Friday 2 December 2011

Wonky Star Doll Quilts - Project 2

My Grandma taught me to do English paper piecing when I was a little girl, but I have never tried machine patchworking.  I love the sparkle of wonky stars and aspire to be able to make something like this lovely quilt by Canadian Abroad

but I thought I'd better start small! [Edited to add: this picture was borrowed with permission from Susan at Canadian Abroad.  It's a lovely quilt and it sometimes gets Pinned from this blog.  Please, please, if you pin this, include a direction to the original website!)

Anyway, having read this tutorial,  I'm now part-way through making two of these doll's quilts for the sprogs at Christmas.

I'm so proud.  They are full of imperfections, however.

I think everyone probably has to learn from their own mistakes, but in case it helps anyone, this is what I learned from mine:

If you are a novice rotary cutter user it pays to practice on scraps first and get the hang of the amount of pressure needed.  Also it took me a while to realise that mine was actually still locked.  Duh!

Clear a sensible working space before starting.  Just as I thought "I should really move that jug of celery out of the way" I knocked it over and had to whisk patchwork, sewing machine, table cloth, and all the other junk I let accumulate at the end of the dining table out of the way and mop up a large puddle.

Next time I would try starching my fabric before cutting it.  I used an old pillow case for the white and some old 60s/70s cotton dressmaking fabric scraps.  I found that some of them stretched as I cut them (the prints are non-directional so maybe the pieces were on the bias?)

The iron is your best friend.  I learned to press with it rather than use the usual shirt-ironing motion as that also distorted the pieces.

I should pay special attention when sewing up the seams.  As per the tutorial I ironed them to one side, and I pressed them so that the dark fabric was folded against itself so that it wouldn't show through the white.  Nevertheless, when sewing up seamed pieces I managed to push and catch some seams the wrong way.  I didn't pin, but next time I think I would pin at the seams both to align them better and to make sure they didn't flip over.

I should be careful that the tails of threads don't get caught in the seams or poke through to the right side of my work!    Now I understand why people use thread catchers (though I find my slob's method of dropping the trimmings on the laminate floor and sweeping them up later works fine!  I guess they're a pest on carpet though.)

I tried to square up as I went along but as you can see both blocks and sashing run off dreadfully in different directions!  I can only hope that practice helps.    It's quilted just off the edge of the star, and not very neatly in the ditch round the block using Warm and Natural batting.  Now I have to tackle the binding...

This is one of the intended recipients of the quilts, which are actually more rabbit and lamb quilts than dolls quilts. You can see why he needs new bedding.


  1. By the way, when I wrote to Silly BooDilly asking permission to link to her tutorial she wrote a lovely reply. She says "This tutorial has been overwhelmingly popular, (according to my blog
    stats, the tutorial receives hundreds of visits a day which just stagers my mind) but I always want folks to know that I didn't invent the wonky star, that credit goes to quilter Gwen Marston who shared the idea in her wonderful book, "Liberated Quiltmaking". The only thing I did was break it down into really easy to follow pictorial steps. I did that because at the time there was a call for quilters to make wonky star blocks to donate to a group who would then assemble them into quilts to help victims of the
    Australian bush fires... however a lot of folks were confused as how to make the block and at the time there was no easy to follow on-line tutorial, so I decided to lend a hand. Even though I give credit to Ms. Marston in the post, I sometimes worry that people will think I was the
    originator of the block, which I most definitely am not!"

  2. You little lamb quilt is lovely! I'm making a wonky star Christmas quilt right now, and I've made tonnes of mistakes, but I just don't worry about it and do my best. I just assume that some day I will get better!
    I came by from the small blog meet. Nice to meet you!

  3. your quilt is looking great. I have just finished fmq'ing my wonky stars quilt

  4. Your quilt is looking great, learning as you go and DO is the best way!

  5. Yes, love the wonky stars
    These actually look better not being regimented!

  6. I think you are doing a splendid job, so hang in there! Reading about the mistakes you have made and how you are learning from them really put a smile on my face as it sent back a flood of similar memories from when I was teaching myself how to quilt. I think it's fantastic that you are sharing your journey!


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