Modern Star Sampler Quilt

Star Quilt

Ah, that mid fall snow storm. At least it makes for good quilt photos. Plus the motivation to stay inside and finish up a quilt top!

This stars quilt is probably at a decade in the making, if not more. It started as a Block of the Month. I fell behind by the third month then completely lost track of the online pattern. So I made it up. I’ve spoken about it before, that even when you are doing precision piecing, it can be improv.

So there you have it, the top finally finished. Such a pretty thing, if I can say that myself.

Five pointed Star Quilt Block

This is one of my favourite block styles in the whole quilt. It’s paper pieced, not exactly improv. I sized up a free pattern offered by Amy Friend to get my 12.5” squares. But the spirit of those hand drawn triangles we all made as a kid was exactly what I wanted. And it was the perfect foil to all the other star designs in the quilt. It needed these stars for balance.

I’m already sure I will do a simple all over pattern for quilting this. Nothing fancy, just let it live as a finished quilt as opposed to fussing about outlining each star or obsessing about matching thread colours. In fact, I’ve already started on the backing. I took all the trimmings and scraps from this last run of blocks and put them together. In a few Morning Make sessions I had one big improv block. It would make a great table runner, but I need a quilt back more than I need a table runner.

Improv Quilt Back

Oh, and a quick shout out to my 7yo son. He took the outdoor shots for me while I held up the quilt. I also wasn’t kidding about that snow. This was last week, before September ended! Then it melted. Then it snowed again. I’m not complaining, it did get me some pretty shots in the end!

Round and Round - Improv Log Cabins in a Circle

Imrpov Log Cabin Quilts

Round and Round

80” x 80”

Definitely not my oldest quilt in the construction pile, but 5 years later this one is done. I looked, and I made the original handful of blocks in September 2014. Oddly enough, also on a September snow day. Yet this quilt is the antithesis of a snow day. It is bright and obnoxious, full of energy and noise, not quiet, serene, or peaceful. But it will keep you warm during not that freaky, obviously, snowstorms.

So I started it 5 years ago, finished the top 3 years ago, and it took me all summer to quilt it. Sounds about right!

It ended up being a bear to quilt. I really wanted to get it done but it was at a peak of pain for me. So I got my friend Philippa to thread baste it for me on her long arm. But then I fought and fought with my machine on quilting it. Thread kept breaking and my bobbin sensor went haywire. Even a trip to the spa didn’t solve the problems. But I kept her clean, got new bobbins, and eventually learned to turn off the bobbin sensor. Oh, and adjusted that top tension. We will not mention my tendency to speed through corners and the impact that may have had on quilting.

Improv Log Cabin Scrap Quilts

I did use a go-to thread colour for scrap quilts - olive/sage green. It would truly be my last choice of colours given a stack of fabric or rack of thread, but it works brilliantly with scrap quilts. It blends better than grey and falls in a nice medium value so as not to pop out anywhere. With a scrap quilt like this an all over pattern is precisely perfect.

Hot pink binding for the win!

Plans are underway for something more for this quilt. I’m pretty excited to see what I can do. The snow needs to melt and health needs to return to our house. Both should happen by the weekend. After that, we’ll see if my plans can come to fruition. It just takes the time to do the work! Hard to do with that regular family business job, shingles, and sick kids. In the meantime, this quilt is already in rotation for snuggles.

Scrap Quilts Log Cabin Quilts

Improv Quilts Can Be Precisely Pieced

Stars BOM Quilt

Sometimes I just get in the mood for some precision piecing. Actually, it was more that I needed the distraction that comes with the need to focus when precision piecing.

The first of these blocks was probably made a decade or so ago. It was part of a BOM I found online called Constellations. I think I did the first 3 months and then never looked at or saw it again. Years back I tried to find the pattern to finish it because it was quite good, but never located it. Now and then - about once every year or two - I would pick a star block pattern I could find and make another block. I didn’t have to recreate the original quilt, after all! No plan, no rush though.

This is actually improvisational quilting. Yes, even though I am doing precision piecing. I define it as improv because I have no idea where I will end up. Improv = starting without knowing where you will end.

But this past week of dealing with stress and needing a different kind of break with my quilting brought out these blocks, and a path forward.

  • 36 blocks needed

  • 3 blocks of each star pattern

  • Add more variation in the shapes of the stars for remaining blocks.

So I am digging through the scrap bins and raiding the stash for more combinations of fabrics, playing with the original colour scheme I started. I cut a block or two at night, to be ready for my Morning Make. And I’ve picked out patterns for the two new sets of three blocks I need to make to get up to 36 stars in total.

It’s exactly what I need right now.

Star Quilt

Solid Triangle Play Quilt Top

solid triangle improv 1.jpg

In a way, it makes perfect sense to finish this quilt as summer ends. Although I started it a few years back, only as a class sample, it symbolizes the play of this past summer. And the stress relief that comes from play.

A bit of a loose plan - the rules of the game:

  1. Each block to be made from only two fabrics.

  2. Fabrics must be high contrast.

  3. Piecing is improvisational.

  4. Use the triangle and the many ways to make it, manipulate it, shape it to piece together the blocks.

That’s it. The rest of it evolved as it went, like kids making up new rules as they play the game. Square up to similar sizes once I’d made a few blocks. Oh look, I like it in rows so it goes in rows now. And then it was big enough and the game was over. Actually, the game was over and I just made it big enough.

(It finishes at about a lap size but I don’t know the actual measurements.)

As I shared the blocks over on Instagram I had some people mention different shapes they saw. How cool, like watching clouds! That completely changed my plan for quilting. For now, though, it gets added to the pile of quilt tops and moves places on the list of quilts under construction. Soon enough.

Solid fabric Improv Piecing

Now, as our brief moment of fall starts to pull back the curtain and as I ready myself and the family for our active schedule I will hang on to this spirit of play for it did me a load of good!