Star Light Quilt

Star Light Quilt

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The very first time I made this star block was for the Community Sampler Cactus block and knew then and there I wanted to eventually make a quilt using just this block.

When sewing for my new Art Gallery Fabrics collection called Signature I designed projects around themed rooms and one of the rooms was to be a baby room which would be the perfect look for the Star Light quilt born from the Cactus block!

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This gender-neutral design is perfect for any baby and is a generous 50'' square finished size. I consider this an intermediate project but with my tutorial on piecing the star block and other tutorials of Quarter-Square Triangle Units and working with directional prints, I feel even a beginner could make this quilt with a little extra attention paid to accurate seam allowances and cutting and a care with the trickier aspects of this design.

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For my nature-loving baby I selected Signature prints and Pure Elements solids in a green, teal, and golden yellow palette that made me think of being outdoors on a summer's evening, chasing fireflies and looking at the stars. 

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This week Art Gallery Fabrics will be virtually publishing the Signature fabrics Look Book and it will be packed full of beautiful projects made with my Signature collection. To celebrate the Look Book and collection I've added this Star Light baby quilt pattern to my Free Patterns page

Download the free PDF pattern for full instructions and illustrations for piecing this large baby quilt. I've also included a Quilting Diagram for how I machine quilting my quilt. This is a nice size for quilting on a domestic machine. 

I used Hobb's Tuscany Silk Batting to fill my quilt and I love the lightweight, sumptuous drape it gives a quilt. Silk batting handles and launders just like cotton with very little shrinkage. 

Tip for machine quilting like I've done is to stitch all the stitch-in-the-ditch diagonal, vertical, and horizontal lines first then go back in and stitch the oval leaf shapes last.

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Be watching later this week for the Art Gallery Fabrics release of the Signature Look Book! If you're sewing with Signature and posting to Instagram, be sure to tag me @sharonhollanddesigns and use the hashtags #artgalleryfabrics #Signaturefabrics and #agfsignature so I don't miss any of your makes!

Sneak Peek at the 2018 Sew Along

Sneak Peek at the 2018 Sew Along

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It's been so difficult keeping secrets but the news is finally out that Maureen Cracknell and I will be co-hosting another virtual sewing bee! The 2018 sew along is called Community Sampler. We gave it that name because of the amazing community that grew out of last year's Sewcial Bee Sampler event. The response was incredible and so were the many friendships formed over a common love of quilting. So, to everyone that joined us last year and made the sew along such a success and to all the new friends that will be made with our new sampler--this one's for you!

Next week on Wednesday, February 21st around 9 am Eastern. Maureen and I will be posting to our blogs and release your first PDF download. This sew along is a free event and all you need to do is follow along on this blog and Maureen's blog to find the new PDF release each week, enjoy tips and tutorials, block inspiration, and weekly giveaways. 

With our new name (and new look!) starts a new hashtag pool in Instagram. Grab either or both of the buttons above for sharing on your blog or social media platforms to show your support for the Community Sampler block-of-the-week sew along. When posting your makes to your Instagram account, use the hashtag #CommunitySampler and then you can connect with all your fellow CS Makers by following the hashtag--it's that easy!

Public Instagram accounts will enjoy the added bonus of automatically being entered into the weekly giveaway drawings each and every time you post and use the official #CommunitySampler hashtag. We'll give more details on that as we get underway next week. Remember, this is just a sneak peek and the full reveal will be next week, starting with the Introduction PDF download. 

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The Community Sampler is proud to announce these generous sponsors:

Lady Belle Fabric

Omnigrid

Aurifil Thread

Art Gallery Fabrics

Hobbs Batting

Dritz

Fat Quarter Shop

Bloc-Loc

We look forward to you sewing along with us. Next week cannot come soon enough so to keep yourself busy, finish up all those UFO projects!  

