Friday, October 24, 2014

The Royal Star is Back with a Free Pattern and Tutorial

 Fossil Fern Collection by Benartex: just like a box of candy spilled on my counter top - yum, yum!
 I've been playing with these fabrics for almost 15 years. Yes, they still produce these fabrics - never before has a fabric line stayed popular for so long.
55,000 visitors can't be wrong!

I just checked my stats on this post from two years ago. Can you believe it? 25,000! I've added a tutorial for making the block at the bottom of this page so you can see how to piece the block. Enjoy!

An Antique Quilt Updated: The Royal Star Quilt

The Royal Star quilt from my book, Bold, Black and Beautiful Quilts, 2004
This block pattern first appeared in the Ladies Art Company catalog, #462 in 1922. My quilt was made in early 2002 with Fossil Ferns from Benartex Fabrics. My editor had requested that I be sent a collection of all their bright colors and for some reason I thought of this traditional block. I did not want to use templates and figured that if I just rotary cut the centers, I could make a paper piecing pattern for each of the four corners. It didn't really matter that the block wasn't a standard 10" or 12" (it's 8-1/2" finished) because all of the blocks are set with each other and size is not crucial to this setting.

This quilt was featured in 2 separate magazines, once on the cover
Did you know that Fossil Ferns are STILL being produced by Benartex? They were designed by Pat Campbell - are you ready for this? - 15 years ago!! This is unheard of in the textile industry but honest to goodness, these fabrics are TIMELESS. I have a batch of fat quarters that I dig into from time to time and they never fail to meet my need for a textured solid.

OK. So why would I tempt you with this quilt if the book is out of print? Well, you could buy my CD of all 16 quilts (go to my web site for that), or you could go just a little further in this post and get the quilt pattern for FREE!

Royal Star Quilt Free Pattern
Please let me know how you like this antique quilt updated. I will pass on the comments to this little quilt that goes on the road with me from time to time, but otherwise lives on a shelf in my closet. She would be so happy to hear from you!


1. Prepare your foundations. You will need four of the star corners. Pre-cut the fabric shapes for each of construction (all sizes for these are in the FREE PATTERN)
Cut out parts according to pattern
 2. Use the blue square in Position #1 on the pattern. Place it on the UNWRITTEN side of the pattern with the wrong side of fabric touching this unwritten side.
Notice that the fabric extends away from all lines around Patch #1. Pin in place
3. Without turning pattern over, fold back along line between Patch 1 and Patch 2. Trim away excess blue fabric, leaving 1/4" seam allowance.

(Dark) postcard used; fold along line. Add a Quarter gives perfect 1/4" seam allowance
 Both sides trimmed
Both sides of Patch #1 trimmed, leaving 1/4" seam allowance from side lines.
4. Pin rectangle (orange) for Patch #2 to cut edge of Patch #1, right sides together. Pin

Fabric for Patch #2 pinned, aligned along newly cut edge of Patch #1.
5. Now it's time to turn pattern over and sew on the line between Patch #1 and Patch #2. Sew all the way from the outside edge of the pattern, THROUGH both outside seam allowances. Finger press orange patch away from seam (see below)

6. Repeat for Patch #3. Pin and sew on the side with the lines. Turn pattern over and this is what you see . . .
Patch #3 added. Notice I have sewn from edge of fabric to other edge of fabric.
7. Press patches as shown . . .

Patches pressed, awaiting trimming
8. Time to trim again before you add the last two (blue) patches. ALL trimming is done on the printed side. Fold the pattern back on the line, use an Add-a-Quarter ruler for the 1/4" seam allowance.

Patches 2 and 3 trimmed
 9. Add Patches 4 and 5, one at a time; press  . . .
Star point unit - what a mess, huh?
10. Now it's time to trim excess fabric using the seam allowance markings on the pattern. Turn this over and . . .

If you look closely, you can see how I sewed off the paper with every seam. This ensures that I sewed in the seam allowances, just as you do with traditional piecing. Those seams criss-cross in the seam allowances.
Can you see the excess fabric that extends away from the outside of the paper?
11. The outside edges of my paper are where I'm going to trim. It is 1/4" away from the outside triangle line of the unit.
Wow! It sure looks good when it gets cleaned up.
Can we see the front? Glad you asked . . .
Make 4 of these for each block
 Now it's time to add the Nine Patch (made with 2-1/2" squares) with the Star Points.

