Lemoyne Star Block

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Lemoyne Star has always been one of my favorite quilt blocks.  In fact, it is the block I made for my first quilt, a queen-size.  I made a cardboard template, drew around it onto the wrong size of the fabric, cut the diamonds out with scissors, and hand pieced the blocks.  I also hand pieced the sashing and borders, then to top it off, hand quilted it on a quilting frame.  To sew a quilt using the sewing machine was a no-no.  It wasn't unheard of, though; I do have an antique quilt top that was machine pieced in the early 1900s. 

On with the new.  I discovered the Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler designed by Deb Tucker for Studio 180 about five years ago.  I loved the results I'd seen with this ruler, but the instructions!  It was just too much for me to wrap my head around!  Well, now Wendy has been teaching this ruler technique in the Tucker University classes, and it has made me want to give it a try.  I found out quickly that when you take the instructions one step at a time, it is very understandable and easy to follow.  There are other methods out there now for making Lemoyne Star blocks that work very well, but I really like this technique from Deb.

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There are patterns available from Studio 180, but you can easily design your own simple quilt just by choosing the block size you want, the quilt size you want, and then the number of blocks to make.

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Then the fun part: choosing your fabrics!  Scrappy or controlled colors and prints, modern or traditional, prints or solids.  Select your background fabric.

The chart in the instruction folder tells you how wide to cut strips for your star prints and your background fabric.  Prints and background are sewn into strip sets in mirror images. 

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Pressing seams in the correct direction throughout (this is important), laying units out as shown in the diagrams, and reading instructions carefully all make this so simple and something to get excited about when it is all done. 

These bright colors are what I used for my first attempt, making 12" blocks.  Sashing between the blocks helps eliminate some of the bulk in seams when sewing blocks into rows.  In this case I wanted the blocks to float, so I used white.  When all is finished the sashing won't even be noticeable.  

I completed the quilt with a narrow white border around it.  This stabilizes all those seams around the perimeter, yet still gives my quilt that border-less look. 

 Kits will be available for this quilt.  It is 51" x 51". 

Kits will be available for this quilt.  It is 51" x 51". 

Wendy is teaching a class on the Lemoyne Trails pattern this summer, and in the fall we will offer the Sugar and Spice pattern, made with the Voyage fabric collection from Moda Fabrics.

 

But just this simple block with simple setting can make a stunning quilt.  Your creativity might be in the fabrics you choose.  Don't like choosing fabrics?  Don't trust your selection?  Pick up a 12-Pack fat quarter bundle to begin with.  I can see this in 1930s prints, 1800s reproduction, solids, French General, Fig Tree prints, Kansas Troubles...the possibilities go on.  Try a tone-on-tone group of many colors, or an autumn or Christmas look.  I bet you have something in your collection at home you can begin with.

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Find the Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler on our website or in the shop and get sewing!  Oh, and we will be happy to help you through the steps.  Better yet, take a class.

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Shabby Chic

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I found this definition from Wikipedia:

noun: shabby chic 

a style of interior decoration that uses furnishings that are or appear to be pleasantly old and slightly worn.

Here are some examples I found on Pinterest:

"A fashionable but informal style of decoration that uses furniture and other objects that look old and used, not modern and new."
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Tanya Whelan with Free Spirit Fabrics always offers a beautiful group of pastel prints, most of them from the Charlotte collection.  This one is pink, blue, gray, and green.  Fat quarter bundles are available.  Cool Water pattern from Villa Rosa is what I chose for the quilt.  It's just a bunch of squares and rectangles making it perfect for this collection.  I really just want to look at the fabric designs anyway, not necessarily detailed quilt blocks here. 

 
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The pattern is Chianti.  Pattern calls for 16 fat quarters.  We used a 12-Pack Bundle which is perfect for baby size.  Want it larger?  Get 20 or 24 fat quarters.  Caroline by Brenda Riddle for Moda Fabrics features her typical color and tiny floral.  I love Brenda's prints and by the way they sell, it seems you do, too.

 
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We received three pieces from Moda's Cottontail Cottage collection by Bunny Hill Designs.  So I took the bunny print and the red check and made a whole-cloth baby quilt.  Scallops give some chic to the shabby theme.  The quilts turns out to be about 38" x 50".  Perfect.

 
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Some of the quilts we have offered in the last few years include this baby quilt made with the Scrap Crazy tool from Creative Grids.  (I love this one!  I mean the tool.  But the quilt too.)

Use a Layer Cake for convenience for a baby quilt, two for a nice throw.  Come in and we'll show you how to do it.

