Today we’re welcoming designer Peg Spradlin as a guest blogger on Quilty Pleasures! Peg designed the lovely Stellar Swirl quilt featured in our new Quilts From Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Fall ’16 special issue. This gorgeous quilt recently won a first place ribbon at the Nebraska State Fair! Read on below to learn more about the design, and be sure to visit Peg’s website, handycraftsbypeg.com, to learn more about her.
Stellar Swirl had it’s start a couple years ago after I designed the block Star Wash for Volume 10 of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks series. I’ve been a homesewer/pattern tester for Quiltmaker for close to 30 years and getting to keep the leftover fabrics from a completed project is one of the many fantastic perks of the job. I’d just finished the quilt Garden Waltz for the Quilts From Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Spring 2014 issue when the deadline to submit blocks for Vol. 10 approached. I’d fallen in love with the fabrics of Garden Waltz and thought “these are perfect for my block submission.” The result was everything I’d hoped for and I promised myself I’d put this block into a full size quilt design.
I played around with the design off and on for a couple years, drafting with pencil and graph paper, my favored way of designing.
The opportunity to attend a quilt retreat where I would have two solid days to GET THIS QUILT DESIGNED presented itself. My sister Theresa Eisinger who used to be the graphic designer and artist for Quiltmaker attended with me, and after watching me draw, erase and redraw she took pity and entered the block into her computer using Illustrator software. After that, it was just a matter of my telling her where I wanted the blocks positioned and how I wanted them colored. I had my design in a couple hours. Yeah!
I wanted to stay with the green, mauve and creme color scheme because those were the colors of the original block. I, of course, couldn’t use the same fabrics as Star Wash for a couple reasons. One being that fabric lines don’t stay available that long and two being that Quiltmaker wanted the quilt fabrics to be current and fresh. I perused fabric lines on the internet and found three or four that I thought might work. I even considered changing the color way to lavender/yellow or shades of blue and creme, but I just couldn’t give up the original green/pink scheme that was in my mind’s eye. The fabrics of the line I chose, Coryn and Mary’s Blenders by Windham, are more muted and beige than the original block but I’m very pleased with the end result.
You’ll notice, when you see the pattern, that I changed the piecing of the original Star Wash block by eliminating some of the seams. I believe you’ll find this makes the quilt easier to construct.
Quilting the finished top is maybe the best part of making the quilt, for me, and in my quilting career I’ve learned how to minimize marking the top for quilting by using the seams and corners of the patches as registration points for my curved outline quilt stitches. I’ve also worked long and hard on perfecting my feather quilting to a point where, after marking the spine, I can quilt the feathers free hand. Yes, it takes practice to master a lovely feather, but I find the results are well worth the effort.
I’d like to end this blog by thanking the creative and imaginative staff at Quiltmaker for coming up with the perfect name for my quilt when my mind drew a blank.
* * *
Thank you for joining us today, Peg!
If you’d like to make Stellar Swirl and don’t have a copy of our Quilts From Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Fall ’16 issue, print and digital copies are available in our online store.
A digital pattern is also available for Stellar Swirl.