Last night, I placed the final stitches in the Christmas Lone Star, sighed, went to bed, and then couldn't sleep till after 3 a.m. I don't think there's a connection, but at any rate today's been a slowish day for me--perfect for spending time outside taking pictures of a quilt, and calling that the high point of the day.
I'm not much of a pattern person when it comes to quilts. I like to do my own thing and enjoy the challenge of those "What now?" moments. And there were quite a few of those as this Lone Star came together. What follows is a account of the thought and design process for this quilt. Anyone who looks in at my blog has probably seen some of the steps along the way.
And thank you for being patient with the occasional moaning and whining, as this quilt moved along.
The quilt was born in a Lone Star class I took in May, 2010, a simple and supposedly quick Lone Star with plain fabric insets. I got the inner star diamond sections completed in a weekend and then just didn't know where to go from there. The setting squares and triangles, which would bring the star to a square shape, looked so huge to me--the setting squares would need to be nearly 22 inches square. I knew I needed to do something else with those setting pieces, but what? I couldn't decide, so the big diamonds, not yet sewn into a star, were folded up and sat in a project box for many months.
I flirted with appliqueing the setting pieces, and went so far as starting one square. This idea provided endless amusement for my quilting friends--they know that applique and I don't mix. They especially laughed at the idea of my tackling so big an applique project.
Well, OK, so they were right... I got this much of one square sewn,
and knew pretty clearly that it wasn't happening for me. And this incomplete piece has now been sitting on top of a 30 inch square ruler, on top of a desk in my bedroom, for a year and a half. Sad lack of follow-through, I know.
Last fall, I got serious about finishing this quilt. I played a good deal with piecing options for those setting squares and triangles in Electric Quilt, finally settling on star and chain blocks. Piecing always feels like the right answer for me.
So far, so good.
Another issue with the original quilt was that I didn't want it to finish at only 72 inches, which was the finished dimension of the original class Lone Star. I wanted a large bed quilt. So instead of piecing big setting squares AND triangles, I made them ALL squares. This would extend the quilt beyond the original 72" dimensions.
At this point, geometry entered into the mix, which is never a happy thing for me. But Judy Martin's wonderful Shining Star Quilts from the 1980s (the very first quilt book I ever bought) came to the rescue. What was needed were eight more big pieced diamonds, just like the diamonds making up that inner Lone Star. These diamond pieces would fit within and circle around the big pieced squares.
Shining Star Quilts has tables that tell you just how big the pieces need to be for various Lone Star configurations. If you make quilts and do not own this book, you need to buy it immediately, or 25 years ago, which is preferable.
With this new direction, I had to scramble to find more of the original fabrics, and I was able to find all but one. And fortunately, I found a substitute for that one missing fabric that I could live with.
So I made eight more big diamond pieces. And the quilt still wasn't a square. It needed four gigantic corner pieces to complete the square. It seemed like a sunburst was the only way to go. I drew a sunburst design in EQ, took it to an office supply store and had it blown up to huge proportions.
Aaand then I procrastinated on the making of those sunbursts for about three months. Blah, blah, blah--I whined here and on Facebook, to anyone who'd listen. Paper piecing with those long, skinny points was drudgery, but I finally set myself to completing it all and got 'er done. Not fun, but in the end, well worth the time and energy.
Marge West, my long arm quilter, came up with a perfect quilting design. It's called Cotton Candy. Love it, love it. Doesn't it look fabulous on the stripey shirting background fabric?
I'm really happy with the outcome. It's hard to go wrong with these colors! And despite all the crazy biases along the way, the quilt is pretty much square. Happy, happy.
Sooo, do I have permission to pitch that wretched piece of partially completed applique??
Christmas Lone Star Quilt
Dimensions: approximately 102" square
Fabrics: 100% cotton
Batting: 80/20 cotton/poly
Long arm quilted by Marge West
Quilting design: Cotton Candy