Toutes Les Étoiles/ All the Stars; a French-Inspired Quilt and tutorial

So my dad informed me I hadn’t written a blog post in 6 months. My dad! Who knew. So to appease his apparent need for some sewing chat and to kickstart my blogging this year, here’s Toutes Les Étoiles, the only quilt I ever named:

My friend got married in a beautiful château in France 2 years ago and invited us, starting us off on the most wonderful holiday near Bordeaux. When we got to the château, this was my room:

Isn’t it gorgeous? Authentic antique furniture – and check out that quilt! I examined it carefully and it’s certainly seemed to be a handmade quilt, just the right amount of wobbles and mistakes to feel authentic. Ahhhh. The wedding party had the château to ourselves for 4 days and it was truly heavenly; we all got on well in idyllic romantic surroundings with beautiful weather and the happy couple were truly happy. Great memories.

Anyway, a few months ago they bought a house in the country together (fairly near us) and since this year is their 2 year and aptly-named “cotton” anniversary, I thought a quilt reminiscent of their French wedding might be a good housewarming present.

I used a Moda layer cake of French General’s Rural Jardin which I’ve been hoarding for far too many years and is now out of print, but they bring out beautiful, authentic-looking French inspired fabric collections regularly if you like the look of this one. Check out the back:

Do you like it? I do. It’s some Toile de Jouy quilting weight fabric I bought years ago from a French importing shop, which sadly didn’t survive the recession. I pieced it together with some leftover charm squares cut in half.

It’s not difficult to see how you make this quilt top, but here are instructions if you need; at least the maths is all done!

Tutorial

*Stitch everything right sides together with a 1/4″ seam allowance, the more accurate the better! *

Quilt top measures 56″ x 64″

Fabric Requirements:

  • 3 – 4 charm packs* (or 1 layer cake cut into 5″ squares)
  • 1 yard of printed fabric for outer border and binding
  • 2.5 yards of white background fabric 44″ wide

*Note: you can make this quilt with 3 charm packs but 4 gives more options for removing fabrics with low contrast with the background fabric. You can cut 42 5″ squares from stash instead of a charm pack if you prefer. Leftovers can be used in the pieced backing.

Cutting:

Cutting the Printed Charm Squares:

1. You will need 100 printed fabric charm squares, for the patchwork and the inner border.

Remove any charm squares which have poor contrast with the white background, although one or two could be used for the star centres.

2.Choose 15 printed charms for the star centres. Cut these down to 4.5″ squares.

3. Take 60 printed charm squares and cut into quarters, yielding 240 2.5″ squares. Keep them in sets of 60.

4. The remaining 25 charm squares are for the inner border. Cut these in half yielding 50 5″x2.5″ rectangles. set these aside for the inner border.

Cutting the White Fabric:

1. Cut four 2.5″ x Width of fabric (WOF) strips. Subcut these into 60 2.5″ squares.

2. Cut 14 more 2.5″ x WOF white strips and subcut these into 120 2.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles.

3. For the two borders, cut 11 more 2.5″ x WOF strips. Join these together end to end to make one long strip and then leave aside until you are ready for the borders.

Making the Star blocks:

1. Take 120 2.5″ printed squares and on the back of each one draw a diagonal line in pencil from one point to the opposite point.

2. Now make your first flying geese unit. Lay one of your squares, right sides together (RST) onto on of the white 4.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle so that the pencil diagonal line goes from the top right corner of the rectangle into the bottom middle.

3. Sew along that pencil line

4. Cut off the triangle (both the printed and white bits) below the pencil line, cutting about 1/4″ away from the sewn diagonal line. Discard the cut off triangle.

5. Fold back the printed fabric to reveal your flying, um, goose.

6. Take another 2.5″ square, lay it onto the white rectangle with the pencil line going from top left to the bottom middle then sew along that pencil line.

7. Again cut off and discard the excess triangle fabric.

8. Fold back the printed triangle and press – you now have one flying geese unit, which will be one side of your star.

9. Make some more of these flying geese units. You will need 60 all together.

10. To assemble one star block, you need one 4.5″ square centre, 4 flying geese units and 4 white 2.5″ squares. Lay these out as below.

11. Sew a flying geese unit to each side of the centre square.

12. Next sew the 2.5″ white squares to the ends of the top and bottom flying geese units as shown below,

13. Sew all the rows together to make a sawtooth star block. It should measure 8.5″ (if your 1/4″ seam allowance is accurate).

