Tips & Tricks: Lone Star Quilt

The traditional lone star quilt is the base for Our Song, Your ReflectionThis beautiful classic design uses strip sets cut on the diagonal to create a large-scale pattern. Here are some tips to make this a successful endeavour! First things first: Don’t be scared. Once you get going, it’s a ton of fun with very rewarding results.

Our Song, Your Reflection in Alison Glass’ Kaleidoscope. Photo by Quilt Photography Co.

Choosing fabrics: If this is your first time making a Lone Star, pick fabrics that blend into each other well. That means a gradient, or really busy prints in the same colour family. If your points don’t match perfectly, they’re less noticeable. High contrast fabrics are less forgiving.

Photo by Deborah Wong.

Tip #1: Hands off. Be as gentle as possible with your fabric. This goes for general handling and when you’re guiding the fabric through the machine. Don’t pull on it.

Tip #2: Starch or pressing spray. The Lone Star is based on 45 degree angles, which means that you are cutting fabric diagonally across the warp or weft (straight grain) of the fabric. These are bias edges and can be stretchy and unwieldy. When you are sewing your strips sets together, use your favourite starch or pressing spray to keep your fabric behaving before you starting diagonal cuts. As you continue along, you can continue to starch/spray when you’re pressing but the first time is the most important!

Tip #3: Pressing direction. People ask me which way I press — and I say, I don’t worry about it when it comes to Lone Star construction. My reasoning is that the seams meet at a 45 degree angle and are never going to be outright stacked. The seam is going to be “spread” along a distance of the seam and are not terribly bulky (see Tip #5 for a visual of how the seams meet). If you want to be fastidious about it, you can alternate pressing directions when you are assembling your strip sets.

Tip #4: Checking your 45 degree angle. As you cut your strips from your assembled set, your 45 degree angle may start to stray from a true 45 degree. Check you 45 degree along a few “interior” seams to avoid your angle from “creeping”. If it’s starting to creep, trim off a bit to make it true again.

What a creep! The 45 degree angle is off after a couple of cuts.
Always check at a few interior seams to see if your 45 degree is on.

Tip #4: Diamond piecing. If you are sewing two diamond shapes together, mark a 1/4″ seam allowance on the back of one to get them to line up properly. Finger press the seam before pressing gently with an iron. Using a 1/4″ seam guide helps here.

This is how two 45 degree diamonds go together.

Tip #5: Matching points. When it comes time to join two diamond strips together, mark a 1/4″ seam allowance on the back of one strip. I mark at the intersections only.

Align your strips, right sides together. When you fold back one layer right on that 1/4″ line, your to seams should make a nice diagonal like this:

Want to see that again? Here:

Pin them in place and sew.

See? Lone Stars are so worth the effort. Go for it and don’t look back!

Everyone’s Got an X

Last year, I had a few people around me see the end of their marriages. The sadness hit me pretty hard as I put myself in their shoes. Life as you imagined it is no longer. It’s a time of grief; it’s the loss of what you dreamt of. During those difficult times, there is a need for comfort in grief and a need to create a new home for a new start.

Quilts are often gifted to mark an occasion – a wedding, the arrival of a new baby. These are times of celebration and joy. The Double Wedding Ring quilt functions as a symbol of two lives intertwining. Pen and Paper Patterns’ Vegas Wedding quilt is a fun and quicker take on the traditional design. The Free-Wheeling Single Girl pattern by Denyse Schmidt is a great modern spin on the design and celebrates singleness rather than marriage.

When it comes to divorce, we think of things falling apart. But it is also a new beginning. A rebuilding of a new life. A new place to live, maybe. The design for Everyone’s Got an X came from this new start. Why shouldn’t a new divorcé get a new quilt for a refreshed home decor?

Image courtesy of Quilt Con Magazine, Modern Patchwork

The design is ultra-modern – there is no grid or repeated block. It’s large-scale piecing, mainly in the form of strips. The translucent white stripes ‘overlay’ on the coloured bar to create; in fact, because of their translucency, they are not at all white. Here are the Kona colours that I used:

  • Background: Kona Charcoal
  • Coloured bar: Kona Bellini
  • “White” stripes: Kona Pearl Pink, Kona Iron

This design, Everyone’s Got an X, is fitting for other life events, too — such as the arrival of a baby (everyone’s got an X chromosome), a tenth birthday or a tenth anniversary (Roman numeral for “ten”). The binding on the quilt adds serifs to the “X” on the quilt, an optional finishing touch.

This quilt will always be nicknamed “the divorce quilt” and it will always bring me back to this place of empathy and contemplation.

Everyone’s Got an X appeared as a pattern in the 2018 Quilt Con Magazine by Modern Patchwork.

Pattern: Canada Geese Flag

Happy 150th Birthday, Canada! Everything around us has been branded Canada 150 for months: coffee mugs, jerseys, soap, even granola bars. And we have finally arrived at July 1 of this sesquicentennial year. I will be celebrating at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, but for you lovely folks – a 150th birthday gift in the form of a pattern.

I had some leftover geese floating around from making samples of my Color Flocks pattern, and I was fooling around one early morning. This Canada Geese Flag came up and had to be made immediately!  It reminds me a bit of the classic CBC logo, subject of a recent Kickstarter Campaign, which made it all the more on theme.

The Canadian flag was designed by George Stanley in 1964 and became the official flag on Canada on February 15, 1965. It’s ratio of 1:2:1 of red to white to red makes my abstract interpretation of the flag somewhat recognizable.

I wish I had used a wider range of reds so you could actually tell that there are three different shades. I think the lightest should be verging on pink. This flag can be put together in about two hours, so if you’ve got a gap between your morning parade and afternoon BBQ, you could totally pull this off on July 1.

CANADA GEESE FLAG (#canadageeseflag)
12″ x 18″ finished, or 12 1/2″ x 18 1/2″ unfinished.
Maple leaf block only: 12″ x 12″ finished, or 12 1/2″ x 12 1//2″ unfinished.

Fabric Requirements:

    • (16) 2 5/8″ squares, white
    • (1) 4 1/2″ square, light red
    • (2) 4 1/2″ squares, medium red
    • (1) 4 1/2″ square, dark red
    • (5) 3 1/2″ squares, white
    • (4) 2″ x 5″, white
    • (2) 6 1/2″ x 12 1/2″, medium red

  1. Using the 16 small white square and the 4 red squares, as pictured above, use the No-Waste Method of making flying geese to produce 16 geese.
  2. Join 3 different shades of geese from darkest to lightest, making 4 rows (below). Press toward the red. You will have 4 leftover medium red geese.

  1. Join the remaining four geese to the white 3 1/2″ squares.
  2. Press toward the goose. This is counterintuitive but will make for nesting seams later on.

  1. Arrange these units as pictured below, and join the 2″ x 5″ rectangles to make 4 square blocks.
  2. Again, press toward the goose.

  1. Lay out the square blocks with the flying geese. The remaining 3 1/2″ white square will be at the centre. Assemble in three rows.
  2. For all three rows, press away from the sets of three red geese.

  1. Join the three rows, pressing again away from the sets of three red geese.

  1. Add the red rectangles to either side of the maple leaf, making sure that the “stem” is pointing down.
  2. Finish as desired.

I am grateful every day that I am a citizen of this country. Happy Canada Day!