Sunday, October 6, 2013

Feathered Star Class

Yesterday I taught a Feathered Star class at Patches & Stitches, my local quilt shop where I have taught for 25 years.  Here is the class sample:

It was a six hour process class, with the primary purpose of the class being to learn how to accurately sew a 15" Feathered Star block.  What the maker did with her block after class was entirely up to her.

Using Marsha McCloskey's great book, Feathered Star Quilt Blocks 1, subtitled "Really Hard Blocks That Take A Long Time To Make", we made the 15" Radiant Star on page 22.   The book has excellent directions and you should check out Marsha's website to see more of her work and patterns/books.  Marsha is the queen of Feathered Stars and a great teacher too.

As I tell all my students, in every class, there are only 3 things you can do wrong in making pieced quilt blocks:  the cutting, the sewing, and/or the pressing.  This block requires you to do your best work on all three of those.  Accuracy is important on this one.

One student, Tina, was making her first ever Feathered Star and she got into the process quickly. 
Making Feathers, the Bias-Strip Piecing Method

Assembling the units--she's getting there!

Two Thirds of the way there, at the end of class.  Great job!

Sarah took this class from me 3 years ago and has made 3 Feathered Stars since then but wasn't completely happy with her precision so she came back for a refresher on how to improve her work.  She used the fabrics and pieces she had made some time ago, and some of them needed trimming before she could get them together.  Back in business:

Christmas Star, on her way!

The third student, Joyce, had also taken the class 3 years before and completed her Feathered Star from that class.  But then life intervened and she put it away.  Now she was ready to actually make a wallhanging with her block.  She asked me if I would help her to complete the project in this class and I said "Sure".  She spent her time in class making pieced borders and learning how to figure out what size to make the floater borders that would allow her pieced borders to fit accurately. 

Cutting Half Square Triangles for the first pieced border

Ta-da!  First solid border cut and sewed on, AFTER the pieced border was made, so everything fits!
At the end of six hours, everyone was tired but happy--each person had gotten what she needed out of the class, and more importantly, was ready and eager to go home and finish this project! 

I found it fun and a little challenging to spend the day going to each student and providing what she needed at that particular moment.   Each was at a different step at any given time so that kept me on my toes.  As they sewed, I worked on my demo star--I'll show that soon--it's almost done. 

Teaching quilting is almost as much of a  passion for me as making quilts--I just LOVE to see the light bulb come on when a student figures out how to do something that had been a challenge.  And when they proudly send me a photo of their finished project:  priceless! 

If you're stuck or need to be inspired, find a great class and get back to it.  All I ask of students, mine or anyone else's, is to try the suggestion a teacher gives before you say "That doesn't work for me"--you won't know if you don't try it.   I try to provide more than one way to do something, saying "That's why there's Chocolate AND Vanilla"--no one method is perfect for everyone.  For example, in this class I showed 4 different ways to make those tiny 1" finished feathers.  After working with Marsha McCloskey last fall in Houston, I tried her bias-strip piecing method, again--I had tried it many years ago and not loved it.  This time I was taken with how well it worked for me now so I changed my preferred method.  Always be open to new, or not-so-new ideas.

Hope you are working on a quilt project that makes you happy.  Next up  for me is our bi-annual guild quilt show next weekend--sure to be a terrific event.  Quilts get turned in early this week, judging happens Wednesday and Thursday, and the show is Friday-Sunday. 

Let's quilt!


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