Category Archives: sampler quilt

It’s A Wrap: Sea Star Sampler

I was getting ready to appliqué the round label onto the back of my Sea Star Sampler quilt today when Princess Cordelia (aka Coco) wandered into my sewing room. She promptly planted herself on my quilt, as she is wont to do:

As you can see, I caught her with her little pink tongue sticking out.

Here’s a look at the front of the finished quilt, measuring 60″ square:

. . . and a better look at the label on the back:

Here’s one more shot, taken minutes after the quilt was pulled from the dryer:

Who doesn’t love the crinkled look of a quilt washed for the very first time?! By the way, the finished size after laundering is 59″ square.

Two blocks from this quilt were part of an optional Block of the Month project designed by Kristin at Montavilla Sewing Center and offered over Zoom starting in May 2021. In-person classes were suspended in March 2020 due to Covid-19 so several of us jumped at the chance the following year to engage with the folks at Montavilla via Zoom. By the time in-person classes resumed last September, most of us were “Zoomed out” and the BOM sort of faded away. I had already veered off on my own path and wound up choosing nine other blocks to complete my sampler quilt.

The “Sea” part of the name developed when I realized many of my fabrics were evocative of the sea:  starfish, schools of fish, sea anemones, seaweed, water, waves . . . you get the idea. And all but two of the blocks are stars so it was reasonable to call it a “Star Sampler.” You know how much I love alliteration; it wasn’t long before my Sea Sampler had morphed into my Sea Star Sampler.

Like many of my quilts, this one evolved over time. If you’re interested in the progression (admittedly slow) of this project, simply click on “sampler quilt” under the CATEGORIES list on the right side of my home page to see all of the posts in reverse chronological order.

As always, thanks for stopping by!




Posted in Block of the Month (BOM), sampler quilt, update | 8 Comments

My Sea Star Sampler . . .

. . . is back from the longarm quilter! Here’s a glimpse of the front:

This photo was taken by Karlee at SewInspired2Day, who has quilted several of my quilts. Karlee’s photo turned out better than the one I took inside today so I borrowed it (with her permission) from her Instagram page.

There’s quite a bit of negative space in my Sea Star Sampler, especially in two of the three large blocks that finish at 18″ square, so I was looking for a quilt design that would look good in the background without distracting from the sampler blocks. The motif we settled on is “Embellish” by Quilts Complete, and I must say I like it a lot! In keeping with my theme of selecting fabrics evoking the sea, you could almost say the quilting looks like swirling water.

Here are a few close-ups:

The simple pieced back features just two fabrics:

The trimmed quilt measures 60½” square. I have just enough left of the purple fabric used in the 6″ curved Atomic Star blocks to make the binding. I’ll be back with photos when the binding and label are finished.




Posted in sampler quilt, update | 6 Comments

Ready for the Quilter!

It’s been a few days since I added borders to my Sea Star Sampler quilt top:

The outer border is the same fabric used in a couple of interior blocks, this whimsical design by Jessica Zhao for Cotton + Steel:

I made sure all four borders show my little fishies swimming upstream! To do that I had to cut the side borders on the lengthwise grain. I had enough fabric to make single cuts for the sides but had to piece the top and bottom borders because they were cut on the crosswise grain.

Today I made a simple pieced backing for the quilt using mainly this fabric, which has already made an appearance in three blocks (in fussy-cut form):

The plan is to deliver the top and backing to my longarm quilter later in the week. Since many of the fabrics in this quilt are related to the sea and/or are suggestive of water, I’m thinking of asking for a simple quilt design suggesting waves. But I am open to other ideas. Feel free to weigh in!

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM), sampler quilt, update | 4 Comments

Afternoon Delight

I can’t remember the last time I spent the entire afternoon in my sewing room. Despite the fact that it was really hot upstairs — the temperature in Portland reached 100 degrees at 6:00 pm today — I was in heaven. Fortunately, my ironing board is positioned right under the ceiling fan; the circulating air helped. I still got hot and sticky but it was totally worth it.