Sewcial Bee Sampler Finale

Sewcial Bee Sampler Finale

This is it, the finale week of the Sewcial Bee Sampler (SBS) and time for Maureen and I to reveal our finished sampler quilts! The last 27 weeks have been incredible. The response and participation to the Sewcial Bee Sampler sew along has been more than my co-host Maureen Cracknell and I could ever imagine. So many new friendships have been formed through the SBS Instagram community and I love hearing how your patchwork sewing skills have been improving through our sewing techniques and tutorials. Thank you for making this so successful.

Surprisingly we still have a few new Makers joining our sew along at this late point and will continue to as they see your beautiful finished quilts being posted. If you're just finding out about us, be sure to take advantage of the in-blog tutorials for the different patchwork techniques used throughout the Sewcial Bee Sampler. Pick up tips and block variations beginning with the first blog post The Start of Something Sewcial. Both Maureen and I will leave all the SBS downloads up on our blogs for you to download long after this event is done. Also, check out the #SewcialBeeSampler hashtag on Instagram, you'll see an amazing array of beautiful blocks and quilts as inspiration overload! 

Before I get to showing you my finished quilts I want to remind you one last time about our Sewcial Bee Sampler Survey. The survey will only remain open one more week, until August 9th, 2017. To help us better understand what you're looking for in a future sew along, Maureen and I have prepared an 8 question survey. This quick questionnaire is completely anonymous and your answers will give us better insight into serving your needs as a quilter. To ensure the most accurate results, please only take the survey once. Many thanks to the 472 SBS Makers who've already participated in the SBS questionnaire! If you've not yet had a chance to take the survey, please do using this link provided. The link is the same on both Maureen's and my blog and goes to the same survey. So, if you access the questionnaire from either Maureen's site or mine, your answers are compiled to the same place.  

Quilt 1: Bountiful 

Originally I only planned to make one sampler quilt but very early into the sew along I could see I wanted to play with more fabric and color options and decided to make two to better show the variety that can be achieved in a project like this. I think each of my quilts has it's own personality as each and everyone of the SBS samplers have a unique point of view from the makers fabric choice, block assembly, and final layout arrangement. That's what makes a project like this so much fun.

My original quilt is made with fabrics from my newest Art Gallery Fabrics (AGF) collection called Bountiful. I also added in some coordinating AGF Pure Element solids.

I decided to keep the sashing fabric the same as the block frames to make the blocks float on the white background. 

 

The batting for my Bountiful SBS sampler is Hobbs Tuscany Wool. This is an exceptionally fine product and makes for a lightweight quilt with extra loft than a cotton type batting. It is a little different machine quilting on wool because of the added loft and takes a little bit of getting used to handling but needle quilts with ease. I chose to do a very simple free motion stitching on this quilt to give it a modern touch. 

 
 
Photo courtesy of Alexis Wright

Photo courtesy of Alexis Wright

Visit my Shop Fabrics page to find online quilt shops that carry Bountiful.

Quilt 2: Tiny Dancer

For my second SBS sampler quilt I decided to use fabrics from my first four Art Gallery Fabrics collections with the addition of the new Fusion reprints of my prints. I call my mixed group Tiny Dancer after the Sketchbook fabrics dandelion print by the same name.

On my second quilt I used my Sketchbook fabrics Speckled Lapis print for the block frames and a medium blue Mudcloth Blue print from Tapestry for the sashing. 

Since this quilt had a decidedly feminine quality to it with the colors and floral prints, I chose to stitch a dense, meandering floral machine quilting on it. The batting is the exquisite Hobbs Tuscany Silk batting. Truly the best batting I've ever had the pleasure to work with and works and handles much like a cotton batting.

 

To find shops that carry fabrics from my Gossamer, Sketchbook, Coastline, and Tapestry collections, use the links provided on my Shop Fabrics page

It was so much fun finally putting these blocks together and I love how they both turned out! My daughter helped me photography these over the weekend and I believe she has her eyes set on the Bountiful quilt for her guest bed (it's her favorite fabric collection to date). My year and a half year old granddaughter loved the Tiny Dancer mixed prints quilt and would point out the flowers and butterfly prints. I think someday when she's ready for a big girl bed, that will be her quilt. 

