Feathered Star Quilt

I must say that I think that this quilt is one of the prettiest I’ve done.  My customer chose a scrappy 1930’s repro’ look in soft and medium pastels.  While not all of the fabrics are 1930 reprints they all blend together beautifully.  Here is a picture of the flimsy.

Feather Star Quilt

Feathered Star

I do not have the name of this particular quilt layout and if anyone does know please leave me a comment or note about it and I will give credit where credit is due.  Thanks to Karen S. for letting me know about the quilt and the link for you!

My customer left me with a photocopy of the magazine layout showing ‘some’ (some) of the quilting and asked that I do it as much like the picture as I could.

Feathered Star magazine image

Feathered Star

While some of it could be made out a great deal could not so the finished quilt is a mixture of the quilting that had been suggested and my own.

I first started out by taking the flimsy picture and a few more close-ups of the centre, stars, corners, borders and so on.  I printed them out in black and white and used them to draw my quilting ideas on. I use this method a great deal when I’m deciding on quilting designs.  I find that I can see immediately whether or not my ideas will work.  I chose Superior’s So Fine #403 Putty and it blended in perfectly with all the colours so I didn’t have to change out my thread at all.  To make the arch for the feathered triangles in the centre I used the oval template so they would be consistent throughout.  I also used the end of the oval to make the outer border design.

Some areas looked to have very basic teardrop feather shapes but I decided to do a more formal feather instead but still keep the simple look over all.

Feathered Star Medallion Quilt

Here are a few close-ups

Feathered Star Quilt

Feathered Star Centre

Feathered Star Quilt

Feathered Star 8pt star

Feathered Star Quilt

Feathered Star corner 1

Feathered Star Quilt

Feathered Star corner 2

Feathered Star Quilt

Feathered Star fan border

I could paint my spare bedroom again in a soft buttery yellow … I wonder if she’ll let me have this quilt!

Kaleidoscope Stack & Whack Quilt #5

At least I think it is number five.  This customer is a beginner quilter and although there are a few pressing techniques I want to go over with her on the quilt I think the colour choices she made were bang on!  This is a very pretty quilt and suits her to a ‘T’.  A rose and mint green floral fabric was used for the kaleidoscopes and one border and she picked a lovely soft mint green blender for the sashing and accent borders.  The contrast fabric for background and outer border are a beautiful mottled  deep rose.  I know the pictures don’t show the colours right.

Kaleidescope Stack n Wack Quilt

She will be keeping this quilt so we wanted to do something a little special.  She wanted feathers so after outlining all the sashing, borders and stars I did a mini fantasy feather around the stars for background fill.  First time I’ve made this technique this small and I really like it.

Fantasy Feather background fill

On the other quilts like this I’ve ‘stitched in the ditch’ for the 9-patch corner stones but this time I only outlined them.  I used the high-loft Dream Puff Poly and they look like little 9-patch pillows!

The first rose border I did a meandering rose bud and leaf vine.  The first mint border is left so it puffs up like the mint sashing.  The quilting wouldn’t really show clearly in the rose border so I did a simple leaf meander.

Now, the outer border caused a little bit of a problem as I hadn’t made a note of the fact that the side strips are wider than the top and bottom strips.  I had a vague memory of talking about it with her but couldn’t remember whether she was going to even them up after or just what.  So a phone call was in order – hate to do that because I think I sound scatter-brained (I may be but no sense in letting my customers know it too!) Sure enough the C curl feather border I had planned and started to chalk wouldn’t work because there would be no trimming as she needed the different sized strips so it would fit her bed.  Back to the drawing board.

different sized outer border

The side strip was 7.5″ and the top and bottom strips were only 5.5″.  I had it locked in my head the C curl feather and it took a few hours of trying different ideas and chalking it out before I had to accept that I had to do an overall design in here or the scale of the quilting would end up smaller on the top and the bottom.  I through feathers and leaves and rose-buds all together into a ‘doodle’ type of meandering and while the C curl feather border would have formalized the quilt this pattern looks good too.

feather, rosebud, leaf doodle meander

The outer mint border was done with a simple C curl.

I’ve included a picture of the back because, as usual, the quilting shows up much better LOL

back of quilt

I used So Fine! thread on the top that matched perfectly and let the quilting show instead of the thread.  Of course – the Bottom Line in the bobbin as always!

Another Kaleidoscope Quilt

Just a few quick pictures of the latest customer quilt.  This must be my fourth or fifth kaleidoscope quilt so far.  When the local quilt shop has a class I know that I will be seeing a few of the finished tops!

This one is done a deep rose pink with mint green sashing.

Kaleidoscope Quilt

I outlined all the mint green sashing with MonoPoly clear thread including the little 9-patch in the sashing and the stars.  This monofilament thread from Superior Threads is soft and a dream to work with on the long-arm and my Janome.  A topstitch needle and a bit looser tension is all that is needed.

kaleidoscope close-up

A large meander around the stars, a little continuous curve in the stars and some fantasy feathers using King Tut #952 Wild Rose in the border completed this quilt.

