Thursday, July 6, 2017

How the Yellow Brick Road Became Star Flowers

Stardate 2017.187.1

Just what do you do with blocks that you’ve diligently pieced according to the pattern, then kinda don’t like the way the quilt top looks when you lay it out on your design wall?
That was my dilemma.  So, the blocks got shoved into the closet…for a year or so.  I didn’t want to deal with them.  Wasn’t happy with them.  They’d just remain a “UFO”.  But, one day, I thought to myself, “Self, what if you cut those blocks apart and set them in a different pattern?”  Turns out, that was the defining moment – and the trick to liking the blocks again.  So, I started cutting them apart, and here’s what emerged from the rubble:  A quilt I L-O-V-E! 

I think the problem with the original quilt – which was the Yellow Brick Road pattern -  was that the all of the colors were a bit to bold, and in mass they just got lost in the shuffle with none of them really standing out.  Plus, the original design didn’t have any “breathing room” for the eye; nowhere for the eye to relax and pause.
The smathering of blocks from the Yellow Brick Road pattern The high saturation of all the colors gave me heartburn when it was all together in a mass...
Enter the Star Flowers quilt design/pattern from Love of Quilting - March/April 2014.  
With the star pattern, now, the eye had a place to stop and rest; a place to linger and look at the quilt without becoming highly overwhelmed.  The white – a common tool in the contemporary quilter’s stash – became the exact component needed to break up the heavy, strong colors. 

Under construction and after the original pieces had been cut apart and placed in a new arrangement with the white to let the eye rest.  Ahhh.....
So, what did I learn from this little endeavor? 
  • 1    Sometimes, when you think things aren’t going your way, they actually are.  You just need to revamp your vision.
  • 2.    Those unwanted blocks can turn into the belle of the ball.
  • 3.    Don’t be afraid to explore different ideas. 

This was a challenging quilt to set together because it was loaded with Y-seams and lots of areas where using a partial seam really helped get those points matched up between stars. 
I finally set out to quilt it – after being inspired by Karen McTavish and the McTavishing method, I decided I’d try my hand on this large quilt.
McTavishing in the white diamonds of the quilt.  The quilting really lends motion to the quilt.
I started by using 40 weight King Tut quilting thread.  While it worked okay, it was very bulky thread and really shows where you had to backtrack on your quilting.  So, I got the hair-brained idea that using 100 weight polyester thread would do the trick.  Boy, did my machine NOT like that thread.  So, I then found the Aurifil 50 weight cotton thread, and it actually worked out really well.  The machine mostly liked the thread (they played well together for the most part) and the stitching didn’t seem so “thick”.  So, off I went, attempting to get this quilt done to enter into the fair this year (which is at the end of July), when…darn it!!!  … the needle came loose and jammed in the machine, so now the machine skips stitches.  A call to Bob – the guru of machine repairs…we’ll see if he can work his magic and I might still have time to finish the quilting in time for the fair…

The quilting in the center stars came out cool...I didn't realize it when I experimented with the quilt design, but it made a secondary star in the center of each star.  Fun!
Things I learned while quilting the quilt top…
  • 1.     Make sure to cut ALL the tails and dark threads from the fabric on the back side of the quilt.  (I forgot…and now have dark spots showing through the white fabric, when you look at it close (and a judge will…))
  • 2.    An extra layer of batting would have helped the quilting show through better.
  • 3.    Thinner thread breaks more easily.  So, be patient as you work on the quilting, and realize that if you use the same color thread as your background (or what you’re quilting), some of your mess-ups won’t ever really show. 
  • 4.    Stitching in the ditch using a ruler can be HARD.  But, like Karen McTavish said, “Do what’s hard”. 

In the words of Bob Ross, the painter, we don’t make mistakes, we have “happy accidents”.  That’s that this quilt is – a happy accident.

A larger view of the quilt.  I'm really enjoying how the quilting is enhancing the overall quilt. Lots of hours, but fun to watch it come alive.

 Here's hoping you have some happy accidents in your quilting adventures. 
Linking up with friends at Busy Hands Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.


  1. Great quilt! Glad those unwanted blocks become something that will be wanted and loved.

  2. Beautiful quilt; gorgeous quilting.

  3. What a beautiful quilt. Putting things away while the brain 'stews' on a solution is a great idea. The quilting really enhances the whole - just lovely.

  4. What creativity! I like your new design. The stars really do come out well in between your patchwork!