Hopeful Homemaker

nurturing hope in family life

October 27, 2014
by jennifer
1 Comment

Cup of Contentment


The temperatures are slowly dropping.  My beloved cherry tree is, at last, shedding its leaves as the wind curls around its branches.  We wrapped up five soccer seasons and a football season on Saturday.  I baked a pumpkin dessert on Sunday.  My fall-ish quilts have been unpacked and tonight every one of them was wrapped around the body of a child as they snuggled together on couches and the floor listening to their Dad read aloud to them.  He read all of them to sleep except our almost 16 year old daughter, who sat laughing at the story.  She was dubious when we began, but now insists the book should be hers for the night so she can finish it.  Her obstacle is her father, who won’t surrender it to her keeping because he, too, wants to read ahead.  I’m soaking it all in – the sight of quilts everywhere – quilts I made – warming them all.  The sound of my littlest’s gentle breathing as she sleeps curled in a ball on my lap.  The feeling of being warm and safe and nourished while the dark and the cold deepen.  My husband’s voice as he reads aloud to his family.   Who cares about the shoes scattered all over the room?  This is heaven, right here, with my family.  A sentence from a book I’m currently reading came to mind:  “They were cups of acceptance.”

I feel like a cup of contentment.

Contentment has been a foreign feeling lately, at least where family management is concerned.  The last couple of months have been an exercise in survival with far too much time spent in the car driving children from practice to game to lesson to school and everything in between.   I cannot count the number of times I’ve tried to compose a paragraph – or even a sentence – that captures what it’s been like with all of the children in school, each of them experiencing their own life challenges and battles; me trying to be the glue and the cook and the housekeeper, the taxi, the secretary, the everything for all of them and still maintain some sense of my own personhood – without rambling on and on like a lunatic.  The only words I have to describe it somehow make it sound trivial, or like a badge, when really it represents the greatest effort of my life.  It’s my greatest effort at consecration, organization, humility and love; the very best I have to offer.  So it’s hard when it sounds so ridiculous, because I am giving it everything.  Of course, my everything is badly flawed, but it’s all I have to give.  I believe in the power and importance of the family.  I choose motherhood.  It brings all sorts of hidden costs I didn’t know I was choosing as well, but I do my best to take them in stride, make peace with them, and keep working.  And praying.  I’m praying my way through every single day.   Life has felt totally out of balance and the ironic thing is that every time I’m desperate for wisdom to fix it, on my knees praying to know what we can cut, the Lord usually gives me something more to do.  This month has been no different as a new assignment at church has come my way, pushing other worthy things aside.   My patience has been tried by coaches who change schedules without warning and by the occasional child who refuses to work with the schedule at all.  I have prayed for help and strength more times than I can count and repeatedly seen the Lord take 20 minutes of my life and expand them to fill far more than seems humanly possible.   I testify that His grace is, indeed, sufficient for the day.  Amazingly, He faints not and is not weary, and miraculously has a fresh supply of forgiveness for me every morning.  I have felt stretched, drained and empowered all at once.  I like knowing I have the capacity (with God’s help)  to do all of this, but hate the price it comes with.  I’m being more honest with myself in the tally this year, and there is much to consider and weigh.

Tonight I am asking nothing more of myself than to live in the moment.  Forgetting the unfinished tasks of motherhood, ignoring the piles of clutter.  A couple of weeks ago I had the strong feeling that we need to re-enthrone family read-aloud time in the evenings so we chose a new book and began.  It feels SO good.

Tomorrow’s demands are already at the door, clamouring for attention.  But tonight, I choose contentment.  And it’s glorious.


October 16, 2014
by jennifer
1 Comment

Sawtooth Quilt Top


Last weekend the sudden need to eliminate a project in my life took hold, and the first thing I thought of was this Sawtooth quilt.  I cut the fabric in January of 2013, intending to use fabric from my stash and to complete a simple project in between more complex ones.  Despite the simplicity of it, I only managed to work on some half square triangles here and there without ever really committing myself to the project.  It’s been sitting in strips for over a year.  I got it out on Saturday thinking I had just 14 long seams to sew; it turned out I had sewn three strips – of 32 half square triangles – together wrong, so I ended up spending time with the seam ripper and the project took longer than I’d planned.