OK – now only 14 more tops to go!

border close-up

Guild Challenges

Most Guilds have a challenge (or two) that they offer to the members to participate or not.  In my Guild, Timberlane Quilters Guild, we are given a challenge at our first meeting in September and have the entire Guild year to work on it.  Our last meeting is in June of the following year and at that time we show off our creativity, skills and hard work.

This challenge was a simple paint chip challenge.  In September we were given a paper bag with a paint chip card and we were to use at least one of the colours on the card in our quilt.  A pretty simple challenge but the creativity it inspired in those that participated was unbelievable.  We had our year end party last night so I don’t have the pictures yet but as soon as I do I will post them here or at least the link to the Guild’s site so I can share with you.

Paint Chip Challenge

I can share mine though.  When I opened my paper bag last year the paint chip I received was of the ‘denim’ sort of blues.  That was when I realized that the challenge wasn’t necessarily in the colour we got but in what to do with it!  I spent a couple months just thinking about it and decided to make something playing off the word ‘blue’.  Hmm – blue suede shoes, blue lagoon; nothing.  Feeling blue… feeling a little blue…that was something I could work with.  Now, what to make.

I liked the idea of “feeling a little blue” and could picture something with just a small spot of blue in it.  To feel it I’d have to have a hand in it so to speak ;).  I looked around online to see if I could find a paper pieced block of a hand but decided that I would rather it look more realistic.  I enjoy doing trapunto, not that I’ve done a great deal, but I figured that was the only way I could make something that looked real.  I took a quick picture of my hand with my finger out as if I was touching something and printed it out a little bigger than life-size, one in colour and one in greyscale.

I traced the outline on some white cotton and used my Derwent Inktense water soluble pencil crayons to colour it in.  If you’ve never tried them they are a blast to play with.  You can use them as is or with water or a fabric medium and the colours are beautiful.

Painted and stitched hand

Once the colouring was done I pinned a small piece of  Dream Puff batting underneath and stitched around the hand with Vanish Extra.  After trimming away the extra batting I used another scrap for the batting and some leftover muslin I had for the backing.  So far this challenge had cost me nothing 🙂

background fill

background fill

I decided to use the background for practicing background fills.  Because it was background fill I used So Fine! thread; any of the thicker threads would have been too heavy and just taken over the piece.

I did this on my Janome MC10000 and not the longarm.  Seeing as I teach machine quilting on domestic sewing machines at the local QS I need to keep in practice!  All in all it was a lot of fun.  I wasn’t sure how to finish off the wrist area so I went down to the thrift shop and picked up a blue corduroy shirt for $3 which became the total cost, besides my time, for the project.

more background fill

and more background fill

I'm Just Feeling a Little Blue

What’s black and white with a red behind?

My latest customer quilt of course!  This quilt is from the March/April issue of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting and is called “Study in Black and White”.  It is a very striking quilt and she has done a good job of lining up all the stripes; they would definitely have shown if she had been the least bit off.

Study in Black and White

She originally wanted a black backing which was no problem because I carry black batting.  Never again will I make the mistake of using white batting with a dark backing!  She ended up with a deep red instead so I still used the black batting.  Luckily, the white fabric is a good quality tone-on-tone and the black backing didn’t affect it other than make the heavier white print stand out a bit more.

She brought the magazine with her and asked that I quilt it the same way it had been done in the magazine.  No problem I figured.  Lots of straight and curvy lines; should be fairly easy.  OK – so it wasn’t exactly difficult but extremely time consuming!  The quilt is 110″ x 106 so a fairly good size and was on my frame for almost 3 weeks.  True – I had company for a week during that time but I still worked on it an hour or so at a time while they were here.  What took so long?  Well, in the white areas they had quilted what I called a Greek Key design – it’s not what it is but it’s what I called it!  I originally tried to just measure and mark the design and quilt around it using a ruler.  That didn’t work so well as it was too easy for the design to go “off”.  I decided a template was once again in order so I printed off some graph paper and made a freezer paper template that I traced.  That didn’t work so well either.  I ended up spraying the back of the template with temp. adhesive and carefully quilting around it!

freezer paper template

freezer paper template 2

Every third or fourth strip I would have to stop and press the template again to stiffen it up and spray some more adhesive on the back.  It is a pretty sad looking template now that I’m done LOL

I did have some issues with the backing.  My customer wanted the bobbin thread to match and after a couple of days working with the tension I came to the decision that from now on the bobbin thread will match the top thread.  I have some “pokies” going on that no matter what I did to bring the tension in line the red bobbin thread showed in the white fabric.  So pokies it is.  From a distance  you don’t notice them but I know they are there and they bug me.


The backing is actually a much deeper red than this.  You can sort of make out the quilting that was done.  I used So Fine! in the bobbin.  Usually I use the BottomLine but I didn’t have the right red.  I had no trouble with the thread at all and will not hesitate to use it for the bobbin again.  Speaking of bobbins – it took over 5 bobbins – the large ‘M’ size.