This Friday we still have another Giveaway Friday and it's going to be a big one! Maureen will be hosting the giveaway from her blog and I will be hosting the Instagram giveaway. Everything will be run as normal with the exception of the giveaway being slightly different in the two social media platforms. More about that on Friday!

Sewcial Bee Sampler Quilt Finishing

Finishing Your Sewcial Bee Sampler Quilt

Wow, I cannot believe how quickly 26 weeks can go by! All the Sewcial Bee Sampler (SBS) blocks have been released and it's time to put your quilt together. There's only two more weeks to take part in our SBS Survey. Refer back to my last post for all the info and link to the simple eight question survey about your SBS experience. By taking part in the questionnaire my co-host Maureen Cracknell and I can get a better idea as to what we may collaborate on next as well as give us a headcount of actual SBS Makers! Please only take the survey once and much thanks to those who've already responded. 

Surprisingly we still have a few new Makers joining our sew along at this late point. If you're new, be sure to take advantage of the in-blog tutorials for the different patchwork techniques used throughout the Sewcial Bee Sampler. Pick up tips and block variations beginning with the first blog post The Start of Something Sewcial. Both Maureen and I will leave all the SBS downloads up on our blogs for you to download long after this event is done. Also, check out the #SewcialBeeSampler hashtag on Instagram, you'll see an amazing array of beautiful blocks as inspiration overload! Soon, you'll be seeing finished SBS quilts too!

Several of you have decided to skip the sashing between the blocks and make a smaller quilt and that's the beauty of this project that it can be customized to fit your needs. For those of you waiting to add the sashing you can download the PDF instructions for finishing your SBS sampler quilt from my Sew Along page

Today's blog post feels a bit epic with all the tutorials I've prepared for finishing your quilt. The following information on spray basting, quilting, and binding is the way I finish all my quilts. That doesn't mean this is the only way to do things--it's simply how I finish my own quilts. I'm by no means an expert quilter and will only touch upon some aspects of machine quilting. You will definitely want to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge professional quilters have posted on their blogs, YouTube videos, and in books. My favorite quilters to follow and resource are: Christina Cameli, Angela Walters, and Christa Watson. They're pros!

You will also want to check out Maureen's blog as she will be giving you additional information with step out photos of adding the sashing and how she has pieced and is quilting her quilt. 

Sashing

Feel free to arrange your SBS blocks anyway you'd like. My first (of the two) sampler I kept all the blocks in order of release but my second quilt I needed to move some of the blocks around for better fabric and color distribution. Be sure all 25 blocks (those with frames and without frames) are squared to 12-1/2" before you start adding the sashing. 

One thing you will notice about the framed blocks is they have an orientation. The opposing sides of the frames are the same size. It doesn't matter if you orient the larger frames on the top and bottom like we've shown in the instructions and in the photo below, or the smaller of the frame sides at the top and bottom, I just suggest orienting the blocks the same way throughout the quilt for a more professional finish. Also be mindful if the prints on your block have an obvious direction and keep them all running the same way as you piece.

Since our sampler quilt is square, how you add the sashing can also your preference and doesn't change the cutting requirements. The instructions are given for making vertical rows adding 2-1/2" x 12-/12" sashing strips between the blocks then joining the rows with long vertical sashing strips. This can easily be flipped and worked the same way as horizontal rows and sashing. 

In example below I used some orphan blocks and Art Gallery Fabrics Pure Elements peach solid sashing to show vertical and horizontal orientation. For the actual Bountiful quilt I chose to use the Pure Elements Snow white solid to match my frames (accentuating the blocks to float on the background) and stitched vertical rows as given in the instructions. For my second SBS quilt the frames and sashing are made from different prints so I felt the prints looked their best with horizontal sashing. 

Follow the instructions on the Finishing PDF for cutting number and size of sashing. To make the long sashing strips needed for between the rows, stitch the remaining (11) 2-1/2" x 42" strips short ends together to make one long strip.

Press your seams toward the sashing to reduce bulk and press each block/sashing row well. Measure each block/sashing row without stretching the material. Average those numbers and cut 6 sashing strips to this measurement from the long strip. Sew the long sashing strips alternately together with the block/sashing rows to make the top. Press top well.