But the quilt top is done!  Looking at these photos, I realize the quilt doesn’t have as much contrast as it appears to have when I’m working with the fabrics up close.  It won’t be a favorite quilt, but I’m sure it will be used and loved like all the others I make.   I like all the yellow and am really looking forward to quilting this one.  I’m going to practice feathers!  I also pieced the backing and binding with high hopes for finding time to quilt it very soon.


Early this year my sister Kristen challenged me to finish 14 quilts in 2014.  It sounded reasonable at the time, but  I didn’t anticipate how demanding life would be this year, and so far I’ve only finished 5 projects.  I’d better work much faster if I’m going to reach my goal!

October 13, 2014
by jennifer
1 Comment

AMH Voile Quilt


One of my best friends moved away this summer, something that’s always bittersweet.  I’m so thankful I know her and we were blessed to spend a lot of time together in the months before her move, which made it both harder and easier.


I pulled out the voile quilt top that I pieced last year and decided it was the perfect thing to send with them to their new home.  The vibrant colors of the fabrics are a good combination of both our styles and backing it with the IKEA nummer fabric seemed a good choice.  I love the contrast and wish I wasn’t running out of that number fabric!  I have given away every quilt I’ve backed with it.


The quilt is a simple patchwork design, comprised of 6″ (finished) squares and measures 90″ square.  Much as I love awesome quilt designs, there is something about patchwork that always makes me smile.  The best part of this quilt is the voile – such a soft, smooth hand and light weight.


I quilted it myself in a simple cross hatch design on the diagonal through the center of each square and bound it in a black and white houndstooth print.   It feels good to have finished something, and even better to have sent it on it’s way!  It’s finish #5 for 2014.   I think I may need to get out the rest of that voile fabric and make another.

Have a great day!

October 12, 2014
by jennifer

Ordinary Shells

Each summer when our family visits the beach, the most restorative activity I look forward to is a solitary early morning walk on the beach.  This year it wasn’t until our last day of vacation that I was able to enjoy that time.  It fills me up in a way that nothing else does.  I love the low tide, the sky, the color of the water.   My thoughts slow down and I always find myself being tutored by the sea.


Inevitably my eyes are drawn to the treasures near my feet as I make my way to the pier.  These shells aren’t unique or amazing yet I love them.  I’m drawn to their simplicity and their flaws.  I like the holes, the jagged edge, the discoloration.  I’m not bothered by their small size or the fact they’re so common.  A few of them are always tucked away in my pocket for safe-keeping, a reminder of all I learned on the walk.

I feel a kinship to the shells.  I, too, am common and flawed.  I have holes and jagged edges.  Like my shells, I bear the marks of my journey as I strive to fill my purpose in this life.   Surprisingly, it’s the imperfection in my shells that compels me to examine them so closely.  Their imperfections make them beautiful.


The shells in this second photo are tiny – not quite 1/2 inch in diameter.   Hardly worth mentioning – and yet… they make me stop and think.

Today I read the words, “We are going to do something extraordinary.”  Emma Smith declared them in 1842 at a gathering of women that could hardly be called extraordinary by most standards.  But I love that she said it.  And the women gathered with her believed it.  That group of women became the Relief Society organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a women’s organization that now has more than 5.5 million members worldwide, and which has accomplished far more good in the way of humanitarian aid, relief and charity than the original members could have imagined.

Can I do something extraordinary?

In my office hangs a quote by David A. Bednar.  It says, “Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results.”

It’s funny how often we trick ourselves into thinking that life is about to get easier – right after we clear the next hurdle in our path.  It makes me smile today to remember how sure I was of that “fact” when I sent the children back to school in August.  Surprisingly – or perhaps I should say, not surprisingly, instead of getting easier it has felt that more is required of me every day than was required yesterday.  The stakes seem to get higher as well.  I have looked at that quote many times in the past 6 weeks, taken a deep breath, and done my best to do recognize what is right and then do it.  I mess up often, and there aren’t any results to see.  But deep inside I feel different.

