Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

Posts tagged ‘stars’

Quilt Trail Blocks

Today, we hung quilt trail blocks on the facade of our business.  We own a small bakery in our hometown and decided to paint our own quilt blocks for the Gratiot County Quilt Trail.  We started the project in January and finished today with the hanging.

DB Quilt Block Trail

As you can see, we finished two quilt blocks.  To create a 4’X4′ block, we needed to purchase a 4’X8′ piece of marine plywood.  Since  we ended up with two pieces, we made two blocks.  They fit perfectly on either side of the business sign.  The paint is Resilience exterior  paint by Sherwin Williams in goldfinch, gladiola, and forward fushia on the Sister’s Choice block; and the addition of blue chip  on the Sunbonnet Sue block.  The background of both is in dover white.  I chose bright, autumn colors that blanket the landscape in October here in Michigan, for the blocks.  Sue wears blue & gold as a Yellowjacket fan, the local high school mascot and alma mater of both myself & my husband.

Sister's Choice Quilt Trail Block

Sister’s Choice block: Gratiot County Quilt Trail

Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Trail Block

Sunbonnet Sue block: Gratiot County Quilt Trail

As an avid quilter, I chose the quilt patterns as a reflection of my personal quilting history. Sunbonnet Sue is a favorite pattern and has become my avatar.  One of my earliest quilts was a sampler of various Sunbonnet patterns.  Quilting wasn’t passed down through my family.  I don’t have quilts that my Grandmother made, although she sewed and taught me to crochet.  Rather, I’ve introduced both of my sisters to quilting, and we bond regularly over sewing and quilting activities.  I originally stitched a small Sister’s Choice quilt for a guild challenge, then gifted it to my oldest sister, Roxanne.  The pattern seemed a fitting choice to represent my family quilting connection.

The Gratiot County Quilt Trail is producing a brochure that will be available in the Fall, so that enthusiasts can travel through the area and view each of the 50 blocks on display.  If you’re in the area, stop and visit our local city.  Enjoy a cup of coffee and a roll; it’s definitely worth the trip.




Finished Quilt Top

My previous post displayed my National Quilting Association Block of the Month quilt top with sashing added. I have since added the inside and outside borders. I cut the black outside borders on the straight grain of the fabric. I don’t usually do this, but had adequate fabric to make the borders without seams. Having the straight grain along the edge will keep the quilt edges from stretching while being quilted. The finished size is 76 X 90.

BOM with Borders

This side view captures a better view of the quilt. Following are additional pictures for your viewing pleasure.


Top to bottom view.

NQA BOM top corner

Titled: Galaxy – top right corner.

Closeup of Corner

Signature block in bottom right corner.

I hope all of you are enjoying happy finishes. Now off to the longarmer for the quilting.



Rearranging Quilt Blocks

Have you planned a layout for a sampler quilt and had difficulty keeping the blocks properly arranged while sewing them together? Or, have you changed your layout and realized later that your rearrangement placed identical blocks next to each other? Well, that’s where I am with my NQA BOM quilt. I initially completed ten blocks, one for each month of the BOM. After viewing the layout, I decided to make the 20-block quilt and produced a second block of each design. Some of the blocks are identical, using up the extra strips of fabric cut for the first block, while other blocks use completely different fabrics. After my sister helped me plan the layout, I carefully stacked and pinned the blocks together into rows and put them aside for awhile.

Here was the initial block arrangement.

Here was the initial block arrangement.

I stitched together the sashing strips with stitch and flip corner triangles, making friendship stars in the cornerstones. Some of these sashing strips have one triangle, while others have a triangle on each end of the strip. As I began sewing the blocks and sashing together, I made the mistake of sewing a single triangle sashing on upside down. Rather than unsew, I decided to flip the block over and move it one position to the right – Mistake #1. T the corner block was made from the same fabric as the star I re-positioned, so I moved the block to the bottom row of the quilt. But, as you may guess, I noticed another odd arrangement, and thus began a multiple block and switch. It wasn’t until I finished stitching all the blocks together and returned to look at the quilt top the next day, that I noticed the two checkerboard stars stitched next to each other. You may also notice that two other identical blocks are diagonal from each other on the left side.

Close-up of identical blocks next to each other.

Close-up of identical blocks next to each other.

I had other issues while putting together the blocks. One of the star blocks used the the red fabric as the background and created a white star. As mentioned, the fabric for the friendship stars in the sashing is also used in the quilt blocks – Mistake #2. When I stitched the sashing strip together next to the star with the red background, it created a red blob. I had to replace that friendship star with one from a different fabric – more unsewing. I stitched the rows of sashing strips to the bottom of each row of sashed star blocks. Mistake #3 – After stitching together row one and two, I realized that I had stitched the sashing to the top of the row, thus the blocks were backwards – more unsewing. With all of the unsewing and resewing, no wonder I have misarranged blocks.

Aerial view

Aerial view

Here is an overhead view of the quilt blocks stitched together with sashing. I really don’t want to unsew anymore of this quilt. I would rather put my efforts into other quilts and have more finishes. This quilt will be for my personal use and having a perfectly pieced quilt is not that important in the scheme of life. Now to add the inside and outside borders.

