Possessed by a Feathered Star

Every now and then I get “possessed” by a quilt!

Like most quilters, I have a few quilts on the go. (Just don’t ask me what my definition of “a few” is!)  And I flit from quilt to quilt like a butterfly.  The trouble is, I never land on a quilt long enough to accomplish much.  However, I have been possessed by my Feathered Star quilt.  I have been working almost non-stop on it, so it feels kind of good to be seeing some progress!  The flowers and stems and the wavy border have all been stitched in place, but not the leaves.  I still have to add the yellow circles to all the flowers.

I was a bit stressed because I needed to find the exact shade of green for the leaves and stem, and thought that going fabric shopping would not only distract me, but delay my progress. Then I had a novel thought… I thought maybe I would check my stash….and I found 3 meters of the perfect green!  Who knew??

I am  previewing 2 different fabrics for the binding!  Which one will I choose?

Til next time……..



Steady progress….

I have never considered myself a stalker!  Well, that is, until I discovered Sue Garman and her amazing, amazing quilts!

I had heard of Sue Garman, but  it was not until I saw an ad in a quilt magazine for her Block- of- the- Month, “Ladies of the Sea”, that  my jaw hit the floor!  I was awestruck.  I had to meet her!  I emailed her and asked her how she stays  motivated.  She gave me the best advice….only work on quilts that you absolutely love, not sort of love, not kind of love….just absolutely love!

I absolutely love Friends of Baltimore (another one of Sue’s BOMs)  so it is easy to stay motivated!

I was lucky enough to meet Sue Garman a couple of years later at Quilt Market.  I told her I was her biggest fan and she giggled!  I wonder if she knows how much of an inspiration she is?

The fuchsias on this block are actually dimensional which makes the block interesting.

Here is how you make them..

Make 2 circles using the 1 1/4″ Perfect Circle.  Use a light and dark fabric and make sure you use matching thread.

Fold one of the circles in towards you and pinch with your fingers.

Take the second circle and fold it around the first circle.

Take a few stitches to hold the petals in place.

Thread an embroidery needle with a couple strands of embroidery floss.  I used yellow.  Knot the thread and stitch through the back to the opening at the top of the flower.  The knots will be on the back of this unit.  Cut the thread an inch or two from the flower.  Repeat this step a couple of times.

I used the starch method on the calyxes, so that means the seam allowance is already turned over.

Now I can just glue it in place at the base.

Lift up the opening and tuck the flower under the calyx and glue in place.  Easy peasy!

Til next time…..


Washing my block

So once my block if completely finished, I figure it deserves a long, hot bubble bath….and so do I!!!

My blocks may not look dirty, but they do need to be cleaned up a bit.  I use starch, glue and marking pens on my blocks.  The blocks may, or may not, have cat hair on them.

I want all that stuff removed before the block is stitched into a quilt.  I do not have to worry about my fabrics running because I have pre-washed everything in hot water and Synthrapol.

This is what I do:

I fill the sink with hot water and add a squirt of liquid soap.  I use either dishwashing soap or whatever hand soap in nearby.

Then I dunk the block in the water.  Do not be nervous!

I usually let it sit for 20 minutes or so.  One time I went out for a couple of hours and forgot about the block soaking in the sink.  It survived.  I am always very surprised (and sometimes a little grossed out) at how grungy and grey the water is.

I let the water out of the sink and rinse the block under warm water until the bubbles are gone. Then I gently press the water out with my hands.  Do not twist the block…it is not a dishcloth!!

Next, I roll the block up in a thick towel and press out any excess water.

Then I lay the block out flat on a dry towel and let it air dry.  I like to put pins in the corners to keep the block flat when it is drying.

And finally, once the block is dry,  I like to turn the block over and give it a final pressing on a thick towel.

And now on to block 7!!  It’s a doozie!!  (See below!)


[doo-zee] verb, doo·zied, doo·zi·ing. Informal noun

Also, doo·zer  [doo-zer]  something that is extraordinary or outstanding of its kind: The storm was a doozie, with winds of fifty miles an hour.

I think I can…..I think I can!!

I have worked non-stop on this block for the last couple of days and the end is finally in sight!  Just a few more grapes and 2 leaves to go.  Thank goodness I have lots of chocolate covered cranberries for motivation…stitch a bit, eat some chocolate…stitch a bit, eat some chocolate!!  It is amazing what you can get accomplished with the right motivation!