14. Make 15 of these star blocks and press.

Making the Chain blocks:

Okay, this is where I confess that I lost some photos and can’t show you quite as step by step, but they are really easy. I’ve done a mock-up with some other fabrics below.

1. Take 60 of your remaining printed 2.5″ squares, sew them into pairs and then sew the pairs into little 4 patches, like the middle of the above picture. You will need 15 4-patches.

2. Next sew a white 2.5″x4.5″rectangle to either side of each 4 patch.

3. Now take the remaining 60 4.5×2.5″ white rectangles and sew a printed 2.5″ square to each side of each white rectangle.

4. Finally sew the rows all together. you should end up with a block that looks like this below! (excuse the blurriness, it’s cut from a bigger picture!) It should also measure 8.5″ square, if your 1/4″ seam allowance is accurate). You need 15 of these blocks. Press.

Assembling the Quilt:

Lay out your star blocks and chain blocks in an alternating pattern, starting with a chain block. Make a 5 by 6 grid as shown below….

2. …and sew it all together.

Adding the Borders

1. Measure the sides of your quilt. If seam allowances were entirely accurate the sides should measure 48.5″, but they never are totally accurate. Measure the sides and then cut white border strips to that length – this helps prevent warping of your borders that can happen if you over stretch the borders as you sew. Pin on the border at both ends and in the middle and then sew on the side borders.

2. Next measure the top and bottom borders (theoretically 44.5″), cut a length of white 2.5″ strip to that measurement. Pin and sew on your top and bottom white inner borders.

3. To make the scrappy inner border, sew together twelve 2.5″x5″ printed rectangles that you made at the beginning by halving the charm squares. Sew this to one of the sides of the quilt and trim off the excess. I figure it’s scrappy so it really doesn”t matter if it’s perfectly symmetrical.

4. With the remaining white strips, make a second white border in the same way as described above.

5. Finally, cut and join 2.5″ strips from your printed yardage fabric and add as the final outer border. I used the same fabric as my binding too.

…and you’re done!

I used Quilters Dream Orient, my all-time-favourite batting and free motion quilted it with a loop and leaf design. It’s my favourite quilting, it looks classy but somehow fairly modern and leaves enough areas unquilted to keep the quilt snuggly. Quilters Dream Orient can be quilted up to 8″ apart despite having no scrim, which is a real bonus for snuggly quilts!

Oh and I forgot to say, you can use halved leftover charm squares sewn together and bordered with 2.5″ white strips to piece the backing if you like!

Well, I’m pooped after writing all that. seriously, no wonder it takes me 6 months to get to a computer! I’ll resolve to do this a bit more often, hear that Dad? After all I’m on Instagram (as Cuckooblue) most weeks, even every few days… hmmm I think I might see a connection!

Off to admire my, I mean, my friend’s, new quilt.

If you make it, I hope you like yours too!

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

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Starflowers Chain Quilt … charm pack busting HST pattern/ tutorial #1

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I have soooo many charm packs! I think it’s my quilty pleasure (boom!). 42 x 5” coordinating fabric squares, anyone? Oh, I think so. Although they are not cheap in the UK, they feel affordable if you are only getting one at a time. The problem is you can’t do an awful lot with just one on its own – you could make a baby blanket for a newborn, but that’s about it. Mix it with white and you have a small quilt, perfect for a young toddler, but not really big enough after the age of about 2 or 3. Now 2 charm packs is a different matter. I love sewing them together, putting a white 3” border on and making a traditional patchwork child sized quilt, which is actually still big enough (52” x 43”) for a throw on the sofa, something to put down on the grass for one adult to sit on, or a student take to college or university. And I’ve made lots of those and will likely make lots more. Still, not exactly BIG.

And I thought I should try and do something more exciting – I appreciate that to some the term exciting might be stretched in the context of sewing bits of fabric together, but in the context of knowing I’m amongst like-minded friends, I’ll just keep that word in. So I’ve made 2 quilt tops so far, each using charm packs to try and be a bigger sized quilt. This first one (above) is a starflower quilt made in High Street by Lily Ashbury for Moda; I’ll tell you about the other one another time!

It was inspired by this lovely quilt, but I wanted it smaller, and also decided to break up the stars. Each block takes 8 charm squares regardless, so a 9 block quilt would be 72 squares whether you do all stars or add the “chain”. image

You can see this quilt and more of Michelle’s work here: http://cityhousestudio.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-quilts.html?m=1  . She’s really talented.

My quilt is quite simple in construction, but in case you wanted a few directions, I’ve given a few instructions.

