Part 2 – Deconstructing My Friendship Star Quilt – Lessons Learned

Part 2 on this topic is to discuss the center section of this quilt and my thought process for the quilting.

Center Section

Quilting Diagonal Lines

Let’s start with the center star block first.  I decided I wanted to straight line quilt on the diagonal to add some interest. I think you can tell how that turned out in the photo below.

Diagonal Example

I laid out my starting line with a piece of painters tape in the center of my block.  But I didn’t assume if I put the tape there it would line up well with the diagonal slant of the star points.

Diagonal Tape

So I took a long ruler and lined it up with the diagonal lines of the star points to see if the tape edge lined up correctly as well. I didn’t want the stitch line to be at a weird angle compared to the angle of the star points.  I would notice it even if others did not, LOL.

Horizontal stitching ruler

In this case the tape line actually was a tad off so I slide the ruler down so that the edge was close to the center but a line was still lined up with a star point angle, and adjusted the tape along the edge of the ruler.  That made me happy.

Lesson Learned:  I could have just done that first rather than checking to see if the tape lined up after I placed it, (palm bump to forehead).

Once I had my tape adjusted I lined up the edge of the foot and started sewing.  This meant that I did not have a stitch line that ran smack down the center of the block, since my stitch line wouldn’t have lined up exactly from corner to corner anyway.  I thought it looked fine IMO.

Once that base line was sewn I lined up the edge of my foot with it and sewed the next line of stitching, and continued on lining up my foot with each subsequent stitch line.  I sewed one half of the block first, then sewed the other half, moving away from the center, again so that I could make sure I was smoothing the fabric equally in both directions as needed.

Diagonal Tape 2

Echo Quilting Around Circles

After the center block was done it was time to do the two flanking blocks.  I decided to sew vertical lines in those blocks but to “echo” the outside edges of the circles.

Friend Star 4 curve

To accomplish that I again went to my long ruler and laid it over the circles.  I followed the half-inch marks from the approximate center of one circle to the approximate center of the other circle to be sure the distance between the lines worked out okay.  I then marked where I was going to start and end my vertical stitching lines with that trusty painters tape again.

Circle 1

I then chose what I considered the starter line then added longer pieces of the tape to the little one to run the tape from top to bottom of the block.  I left the other piece of tape in place as well so that I knew where I wanted to stop.

Circle 2

I sewed all of the center vertical lines first, running them through one half of each circle.  Then for the second half of the circles I stopped my foot with the needle 1/2″ from the edge of the circle.

Circle 3

I’m fortunate enough that my foot has two marks on it; one that is 1/4″ away from the needle and another that is 1/2″ away from the needle.  So I can tell where I need to stop.  If you don’t have a mark on your foot you can mark it yourself with a Sharpie (if you want it to be permanent) or a piece of tape.

Also note – since this is a curved edge both marked lines on your foot will not touch the edge at the same time!  The first line to touch the edge is when you stop.  In the photo above that would be the line on the left edge of the foot.

Foot Edge

After I stopped at the edge, with my needle down I pivoted to place the edge of my foot on the edge of the circle, then slowly sewed following along the edge.  When I come to the previously sewn vertical line I stopped 1/2″ away so I can again pivot and line up my foot edge to follow the sewn vertical line to the bottom of the block.

Circle 4

Just keep following your curved lines this same way until you have to stop to avoid crossing over into another block. When you approach the border, or edge of your block you can simply stop your sewing line, cut your threads, then start back up at the bottom half of the curve or stitch in the ditch along the straight seam then pick up the curves again at the bottom.

Friend Star 4 curve

If your last stitched vertical line is a little more or a little less than 1/2″ from the side or border of your block, I don’t feel it really matters.  Just stop stitching when you think it looks good!  In some cases I think mine ended up being just a tad thinner than 1/2″ but I preferred that more than a larger gap between the last line and the side seam/border.  Personal preference rules here.

I hope sharing this process helps you to decide if you want to tackle echoing a curve within a quilt.

My next posting will talk about how I did the machine appliqué  on the inside curves of a cut-out circle, and machine binding.


Deconstructing my Friendship Star Quilt – Lessons Learned Part 1 of 3

Lately I’ve been working on too many projects at the same time and made the commitment to get ONE completely done!  So here it is; my Friendship Star quilt.

Friendship Star1

The print fabrics in this quilt were purchased about three years ago during a guild fundraiser that was held at a sewing machine store I was visiting.  Members were selling off fat-quarters and other small cuts from their stash.  I really liked this multicolored print so bought the small amount they had, plus the complementary yellow print.  After moving them around several times on my shelves while looking for other things, I decided to dive in and use them for something.  The “something” is a Friendship Star quilt that finished at 37″ x 47 1/2″.

Here is a link to a good tutorial by the Crafty Gemini on how to make a Friendship Star block for those who have not yet tried one: Friendship Star

I also decided to try some new techniques so I incorporated the following:

1.  Dense, straight-line quilting (1/2 inch apart)

2.  Echoing curves around the circles

3.  Doing machine applique on the inside curves of a circle cut into a rectangle

4. Machine binding using a different technique than I normally use

Lessons Learned # 1 – Straight Line Quilting

Patience, patience, patience.  That’s what it takes to do straight line quilting :).  To plan the quilting I decided to tackle it by sections.  The top and bottom sections of the quilt are straight horizontal lines quilted 1/2″ apart.

