Friday, October 21, 2016

Pattern Testing!!

This summer, while following Anneliese (at Eye Candy Quilts) Smorgasblocks project on Instagram, I became acquainted with Jess at Threaded Quilting.  The Smorgasblocks project began HERE with her paper pieced 12" feathered star pattern.  About a month ago, she began to post pictures of a new set of larger feathered stars made with NO paper-piecing.  Last week, she posted a request for pattern testers to stitch one of the two sizes included in her soon to be released Fierce Feathered Star.  I responded and the next morning, I was choosing fabric for a test run of the 36" block!!
After reading, okay skimming, through the instructions, I picked a feature print for the center block and pulled fabrics from my stash to complement it.  The cutting instructions are set up with numbered shapes and space to make color notations which I find saves me lots of mental energy and eliminates confusion.
It took me about 2 hours to choose the fabrics and getting the cutting finished -- ready for stitching the next day!
This was my first experience with this technique for HST's -- I've always used a preprinted triangle paper which stabilizes the fabric and eliminates this crinkling.  I was a bit alarmed at first but a good pressing flattened everything out and the cutting went just fine.  Another time, I would give the two fabrics for this step a Best Press treatment before cutting the basic squares.  I think that would eliminate this crinkling!
I didn't tell Jess this, but I'm not an HST trimming fan!!
But my job was to test her pattern, not adapt it to my own preferences.  So I soldiered on!
You'll notice I went from handling one at a time to laying out 3 at a time for some mass processing.
One of the trickiest parts of getting a good feathered star pattern is sizing these triangles.
Frankly, I don't know of any manufactured templates (my typical approach) that would have achieved the right size for this pattern. 
I also took the time to stitch an extra line before trimming the stitch and flip corners so I have sixteen of these HST units for the scrap box.
With the HST's and star points finished, it was time to assemble the star!!
I have to confess, this is not my first feathered star.  I have taught it almost annually over the last 10 years with Marti Michell's template sets so I know the potential pitfalls.
Look closely at Figure 16 (upper right) and compare that to my four corner units.
Going too fast, twisted something around (not once, but all four times) -- out came the ripper!
There is only one way to assemble this unit and mine version wasn't it!!
For the second feather strip, I double checked my layout with the diagram and assembled them correctly (the first time).  I haven't seen the final draft of the pattern yet, but I suggested to Jess that she add the word "exactly" and perhaps an underline to emphasize the importance of both reading and using the photos of these steps.
Two stitching sessions (about 3 hours total) and I had a finished 36" block. 
My plan is to expand it a bit on the top and bottom to make a 40" by 54" child's quilt which I'll donate as a Christmas gift to a local transistional home for young women working to turn their lives around.
Jess introduced her pattern Wednesday and you can purchase it HERE.  It comes as a downloadable PDF so you can get to work instantly -- love that about PDF's. (Part of the test was to be sure it printed accurately and so I learned to select "actual size" to assure that -- who knew??)  The pattern also includes a 20" block which a friend of Jess's is offering as a kit for a Christmas version of the block HERE.

It's reassuring to know that a pattern writer is testing her instructions.  I've written enough instructions to know that what makes perfect sense to me doesn't always ring clear with another person.  I found the instructions to be thorough and complete . . . . you do need to read all the words not just look at the pictures . . . . and then you need to pay attention to the orientation of things in the pictures!! 

I love the size of it and can visualize four of them set up with some large scale sashing in modern fabrics for a stunning modern quilt!

Let me know if you give the pattern a try!!

For those of you in Northeast Ohio -- the second Mutton Hill Quilt Show is Saturday, 10/22 and Sunday 10/23 in Akron, Ohio -- all the info is HERE.  My version of SMITTEN is hanging out there and I'll be there on Sunday afternoon!



  1. Beautiful star! Is this pattern suitable for a beginner quilter? Thank you ,Susan

  2. I love your Feathered Star! It is one of my favourite blocks to sew!

  3. Yes, 'actual size' is very important! It looks like it came together relatively smoothly. We all have those flip-and-sew-the-wrong-way moments.