Cut and piece the backing to measure 3''-4'' larger on all sides than your quilt top (as sizes will vary depending upon if you added sashing or not) using a 1/2" seam allowance. I prefer to use a 1/2" seam allowance on the backing seam to add strength to the seam. Press the seam open to reduce bulk. Press backing well.

Cut batting to the same size (or slightly smaller) than the backing. For my quilts I'm using Hobbs batting products courtesy of our generous sponsor. Part of the grand finale package will include the Tuscany Wool and Tuscany Silk queen size battings just like the ones Maureen and I are using in our quilts.

Spray Basting

Again, this is a personal preference on how you baste together the layers of your quilt. If you intend to send your top off to be quilted by a longarm quilter you can skip to the Binding section. I like spray basting for two reasons: No pins to put in and no pins to remove when machine quilting. Second, I feel I get a much smoother finished quilt because of the terrific surface contact between the layers. It's totally your choice how to sandwich the layers but I will show you how I do it. There are many YouTube tutorials by industry professionals on this subject if you need more information.

Suggested supplies: Knee pads, duct tape, and 505 basting spray. I love the 505 brand of basting spray. I buy it in bulk and go straight for the large cans! I do have an affiliation link for this product on my right side bar with Amazon. If you are at all interested in purchasing this product I'd greatly appreciate you using my affiliate link. It's not like I'll get rich but every penny does help defer some of my expenses of producing this blog. 

I use my garage floor as my large, flat surface for spray basting. My garage floor is free of any oil or grease stains and a simple sweep before I begin is the only prep I need. I don't protect the floor from overspray but if that's a concern, you may want to add cardboard, kraft paper, or some other ink free paper product to the supply list and tape down it around the spray area before you begin.

Lay the backing wrong side up and use the duct tape to hold the backing to the flat surface. Don't stretch the backing tight, but keep it relaxed and ripple free as possible. On a quilt this size, I use about three pieces of tape per side. Once the backing is secure, open the cut-to-size batting and center it onto backing.

Once the batting is opened, smoothed, and centered, pull half of the batting back to reveal the backing. Following the manufacturer's instructions on the spray baste and spray about a 12" wide section of spray baste onto the wrong side of the backing parallel to the folded back batting. Lift batting and smooth out onto spray basted section working from the center outward. 

Continue spray basting and smoothing sections of batting in the same manner till the half of the backing is covered. Pull back the other half of the batting and repeat until the batting and backing are adhered and smooth. 

Adhere the top in the same manner by first centering the top on the backing/batting sandwich. Pull half of the top back and apply the spray bast in sections to the batting. Smooth the top out from the center as you go until the quilt sandwich is done. Remove the tape and bring your quilt inside. I like to let it rest and dry a bit before I start quilting. I have no idea if that is a thing, to let it rest, but it's what I do.

Before I start any quilting I turn the quilt sandwich over so the backing is right side up and give it a check over for smoothness. The nice thing about spray baste is it's repositionable and if you need to lift a layer to flatten it out you can without losing any integrity. Work from the center outward if you need to fix and puckering. 

Machine Quilting

Choosing a thread color and quilting design can feel overwhelming sometimes. Both of these aspects of quilting are purely a personal choice. My suggestion is that if you are new to machine quilting and plan to take on the job yourself, choose a thread color that blends with the quilt so it will be less noticeable. I use a 50 or 40 weight thread. 50 wt will be thinner than a 40 wt and thinner thread equals less visible.

The best way to judge how a thread color will look on your quilt is to pull out a strand of thread and lay it across a section of the quilt. You can see how what looked like bold colors on the cone almost negate out to about the same look when seen just as strands on the second photo. I went with the cream thread (bottom right) for the top thread and white thread for the bobbin. You don't have to use the same color for the top and bobbin thread if you don't want to. 

