Quilting the String Star Quilt & a Stencil Giveaway

I wrote about this top several years ago . . .


This top was made with a box full of quilt scraps from the 1940s and 50s. All of the pieces were 1 1/2″ wide in varying lengths, but none longer than about 15″. I thought perhaps the quilter had planned to make a log cabin quilt, but most of the color values were the same. My other thought was a string quilt of some kind, which seemed to work better with the fabrics. 

I didn’t use a foundation, but just eyeballed the strips and cut them to fit my big diamond template. They don’t match up perfectly (and I don’t think they need to), but they are fairly close since all the strips were the same width. I used all of her scraps and had to add a few of my own, some of which were newer fabrics. For the border, I used the little leftover ends of the strips. 

I made this top a long time ago, and I’m not sure why it ended up at the bottom of the pile. I think it will be fun to quilt a nice wreath or something fairly elaborate in those white spaces.

My string star quilt blocks are large at 18 1/2″, which makes my diamond template approximately 10″ x 4″. You can easily make a Lemoyne Star block in any size using a simple drafting technique (Laura at See How We Sew has created a wonderful tutorial here). I had to paste a few sheets of grid paper together to get a big enough piece of paper, and then I traced (adding the seam allowance) and cut the 3 pattern pieces out of template plastic.

Now, many years later, I am finally getting around to the quilting, and I am excited to be partnering with The Stencil Company to offer an assortment of 4 feather stencils — both of the stencils I am using for this quilt (10″ feather square and 5″ feather wreath), plus the 8″ triangular feather for corners, and the 5″ large curved feather for borders. I especially love the 10″ feather square, which would also work well in an alternate plain block.

If you are an experienced hand quilter, you are probably familiar with The Stencil Company products. If you are a beginning hand quilter, I think you’ll be surprised how easy it is to transfer a quilting pattern to your top using one of their stencils, especially for complicated designs like feathers. I want to also mention that I am not being paid to advertise these products — I just really like their stencils, and I’m always happy to do anything to encourage quilters to try quilting by hand.

In the photo below, you may notice that I don’t use many safety pins to baste my quilt. Until recently I thread basted all my quilts, but I took Tim Latimer’s advice (who also uses a hoop), and now I just use safety pins (and not very many, either). It’s worked out great — I haven’t had any problems with puckering, and thread basting was such a drag.

A little masking tape holds the stencil in place, while I use a mechanical pencil to transfer the quilting design to my pin basted quilt top. Next I fill in the tiny missing lines where the stencil was connected, and use a fabric eraser on any lines that I feel are a little dark. It’s pretty great to be able to draw just one area at a time. Tracing the entire quilting pattern on the top is a problem for me, because I prefer using a pencil instead of a marking pen, and the pencil lines sometimes disappear before I get to them. I have cut some of my own stencils, and I have some great vintage examples made from cardboard (Thank you, Gina!), but it’s tricky and time-consuming. If you can find a pattern that works, I recommend pre-cut stencils.




For the stars, I repeated the diamond shape three times in each diamond, with quilting lines 1/2″ apart.


Stay tuned for two more updates on this project, because for each post there will be two more winners of the feather assortment stencils. Just leave a comment below if you would like to enter, and I will use a Random Number Generator to select two winners on Monday, February 9.

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