I must confess, it doesn’t take much to distract me.  I opened my closet to look for some green fabric I knew would be perfect for my Feathered Star and I noticed these quilts on the shelf.  They had slipped my mind (out of sight, out of mind!) and I thought I  would  share them.  All three wallhangings were made and entered in the Northcott Challenge, which is a yearly challenge sponsored by Northcott Fabrics. Only fabrics made by Northcott may be used and each wallhanging must measure a maximum of 40″ square.  I love challenges…both in quilting and in life!!

I hand appliqued and hand-quilted this wallhanging.  It is based on a Mary Sorenson pattern and I used it as a teaching sample for many years.

I love a Mariner’s Compass.  It is my favourite pieced design.  I added an appliqued wavy border and some dolphins for fun.  It is machine pieced and machine quilted.

This wallhanging is hand-appliqued and machine quilted.  I drew the background design and then added the loons from “A Day at the Lake” by Nancy Murty of Bee Creative Studios.

Til next time…

This is how I spent Sunday….

I have been staring at my Feathered Star quilt wondering how I can incorporate the floral fabric into the border.  A skinny inner border would not show the fabric properly.  A wide outer border would overpower the delicateness of the Feathered Stars.  So I thought: ” What if I cut the floral fabric into a curvy inner border and appliqued it onto a white outer border?  It might look like a garden.”  That appealed to me!   And then I thought “What if I added some appliqued flowers that “grew” out of the garden?”  That might be interesting!  Finally!  My quilt was speaking to me!!

 So I needed a curvy line to use as a pattern.  I used  Illustrator  to draw a curvy line the length of the quilt. The quilt is square so all four sides are the same measurement. I just had to figure out how to turn the corners so that the inner border would flow around the corners. I also had to decide how deep I wanted the curves to be.  Sometimes the hardest part of a quilt is the thinking part!!

So here is my pattern….and my cat chewing up the pattern!

Once I got it away from the cat, I traced the pattern onto freezer paper.  I ironed the freezer paper onto the wrong side of the fabric. Then I trimmed the seam allowance to 1/4″.

I applied some starch to the seam allowance and pressed it over the freezer paper using a stiletto and mini-iron.

Once the freezer paper is removed,  the edge is pressed over and ready to stitch!

I glue basted the curvy border onto the 12″ wide white border and pinned it on the design wall for an audition.  It is exactly how I pictured it!  Now it needs some flowers!

This is what the appliqued flowers should look like!

And now I have a plan!!

The bird is done…but the grapes are not!

This bird is taking on a life of its own!

So…here are the top feathers.

…and the back and head.

The side feathers are stitched on. I also added the band around his neck.  At this point I realized I forgot the beak.  I think I was just so darn excited about how the bird was starting to look..well..very bird-like!

…and finally the last piece of the bird is  stitched in place!

I un-stitched a small section of the head and tucked in the beak.  Now I can concentrate on stems and leaves and grapes!  Did I mention there are 98 grapes!

I am pre-washing the fabrics for the appliqued border on my Feathered Star.  I am not sure what pattern I am doing yet but I want the fabric to be ready when my idea hits me!!

This is why I pre-wash!!

I pre-wash all my fabric in really hot water and Synthrapol.  I just sleep better when I do!!

An honest day’s work!

It was going to be a great day!!   Our new counter tops were being installed by a company that required  someone over the age of 18 be home…for the whole day!!  An entire day devoted to applique!    I thought it would be a good opportunity to work on block 5 of Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore”.  I had already stitched a few of the grapes in place and I was looking forward to sewing on the bird’s tail feathers.  Well!  Little did I know that before all the tail feathers could be stitched in place, the grapevine needed to be stitched down.  And before the grapevine could be stitched down, the stems and leaves needed to be stitched in place!  A lot of stitching needed to be done before I could get to the tail feathers!

Here are a few pictures of the very slow (but extremely rewarding) progress I made today!!  I know it doesn’t look like I accomplished much….but really I did!!

I stitched a few skinny stems down so I could add some leaves.

Then I started to add the tail feathers, one by one.

Before I could add the under-body of the bird, I needed to add some brown grapevines.

Then I could finally stitch  the bird’s  under-body and the very last tail feather!!

I am still working away on my Feathered Star.  I must confess, these blocks didn’t excite me too much when I made them 3 years ago….which is why they probably ended up somewhere in my closet.  Now that I have sewn the blocks together and added a sashing, I am delighted!   I thought I would add some appliqued flowers in the white spaces.  I am not sure about that now.  I think it looks fine without it.  What this quilt really needs is an appliqued border.  It’s a toss-up  between formal swags cut from the feature fabric or a nice curvey vine with some flowers.  (I am waiting for the quilt to tell me what it needs!!)