Horizontal Example

The middle of the quilt is made up of three blocks; the center star flanked by squares on which I appliqued circles and a rectangle with the center cut out.

The center star block was quilted with diagonal lines 1/2″ apart.

Diagonal Example

The two blocks with applique consist of 1/2″ apart vertical lines, but on one side of each circle I opted to “echo” the curved edges.

Friend Star 4 curve

Echo Example 2

No Marking Straight Line Quilting – Here’s How I Did It

Step 1 – I measured the size of the area I wanted to quilt with the horizontal lines.  From the top to the bottom of the first section, it equaled 14.5″.  So it was easy to tell I could sew lines of stitching 1/2″ apart and it would fill the space just fine.

Top Horz Quilting

Step 2 – My sewing machine lets me adjust the needle position.  So my plan was to use the side of my foot as my guide, adjusting the needle position so that there would be 1/2″ from the side to the needle.  As fate had it, I didn’t need to adjust the position at all.  In the center position it measured 1/2″ from the side of my foot.

Horz Quilt Up

So I lined up the side of my foot along the bottom seam of my section and started stitching the bottom row first and worked towards the top, lining up the side of my foot with each line of stitching as I moved up the quilt.  My thought was that I could continue to smooth out the surface of the quilt as needed by working from bottom to top.  No matter how well you pin, once you start quilting the fabric will always shift somewhat.


I followed this same process on the bottom section after I finished quilting the middle blocks.

Battling Curved Line Endings

As careful as I was trying to keep my lines straight, I suddenly noticed I was curving my lines at the beginning of some of the rows!  I think what happened is that as I tried to set my needle at the right starting point for my line, I shifted the quilt a little at one point, then continued to follow that “off” line for a few more rows until I noticed my error!

So to correct that going forward, I took a small piece of painters tape and lined it up with the edge of a straight row so that I could place the edge of my foot against it and know I was starting off correctly.

Curved Lines

IMPORTANT TIP:  Look at each line after you’ve sewn it to be sure if something got “off” you can correct it for your next row.

I never felt any wobble I made was bad enough to rip out.  It keeps things real…right?

So that’s how I approached my horizontal straight-line quilting.  Part 2 will discuss the diagonal quilting and circle echo technique I used plus the adventure of doing machine applique on inside curves of a circle.

Part 3 is on the machine binding technique I used.




Kite Shape Experiment – Tutorial Posted

Yesterday I got a much-needed new computer.  I cannot tell you what a difference it has made so far in just about everything I use it for!  Unfortunately, it took me a lot longer to get everything set up and all my files transferred than I thought it would.

None the less I managed to get my tutorial written and posted before the weekend was over; as promised!  Check out my Tutorial page for how I made the kite shape from a recent experiment.

I’m going back to doing a little more fine-tuning of my new “baby”. 🙂

What Would Happen If….Kite Shape

Just a quick post before I head off to work to give you a preview of the results of a new experiment.  Another “what would happen if” block that came out like this:

Kite Shape Experiment1

So what can you make with this shape?  Here’s some things I put together:

Kite Shape Experiment Group

Stay tuned for a posting this weekend on how I made this shape!  I’m off to work…

Video Tutorial for Using Microsoft Word as a Virtual Design Wall

I have mentioned in other posts that many times I will make a test block for a quilt idea, take a picture of it, then use Microsoft Word as a way to preview possible design layouts.  I have been considering making a video on how to do that, and because of a request (and all my Christmas shopping and wrapping is done) I decided to give it a try.

This will work whether you are using just one block, or more than one in your quilt idea.  Just take one picture of each test block to insert in your Word document, and copy as many times as needed.

As you’ll see I am not yet an expert with video editing software, but I believe my effort is acceptable, LOL.  Pardon some of the awkward transitions!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

It’s come to my attention that a lot of people like to use bloglovin’ as a source to easily follow blogs.  So I added a button in the right menu.  I hope that helps others interested in following me to use their preferred method.


Curved Piecing – My “What would happen if…” Drunkard’s Path-like Quilt

Next stop on my quilting/learning adventures – trying out curved piecing.  I have seen so many really interesting, beautiful and fun quilts made from blocks with curved piecing so I wanted to give it a try, but with a little twist.  This is the top that resulted from my experiment:

DP Quilt Top


One of the things I really liked about this top was that the wedges appear to be floating on top of the white strips because of the slight overhang on the corners.


You can also do a layout that results in just diagonal stripes.  Below is an example of my first experiment with this block where I just took a picture of the block and then laid it out on my computer:

Experiment 2

I really liked that layout too and may make another quilt like that.