It’s a pretty common thing for me to feel completely out of emotional energy long before the day is done.  The demands of my family at this stage are exciting but taxing.  Yet it never fails that a simple prayer for strength is answered as I move to the next task and soon enough the day is over and I realize the strength came.  It always comes.   The grace and power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ get me through.

I am like my shells.  Common, ordinary, flawed.  I often feel small as well.  But I am learning that the Master isn’t so bothered by these things as I’m inclined to believe.  He finds beauty and value in me despite them.  He knows the journey that has left it’s marks on me.  He works with me and in behalf of me.  He asks me to be faithful, diligent and consistent in my efforts to do what is right.  It’s simple and hard and amazing all at once.

“We are going to do something extraordinary.”

Do you believe it?  I do.


July 23, 2014
by jennifer

Tone It Down Quilt


My Tone it Down quilt blocks have become finished quilt #3 for the year and given how busy life has been, it seems amazing that I’ve finished anything at all.


I love this quilt for several reasons.  First, it has pieces of so many fabrics in it.  I love the scrappy look it has, and having so many little bits I love in one quilt makes me smile.  There’s also a distant memory that kept coming to mind as I worked on it.  Many years ago my mom’s sister made her a quilt and I remember looking at it in awe.  The pieces were so small and I remember wondering if there would ever be a time in my life when I would be capable of making something so complex.  Twenty (or more?) years later I look at all the little pieces of this quilt and think “maybe I’m a real quilter, after all.”


The navy and green together remind me of an outfit my mom bought me in high school.  I was running for class president and we found the perfect thing for me to wear when I gave my speech.  I’ve always loved navy and green together but when I see this combination the first thing that comes to mind are those clothes.   I’m so glad navy is back in style.  I never stopped liking it.


The backing was pieced in an attempt to “use it up” without worry of running out (something I’ve always struggled with).   The Pillow & Maxfield prints were a gift from my sister, the veggies print by Maude Asbury reminds me of Broadbent’s quilt shop where the Utah County Modern Quilt Group meets.  There’s a piece in there that I’ve had for at least 15 years because I loved it and couldn’t even explain why.  I have very little of Denyse Schmidt’s Katie Jump Rope but used it anyway.


There is a funny story about one of the blocks in this quilt.  When I was half done I suddenly felt that I couldn’t bear to make another block.   I wanted to do something else, but this project had taken over my space and I’d committed myself to finish it.  I started working faster, trying to crank them out, but 97 pieces only go so fast, even when you’re chain piecing.  If you look carefully at the top right corner of the quilt, you’ll see in there a bright aqua fabric that’s not very “low volume.”  That was the block on the sewing table when my desire completely fled, so I fussy cut a little “keep calm and sew on” piece to swap into the block in place of what I had planned.  It would be the reminder block – the one that would make me smile when I remembered how badly I wanted to put it away.  In fact, when I had the quilt top finished the first thing my children wanted to do was find that square.


What really makes me laugh about that block is the fact that on the top row of the block, the green pieces are upside down!  In my lack of enthusiasm I completely failed to notice that I pieced it incorrectly.  In fact, I didn’t notice it until the quilt was bound and finished and one day I looked at it and it was the ONLY thing I saw.  I guess that’s what happens when you look at something too much.  So there’s an imperfect block in there that will stay as it is, and the whole thing just makes me laugh. I guess a mistake like that is a great way to make sure your quilt is one of a kind!


Every time I piece a quilt top I think to myself “I’ve got to have this one professionally quilted” because I love it so much.  And then I finish it and hang it in the closet and get back to work around the house.  I look at my children, how quickly we get holes in shoes, how much they eat, how much their activities cost, and remember that we’re in our most expensive years – and will yet be in this stage for a while.  So I go back to the quilt, baste it and take a deep breath, and do my best.  My quilting leaves much to be desired, but I’m trying and I’m slowly improving.  On this quilt I tried the loopy pattern that Denyse Schmidt made so popular with the release of her most recent book, Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration.  (A paragraph in that book provided me with a life lesson, shared here.)


