Quiltmaker’s Scrap Squad is a select group of eight QM readers. They take one pattern from each regular issue and make scrappy versions to inspire you.
The Scrap Squad quilt for this issue was designed and made by Carolyn McCormick, designer of the Add-A-Quarter ruler. It’s called Star Search. That’s not an optical illusion—the stars really are elongated. Aren’t they interesting? We knew the Scrap Squad could do great things with this design.
Today’s featured quilt is by “Aunt” Marti Dyer-Allison of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Marti blogs at 52 Quilts in 52 Weeks. You’ll hear from Marti in her own words below.
* * * * * * *
I have a tradition of making a quilt for each of my Mother’s great-grandchildren when they turn 12. Nearly the last one in that generation to turn 12 is my grand-nephew, Eric. He lives in Georgia, and according to his mother, his favorite color is brown! I’d been saving my brown batik scraps for another project, but when I saw the pattern for Star Search, I knew it was the right quilt for Eric.
I confess, “Star Search” is not the easiest quilt to piece. Not only is it put together in diagonal rows, but the “points” of each star are in a separate row from the star center. It really takes concentration to make the design come out right, but the end result is worth it.
The pattern requires templates, a technique I rarely use. Maybe you aren’t familiar with using templates to cut pattern pieces, either. So I’ll show you some tricks I’ve found to make cutting fabric from templates a little easier.
I recommend making your templates from the heaviest template plastic you can find. I used Heavy Duty Template Plastic from Dritz Quilting. Trace the templates onto the plastic using a regular pencil, and cut them out — carefully — using scissors. Not your fabric scissors!
Place the template on the right side of the fabric, with the bottom edge flush against a straight cut on the fabric:
Then place an acrylic ruler against one side of the template. Using the edge of the ruler as your guide, make the first cut:
Replace the template, and put the ruler against the second side of the template:
Make the second cut:
I used a scissors to cut the notches at each corner and the top of the template:
Star Search is a quilt which absolutely requires the use of a design wall. If you don’t have one, try using a flannel-backed plastic tablecloth. Either thumbtack it to a wall, or place the tablecloth on a bed or on the floor, flannel side up. Cotton fabric will stick to the flannel, and if you have to put the project aside for a time, you can fold it all up and your pieces will remain in place until you’re ready to go on.
I laid out the rows by first placing the star centers, then adding the points. Last, I added the background pieces:
Once you’ve laid out one or two rows, the placement starts to make sense and it will be easier to get the star points “pointing” in the correct direction.
The design begins to emerge:
Piecing the rows requires careful placement. If you look carefully at the assembly diagram, you can see there are essentially two rows. First, the “background row,” then the “star center row.”
When moving the pieces from the design wall to my machine, I picked up each rectangle “A” and the star points that surrounded it. Template “C” always goes on the left and right of rectangle “A.” Template “B” always goes to the top and bottom of rectangle “A.” I pieced the rectangle-and-star-point pieces, then replaced them on the design wall to be sure the star points would match the star center.
To achieve perfect “points,” I use the “stab and pin” method.
First, “stab” a pin straight down through the seam 1/4″ away from the edge:
Continue to stab through the bottom piece:
“Snuggle” the two pieces together, keeping the pin absolutely vertical. Insert a second pin to the left of the vertical pin, then a third to the right of the vertical pin.
Sew the seam, removing the pins just as you get to them — stitch over the pins slowly if you like.
See? perfect points!
There are a lot of points in this quilt, so take your time.
When the piecing is done, congratulate yourself on your precision piecing!
I have to show off the wonderful quilting done by Cornelia Dees. Thanks for letting me “jump the line,” CJ, so this quilt would be finished by deadline!
Here is a shot of the finished quilt, hanging in the bright September Colorado sunshine:
Because there is no border on this quilt, I didn’t use “Susie’s Magic Binding.” I stitched the binding to the right side and hand-stitched it down on the reverse. I hope Eric likes it!