On Hold: Star-Crossed Lovers

Do you ever have a vision for a quilt project that doesn’t quite pan out? That’s what happened last Thursday, when I took a class called “Star-Crossed Lovers” in Sisters, Oregon. I love teacher Colleen Blackwood’s design, pictured here:

Star Crossed Lovers Colleen Blackwood
Star-Crossed Lovers (56″ x 60″) designed by Colleen Blackwood

The quilt you see above is hanging in a quilt shop in Washington State so my classmates and I didn’t get to see it in person but Colleen had another version on hand:

Star Crossed Lovers Colleen Blackwood 2
Colleen Blackwood with Version #2

(Both quilts were expertly quilted by Colleen on her domestic sewing machine.)

Note that each heart-within-a-heart contains a block that finishes at 12″ square. The background fabric for the inner heart is the same as the block background, so the block floats in the inner heart.

We students had the option to make our blocks in advance. I created two kaleidoscope blocks using Tula Pink’s Chipper fabric, making Chipper (the chipmunk) the focal point in both of them. I converted the octagonal kaleido blocks into circles, centering them in the 12″ square blocks. Here is the first block . . .

Chipmunk Love #1
Dawn’s First Block

. . . and the second one:

Chipmunk Love #2
Dawn’s Second Block

My plan is to have one heart go from pink to orange and the other from orange to pink. Starting with the pink block, I chose several orange fabrics for a scrappy outer heart. In class I labored away cutting my fabrics — inner heart, outer heart, and background — and sewing the first large heart-within-a-heart block.

Later that evening, as I was sewing the last of the orange segments to the inner heart, I realized I had a problem. Two of them, in fact.

Star Crossed Lovers dawn's first attempt
Dawn’s first heart block, partially made


The first problem: there’s not enough contrast between the pink and orange fabrics; they are too similar in value. The orange polka dot fabric, which I initially thought might be too dark, seems just right to me now. I’m planning to remake the outer heart using just that fabric.

The second problem: my Chipper circle looks a little too small. It measures 9″ in diameter, not filling the 12″ squares as Colleen’s blocks do. So now I am thinking about reducing the scale of the hearts. Except for the center block, the entire quilt is constructed of squares that finish at 4″. If I reduce those squares to 3½”, the Chipper circles will appear larger in the inner hearts. But reducing the squares to 3½” means all of those sawtooth stars (43 of them) would have to finish at 3½” too. Do I really want to deal with that?

Another thought is to keep the center blocks the same size (12″) but add a second ring of color around the kaleidoscope blocks by inserting another circle. If I do that, it will preserve the original scale of Colleen’s design.

I put a lot of thought and effort into making my two chipmunk blocks and even have a quilt name picked out: Chipmunk Love. As much as I would like to continue working on this quilt, I’m reluctant to proceed until my path is clear. Now that I’m back at home, I’ll put the blocks up on my design wall and make sure I take a look at them a few times a day.

What a dilemma! Do you have any suggestions for me?




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7 Responses to On Hold: Star-Crossed Lovers

  1. Nancy says:

    Well I’m not an expert by any means. But this is my vision. I love both of your blocks, but looking at the finished quilt the thing that stands out to me are the points in the stars along with the points of the block inside each of the hearts. What are your plans for the remainder of the quilt? If you were going to incorporate circles in a similar fashion to the small stars it might change how you feel about your blocks. I love the idea of your polka dot fabric I think that would be a very good choice. It will be fun to see what other people suggest and what you decide to do.

  2. Charlie says:

    I think you are right to reduce the size of the hearts.

  3. Lynne Nicholson says:

    You need make no change to the scale as your heart and Chipper look perfect size wise. I love the little chipmunk.

  4. Diane says:

    Well, I can only provide you with my gut reactions because I have no quilting expertise whatsoever, but I LOVE the kaleidoscope chipmunk squares but think they should be incorporated into a wholly different quilt design. I must confess, with all due respect for its creator, I think the hearts in the Star Crossed Lovers quilt are too large compared to the stars and the quilt is an unusual combination of contemporary (hearts) and traditional (stars) design elements that the chipmunk only confuses.

  5. Vickie says:

    Hi my friend,
    Looks like you will be getting lots of comments and suggestions. Love both of your Chipmunk blocks. If you are going to bring them up from a 9″ block to a 12″ block, I think adding a spiky border would be nice. For more contrast, how about some green? I would leave the blocks at 4″ finished if possible. Have fun! This is a journey that should bring us joy not angst.

  6. Hi Dawn,
    Hmmm, I loved your idea during the class and it still is a good idea, but the chipmunk circles are a bit small for the scale. The Mariner’s Compass in the centers of the quilt I didn’t have in class were finished at 10″, so they fit the space a bit better. I am not big on redoing things as you know, so one solution I would think through would be to complete the blocks as planned, but plan on adding some special stitches to add texture and depth to the centers of the hearts. Perhaps some hand stitching? I know, you were just hoping someone would suggest a quick fix like hand stitching….
    I wouldn’t try and resize the sawtooth stars – they are too small as is. It is a smaller project, so you may not mind the center size once it is finished and the quilting is done – again I am seeing room for stitches – this time quilting stitches….
    I would love to see it when you are finished and see the solutions you will choose. Your work is always beautiful….thanks for taking the class.

  7. Dawn says:

    Thank you, friends, for your comments and suggestions. It’s always helpful to get feedback. I’ve decided to: 1) keep my squares at 4″ finished, so no downsizing of the inner and outer hearts (and no downsizing of the baby sawtooth stars!), 2) replace the scrappy orange outer heart with one fabric, most likely the dark orange polkadot, and 3) wait till then to see if I can live with the scale of the chipmunk blocks. If they still seem on the small side, I will revisit my teacher Colleen’s suggestion of embellishing the blocks with special stitching, or perhaps something else (applique?).

    While I was in Sisters, I bought a yard each of Cotton + Steel’s Sprinkle fabric in bright aqua and bright pink. I might be using one or both of those fabrics in the rest of the quilt.

    If anyone has any further thoughts, feel free to share them!

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