaily.com) sells digital copies of individual issues of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine. If you go to quiltingdaily.com, 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.
The name of this block is really Far West but I saw a version of it online recently and was struck by the notion that it looks like a greatly simplified Goose in the Pond block.
Take a look at this Goose in the Pond block I drew in the EQ7 software program and tell me what you think:
Better yet, take a look at the two blocks side by side:
See what I mean?
Far West is a variation of the traditional Shoo Fly block. It can be made as an equal nine-patch but I think it’s much more interesting the way I made it, as an “unequal nine-patch with a small center square,” a category in Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
My block — maybe I should call it Gosling in the Pond? — will finish at 12″ square and be added to the sampler quilt started a few months ago as an optional Block of the Month project offered by Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego. I’m departing from the original quilt design by substituting some blocks of my own choosing. I have no idea how the quilt will ultimately turn out — but that’s part of the fun of it, right?
Here’s my Gosling in the Pond block with the most recent companion blocks:
My plan is to make several more of those “Atomic Star” blocks you see in the middle. They finish at 6″ square and will fill in the spaces nicely when it’s time to start playing with the final arrangement of the 12″ and 18″ blocks. But I’m really getting ahead of myself here. Several more blocks need to be made before I get to that point.
I haven’t been motivated to spend much time in my sewing room lately. It’s just “Too Darn Hot,” as the Cole Porter song goes. Yesterday I managed to produce that one block while dressed in my shortie pajamas with a wet towel draped around my neck. Portland is in the midst of its second major heat wave of the summer, with temperatures hitting triple digits again.
Coco has decided the coolest spot in the house is on the tiles in the master bath shower:
She’s just chilling out here but that’s a typical sleeping pose for her.
Why, hello there! Can it really be almost three weeks since my last post? The summer is speeding by much too fast and I haven’t spent nearly enough time in my sewing room. All I have to show you since my last appearance are these two little curved blocks:
But aren’t they sweet? I think of them as “atomic stars.” Finishing at 6″ square, they will either be stand-alone blocks or wind up in the center of 12″ star blocks in my current Work in Progress.
A few months ago Kristin at Montavilla Sewing in Lake Oswego designed a Block of the Month sampler quilt for me and some of my students as an optional project we can work on and share via monthly Zoom meetings until classes resume (which they will in the fall!). Kristin provided templates for the curved blocks but I wanted to see if I could get the same result using my Wonder Curve Ruler from the Sew Kind of Wonderful sisters (Jenny, Helen, and Sherilyn) and instructions from their companion book Text Me:
The four curved units that make up the atomic star needed to finish at 3″ square (so when they are sewn together they fit into a 6″ finished block). The curved units in Text Me finish at 1½”, 2½”, and 3½” respectively so I had to add a marking line to the ruler to make my block the proper finished size. My marking line is the dark pink one:
It took a couple of tries to get the points of the atomic stars right where I needed them: a few stitches away from the quarter-inch seam allowance. That way there’s no danger of the points disappearing into a seam.
The aqua floral fabric is one of my all-time favorite prints so I’m using it sparingly. It’s from Portland designer Mo Bedell’s debut line of fabric dating from 2010 called “Party Dress” for Blue Hill Fabrics.
Although they lose their atomic star vibe, I really like the way these blocks look on point, too:
I also like the positive-negative effect. Really, I could tinker endlessly with these blocks but the end of July is fast approaching and I want to get a couple of other WIPs finished by then. Wish me luck!
What do you think of my Stargazer Lily Block? This is the block Lisa Jo Girodat designed for Moda’s 2021 Summer in the Garden Quilt-Along. She offered directions for a 6″ and 12″ finished block. I made the larger one and in retrospect I am glad I did. It looks like a rather simple design but don’t you believe it! This block was quite a challenge to make.
For starters, look at the center of the block. Do you see that it’s a square within a square and that the smaller square (set on point) contains two flying geese blocks? Those flying geese blocks finish at 2⅛” x 4¼”. I made mine oversize and used my regular 6½”- square ruler to trim them to the correct (but unusual) size. I wound up fussycutting the darker floral fabric surrounding the lime green triangles to eliminate lighter shades in the print; the point of that was to maintain maximum contrast with the green.