I have a Husqvarna Platinum 16 midarm machine. This type of quilting machine has a 16" arm to accommodate the bulk of a quilt better than a domestic machine can and is also called a sit down machine. The machine is stationary and only the needle moves up and down. There's no feed dogs. It's a free-motion machine and I need to move the quilt under it to quilt. I keep the areas of quilt not being quilted rolled up and on the table so the quilt top doesn't drag and pull as I quilt.

As I said earlier in this post, I'm not a professional quilter. I get by. I call my quilting organic because it's not perfect and lines are not straight. You will see the full quilt reveal next week and I will talk more about my quilting choices for the two quilts. For my Bountiful quilt I went with a very simple loop pattern that when overlapped creates a circle in the overlap. My second quilt I intend to do a denser floral design but I haven't gotten that one finished yet. I do have a tutorial on my Tutorials page for how to quilt a Baptist Fan pattern that is one of my favorite patterns. You can find tons of quilting pattern inspiration online or through the professional quilters resources I listed earlier. The type of quilting design that appeals to you is the best one to choose. Keep in mind the complexity and your skill level when choosing, so you don't get frustrated.

Binding

There are many ways to make binding. For the Sewcial Bee Sampler I chose double-fold regular binding. If you'd like to make bias binding, refer to my How to Bind a Quilt tutorial on my Tutorial page

Cut (8) 2-1/4" x 42" binding strips according to the PDF instructions. Place two strips right sides together at right angles. Sew with a diagonal seam (I've shown a drawn diagonal line on the first photo). Continue adding strips in the same manner to make one long binding strip. Trim seams to 1/4".

Press seams open to reduce bulk. Fold the strip lengthwise in half with wrong sides together. Press.

Roll the quilt parallel to a side of the quilt to be stitched for ease of handling while attaching the binding. Starting at the center of the exposed edge of the quilt top, place the folded binding on the front of the quilt with raw edges aligned. Leaving 12" of the binding strip free, begin stitching with a 1/4" seam allowance. Sew to the corner and backstitch 1/4" from the edge. Remove the quilt from the machine and refold so the new edge to be sewn is exposed.

Fold the strip up at a 45° angle and then back down over itself, lining up the raw edges to make a mitered corner. 

Resume stitching, beginning at the top edge of the new side and continuing around the quilt to the next corner and backstitch 1/4" from the edge. Remove the quilt from the machine, re-roll to expose the new edge and continue around the quilt to within 12" of the starting point. Tip: I like to miter the final corner and stitch a little way into the beginning side, ending with a backstitch, before removing the quilt for the final steps. 

Lay the quilt top on a flat surface. Bring the loose ends of the binding together so the binding and quilt lie flat. Fold the binding ends back onto themselves so the folded edges touch but do not overlap. Finder press to crease. Open the binding. Note: I've marked the creases with an air solvable pen on the wrong side of the left end and on the right side of the right end so you can see the creases better. 

Place the strips at right angles, rights sides together, left end over right end, using the creases to align the strips as shown. Pin the ends together on the diagonal away from the center diagonal seamline. Draw a diagonal line from the corner intersections. Sew on the line. 

Before trimming the seam allowance, refold the binding and check that it lies flat on the quilt top. Adjust the stitching if necessary. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4" when satisfied. 

Pin the binding down and sew to the remaining edge of the quilt top, ending with a backstitch. Trim the backing and batting even with the quilt top. 

Turn the binding to the back of the quilt and blind stitch by hand or machine stitch to finish. I always hand stitch my binding and like to use office supply binding clips to hold it in place as I sew. My woven cotton labels were made by Custom Couture Label Company. Not an affiliate but I love their products anyway. 

Okay, wow, that felt like a lot of information but I know it's not possibly enough to answer all your questions. Use the internet, books, and other quilters to help fill in the gaps I've not covered here. I have only gone over the steps I have used to finish my quilts and there are many other ways to achieve the same end results, find what works best for your skill level and needs. Next week will be the full reveal of my quilts and of course our grand finale giveaway prize. 

This Friday we still have another Giveaway Friday! Maureen will be hosting the giveaway from her blog and our sponsor is the the fabulous Circa 15.