First I worked on Junior Billie Bag #11, the one I am making as a teaching tool for my students at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego. I could have finished the bag today but I needed to leave the final steps undone so I can demonstrate them for my students at our third and final class on Friday. Look for the final reveal of this ultimate quilter’s tote next week!

Then I finally got the blocks sewn together on my Sea Star Sampler quilt. Because the blocks are of different sizes — finishing at 6, 12, and 18 inches — I knew I’d be sewing the top together in sections. You can see the four sections here:

What’s missing? The 18″ Chicago Star block, which goes in the center:

The Chicago Star was the first block I made way back in May of last year, when Kristin at Montavilla Sewing introduced it in a Block of the Month program via Zoom. Once in-person classes resumed at the Lake Oswego store in the fall of 2021, the BOM project faded away but I carried on, not really knowing what I would end up with. By the time I finished making blocks, I had used only two of the ones in Kristin’s design — but I feel sure she would approve.

The Chicago Star block needed to be added to my top with partial seams . . . and here it is in its rightful place:



I did wind up making one last-minute swap of two blocks and am pleased with the decision. Right now the top measures 48½” square but there are two borders to come. Maybe tomorrow?!




Posted in Billie Bag, Block of the Month (BOM), Churning Stars quilt block, Junior Billie Bag, sampler quilt, tote bags, update | 6 Comments

Off the Back Burner

Is it just me or is the summer flying by way too fast? It’s been several weeks since I made my last Sea Sampler block. I played around a bit with block arrangements in early June but couldn’t seem to land on a setting that pleased me. Last week I finally figured out why. After remaking a few of the 6″ Atomic Star blocks this week (more on those below), this is what I wound up with:

As a reminder, the Atomic Star blocks look like this:

Now take a look at this photo from early June:

See how the Atomic Stars are arranged with positive/negative blocks next to each other? That’s what was bothering me. The only place I really liked the effect was the one row of three Atomic Stars in the upper left quadrant of the quilt top. There’s already a lot going on in this sampler quilt (any sampler quilt, for that matter) so going with one color combo for the Atomic Stars, in this case the one with the dark star and the lighter background, calms it down a bit.

I had one other design dilemma:  the placement of the block I think of as Dawn’s Nebraska Star because I found the design on a coffee cup purchased in Nebraska years ago:

Don’t get me wrong. I love this block. But the blue star is smaller in scale than the ones in the other 12″ blocks. This one just couldn’t hold its own next to them. I found a couple of places I thought the block could go. It was my non-quilting twin Diane who helped me decide after I texted her two possibilities.

Once the blocks are sewn together, the quilt top will measure 48½” square. I’m going to add a narrow green border (an inch, I think) and then a wider border (say, five or six inches) of the little fishies print that you see in the circle of the Nebraska Star above. I’ll wind up with a quilt around 60″ square — a good size for a lap quilt.

Thanks to a suggestion from my good friend Vickie R., this quilt has an official name: Sea Star Sampler. (Love the alliteration.) Thanks, Vickie!




Posted in Churning Stars quilt block, family, sampler quilt, update | 3 Comments

Another Churning Star Block

My Sea Sampler quilt begun last year is slowly taking shape. I recently finished this block:

The simple Churn Dash block nestled inside a Sawtooth Star has become one of my all-time favorite star blocks. I first saw this particular combo in a book by Jenifer Gaston. She called her quilt Churning Stars so that’s what I call this block.

It joins these six other blocks, all of which finish at 12″ square:

The blocks will be combined with some others that finish at 6″ and 18″ square. Eventually I will get a top put together but for now this project is on the back burner.

All three winners of my recent 10th Blogiversary Giveaway requested pillowcases — they had their choice of three handmade gifts — so I have been putting together fabric combinations for their review. Once their choices have been finalized, I’ll get the pillowcases made and mailed. As I’ve told the winners, it’s been fun getting reacquainted with my stash. But it’s been hard narrowing down the choices because there are so many possibilities. What does that tell you about the size of my stash??