Royal Star block parts
Now for the full block sewn:
Isn't she pretty?
I was just using scraps, so I didn't have enough to make a bigger mug rug. I did have one I made a while ago that I'll show you. But first, let's see another color combination . . .

Royal Star block with black background
And how does it look with some of the sashings like I used in my full quilt? When the sashing fabric is the same color as the block background, the star seems to float on the black

Triple sashing and 9 patch blocks
And here's my mug rug from a previous life . . .
Block size: 8-1/2". With 1" sashings and squares: 14-1/2" x 14-1/2"

Sunday, October 19, 2014

And a Little Yarn for Texture . . .

Thrift shop find - just discovered it's wool!
There is a local thrift shop that has a "yarn wall" with a variety of plastic bags filled with a vast assortment of yarn. I discovered this marvelous hank two summers ago. I should have known that it would be high-end yarn by the way it was presented. No paper wrapper with generic labels by the main stream yarn vendors (ie,  Lion Brand; Red Heart). I uncoiled it and wrapped it into a giant ball.

The weather is turning cold here and it's time to pull out the crochet hooks and various yarn. I rediscovered this and decided to find out whether it's wool or just acrylic or polyester. Tested it by fire (match) and it turns to ash. If it had melted into a clump and smelled awful, then it would have been synthetic. That bundle above is 100% wool!

Yarn samples
I found a huge assortment of these yarn samples with some serious "bling" last year (yarn wall, of course). Pulled these out and am determined to use them for something. I see that I approach yarn in the same way as I do my fabric:

Buy it because it's pretty.
Stack it up.
Pull it out and stroke it.
Dream about possible projects.
Put it back on the shelf.

I taught in Ft. Worth this past week. Three and a half hour flight back and forth. What to do? Grabbed two skeins of Lion Brand Homespun (again, purchased on that yarn wall) and a size K hook.

Crocheted a scarf on the trip out there . . .
Scarf made with Lion Brand Homespun, Fiesta colorway
Crocheted a second scarf on the trip home . . .

Scarf made with Lion Brand Homespun, Tudor colorway
Needed this scarf when my plane landed at 11 pm, waiting for the taxi to pick me up. Pulled it out of my tote bag and wrapped it around my neck. Cozy!

I never did learn to knit. But I can crochet!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Classes in Minneapolis & Tinley Park

  Final classes for the Sewing Expo in Minneapolis and Tinley Park (Chicago)

 This fun wreath is a stencil . . .

Draw with a stencil; complete with free motion outside
 What a FAT CAT! Of course! That's his name. My own pattern that we trace the simple outline shape onto freezer paper, iron onto fabric, stitch around freezer paper, peel off freezer paper and then fill inside this very fat cat!

Fat Cat is a pattern I've had for a very long time


Buzz Saw using a multi-sized 12-1/2" Dresden Plate ruler (included in kit)
This is Dresden Plate blades on steroids! Easy and quick and dynamic.

Hosannah Quilt from my book, Paper Piecing Perfect Points
 Cupid's Arrows is a paper piecing project using just 3 of the Hosannah/Palm Blocks:

Cupid's Arrows
 Check out the Twisted Hexagons!

Twisted Hexagons
This only looks hard. There are no y-seams and the blocks are large. The table runner uses 12" blocks.


Twisted Hexagons Table Runner
The Table Topper uses 10" blocks (6 of them) and a large, interfaced center hexagon appliqued on last.
Twisted Hexagons Table Topper
 And, last but not least, my Mariner's Compass paper pieced on a 20" coffee filter!
Mariner's Compass drafted on a 20" coffee filter!! Yes, you read that right! Add a paper pieced halo of Flying Geese and then the super-sized background for an awesome 32" block.

32" block - 20" compass
 And a Mariner's Compass in modern colors . . .

Using solids and grey, with a fabulous floral background
 You can read more about the techniques taught, the supply lists, the class prep, etc at the Sewing Expo site - click the links for the projects above. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Updating a Hexie Post from Last Year

Do you remember this post? Let's review (because I actually got around to finishing it!)