The black centre square has a simple meander in it; the white box is simply outlined; the black outer square has a simple curved wavy line and the wide black border has an allover hooky type of doodle.

Greek 'key' type design

I used King Tut #978 Rosetta Stone for the large black areas.  I really wasn’t sure how it would look but it really soften the harshness of the black and white without taking away from the boldness.

I have never had so many starts and stops in my life!  I can usually backtrack to lock the stitches when I use So Fine (because it is so fine :)) but not when using the red bobbin thread AGGHH. I outlined all of the white and each white strip had at least 4 threads to knot and bury.

So – the final tally?  Over 300 thread tails knotted and buried

Did I ever explain why I named my bog Threadtails?  All through sewing classes in school – right through grade 12 tailoring – the main comment from my instructors was ‘You need to cut your thread tails!’  Life sure is funny sometimes.

What to do when your computer breaks down? Quilt!

My excuse for not posting regularly?  No computer.  I had no idea how dependant one  becomes on these darn things.  My whole morning routine had to change LOL  Anyway, long story short, after a month of having my Imac in two different shops they came to the conclusion that they really couldn’t figure out what the heck was wrong with it.  I had always heard that it was rare for a Mac to have problems but when they did it usually meant the computer was toast.  So – I sit hear typing away on my brand new replacement Imac free of charge thanks to Apple (well, more to the fact that I had purchased the Apple Care to go with it!)

Once I calmed myself from not having a computer I did manage to do more quilting than normal.  Lesson to be learned perhaps?

Kaleidoscope with Disney's "Cars" print

I’ve received a few Kaleidoscope quilts recently and this fun one was done with the Disney’s Cars print.  She supplied her own batting and it was a rather thick and heavy poly so I wanted to keep the quilting pretty light.  The Kaleidoscope blocks have a simple Terry Twist in the centre area only – takes up about half the block – and gave the sense of wheels (car theme fabric after all.)  I did the crossed flags in the large squares and single flags in the small on-point squares.  I simple open meander filled in the rest.

racing flags

floral kaleidoscope

This is another Kaleidoscope that I received.  A very pretty floral print. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of it spread out.  This was for a young lady and the customer wanted it to look a little more formal.  Once again I did a very simple quilting in the kaleidoscope block with Victorian (formal, bumb…) feathers in the open green area around.

simple petal quilting in the blocks

Stitch in the ditch around the yellow border and more feathers in the floral outer border.  These ‘petal shapes were quilted in the kaleidoscope blocks and the plain green blocks.

I think it is important when the block is such a feature in the quilt that my quilting needs to compliment the block; draw your eye to the block and not overwhelm the quilt.

victorian feathers

feather corner

Making your own Quilting Motifs

Custom motifs

I first did this quilt layout (pattern) for a customer awhile ago with custom motifs of hummingbirds (you can see it here). She showed a friend that had done the same quilt and so I received it as well.  I told them that I wouldn’t repeat the quilting as the hummingbirds were unique to the first quilt so we decided on butterflies instead.

Once again – Google is my friend – and I found some copyright free pics of butterflies and played with them until I found the basic shape I wanted and

making the butterfly template

then designed the wing to suit quilting.  After finalizing the outline on paper I dry-iron it to a sheet of freezer paper and then add three more sheets of freezer paper to the back so the butterfly still showed.  I find that this makes for a nice firm template that I can use to mark the quilt top.  Remember to use a dry iron to build up the freezer paper – if you use steam you will end up shrinking the paper and it will curl on you.  Once it has cooled I cut it out and can then use it to outline the shape on the top.  I usually use an air-erasable marker or chalk but remember to test these on the edge of the quilt first!

The four red border corner square were also to have something special in them.  I didn’t want to repeat the pansy basket I did on the other one so instead I put a feather basket in there as well as a feather border. Each basket was done free-hand, no chalking, except for the square bottom basket that I used a ruler for.


Because they are all freehand – each basket is slightly different.


This is the first time I’ve ever put this type of feather onto a quilt.  They are ‘formal feathers’ or ‘victorian feathers’ or ‘over-the-top’ feathers; they are called many different things.   I’ve played with them and have recently taken an on-line class for them.  I do like the look of this feather but you really have to PPP alot! including time spent drawing them over and over and over.



Here are some shots of the butterflies.  You will see that once I actually started quilting them I didn’t follow the pattern I had drawn on the paper.  I found that it was too busy and would not give a nice puffy contrast so I simply put 3 feathers inside the wings.

butterfly motif

The butterflies go around the outside of the quilt – all of them facing away from the centre  as if they are flying out from the quilt.  I really thought about turning the bottom two butterflies because there is a definite top to this quilt but it just didn’t look right.  You can see the corner butterfly in the ‘feather’ picture above – that is simply half of my template with an extra wing added in the background.

I did the formal feather border but of course it doesn’t show up that well so I’ve included a picture of the back of the quilt.  Frustrating that it is the back of the quilt where some of our hard work shows up the best LOL

formal feather border - back of quilt

All of the thread used was Superior’s So Fine! Remember – all thread orders over $55 have NO shipping charges!