When the online quilting bee that made this quilt started years ago, I had pretty much zero quilting experience, much less bee experience. In retrospect, I committed a huge quilting bee faux pas when I made my request! Luckily, this bee was formed with really good crafty friends who didn’t mind. And you know what? I don’t regret it in the slightest, because it made me a quilt that means so much more to me. So what gaffe did I commit?
I asked everyone to use fabric from their own stashes to produce the main motifs. I provided a generous amount of background fabric and asked them to sew a 12-inch wonky star that, from afar, you would identify as a star of a single color (even if individual fabrics were made up of many different colors). I made no limitations other than no neutrals/blacks. There was no requirement that they use lots of different fabrics in a given block—a single fabric star would’ve been fine.
But what I got was a treasure trove! The feedback was all positive—and because I erred on the side of far more background fabric than was really necessary, many made me more than the 3 blocks the bee specified. In the end I was given 27 amazing blocks in all colors from Maritza, Caro, Nova, Diana, Julie, Christy, and Pam. And I can look at any given star and know exactly who made it, which I love. I needed to make just 3 more myself to complete a 5×6 top. I played around with their placement, starting random and ending with the rainbow of goodness you see here:
I captioned that photo “swoon” at the time (back in 2010!!) and I still feel that way when I look at this picture. My love for this quilt in progress was huge! But making those last 3 blocks just . . . didn’t happen. Two years later, in the spring of 2012, I pulled the fabric out, filled in those gaps with stars in the right colors, cut sashing and made a backing and all that. (I made three wonky stars for the back, too.) The quilt was suddenly enormous—just shy of a true queen size. I decided it would be perfect for our bedding at beach week, so then I was racing to finish up. I ran into a wrinkle, literally, when the quilting started catching puckers on the straight lines, so I only machine quilted the sashing and decided to hand-quilt an echo around the stars. But I’d never hand-quilted before, so I was going to need to amass supplies. I went ahead and sewed on the binding and was hand-sewing it down in the car on the way to Jersey (the hand quilting wasn’t going to be near the edges, so I could bind it before finishing the actual quilting).
We stopped at a JoAnn Fabrics on the way, where I bought hand quilting thread, needles, etc. At the beach I went online and researched how to hand quilt. We were using the quilt on our bed, but every morning I scooped it up, brought it downstairs, and quilted in the living room before we went up to the beach for the day. I learned a lot about hand quilting in that week, and while I enjoyed doing it, I have lots of practice ahead of me to be actually good at it. I didn’t quite finish quilting all the stars while we were there, so there was no triumphant photo shoot like I’d intended.
After we got back, I finished, but by then we were using it on our bed and I just never got around to photographing it. I still love it to pieces: We keep it on the couch in winter and use it on our own bed in the summer. So we brought it to the beach again this year, and on our last day I finally had the photo shoot! Big thanks to Jason and my dad for holding it on what was, as you can see, a super windy day.
These pictures give you the overall sense of the quilt but sadly they can’t capture the awesome of each individual star. They’re endlessly interesting to look at, with choice fabrics used in small amounts and even some fun “I spy” elements that my boyfriend thinks are great, like the gnome, the bus, and the shaky dogs! I couldn’t resist taking pictures of each block so you could see them a little better. Click on a row below to see that row bigger.