Friday, December 6, 2013

Red Star Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Red and White Star Quilt
Dimensions: 60x60 Inches
Pieces: Front - 1,500
Technique: Paper Piecing
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons in red and blue for the blocks, Kona Snow for the background
Quilting: Machine quilting done on my little Euro-Pro
I actually finished it in time! And finished a baby quilt to boot (post about that next time). I'm super happy with how it turned out too.

So at the beginning of November, I decided that I really wanted to do something for my boss. She's the best. She's really good about private constructive criticism, public praise, and explaining why she does things even if it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with my job. I enjoy learning things from her, and really think that I am growing as a person. Anyway, she was scheduled for knee replacement surgery on December 4 (she made it through surgery just fine, if you're wondering). And I decided that a quilt would be the perfect thing to cheer her up during her month long recovery and physical therapy. So one day I asked her what her favorite color was and she answered "red." I asked her if there was anything else, and she said, "no, just red." Ok, red it was going to be. But since she worked at the Pentagon for 15 years and is a huge patriot, I decided to throw a bit of blue into the mix for the red, white, and blue thing. It seemed appropriate.

I don't know why I chose the most complicated paper piecing pattern ever created, but I was looking for a good star pattern (again, it seemed appropriate). I remembered the Basketweave Star pattern I've been ogling for some time, and decided to go for it. After making first one corner and then a whole block as a tester, I almost gave up. Then changed my mind and found a whole bunch of different star patterns, and then changed my mind again and decided to just go for it. I sent out a plea for help to my guild, because I knew that I wasn't going to have enough variety in my red stash (fairly small at the time), and also told myself that I was going to buy a bunch of red fat quarters at Capital Quilts during our next guild meeting there, which luckily happened to be at the beginning of November.

My guild came through for me in spectacular fashion and the scraps they brought for me added much needed variety. In a lot of cases, there was enough for only one or two pieces, but it was perfect for adding bits of interesting I Spy moments. I made the one blue star block in the midst of paper piecing the remaining 92 red corners. All of the fabrics came from my scrap box, and I cut up several of my 5.5" squares. I cut up way too many scraps, but I did like the end result. On the blue block and the red blocks, I had a lot of fun, placing the corner pieces just so, to get as many "fussy cut" looks as possible.

I finished all of the blocks and sewed the top row together the Thursday before Thanksgiving. After work on Friday, I finished piecing the top together, cut the batting, and pre-shrunk it. On Saturday, I had to make a trip to Joann's for my favorite Coats and Clark 100% mercerized cotton thread in blue and red. I pieced the backing, pin-basted the quilt on my living room floor, and started quilting.

I used stitch-in-the-ditch in either red or blue around each of the stars. My batting says quilt every 10", so outlining each star would have been plenty. Then I outline stitched at about 1/2" from the edge of the stars just along the outer edge in white. I loved the look so much that I just had to outline all of the sides. I "cheated" a bit and sewed in zig zag lines instead of inside each diamond as I had originally planned. No threads to bury and I didn't have to turn the quilt 360 degrees each time. It also made a cool star pattern at each corner. The white showed up on the back much better, but the red and blue are also faintly visible. All in all, I really liked the look of the quilting on the back.

I squared up the quilt no problem. Next up was the binding. I've been dying to use a striped binding on a quilt and this seemed to be the right time. I cut 2.5" strips, ironed them in half, and sewed them onto the front of the quilt using the mitered corners method. On Sunday I sat downstairs with my hubby before he had to go to work, and hand sewed the binding to the back of the quilt. Monday, on the subway ride to work I hand embroidered my initials into the bottom right corner. My boss loved it! We spent a good 10 minutes trying to find the one piece of red fabric with little white sheepies on it, but couldn't find it. Guess she'll just have to keep looking while she's recovering from her surgery.


  1. This quilt is astounding, Anna. That is a lot of stitchy love for your boss and so much work!