So, how did I make this block?  This is a half-square triangle with a quarter circle wedge cut out of the lower corner.  However cutting and sewing that quarter circle was done in a bit of an unconventional manner.  Since many times I get ideas then look at what tools I have available, I wondered if I could figure out how to make a Drunkard’s Path type of block without a template.  I ended up using a ruler I had that was designed to cut quarter circles in different sizes.  You normally use it to make full circles from pieces of fabric that you fold into quarters.  It’s called the Omni Arc and it worked great for cutting my quarter circle wedges!  However I had to make some additional cuts to fit the piece in properly.  More to come on that.

Plus, I used charm squares when cutting my wedge, and my special cutting technique provided left-overs that allowed me to make small Drunkards Path blocks to play with as well.  Here’s one example of some left-over blocks that I laid out on my design wall:


Of course the other key to making this block was for me to learn how to sew the curved pieces!  My web searching turned up some tutorials that I liked and I tried both techniques, which I’ve linked below.  I put in two examples of the No Pin technique because I think watching both of them provides a clearer understanding of the process:

For the 3-pin technique, I actually did not put the top and bottom pins in, just the center one, which I felt made it easier to manipulate the fabric to keep the edges lined up.  Both methods worked for me.  Using the pinning method at first made me feel more confident.  Then after I had made a few blocks I tried the no-pin and made blocks successfully as well.

Also, using a shorter stitch length when sewing the curve was helpful.  You may already use a short stitch length when piecing, but I shortened mine even more than I normally do (1.7 mm on my machine).

Regardless of which technique you use, it is possible to pull the top fabric a bit hard and end up with your pie shape not quite matching at the end.  If that happens, you can still square up the block if needed.

So, before I show you how to make this block to make this quilt, I want to give a plug to the makers of the fabric I used.  I just loved the colors and print of these fabrics, and as I tend to do just bought some with no idea how I would end up using it.

The charm packs I used are by Amy Ellis called Modern Neutrals for Moda fabrics.  The gray/blue colored fabric is by Kate & Birdie Paper Co. for Moda as well, and I believe is called Signature Linen.  Not sure about the cream-colored fabric, but it all worked so well together I felt I wanted to share that information.

Hop on over to my tutorials page to see the step by step process I used to make this quilt block.







Geometry Lesson II – NOW the top is done

Something was missing…now it’s not. 🙂  I decided I needed some kind of border so here’s the result.  I didn’t measure the placement of the black squares in the red border strips; just eye-balled what I thought I liked.  I wasn’t trying to line things up in a particular manner, but somehow they do look more planned than I imagined they would.  I’m happy with it!

Improv Blocks II Top Done

Geometry Lesson II – 2nd Improvisational Quilt

Yes, I had to get started on my second improvisational quilt right away!  This idea hit me as soon as I quilted my last stitch on the first one, so I had to dive in.  I used the same fabrics as in Geometry Lesson I, but went “dark” and anchored the shapes in frames.  This is a mix of hand dyed, batik, and solid fabrics.

Geometry Lesson II Top

The other difference with this quilt is that there is not a focus fabric geometric shape that I began working from, but instead I just started taking random pieces of fabric and sewing them together at all different angles.  After I achieved a big enough square-like or rectangular shape I cut it into the geometric shape I thought would look good.

Here is a look at the individual blocks:

Circle II


Triangle IIDiamond II

Rectangle II

I managed to use up almost all of my hand dyed fabrics (used in the frames as well as random piecing), but still have some of the batik prints left for a future project.

The quilt top finished at 38″ x 48″;  two inches on each side larger than Geometry Lesson I.  I don’t know how that happened, LOL.  I didn’t plan the size of any of the blocks, just stopped when they looked “good”.

I think it’s going to take me a while to figure out how I want to quilt this one!  I’m really happy with how it turned out. 🙂

Final Update on my Improv Quilt

The quilting is done!  What a fun time I had making this quilt since I was trying new things. 🙂

Improv Quilt Done

The improv piecing itself was new, and I used a 30 weight variegated thread for my straight line quilting.  I normally don’t use thread that stands out on my quilts, so this made me very nervous, LOL. I did some areas with spiraling triangles and rectangles, so that was something new as well.

Varigated Threads Closeup

I didn’t mark anything on the quilt prior to stitching, however I did use painters tape to lay out a starter line in some of the areas, then either stitched right along the side of the tape or put the side of my machine foot along the tape.

I did make a pretty major mistake which I managed to work through.  Normally I have a number of blocks in my quilts and stitch in the ditch around them to stabilize everything as part of the quilt design.  Since I had a lot of white space and a limited number of blocks in this quilt, I did very little ditch quilting and started to realize that as I took pins out to do some of the long lines of stitching, my top was starting to slide around.  I had to start re-pinning the top in certain areas to try to stop it!  I still ended up having a few areas that got a little bunched up before it dawned on me what was happening. I’m going to really have to think about my pinning pattern for future quilts with a lot of space between the blocks!  Any tips are welcome!

Oh, and here’s the back.  Not sure I’m happy I stuck that white strip in the middle, but I can live with it.  I didn’t have enough of the batik print to make a whole back, but I kind of wish I had put other colors back there.  Oh well!

Improv Quilt Back

So this one’s done and the next one is in my head already!  I’ll see how long it takes me to get that going.