Monday, July 28, 2008

Star in a Broken Wheel.

Today's free quilt pattern is Star in a Broken Wheel. Broken Wheel is a traditional pattern that I've always liked. When I drafted it to 12", it seemed a little empty, so I added a Sawtooth Star in the center, making it a Star in a Broken Wheel.

Today's topic is Getting Stuck. Everybody has their favorite parts of quiltmaking. Mine is drafting and sewing. I don't mind cutting and I like quilting, whether by machine or hand. But the part of quiltmaking that is the most trouble for me is choosing a quilt design and marking the quilt. I have dozens of unfinished projects that all stall when it comes to quilting. I'm trying to finish these UFO's, so I've got lots of quilt marking to do.

My current project is a streak of lightning, strippy quilt using 7 1/2" Ohio Stars. The blocks were given to me by members of the Capitol City Quilt Guild as a thank you for being their 20th president. I received the bocks in 2005, so 3 years in my UFO pile is not too bad. I set the blocks with triangles to make 7 strips. Then I put them aside to piece a quilt top for my friend and colleague at the MSU Museum, Lynne Swanson. It is a Center Diamond with Flying Geese (Lynne's favorite pattern) border. It was a fun project to draft and sew, but I think the real reason I did it was to avoid the next steps in my president's quilt. In 2009 the guild is having a quilt show and they want to display all the president's quilt for our 25th anniversary so I'm going back to that project.

How do you get past a block? For me, I sat down on Saturday with a pile of books with quilting patterns in them. I'm going to machine quilt it and I know I'm going to quilt the stars by stitch in the ditch. The hard part is the streak of lightning triangles. I always have an image in my mind of what I want, but my skills in drafting quilting designs is very limited and rarely measures up to my imagination. For this quilt I was thinking of a flowing feathered plume. The problem is a streak of lightning is really rectangles set perpendicular to each other. So to the books. I finally found a pattern I liked that almost fit in Sue Nickels and Pat Holly's Amish Patterns For Machine Quilting (Dover Needlework Series). The pattern is an arched plume with a tulip at one end. The pattern was not as long as I needed so I spent much of Sunday adding a pair of feathers to each end to get the length I wanted. To make sure the pattern was the right size I began sewing some of the strips together. The pattern fits.

Now I have a pattern I like and the next step is marking the top. When I machine quilt, I divide my quilt into units, quilt them and then put them together. This means I have to mark the top after it's basted to the batting and backing. So, I need a stencil. Pepper Cory taught me to cut stencils, so this afternoon, I'll be transferring the design to plastic and carving the grooves for my marking pencil. Once I get my first strip marked and quilted, I'm hoping I'll be unstuck. When the quilt is done I'll post a picture.

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