The aqua fabric is an older Lonni Rossi print that looks a bit like seaweed. It’s a directional print so I had to pay attention to placement when I sewed the individual triangles in their assigned spots. I wanted the direction of the seaweed to rotate as your eye travels around the block. (Think of seaweed undulating underwater.)
Finally, there are four intersections in the block where seven seams come together. I eliminated a seam at those intersections so I only had to match six. My points lined up very nicely, although I will allow that a couple of seams required some corrective sewing. A seam ripper may have been involved.
I drew Lisa Jo’s block in my Electric Quilt software program because I wanted to test my ideas for color and placement before cutting into my fabrics. In this next picture you can spot where I was able to eliminate seams in the block design:
Here’s the Stargazer Lily block in EQ with my final color placement:
If you visited my website a couple of days ago and wanted to leave a comment on my Wacky Wonky Star post, you were met with an “access denied” message. That must have been frustrating. Bloggers love getting comments so I was frustrated as well. This issue occurred as part of a process I initiated in May to migrate my website to a new server, never dreaming it would take the better part of two months to complete and that several issues involving access to my blog would surface. This latest one occurred when a firewall was added to my site at the conclusion of the migration process, blocking comments. While the issue has been resolved, it has left me feeling sorely vexed.
Or was it the heat? My previous post was published June 27 while Portland was in the midst of an unprecedented heat wave – now being called a “heat dome” – with temperatures hitting 108 on Saturday, 112 on Sunday, and 115 on Monday. That 115-degree day was roughly 40 points above our average for this time of year. Sewing was out of the question, as my sewing room is on the second story of our Craftsman-style house, which is not air-conditioned. The Dear Husband and I slept in the guest room in the basement, which usually stays deliciously cool on hot days. It was definitely not “deliciously cool” this week but at least we were able to sleep.
Yesterday it was “only” 92 degrees so I made my second attempt at a Wonky Star block. I liked it even less than the first one. Really, the result is not even worth showing here. Being a bit on the stubborn side, I was determined to give it one more go – and then I saw a new star block in an email from Moda that so piqued my interest I decided to make it instead:
This is the third block in a new Summer in the Garden Quilt-Along offered by Moda Fabrics. Named Stargazer Lily, the block was designed by Lisa Jo Girodat. It’s available as a free download (three pages) which you can find right here. I’m not going to join the Quilt-Along but I am going to make that block. Right now, in fact. It feels so much more “me” than that ole Wonky Star anyway!
I admit it: I flunked the Wonky Star block. I like the idea of a Wonky Star but I am just not loving the way this one turned out. I made it a few days ago as part of a Block of the Month (BOM) project designed and taught by Kristin at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego, the quilt shop where I teach. Of course there have been no in-person classes there since March of last year (although chances are very good they will resume in the fall).
Kristin is teaching this class via Zoom for me and some of my students. It’s a way for us to interact with each other while we wait for the coronavirus pandemic to wind down. A huge bonus is that Kristin and her colleagues at Montavilla LO give us previews of newly arrived fabric and tools, and we get to see the rotating quilts on display in the shop.
The BOM design calls for this Wonky Star to finish at 12″ square. I made mine to finish at 6″ square, planning to make four of them so I would wind up with a 12″ block. But I was so dissatisfied with my first effort that I stopped right there. While waiting for my wacky Wonky Star to grow on me (it never did), I made a different star block:
. . . so called because the star points don’t go all the way to the edge of the block. The happy result of this design element is that there is much less bulk when the blocks are joined to their neighbors. That’s because the angled seam allowances of the star points are a good inch from the outer edge of the block.
I intended to make this block finish at 12″ square but I forgot to resize it, as it was designed to finish at 10½” square. I ended up adding a strip around the block and setting it on point so I would wind up with a block that finishes at 18″ square:
What tickles me about this block is the combination of the star point fabric featuring little fishies (from the “Kaikoura” line by Jessica Zhao for Cotton + Steel) and the outermost fabric (from Victoria Findlay Wolfe‘s “Light Work” line) featuring what look like starfish. I guess I have a bit of an ocean theme going here that may be reflected in the name I eventually choose for the quilt when it’s finished.
This block joins the one I made last month . . .
. . . and wrote about here. Hmmm . . . does that floral fabric on the outer edges of the block remind you of sea anemones?
Anyway, I want you to know I’m not giving up on that Wonky Star block. Making the No Point Stars block has given me an idea of a different way to approach it. My goal is a star that is wonky, not wacky wonky.