 
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I think French General could fit in the Shabby Chic category.  Depends on the prints you use and what you do with them.  This red and white quilt we made with Atelier de France works for me.

 

3 Sisters with Moda often has 'the look'.  Poetry last year was stunning. This year they designed Victoria.  It will arrive at Prairie Point in February. 

 
 Make a rag quilt with cotton prints.  Now this is where the shabby part really comes in.  The pretty prints give the chic look.

Make a rag quilt with cotton prints.  Now this is where the shabby part really comes in.  The pretty prints give the chic look.

 

There are lots of ways to get the Shabby Chic look if you love it.  Cotton lace, old hankies, ball fringe, yo-yos. Use double gauze for quilts or for clothing. Make bags; some of the ByAnnie patterns would be fun.  Search it on Pinterest for some inspiration. You can make any item with the right kind of fabric and get 'the look'.  I think Fig Tree, Bonnie & Camille, and other Moda designs can work. Using patterns by Tina Givens you can wear Shabby Chic.

 

You are limited only by your imagination!

Do you like to decorate with the shabby chic look?  What says shabby chic to you?  Let me know in the comments below!

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The Big Book of ...

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Martingale has a series of quilting books with dozens of patterns in them.  These books are larger than most of their published pieces, but are great resources for improving your skills in specific areas.

Let me tell you a bit about each of them and show you photos provided by Martingale.

 This book is jam-packed with table runner ideas. With the 56 toppers in this book you can surely find some that will fit your table topper needs.  Several different styles include seasonal and holiday-themed projects as well as designs to complement your home decor. 

This book is jam-packed with table runner ideas. With the 56 toppers in this book you can surely find some that will fit your table topper needs.  Several different styles include seasonal and holiday-themed projects as well as designs to complement your home decor. 

Wow!  Sixty patterns in this book to make from 2 1/2" strips.  Cut your own or use a Jelly Roll from Moda.  So many styles and sizes to choose from for beginners and experienced quilters alike.  And all of these by top designers!  Look at just four of them below.

With small quilts I guess you can fit more patterns in one big book!  Top designers contribute to the 87 different baby quilts included here.  This makes it a real bargain per pattern.  Modern and traditional, patchwork and applique, all skill levels provided for -- keep this on hand to whip up a shower or birthday gift.  I picked out this foursome below to give you a sneak peek.

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 Scrappy quilts -- lots of us love them.  I think they're more fun to make.  Use fabrics from your collection or pick up some precuts -- there are patterns for everything.  With a selection of 77 projects from Civil War to 1930s, traditional to modern, and country looks, these quilts range in size from 28" x 36" to 99" square.

Scrappy quilts -- lots of us love them.  I think they're more fun to make.  Use fabrics from your collection or pick up some precuts -- there are patterns for everything.  With a selection of 77 projects from Civil War to 1930s, traditional to modern, and country looks, these quilts range in size from 28" x 36" to 99" square.

 The house quilt is on my bucket list.

The house quilt is on my bucket list.

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For the lovers of reproduction fabrics (to me that means the antique look) of the 1800s there is a plethora of patterns here for you to explore.  Now this is what patchwork quilting is!  This book includes 58 quilt patterns that will take you back in history.  It includes quilts for all sizes. Have lots of reproduction fabrics in your stash?  You will love this one.

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Make the same block over and over again and use it throughout the quilt.  That is what this book is all about.  You'll be amazed at how many times you can make this work.  Sound boring?  The color selections will make it fun by making each block different.  Sound easy? The repetition will give you experience and confidence to perfect those piecing skills.  57 quilts by top designers.

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This book combines patterns from authors Pat Speth and Charlene Thode from their previously published books, all in one volume here!  Take your 5" squares, add a bit of background to some, and look for a pattern among the forty projects included.  You can even find directions for 4" and 6" squares, too.  No limit to the fabric genres.

Aaah... fat quarter quilts. One of my favorite fabric cuts to begin with.  Sixty-six different patterns, time tested and proven.  Find one of our many fat quarter bundles, or gather some that you have at home.  Then sit down with a cup of tea and select a pattern.   

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Well, that should be enough to get you started!  Which of the books above appealed to you the most?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Block Party's April Block

April Block Party is the Centennial Star.  Here are a few tips in making this month's block.

Number 1 -- (#1) Mark or crease the center of the square and the center of the triangle.  Match these markings up when sewing the seam.  Directions tell you to press to the background square on one triangle and to the triangle side on the other, but make sure you do this on all four of them the same way so they are all identical.

