Friday, November 14, 2014

Oh My Stars!

Project #1: "The Quilt"

Over the last few years, long before there was that certain "twinkle" in anyone's eye, this quilt has been twinkling in and out of my own private little galaxy. It has gone through a vast number of design evolutions without ever anything being committed to paper. Now, with the arrival of that new little star (my grand baby) being a mere few months away, it's time for this granE to get her universe of stars in order and committed to fabric.

As you may have guessed, stars are to be the theme for this special little quilt. How hard can they be to construct? Right? I have done my fair share of quilting and piecing over the years. Maybe not a whole lot of stars, but still.... .

So with great enthusiasm, but without consulting the wisdom of those who have gone before dedicating countless hours to the technicalities of star construction, it was off to EQ7 (Electric Quilt Program) to construct the stars for my little universe.

I made the rough designs in EQ7, after which the stars were refined and defined in AutoCad thanks to the AutoCad pro in my life. (Who conveniently lives with me.)

The hand drawn lines show the pattern sectioned into the various piecing assemblies I wanted to try. (The center design was never used.)

Below is the short list of fabrics for this first round.

I added the deeper yellow/oranges hoping it would add brightness and contrast.

Before I actually started stitching the sections, remembering that Alex Anderson from "The Quilt Show" has done a number of teaching segments on star construction, I watched a few of these segments, made a few notes, and forged ahead to my machine. Alex uses a fairly traditional piecing technique, which involves accurate cutting, accurate piecing and careful pressing. (A common sense approach.) Other then choosing to press more of the seams open then Alex recommends, this first star attempts to follow her technique. It wasn't too bad for the first star, but it wasn't good enough.

Even though I pressed the center seams open, there is too much bulk in the center, where the points meet.

And the points don't meet very accurately.

Hmmm...! This wasn't going to be quite as easy (or as fast) as I had fooled myself into believing. So, it was time to consult the experts. Out came other references:"Mastering Precision Piecing" by Sally Collins, "Piece by Piece, Machine Applique" by Sharon Schamber & Cristy Fincher, "Star Quilts" by Mary Knapp, Edyta Sitar You Tube videos, and countless other resource books and videos. All of the above mentioned, very talented quilters, are somehow perfectly capable constructing beautiful stars with perfect points and precisely matched centers using their specific technique. I was not that fortunate.

After trying about 5 or 6 of these different techniques, my results were still disappointing.  Regardless of how severely I trimmed the center meeting point, the split star points made the bulk in the center too thick to use in a baby quilt.

Pressed and trimmed and no where to go!

One of the numerous piecing methods that I attempted.

So, after spending a week (or more) working my way through the construction of this galaxy, the verdict is that this first round of stars are just not right, Regardless of the construction frustrations, these stars just don't do it for me. They are too heavy. There's no sparkle. They don't twinkle!

I pieced 9 stars using these various methods. The Alex Anderson method, (bottom row, middle star), was the most successful, but it's not right for this quilt.

So, it's "Yoiks and Away"! Time to check out other construction options. I must find those twinkling little stars!