Thursday, December 17, 2015

Carpenter's Star {a finished quilt}

This quilt has been a long time in the making.  It began in early 2013 when I found out that my uncle was getting married and was born out of my strong desire to make a carpenters star quilt.  I queried my uncles then soon-to-be wife and we settled on a red and white color scheme.  Without delay I started buying up every red or white fabric I found on the internet, not really thinking about theme or overall composition.  Keep in mind I didn't have a stash yet so to make a scrappy carpenters star I needed fabric.  Since it's hard to tell what color red a fabric is online, the reds in this quilt vary from pink and peach to burgundy and orange.  Because of my buying fervor there are some really interesting fabrics in this quilt.  Some of my favorites include:

  • red and white zebras
  • balloon dogs
  • cutlery
  • "How to iron a shirt" fabric
  • coloring book animals
  • Pi and the angles of a triangle

I cut without a plan too.  I knew I needed to make half-square triangles so I started cutting ALL of the fabrics I had bought into 10" squares.  Then I sewed them into HST using the biggest, widest seam you can imagine.  This was before I knew was a 1/4" seam was.  The large seam resulted in blocks that were roughly 7", give or take an inch....more or less.  I wasn't big on consistent sizing yet either I guess.  Either way, the top came together fine.  

I added three borders to the top to bring the size up to just under queen sized.  One dark solid red, a 1 inch solid white, and then an red plaid to take it from square to rectangular.  I didn't actually get a measurement on it before gifting.  Let just leave it at "large cuddle couch quilt" / "small queen bed quilt" sized.  I used the same red plaid on the back, but again, I wasn't big on measuring so I had to supplement with the excess red blocks I had cut and a pieced heart using scraps from the front.  Personally, I really love the back of this one.  The splashes of extra color make me pretty happy.

Originally I wanted to quilt this myself but the size of it was overwhelming to me.  I made the decision and had it long-arm quilted locally.  This is one of the reasons that the quilt took so long to make.  When I got the quilt back I was really unhappy with the quilting.  It was not what we had discussed when I dropped off my quilt, whole blocks were not quilted and the wrong thread color had been used.  At that point I didn't know what to do so the quilt just sat for literally years needing only a binding.  

Finally I decided that it wasn't worth it to take the quilt back and have it re-quilted.  I certainly didn't want to rip all of those stitches out and frankly, didn't trust the long-armer to do it.  So I sucked it up, cut a binding, and finished it in time to gift at our family Thanksgiving this year.  And I'm glad that  I did.  They loved it, even though it was two years late, and were so excited to get a quilt.  And to be honest, I didn't even notice the quilting when I gifted it and I don't notice is now in the pictures either.  I guess I just needed an expectation adjustment.  After all, Finished IS better than Perfect.

Remember that pile of squares that I cut at the beginning?  Some of them became my Sailor's Take Delight quilt that I finished and gifted this summer.  


  1. I am so glad that they loved the quilt. I think the heart on the back might be my favorite detail, but the thin white border is so crisp and defining on the front, too. :)

  2. Glad you finished it and gifted it as it looks really good and would be a shame not to be used and loved!

  3. Non-quilters will often overlook piecing and quilting flaws that quilters will obsess over. If you're gifting it to a non-quilter, save yourself stress and try to look at your (and other's) work with a less-critical eye. That said, it does seem unprofessional of the longarmer to use the wrong thread color and make design changes without discussing with you. I would suggest getting a recommendation from a quilty friend or local quilt shop, as well as asking to see examples of completed work, before your next adventure into hiring a longarmer.

  4. LOVE that carpenter star!!!!!! And the Sailor's Take Delight quilt is awesome, too. Have a great weekend!

  5. I absolutely love the star - it is totally gorgeous!

  6. The quilt is wonderful. I am a long arm quilter and do quilt some for others. (read that -- I have a small customer base and I really don't want to have tons of paid work as I enjoy the whole process -- planning, piecing and the quilting. ) I hope you gently mentioned why you were unhappy with the results of the quilting. Not all long armers would make those type of mistakes. The biggest "tell" is the wrong thread color. She should have had an intake form that she recorded everything you asked for. I hope you do try again with finding a long armer that you will enjoy working with. And, make sure the long armer does the type of work you are wanting. I prefer edge to edge work. But some quilters are excellent at free motion or custom work. Good luck. Must say I love both red quilts.

  7. I love the borders and back on this, and the main star is very striking. Great color, so rich looking. Great matter how long, it's all good!

  8. I love the scrappiness of it and the fun heart on the back. Personally I would rather rent longarm time if I needed it, but I recently went through a craftsy class that talks about ways to split the batting or entire quilt in order to make it easier to quilt on a domestic machine, so I am looking forward to trying those techniques.

  9. This WHOLE post had me laughing. It brought back all my memories of learning to quilt and now looking back saying "what was I thinking?" Even with the learning curve and set backs this quilt came out great. I am sure your Uncle adores it!

  10. All the different shades of red make this far more interesting and lively than matchy-matchy red would have been.
    What a bummer about the quilting. Maybe time was the essential ingredient to making the muck-up OK again. It really looks lovely from here.


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