This is the first block – block A:

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It’s straightforward, but you can’t take any shortcuts with the half square triangles – you have to slice the charm squares in half diagonally and sew them back together, making sure not to stretch the bias edges. There aren’t too many in this quilt, so it’s not too much of a pain. Use a scant 1/4″ seam allowance throughout.

For block A you need:

  • 8 x 5” different coloured charm squares, cut in half along the diagonal to make a “charm triangle”
  • 4 x 5” white squares cut in half along the diagonal to make a “white triangle”
  • 4 x 4.5” white fabric squares
  1. Each charm square gives you 2 charm triangles. Sew one of these to a white triangle along the long diagonal edge. Carry on with the different colours until you have 8 different charm triangles sewn to a white triangle. When you press these open, you have 8 different HSTs, a colour on one half and white on the other.
  2. Then sew your remaining charm triangles together in pairs and press open to make 4 HSTs with a different colour on each half.
  3. Trim all your HSTs to 4.5” square.
  4. lie them out in the above arrangement, putting a 4.5” white square in the corners to complete the block.
  5. sew together into rows and then sew the rows together to make a block.
  6. Block A finishes at 16” square: you need 5 of these blocks.

This is Block B:

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For block B you need:

  • 8 x charm squares, cut to be 4.5” square
  • 4 x white rectangles, each measuring 4.5” x 8.5”
  1. Sew 4 charms into a four-patch. Next sew the long edge of a white rectangle on each side of your 4-patch. Put this aside.
  2. Take one white rectangle and sew a charm square onto each of the short sides of the rectangle. Do this with the remaining white rectangle.
  3. Put the rows together as shown in the photo and sew together.

Lie your blocks out on the floor in three rows of 2 blocks, starting with Block A and alternating them . Sew the rows together:

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And ta-da! Easy. This is it at 48” square. I do think it would be really lovely made as 16 blocks, and/or made with smaller HSTs.

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I’d originally meant to finish here and put a white border on using 2.5” strips of white, intending to bind with something bright and coordinating, probably a deep pink. That would have made a 52” square quilt using 72 charm squares… and mission acomplished – a decent sized lap quilt using fewer than 2 charm packs. The other 12 charms could even have been used as a strip down the back.

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But in the end I went all out and decided to add a piano keys border to make a larger lap quilt, one which could be used on the beach or as a picnic rug, as well as a sofa quilt or extra layer on a single bed. Partly because I impulsively bought several charm packs in this line and have a male dominated household, not to mention a country-style house interior which is better suited to muted colours and beiges rather than white and brights, so I need to use them up. And partly because although I enjoyed making this, I am likely to stick to my favoured simple patchwork squares. Bah, traditionalist. So I wanted to see it dressed properly this time!

For the piano keys border I used all my 12 remaining charms AND another charm pack… and about another 6 squares, which REALLY annoyed me. I would have liked it to be exactly 3 charm packs… but it would have only worked out if I had omitted the white border round the quilt centre like this (not stitched together, just laid out):

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I like it. But the Hubster started droning on about negative space being important in design… yadayadayada. He has no concept of running out of fabric. Although he did go on to say it looked as though I ran out of fabric. Drat it all.

So… Piano keys border

– using your remaining 12 charm squares, another charm pack AND 6 more charm squares cut from a fat quarter/stash/layer cake…

  1. First, if using, add a border round your starflower chain quilt, using 2.5” strips of white. Sew a strip to 2 opposite sides of the quilt first and then add the remaining 2 sides.
  2. Cut your charm squares in half, sew together lengthways until you have about 30 in each strip. I chain pieced, sewing them all into pairs, then the pairs into fours, then into eights etc. but others may prefer to just keep adding one to their strip. image
  3. Press all the seams in one direction. Sew a strip to one edge of your quilt and another to the opposite edge, checking first that it’s long enough! Trim the excess. Then add the other two strips on the other sides of the quilt – again check first it’s long enough and add more “keys” if necessary before you sew it on). How folk do the maths for fancy cornerstones, I have no idea.

…And finished! One starflower chain quilt top measuring 61” square from 3 charm packs (+ a fat quarter) and some white fabric (about 2 yards with some spare). Or a 51” square one using 2 charm packs, if you are going to be a stickler for original missions 😉

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It was so windy today in Scotland, this was the best picture I could get! But at least it’s not raining, so you can kind of see the colours in this lovely collection by Lily Ashbury. Now just to back, baste, quilt and bind. But not today! Enjoy your day/night/evening whatever you’re doing lovely peeps,

Till the next time,

Poppy xx