Posted in Churning Stars quilt block, Giveaway, roll-it-up pillowcases, sampler quilt, update | 5 Comments

A Sea of Stars

I made another 12″ block in my ongoing Sea Sampler project today. Before I show you the finished block, take a look at the fabric I used for the star points:

Is that not swoonworthy? It’s an ombre from Maywood (from a few years ago) that I pulled from my stash when I noticed how much the print looks like phosphorescent waves. While I was checking the proper spelling of “phosphorescence,” I came across another word for it: “bioluminescence.” Water bioluminescence resembles a sea of stars suspended in the waves. Yes, that’s exactly what I see in this fabric!

The block came together in an odd way. Normally I decide what will go in the center of the block and work outward. This time, I started from the outside in, making the star points first:

I used the darker value of the ombre fabric, which is darkest on the selvedge ends, moving to lightest in the center. You can see what I mean here, where the fold line marking the middle of the fabric width is very visible:

While I was pondering what to put in the center, my eyes fell on my current Junior Billie Bag, which sits by the door to my sewing room. As it turns out, both sides of the bag served as inspiration for the center. Here are the two sides during construction so you can see both at once:

The one on the left features a Churn Dash block inside a Sawtooth Star. I was thinking about making a Churn Dash block when it dawned on me that the fabric in the center of this particular Churn Dash has ferns that look like they’re under water. That small square — 2″ finished — is from the same piece of fabric as the circle on the right side.

I had actually auditioned that fabric when I was going through my stash for the Sea Sampler project and had rejected it because it didn’t look watery. But when I pulled out a piece and got a better look at the fern fronds, I saw an image that reminded me of an underwater garden. Even better, the image would fit really nicely in the 6″ x 6″ space I needed to fill.

I fussycut a piece slightly on the bias so the ferns would point toward a corner, as if it were gently undulating under water. This is the result:

See the bubbles?

Behold my finished block:

As you can see, I added small triangles to the corners of the center block as well as the inside corners of the four outer squares. Why? Because I wanted more green in the block and I wanted to add some visual interest to the basic block design. I love how the green triangles form little hourglasses on the diagonal.

Here is the new block (second row, center) with the other five 12″ blocks made thus far:

They join three 18″ blocks, which you can see here, and a smattering of 6″ blocks. This quilt is evolving slowly but surely. My sewing time is somewhat limited these days so I’m just coasting along, making a block here and there. But I do have what I think is a great idea for a layout.




Posted in Billie Bag, sampler quilt, update | 10 Comments

Susan’s Star, Embellished

I didn’t think the block I made last month called Susan’s Star could get any better but I embellished it today by appliquéing a round fussycut flower in the center square, and I’m so happy with the result:

Credit for this idea goes to my quilting cousin, Patricia, who follows my blog and suggested the addition after reading my post of March 3. Good call, Patricia!

Susan’s Star is one of three 18″ blocks in a sampler quilt I’m working on that also features 6″ and 12″ blocks. The other two 18″ blocks have a blossom in the center, one pieced and one appliquéd:

Patricia thought my third 18” block would benefit from having a flower in the middle as well. For the block on the right I used a method other than needleturn applique. For Susan’s Star, though, I decided the time had come to give needleturn appliqué another go. If you are new to my blog, you may not know I learned needleturn appliqué in 2019 making this quilt.

Because three years had passed since I’d done any needleturn appliqué, I approached this task, simple and small though it be, with some trepidation. To be honest, I’m not sure I did everything correctly but it turned out just fine.

I started by drawing a dotted circle (my stitching line) on the fabric using a jar lid as a template and cutting a scant quarter inch away from the stitching line. After finger-pressing the stitching line I pinned the piece in place:

Stitching has commenced! Off to a good start:

After the first few stitches I felt like I had found my rhythm. Do you suppose doing needleturn appliqué is like riding a bike?

And here we are where we started, with the finished block:

I haven’t been spending nearly enough time in my sewing room lately so getting this little project completed felt very good. It was my way of celebrating National Quilting Day.