(#2) Mark the center of the rectangle and match to the corner point of Unit #1. Sew rectangle to Unit 1; sometimes the Unit #1 will be wider than the rectangle; trim #1 to the size of the rectangle.

When I place my side background triangle on Unit 1, the small triangles may extend past the corner of the square on 1 side! Sew the large triangle on with raw edges even.  Make sure your seam is 1/4" and raw edges together.

You don't want your star points to look like this, so you may need to rip and trim before sewing back together again.

When sewing a seam sometimes the fabric drifts away making your seam allowance narrow at the end. This can also be a reason why it look like the pictures above.  Sew again to be sure it is 1/4"!  Using a stiletto helps with this -- those times when you want to use your finger but it is too big to get into the small places. 

This is what you want your star points to look like at the edge.

Continue with the pattern instructions and your block will look like this. Now, wasn't that worth it?

90-Degree Double Strip Ruler from Creative Grids

The 90 Degree Double-Strip Ruler from Creative Grids is one of our most popular rulers at Prairie Point.  It makes a quick decision for using your 2-1/2" Jelly Roll strips.

Cut all your strips 2-1/2" x width of fabric.  Sew two 2-1/2" strips together.  Now, let's back up; there are lots of options here for you.  a) You can use one Jelly Roll and select any two strips. b) You can use a Jelly Roll strip and a background color. Here there is the option of a white or solid Jelly Roll, or c) get a three-yard cut of fabric to cut into strips. (This is where your Stripology Ruler will come in very handy.) d) You can get yardage for your print strips and cut them 2-1/2" yourself.  This may be your choice if the fabric you want is not available as a Jelly Roll.  But you really do need to have 40-inch or more wide strips to get the most efficient use of your fabric.

The instructions that follow are specifically for making the quilt I am showing you here. Now, sew two strips together, a print and a solid.  Press the seam on the wrong side to set the seam, then open double strip and press seam to the print side.  This is important because it will help to lock the seams later on where they meet; and it helps assure that you don't get tucks pressed into the sewn seams.  An accurate or scant 1/4" seam is important.

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When pressing, be sure that the double-strip does not get stretched out of shape or bow on the ironing board. 

Place the Ruler on the strip as you see here.  The very base edge of the triangle should be directly on one edge, and the top of the triangle on the other. 

Cut on all four edges of the two triangle shapes to get three half-square triangles.  The hole between the triangles allows the rotary cutter to get to the very base so there is a clean cut. 

Then, move ruler along strip set and continue cutting triangles. You will get eight triangles from this strip set. 

Sew two of these together so the colors are opposites to make a square.  This will give you four squares which is what you need for one block.  Carefully press toward the print, being careful that you don't have tucks on the right side. 

Now, don't square up the blocks just yet; you will square up later. 

Your block units have bias edges on all four sides.  Try to keep them from stretching out.  

Sew four block units of the same print together into a four-patch block. 

The stretch (that you normally don't desire in a block on the outside edges) actually helps to force them to match up. 

This is where you will lock your seams.  Where necessary at the center of the block turn your seam allowance so the seams lock as you sew across them. The stiletto actually helps with this instead of your finger.

Then press the entire block taking care that you don't stretch out sides.  Now you will square up the entire block so that it is 11-1/2 inches.  Square up all your blocks this same measurement with the center of the block exactly centered.  

Cut two sides, then flip block and square up the other two sides. You want the seams in the corners of the blocks, or as close to it as possible.

Lay out all the blocks on a table or floor in a pleasing arrangement.  I made this quilt with five blocks in a row, six rows.

Sew blocks together into rows.  Again, stretch and ease in seams so the seam lines match up when each seam is finished.  Then join rows. Notice how seams lock nicely. It doesn't necessarily happen by accident -- you have to make them meet. 

All that being said, put your block units together any way you like. The Strip-Smart Quilts and Strip-Smart Quilts II books will give you lots of creative ideas.  This layout is the one I wanted for this fabric line with its soft vintage color scheme. 

It is very important to add a border around this quilt with all its bias edges.  If you prefer a border-less quilt, just add a 2-1/2" strip all the way around to stabilize the quilt.  It will be much appreciated at quilting time!  Measure for the side edges carefully by placing the pieced strip down the center of the quilt; cut at that measurement. Sew to both sides, pinning first.  Press seams toward border and repeat the process for the top and bottom. 

See what else you can do with the blocks we just made?

And what about these quilts?

Same layout, totally different looks. There are other ways these blocks can be laid out.  See the Strip Smart books for more ideas.