Monday, May 23, 2016

[finished] Big Dipper quilts

Done and done! I finished not one but TWO quilts in the past month. I first had the idea for these quilts 3 years ago, and of course I immediately bought fabric. I wanted the stars to be different shapes and sizes, relative to their brightness in the actual night sky. I also wanted a lot of open space and just a few colors. I drew a couple sketches, did a little math, and then put the project on the back burner for quite a while... until I had a new baby and a quilt show to motivate me ;)

I designed paper piecing templates for the stars. All the blocks are the same size - 4 inches - but all the stars are a bit different.

I used Susie's Magic Binding Tutorial for the faux-piped binding. Looks complicated, but it's not! This first version is a baby quilt, finished at 36" x 50".

I was stumped on how to quilt this for a few days. I would've loved to do free-motion spirals or waves around the stars, reminiscent of Van Gogh's Starry Night, but that's above my skill level for now. I settled on horizontal wavy lines, done with a walking foot. I carefully outlined the stars and made sure not to  quilt through them. The result is a pretty snugly baby quilt! I finished the quilt just in time to wash it and snap a few pictures before I sent it off to its new home.

The second version is a twin-size quilt for my son, and my entry into the "Minnesota Modern" exhibit for the Minnesota Quilters annual show. I still used just 2 colors for the stars, but I used 9 different batiks for the background - 3 waxed patterns, and 6 marbles. I really like the texture and depth! I enlarged the paper piecing templates to make 5" finished blocks.

A photo posted by @carriebee04 on

The big dipper asterism (not a constellation) fits on the top of a twin mattress. I finished with a scrappy binding that blends with the background. Expect more pictures (and a pattern!) when I get it back from the quilt show!