I just dropped off the Jumbo-er Star quilt for the charity auction on Sunday. So it’s officially done, because there isn’t anything I can do on it now!
This quilt came together because a couple of random events. The first was my friend Adrianne @ Little Bluebell posted an instagram picture of some flowers near her house. I immediately fell in love with the colors, and I asked her permission to turn it into a palette. Fortunately, she agreed!
I put it into the palette builder and tweaked a few things but quickly arrived at a palette with taupes, grey, pink and green. I pulled some fabrics and dreamt up ideas. And there it sat for a bit. I loved the palette, but I had no project to use it for. All my pregnant and recent mommy friends were having or had baby boys and none of them wanted a pink and green quilt (trust me, I asked.)
A few weeks later, I went to spring quilt market to help Heather Ross with her booth. The day we were setting up, her twin sister was receiving surgery to remove a cancerous mass. It was an emotional time as you can imagine. Heather talked about a charity event she wanted to hold in Santa Cruz (where I live, and near where her sister lives) and I waited to hear more details.
As the event details became more concrete, I realized I really wanted to donate a quilt for the auction. I’d never made an auction quilt before, so I waffled on design for a while. Due to time constraints, I didn’t have a lot of time to waffle, so thanks to the help of you lovely readers, I decided to go forward on the Jumbo Star pattern, first created by Kati @ from the blue chair.
Kati had hand drawn her pattern pieces, but I’m lazy and like Illustrator and love causing consternation amongst the Kinkos staff, so I drafted up my pattern electronically and printed it out at Kinkos. The pattern was 25 feet long (!!!) before cutting it into the 8 diamonds that make up the star (and I could have done it SO much smaller if I’d planned remotely well. Oops.)
Somewhere in the design process, I accidentally resized my pieces making them a good 5″ bigger. I didn’t notice until I was piecing the whole thing together and trying to figure out why my dimensions were so much bigger than Kati’s. That’s where the name Jumbo-er Star was born. It has since stuck because I sure do love me a good grammar thrashing.
I went through a lot of layouts before I finally settled on the one I ultimately used. I had decided that I liked pink as the outer color, and I wanted the green to be repeated twice. I used the taupes twice because it was the predominant color in the initial inspiration image. Having the greys in the middle made them stand out a bit, even though they were only used once. It had the balance I was looking for.
Then started the actual sewing. Once I got going, it took about 1-2 hours to finish each ring. I’ll let you do the math on that, but let’s just say my family had words with me about how much time I was spending at the sewing machine.
Once the diamonds were done, the rest was relatively fast. I pieced the entire star together, then y-seamed in the large triangle and square pieces to make the inside square. When I eventually did the quilting, I quilted down the middle of these pieces, thereby negating the whole point of the y-seamed pieces, since it looks like they’re seamed now. Live and learn.
Then I waffled on a border. I loved the look of the original border in Kati’s version of the Jumbo Star, but mine was already quite a bit bigger than hers. In the end, I loved the look far too much not to do it. I went with green because they grey looked weird with the Kona Bone background, and the taupe would have recessed too much. The pink would have been too overpowering since it was the outer ring of the star, and the green was just the right balance I was looking for. I went with a more yellow green that fell pretty much in the middle of the spectrum of greens I used in the quilt. As an aside, I wish I’d done a shot cotton instead of a solid, I like the depth and texture that lends.
Once the top was done, I rushed the back. I was borrowing a friend’s floor space for basting (not nearly enough room at my house) and so I had a couple hours to make a back. I went with darker taupe solids because I wanted to reflect the predominant color in the inspiration image without doing the same color that was on the front.
Quilting was constrained heavily by my own abilities. Since this is something that is going to be sold, I didn’t feel comfortable doing free-motion quilting, as I’ve only done it once before. I think I would have liked FMQing better for this quilt, but I enjoy the straight line echo quilting I did as well. I used a darker thread than I normally would have used (again, constrained by what I had access too. Many thanks to Karen @ capitola quilter for the use of her floor and thread!!) but I’ve been told it looks fine. 🙂
For binding, I had very little time to pick that out. I’m fine with what I ended up with, but I don’t feel like I gave it the due consideration I normally would. I definitely wanted a print since a solid looked too static next to the solid green border. Pink seemed like the logical choice since green was too repetitive, grey looked really weird with the backing I had chosen, and taupe was too bland. In the end I went with a Joel Dewberry Nottinghill print because he uses Kona Bone as the base which is the same background I used, and the colors were perfect.
Finally, I added a label. This is my first label I’ve done, and I realized after the fact that I wanted to credit Kita (my cat) in this quilt. Mostly because she was practically surgically attached to this one. Every time I turned around she was on this quilt. I have promised her that the next big quilt will be for keeps! She’s thrilled. 🙂
Overall I’m incredibly happy with this quilt. It’s the striking design I was hoping for, and I definitely would consider making another one for myself (with a much looser deadline…)
With that said, I did want to mention a few design changes I would make as well as things I learned throughout this process.
Paper-piecing pattern: The 1/4″ strips are really not worth it unless they pop like crazy. The grey 1/4″ strip I did in Kona Ash (above) which just gets lost in the prints. I wish I’d done a darker color to have it really contrast nicely. The green and pink work much better. Although to be honest, I’m not sure 1/4″ is really worth it anyway. 1/2″ or bigger makes it easier to deal with and gives you more impact on a design that big (the pink solid section is bigger than 1/4″ and it’s easier to see for sure). And it makes it easier to line things up when you’re putting your star together.
Printing at Kinkos: If you decide to print at Kinkos, you should know that the ink WILL transfer when heated. So when you press those seams, you’ll also leave black marks all across your pressing surface (I used a towel to cover my pressing board). I made pretty thick lines, and I’d definitely change my pattern to use thinner lines. Less mess, and also more precision.
The quilting: I mentioned this a bit already, but I wish I’d gone with cream thread. The darker taupe looks fine, but the additional lines just make a busy pattern look even more busy. The cream would have let the design shine more. With that said, I didn’t have cream thread, and Karen’s a saint for letting me use her Aurifil, so I’m not complaining that loudly. 😀 Also, man I wish I knew FMQing.
The back: I wish I’d added some color back there, or possibly gone with grey neutrals instead of taupes. It’s a back so it’s not a huge deal, but the back is not what I’d call “pretty”.
These are all minor details, but I share them in case someone else decides they want to take on one of these quilts. Also, to remind myself when I go to make another one!
Dimensions: 85″ x 85″
Design: Based on the Jumbo Star pattern by Kati @ from the blue chair
Background: Kona Bone
Solids: Kona Pomegranate (dark pink), Kona Lime (1/4″ green bit in the star), Kona Ash (grey), Kona Peapod (border), don’t remember what was on the back other than two Michael Miller Cotton Coutures (two darker ones) and Kona Oyster or Parchment for the lightest color.
Prints: From stash, lots (66 total)
Number of needles destroyed: Seven. 4 to paper-piecing (the paper would strip off parts of the silver coating within minutes), 3 to quilting (snapped due to the thick seams and me moving the quilt around in a bad way).