Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Stars in the Loft - Close-ups and things I learned in the process!

I learn something with every quilt I make and Stars in the Loft is no exception! The first lesson I learned with this quilt, and bear in mind it was not my first hexagon quilt, is this: you always need more fabric than you think, especially if the hexagons are small. Those seam allowances eat up a lot of fabric!

I had selected a subtle fabric for the background. It looked like crazed paint or porcelain. I thought I had more than enough to make the quilt. Surprise, surprise! I didn't have enough fabric and I was too far into the quilt to change backgrounds. So I found anothr fabric in my stash that I thought was "close" to what I had used and there was plenty of it so I started cutting and sewing. Once again, I was wrong...there was nowhere near enough fabric. So I added a third and then a fourth and finally a FIFTH background fabric!  There are five background fabrics around the "flower" block shown below.

In the end I was pleased with the addition of background fabrics because it added to the scrappy nature of the quilt but because the fabrics are close, there is control. And I think the combination of background fabrics add depth and interest. Now when I make a quilt I sometimes plan to run out of a fabric to force me to add another! But this wasn't the first time I ran out of this quilt. I had already been through this with the border!

I had a 1/2 yard of lovely red mpale fabric that I thought would be more than enough for the centre medallion and the stars in the border. Wrong! So I figured out how many stars and flowers I had to make and calculated that I had enough red to make half of what I needed. So I introduced a second fabric, a rusty red. I needed six star points per block so I used three reds and three rusts per block. Disaster averted and more importantly it added interest and complexity to the stars!
Star with one red

Star with two reds
One of six flowers in the medallion - two reds used

The centre medallion

Fussy cutting can waste a lot of fabric so I only fussy cut the centres of the star blocks. Again using a single fabric in the centres added continuity so although the border is scrappy it is controlled.

And then it happened for a third time! The stars in the border were alternated with a "flower" block. I thought I had plenty of the blue striped fabric. Wrong! So I selected a similar fabric but this time I didn't mix the two fabrics in each block. Instead I used either the stripe fabric in the entire block OR the new fabric for the entire block. I then alternated the blocks in the border. Again, it makes the border look more complex.

Flower block with striped fabric

Flower block with similar fabric
Once again I used the same fabric in the centre of each block to maintain continuity but I didn't worry abut fussy cutting this fabric. The photos don't do the fabric justice - it is a lovely soft colour that just glows! I still have some of this fabric and I use it sparingly!

Some of the blocks in the quite are straight forward English paper piecing but I added a twist.
A border print was used

 A fussy cut centre

A single fabric that was ombred - I alternated the dark and the light

Stripes always add pizzaza!

The six outer hexagons were fussy cut
I also developed a technique for making what looks like very complicated pieced blocks. I'll leave you with some pictures of those blocks and will explain the technique in the near future - it is surprisingly easy and fun! It is also a little addictive!


You will notice that the black check fabric is used in quite a few blocks. Again it adds continuity to the quilt.

I decided to enter Stars in the Loft in this week's Show and Tell over at Quilting Gallery. The theme this weekend is In Memory. This is the last quilt I was able to share with my Dad; it reminds me of him so while it wasn't made in memory, it is a memory of him. And it is a nod to Elizabeth Van Horne Clarkson, the woman who made the original almost two hundred years ago!

Until I post again, happy sewing!


  1. I can't wait to see the entire quilt. These pictures are just stunning!

    1. Thanks Deb! Actually I posted a picture of the entire quilt a couple of days ago. You can see it here:

      I'll go back and update my post to link back to it so others don't miss it! Stayed tuned for tomorrow's post. I'll show you some of my tricks to make this quilt!


  2. Beautiful! :) Gonna go vote for you again ;)

  3. Just stunning Karen, can't wait to see if your trick for the pieced blocks is what I think.
    You are almost tempting me to try something with mosaic's
    Will be voting for you this week, give my congrats to Barbara for her Pink Peonies it is beautiful.
    Cheers, Jenny in NZ

  4. Just catching up with blog reading and this was such a treat to view all those hexagons and stars - can't get enough of them!