The rows vary in height (I did that on purpose) and it’s full of mistakes but I suppose that means it has even more of me in it.  For the binding I hunted down the diagonal navy stripe from Bonnie & Camille’s April Showers collection and it was the perfect thing.


A finished quilt is better than a perfect quilt, and this beauty will always be a reminder to me of where I am right now – my skills, my tastes, the craziness of life, my sudden desire to quit, the popularity of low volume fabrics (a trend I’ve totally fallen for) and even a reminder of other quilters, well-known or not, whose work influence me at this point.  The evening walk we took as a family to take these photos and the afternoon my kids spent crawling all over it playing “I spy” are memories already wrapped up in it, too.


Thanks so much for visiting!  For more information on the source of this pattern see this post.


May 21, 2014
by jennifer

Pixelated Heart Quilt + Heart Quilting


My Pixelated Heart quilt, which is also my first finished quilt of 2014 (finished back in February) is something I intended to share here but never did.  I want to share it anyway, largely because the idea for quilting it was such a fun experience for me.


Because there is no sashing between the blocks, the horizontal feel of background fabric throughout the quilt seemed a little stronger than I wanted, so my goal was to find a way to balance the lines in the quilt.  I also wanted to keep the quilting very simple while trying something new, and my daughters hoped it would include hearts.  An idea struck and it worked, and I had so much fun doing it!


Vertical quilting lines, one line per each 2 1/2 inch strip of the quilt but with little hearts quilted in every other square, was what I did.  Super simple, and yet I’ve never seen it done before and it did the trick!  All of a sudden the movement in the quilt is balanced and there are all these cute little hearts dancing through the background between the pixelated hearts.  This turned out to be a simple way to quilt, almost straight line in nature, with a little bit of free motion quilting thrown in.  Not a bad way to practice, learn, get a little experience and develop quilting skills if you’re like me and spent way too long being afraid of free motion quilting.   I feel like the design adds to the design of the quilt.  Because I’ve had many people try to figure out how I did it, I thought a couple of photos of my sketches might be useful:


Essentially, there are 4 steps to the pattern.  A straight line down the center of the strip you’re quilting, then one half of the heart, then straight back up the center of the heart, and then stitching the other half of the heart, ending at the bottom point ready to continue down to the next one.  As I was quilting I kept thinking of hearts dangling on ribbons from the ceiling.  I didn’t like the idea of hearts everywhere, so I quilted each line in an offset way so that there would be open space as well.


I like the way each pieced heart is now framed by lots of little ones in the background.  Quilting this quilt was a fun experience in trying something new to see if it would work.  I think you could run with this idea of quilting in mostly straight lines but throwing in a small design along that line and use it with all sorts of shapes or motifs.  This is filed away in my imagination as an idea I may want to come back to in the future with some other design.  And like I already mentioned, it’s a comfortable way to step out of your comfort zone if straight line quilting is your thing.  I should mention that I used my darning foot, and not my walking foot, for this design.


The backing is made up of a vintage piece of fabric I’ve had for too long (on the top) and some sweet hearts on the bottom.


Continuing with my love of black and white bindings, I used a small houndstooth print to bind this quilt.  I love the way it frames everything.


And finally, I found this little label at my LQS and decided it was perfect for the quilt, so it now has a label on the back.  This is something I want to do more of.


The quilt has now seen many hours of use and I love seeing my children snuggled in things I’ve made for them.  When I wrote down my quilting goals for 2014, four main categories emerged for the projects I felt drawn to.  One of them I have labeled “chase an idea.”  I want to leave room in my sewing to follow an idea when it comes and see what happens.  The layout of the quilt (tutorial found here), followed by the quilting, certainly fall into that category.  I find it is very satisfying when, after sketching and brainstorming, the idea comes and I act on it with decent results.


Hooray!  I hope you’re chasing an idea today!