Hopefully you don’t experience as many struggles with your piecing as I did in this quilt. But, if you do, don’t give up. And, don’t try to be perfect with everything. Sometimes, finishing a quilt is the most important thing.

Happy Stitching!

More BOM Finishes

I have been stitching a lot in the last few months, just not blogging about it. Blogging can take a lot of time, which impacts how much time I have to quilt. And life has way more important activities than spending all my extra time blogging. But, I thought I would share my next three blocks for the NQA Galaxy quilt.

Squared Star is the July block by NQACT Cindy Schultz. I found the instructions limited, needing further explanation. Maybe it was just me, but as a long time sewist and quilter, they did not make complete sense. The illustrations indicated what needed to be put together, but the words did not provide the needed information. And, the cuts of fabric were incorrect. I figured out the correct size and completed the block.

July BOM - Squared Star

July BOM – Squared Star

Steps to the Stars is the August block. The pattern was designed on EQ7 by Heather G. Tighe, NQACT. The block was pretty straightforward, with basic piecing instructions. I chose to strip piece the 4-patches. I made the flying geese sections using squares and rectangles and the stitch and flip method, while the instructions used triangles and required sewing on the diagonal grain. I find this kind of sewing more difficult and would not teach it to a beginner.

Steps to the Stars - July BOM

July BOM – Steps to the Stars

Finally, the September block is Sawtooth Star with String Pieced Center by NQACT, Fran Kordek. Many of the monthly blocks are variations on the Sawtooth star block. I like this one. The center of this block has four string pieced blocks. A 4-1/2 inch muslin square is used for the base and the strips are added improvisationally. My only mistake was failing to realize that the muslin is cut larger than needed and trimmed to the finished size. I figured it out when my geese units were too short. I usually skim instructions, having a good understanding of block construction. I may have wasted less fabric on the strip piecing if I had realized this first and used skinnier strips for the strings. To correct my mistake, I just trimmed the string pieced center down along the outside edge. I lost some of the outside strings, but the overall affect was achieved.

Sawtooth Star with String Pieced Center

Sawtooth Star with String Pieced Center

I planned to download the next block pattern today, but it isn’t available. I am on target to complete the quilt considering that I have completed all of the blocks, so far. I should probably start selecting some fabrics for sashing and borders. Especially since I found a new BOM that I want to do. Jacquelynne Steves is offering a free BOM called Sew Sweet Simplicity on her website beginning October 27th. She was a featured guest on American Patchwork & Quilting Radio with Pat Sloan on Monday. I grabbed her button and signed up.

Until next time…


I found some time between holiday week-end activities to stitch together another star block for my NQA Galaxy BOM quilt. I accomplished the stitching on the June block, Star of Illusion. The pattern is designed by Debby Kratovil from a “Quilter’s Block-a-Day Calendar” published by Martingale and Company. Cyndi McChesney, an NQA certified teacher, has written the instructions.

June BOM - Star of Illusion

June BOM – Star of Illusion

The block parts are pieced using a quick piecing technique and a foundation paper piecing technique. As I stated last month, foundation paper piecing is not a favorite of mine. This time, I had to draft my own paper foundation. Then, I followed the same process as last month to piece the star points. The corner blocks were quick pieced by making half square triangles (HST) from red fabric squares by drawing a line down the center and stitching 1/4-inch on either side. Then, the resulting HST block was stitched to a white square in the same manner. This produced a block with quarter square triangles on one side.

In the instructions, the red and white squares were all cut the same size. This resulted in the pieced red HST being smaller than the white square. The instructions stated to sew a 1/2-inch seam from the center drawn line. I found this difficult to do, since the seam guide on the machine was hidden by the fabric during stitching. Also, it was difficult to center the smaller red HST onto the white square and ensure that the corners lined up. I wonder sometimes if teachers stitch the block when writing instructions.

I preferred to cut the white square the same size as the red HST section and just sew a 1/4-inch seam from the center drawn line. This was easier to line up and to stitch. Most quilters have a 1/4-inch foot for sewing seams, so that makes more sense. Even the standard foot isn’t 1/2-inch wide. Maybe the teacher was thinking that the white square would be an odd measurement to cut. I simply cut the block to the finished HST size and continued to stitch the parts together to form the block section. The final section still needed to be trimmed to 4-1/2-inches after piecing it together.

Six of the star blocks are now complete, and I’m really not behind, as many of us get with BOM patterns. The July star block pattern, Squared Star, was only just made available to members on July 1st. I decided to take a photo of all six blocks to share, mostly because I purchased a new digital camera and the photos are much brighter and clearer. Some of the previous blocks looked dark or washed out when they were posted. Here are the six blocks in the order that they were stitched.

NQA 2014 BOM - January through June completed blocks

NQA 2014 BOM – January through June completed blocks

So far, I have been able to stick to my color palette of 4-5 red fabrics. Most of the star blocks required one or two colors plus the white background for the pattern. This star block used three and the April pattern used four. It is difficult to determine how the blocks will be set together, but they look fairly good together so far. And, I have learned some new foundation paper piecing techniques while doing this BOM, which is often why a quilter decides to do a BOM. My intention was to use up some old fabrics, since many of these are from the eighties and nineties. I need to freshen up my stash.

Are you working on a Block of the Month pattern for this year? How are you doing?


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