Posted in appliqué, Hazel's Diary Quilt, needleturn appliqué, sampler quilt, update | 6 Comments

Boosting a Block . . . Again

If this 18½” block looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen some earlier versions of it. It’s one of the blocks from my ongoing Sea Sampler project begun last spring.

The block you see above started out as this 12½” block made using Cluck Cluck Sew’s free pattern called No Point Stars:

I decided to convert it into an 18½” square block by setting it on point, framing it with a strip of purple, and adding setting triangles to bring it to size:

I felt it needed a boost so I hand appliquéd a fussy-cut flower to the center of the block:

Definitely an improvement.

After making a few smaller blocks (the ones that will finish at 6″ and 12″ square), this was what I had:

So far so good.

I made a couple more 12″ blocks and then added a third 18″ block, the one I call Susan’s Star because I first spotted the design on Susan Ache’s Instagram page (see her post of Nov. 29, 2021):

When you take a look at my three large star blocks, you will probably be struck, as I was, by how much Susan’s Star and the block called Chicago Star (upper left) stand out compared to the block that began life as a No Point Stars block:

I knew instantly what that block needed: some green!

Wow, what a transformation!

I put all three stars up on my design wall . . .

. . . and as much as I liked the addition of green to my embellished block, it still needed something more. What could it be?

Maybe I should add a green triangle to each corner, drawing the eye out to the edges the way the other two blocks do. I cut four green triangles and stuck them up on the block to audition the effect:

I really liked what I saw but . . . would blue triangles in the corner be a better choice than green?

Only one way to find out:


After sewing the blue corners on, I put all of the 12″ and 18″ blocks on my design wall and stepped back 10 feet. This is what I saw:

Yes indeed. That was just the boost the block needed.

I’m sure you have figured out by now that this sampler quilt is coming together without a plan. I don’t have any idea how big it will be or how many more blocks I will make. That’s okay with me because I am confident I will love the end product.




Posted in sampler quilt, update | 9 Comments

Susan’s Star Meets Dawn’s Sometime Sea Sampler

Isn’t this a fabulous block? I call it Susan’s Star.

If you follow Susan Ache — her Instagram handle is yardgrl60 — you may have seen her rendition of this block on her post of Nov. 29 last year. Susan is fond of taking orphan blocks and creating fabulous sampler quilts. She made her version of this block in red, green, and white. I was instantly enchanted when I saw it, so much so that I kept coming back for repeat views.

I wondered if it was her own design or perhaps a traditional block, so I contacted her this week to find out. Susan told me she hasn’t done any research to see if it’s an existing traditional block; she was just playing around when she created it. I asked her if it would be all right if I posted my version and if I could also post a picture of her original version. She kindly said “yes” to both questions.

Here is Susan’s original version:

I think you can see why I was inspired!!

I thought the design might fit well with one of my Works-in-Progress (WIPs) dating back to May of 2021. To refresh your memory, that was when I started making blocks using this initial fabric pull:

The pull was for a very informal Block of the Month program via Zoom that Montavilla Sewing Center, where I teach, had created for me and some of my students while in-person classes were suspended due to Covid. When in-person classes resumed in September, the Zoom classes sort of petered out but I decided to forge ahead, making my favorite blocks from the BOM design but branching out to include others, with the idea of coming up with my own sampler quilt.

When I saw Susan’s block, I just knew I had to include it. The blocks I have made thus far measure 18″, 12″, and 6″ square. (That’s the finished size; the unfinished size is ½” larger.) I’m not sure what size Susan made her block but I made mine to finish at 18″ square.

Many of the fabrics I’m using suggest waves, tidepools, and starfish so I have come to think of this project as my “Sea Sampler.” Because I’ve worked on it off and on, this has morphed into my “Sometime Sea Sampler.” (Could that be the final name of the quilt? Perhaps!)

Oh, one more thing. I clipped quite a few seams on the back to achieve the flattest seams. I thought you might like to see what that looks like:

In the next few days I’ll post photos of the blocks I’ve made so far. Maybe that will help me decide how to move forward.




Posted in Block of the Month (BOM), sampler quilt, update | 7 Comments