Thursday, April 23, 2015

Star Gazer Quilt

Those of you who read here regularly will recognize this color scheme! :) This quilt is a commission, so I provided a menu of options and made this quilt based on the customer's preferences. This is my farthest traveling quilt; my husband hand-delivered it to Trinidad last week!

The pattern is Star Gazer by Lunden Designs. I really like how the pattern continues off the left and right edges! The instructions are really easy to follow and the resulting quilt is so pretty. The Orange Peel is not the most forgiving quilt block, so for beginners I would recommend practicing with a few blocks before cutting fabric for the whole quilt. I only sewed one test block to give myself confidence to pursue this pattern, but I wish I would have sewn a few more so I could see how they all fit together. Sewing these curves was not hard at all and any problems I had were solely because of some slight cutting inaccuracies.
  • Accurate template cutting is essential! The legs of the star need to be perfect. I accidentally cut two of the legs a little small. The measurement difference is slight, but it is noticeable on the finished block (mostly because two of the legs are closer to correct and/or I stared at this quilt for too long)! :D).
  • I cut appropriately sized squares & rectangles out of the fabric first and then cut pieces out using the templates. I left the flat end of the blue parts a little long, so I would have extra room during the trimming process. Precutting the squares might not be as doable if you are fussy cutting, but if the print is centered in the square I think it should be fine.
  • EZ Quilting Extra Thick Template Plastic, a 18mm rotary blade, and cutting in stacks of four solved many of the problems I've previously had with trimming the template plastic.
  • I've been saying it for every quilt pattern lately, but for this one especially: ROTATING CUTTING MAT! I used it for cutting the pieces with the templates and trimming the blocks. It made everything so much easier. When trimming, the legs should hit the 45-degree lines.
  • I was really happy that I had no problems with my blocks laying flat. I used all of the best practices for curves, so any or all of these may have helped me avoid problems: (1) Starch! (2) Serious pinning. (3) Carefully pressing the seam and then pressing the whole block from the back (4) Sewing slowly. (5) Small stitch length (6) Sewing half of a curve at a time, from the center to the edge.
  • Instead of pinning the last 1/2" of the star legs, I glue basted. It helped me keep everything lined up in the end. 
  • When I finished all the blocks, I glue basted the blocks into rows. I spent a long time arranging the blocks and that step prevented any mix-ups.
  • I wish I had used techniques to reduce bulky seams. The block intersections had a lot going on!

The name was pieced using from blank pages... My First Alphabet (Limited Use License) pattern. Most of these quilts have been gifts, so I am only on 2 of 50 of the license. The name was long, so I flipped it vertically to take advantage of the length of the quilt.

I used Sax Plain White Newsprint for paper-piecing. It is so easy to work with! At Amazon.com it is currently $3.59 + $4.99 shipping for 500 pages which is a better price than paper specifically sold for paper-piecing, but it might be worth checking an office store nearby so you can avoid shipping costs.

Cloud dinosaurs? Yes please!

The blue print is Let's Pretend Cloud Pictures in Breeze by Sarah Jane, which is the cutest. I've gotten in the bad habit of finding a print I like and then trying to find it in the store. The print was harder to find than expected, especially in the Breeze colorway.

More information on the personalized baby quilt backings at this link.

The stars weren't as uniform as they should've been, so I wanted to use an allover pattern. Straight lines were out, because I thought it would draw attention to any of the more unique stars! My thought process was: Star Gazer → Stars → Milky Way → Spiral. Spiral quilting adds such great texture and is really easy once you get started.

The spiral has 1" spacing between quilting lines. The Juki walking foot is 1/4" and I was not willing to spiral quilt in 1/4" increments! That is when I discovered one issue with the Juki walking foot; there is no place for a guide bar! Since I had a terrible time trying to use a paper clip as an impromptu guide bar during my last spiral quilting experience, this time I decided to glue (E6000) a .75" toothpick to my walking foot as a guide (NOTE: I let the glue set for 24 hours). Surprisingly, it worked! The toothpick gave me a single point to focus on and came off easily when I was finished.

Spiral quilting was much less frustrating this time! I have bigger harp space now, but I think the biggest difference was the needle down function. I am never buying a machine without needle down again! I also made it easy on myself and started the spiral in the center this time. I used a smaller stitch when starting the spiral. The first few rounds are the hard part, because the curves are tight. The smaller stitch length made it easier to slowly navigate those tight curves.

The top thread is Aurifil Light Blue Grey 50wt and it blended better than the light blue I used on my last quilt with this color scheme. I used Aurifil Aluminium for the bobbin thread. I chose something that was a little lighter than the Light Blue Grey for the back, so the color of the thread wouldn't overpower the name.

Red and white strips again! The fabric is Michael Miller Clown Stripe in Red.

I looked at my finished quilt page and realized that my last seven quilts were baby quilts. I desperately need to make an adult quilt and/or a quilt for myself! I have a couple more baby quilts to make, but after that I am going to get serious about finishing some of my larger quilts.

I will be linking up with Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, Fabric Frenzy Friday at Fort Worth Fabric StudioThank Goodness It's Finished Friday (which is being hosted at -Things I Make this week),  Show off Saturday at the Sew Can She blog and Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts
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