Create a ring of hexagons. Stitch them together as shown.
Grandmother's Flower Garden Hexagon Ring: each hexagon finishes to 4-1/2"
 I faced the 6 hexagons with medium weight interfacing
Faced Hexagon Ring using interfacing
Applique the focus hexagon (which is also interfaced) onto the center
Don't you just love interfacing? It's AWESOME!
Now it's ready to be appliqued to a 15-1/2" background square of white on white fabric:
Center and machine applique with invisible mono-filament thread
And then cut away the white background fabric from behind the Hexagon Block
Clip away fabric to reduce bulk. This would make an interesting applique, huh?
Everything clipped away and you can see the seaming and applique stitches
I finally got around to quilting this. Used my HandiQuilter Sweet 16 and it was so much fun.

My Ring of Hexagons
What am I going to do with all these small quilted samples? Too big for a mug rug. Too small for a table runner. But they are good to take on the road as teaching samples.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Columbus Day Tribute

The Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria
This quilt is over 22 years old. Jinny Beyer created this collection to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the "discovery" of America by Christopher Columbus.

What a beautiful mariner's compass - as only Jinny Beyer could draft!

I remember buying the fabric, in fact! I still have a small piece SOMEWHERE in my messy stash. I used a pattern from a Quilting Today magazine (now defunct) exactly as it was presented. I hand quilted the little quilt and bring it out every year around October 12th.

I'm of Italian heritage as was Columbus. And one of my sons in law is from Spain and we have to remember that it was Queen Isabella of Spain who financed Columbus' trip so he could "discover" us.

Tomorrow is a holiday here in the States, though some people scorn Columbus. Revisionist history and all that.

I blogged about Columbus Day in 2012 and presented a Mariner's Compass quilt HERE

Galaxy Compass
Hope you enjoyed my little - and really old - quilt!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Amish Triangles Quilts

Antique Amish Triangles quilt
I saw an exhibit at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC back in 2008 that was curated by Esprit. There were some amazing quilts on display. While this wasn't one of them, there were many that had the same personality. Isn't this just glorious in it's muted colors and exquisite quilting?

I decided to design and sew one of my own. I actually made two using the newly released (at that time) Gee's Bend solids by Windham Fabrics. Here is my first one, trying to stay with the same basic design as the antique quilt above.

Amish Triangles - 48" x 66"
I had to simplify it because I got exhausted thinking about piecing all those triangles! I rather like the orange next to the red for an unexpected shock of color (no, I would never put those colors together in my clothing!) This quilt was picked up by Fons and Porter Magazine the following year and it appears as the October quilt in my 2014 wall calendar of quilts.

Amish Classic Shadows also appears in my 2014 wall calendar of quilts. Again, using the hand dyed Gee's Bend fabrics, it gave such texture to these solid appearing fabrics. This was published by McCall's Quilting Magazine in 2010 (I think).
Amish Classic Shadows - 52" x 63"
I love these two quilts. I still have small amounts of the Gee's Bend solids around and I may just create something inspired by another Amish quilt.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Feels Like Fall Blog Hop - and Fabric Giveaway

Spooktacular Fabrics by Benartex
BOO! Uh, I mean, welcome! Thanks for stopping by to see what I've got behind the curtain. Last month at the Benartex Sew in Love with Fabric blog I shared about how to create hexagons. Today I share about making octogons into snowballs. I will be making the Snowball block to showcase these novelty prints.

Take a hop over to the Benartex Blog to see how I transformed these fabrics into something Spooktacular! There's a fabric giveaway for one lucky winner, too!

Sew in Love with Fabrics blog for Benartex

Monday, October 6, 2014

Halloween Quilts

Little pumpkin quilt has a new home
Audrey comes and raids my fabrics. "Oh, mom! Can I have this? Ooohhh. And this?!!" Of course, I say yes - but there's a caveat to some fabrics. "You must bring back all the scraps to this one. You can't pass them on to your friends because I still may have plans for that!"

Now she grabs quilts off the walls - yes, she did! See that Gee's Bend sample on HER wall? It was on the wall of the guest bedroom where she stays when she visits and I came home one day and it was GONE! Yes, I know. It used to be on the wall in her previous apartment and she brought it back when they moved. I hung it. She remembered how wonderful it looks and took it back. Sigh.

Halloween should last all of October and she needed some decorations. Why - mom has some quilts! She also took the little Circle of Bats quilt from 2012's Wicked Blog Hop.

Bat Wreath now lives at Audrey's house
Come back tomorrow for a Technique Tuesday post using Benartex's Spooktacular Collection. There's a GIVEAWAY, too!
Halloween Blog Hop at Benartex Blog