April 27, 2014
by jennifer

So Many Things


I’m loving so many things lately.  Spring does that to most of us, I believe.  The light in the mornings when we leave for school, the tulips in my yard.  It’s that time when everything happens quickly.   All of a sudden the trees have leaves, the grass is green, the weeds are everywhere (in my yard, at least) and it seems appropriate, for that’s what happens inside our house as well.  It’s the season when you don’t want to blink because you’ll miss something wonderful!  The world of nature and the growth of my children seem to be pacing each other, transforming into newer versions of themselves so quickly its like I’m watching a time lapse video.  Just as there are blooms today where I saw only stalks yesterday, so also freckles appear on noses and new words show up in vocabularies.  In a few short, frantic weeks we’ll bid farewell to this year’s school teachers and my children will essentially be pronounced one year older.  I look around me and see that we’re all experiencing age and stage appropriate growth, opportunities and challenges.  Who they’re becoming is such a discovery and yet they’re more “them” every day.  I love trying to abandon myself to the joy of it, but quiet moments occasionally bring a stabbing sense of loss.   Sometimes “time” feels so unnatural.

Today has been much quieter than usual.  An over-booked week and family movie night last night left us all tired.  Even the younger ones slept in this morning,  a rare thing, and also a reminder that we’re moving into a new stage as a family.   My oldest son, who now stands six feet tall and is heavier than his Dad, is getting close to his 17th birthday.  I looked at him today, on the other end of the church pew, and marveled again that someone so big could be my child.  How strange it seems and yet how my heart swells with love as I watch him bump into unexpected corners of the adult life he’s fast approaching and do his best to deal with it.  My oldest daughter also seems so grown.  This afternoon I heard her confidently and decisively discuss her academic plans for high school and beyond with another adult and for a moment she took my breath away.  They will be gone so soon.  On the other end of the family I’m treasuring every second with my youngest daughter, holding her precious face between my hands more often as we talk to one another.  She’s the last one with traces of chubby fingers and round cheeks.  I look at my youngest son, eight years old last month, and want to jump for joy.  Kindergarten and first grade were so hard for him, as he simply couldn’t read the words on the page in front of him.  We found an uncommon vision problem, got glasses, and in the last 8 months he’s improved his reading by more than 60 words per minute, now testing at the expected level for exiting 2nd grade.  His teachers and I can’t stop talking about it, smiling about it, marveling at him.  I look at that boy and see a miracle and think that for this blessing alone I’m forever indebted to the Lord.   Like he’s been rescued.  Like I’ve been rescued.  Which we have.   Last week I was helping in the classroom with my six year old when it was her turn to be the song leader.  I looked through her school papers and saw the change in her handwriting – straight, confident, neat.  She’ll be in first grade next year and it makes me want to cry.  I TRULY never thought I would be HERE.  I thought I’d have little ones at home forever, and now I’m a few months away from a couple of hours of quiet each day.  It scares me a little.

As I type this, the middle group runs around upstairs instead of getting ready for bed while our youngest sits on Dad’s lap to listen to Winnie the Pooh stories.  The oldest two wandered into the room and stayed to listen, and are now laughing hysterically at the dry humor of A. A. Milne.  I don’t want tomorrow to come.  I wish I could freeze this moment and keep us all here, safe and happy, a little longer.

The middle ones are keeping me grounded.  Somehow watching all of them makes me feel like things will turn out, and like my heart might even make it out in one piece.  My thirteen year old son suddenly gets up from the dinner table and does the dishes at night without being asked, even volunteering to do them alone sometimes.  He’s made choices lately that make me proud and I’m excited to see the young man he will become.  My nine and eleven year old daughters get prettier every day.  I love that they let me dry their hair in the mornings; I watch them get taller as it gets longer.  They are all so much fun right now, quick to laugh and run and play, daily creating new worlds of imagination to inhabit together.   Oh, how I love the “together” they’ve created for themselves.  It is one of my greatest joys.  I don’t know how I’d handle the bittersweet of the oldest and youngest ones without the safety of the middle group right now.  They’re my anchor.


Our days are full of end-of-year reports, shots, registration for next year’s everything, soccer games, book reports, school programs, working out the summer calendar.  I forgot some things this week and felt foolish; I remembered so much.  The frequency with which my eyes fill with tears sometimes alarms me yet I’m grateful to feel alive and sensitive.

In the past six weeks I’ve felt a yearning for home that is strong.  It’s not a yearning for anything I have here on earth, and not homesickness, but the yearning of a little girl who wants to run home for a quick hug.  It washes over me unexpectedly, as if to remind me of my true identity and purpose as a daughter of God.  I miss Him.  It’s nice to be reminded that he misses me too, and understands that even as I try to oversee the journey of my children, I’m still experiencing my own, complete with things I’ve never faced before.  He understands and loves me anyway, or perhaps, because.

Life is good.  Moving at lightning speed, but good.

April 16, 2014
by jennifer

Scrappy Hunter’s Star Tutorial (a layer cake friendly pattern)


Early this week I shared photos of my scrappy version of a Hunter’s Star quilt.  I realized when I was finished with it that I had stumbled on a great pattern for a layer cake, so I thought I’d share a quick tutorial.


Fabric requirements:

Each 8 pointed star in a hunter’s star quilt is made up of four smaller blocks.  For the quilt I made, which is 64 inches square, I used:

32 – 10 inch squares of various fabric prints (which is most of  a layer cake, although I cut my own squares from Bonnie Christine’s Reminisce collection for Art Gallery Fabrics)
32 – 10 inch squares of background fabric (2.5 yards of fabric.  I used a black on white swiss dot print for my background)

Note:  If you’re using a layer cake, you should have 40 prints to choose from.  I recommend eliminating those prints that most closely match your background fabric so they don’t get lost in the quilt and make it more difficult to see the pattern.  For example, if you’re using a solid white background and the layer cake has a solid white print in it, or a white print with a very light pattern on it, you may want to skip it.  That said, you can see in the photo above that I did use some low volume prints from the collection in my quilt top.  I liked using a few of them, but there were other prints that were even softer which I set aside and didn’t use in this project.   Also, because I used a swiss dot print for my background, the softer prints I included still looked different from the background fabric.

If you want to increase or decrease the size of the quilt, know that one print and one background square will make two blocks.  Four blocks will give you a full star in the center of the blocks.


To make the blocks, we’ll be cutting triangles, diamonds and trapezoids from each 10″ square.  To begin, cut your square in half diagonally:


Place the two triangles on top of one another for faster cutting.  With a ruler, measure 2.5 inches from the edge of the diagonal cut, as seen below with the small ruler.  Notice that on the bottom left and top right edges of the triangle my cutting ruler is more than 2.5 inches from the point of the triangle.  The measurement that matters is the one from the diagonal edge we just cut.


Cut along that line, creating two smaller triangles and two trapezoids.


Set aside the triangles and line the trapezoid strip up carefully on your cutting mat.  I prefer to use my 45 degree angle lines and I line the far right edge up on an inch line.  From that far right side, measure into your trapezoid 2.5 inches once more.


Cut your fabric, creating two diamonds.  Repeat once more, measuring another 2.5 inches from the cut you just made and cutting two more diamonds.


From one ten inch square you should now have two triangles, four diamonds and two trapezoids.


Repeat this process with the remaining prints.


Now do the same thing with all the ten inch background squares.  Every piece in this quilt is cut the same way.


Once all the shapes are cut you can put together a block.  Think of each block as having two triangles.  One uses background fabric for the diamonds and prints for the triangle and trapezoid, and the other triangle uses background fabric for the trapezoid and triangle and the diamonds are prints.  Below is the layout for a hunter’s star block:


Sew the diamonds first.  Carefully turn a printed diamond piece right side down and carefully line it up with the right side of a short end of the background trapezoid.  Because we are sewing angles, do not line the pieces up from corner to corner.  Instead you will need to have a tiny (1/4 inch) triangle sticking out on each end.  This will allow your fabrics to line up straight after you sew them together.


Here’s a closer look at how to line them up.  Sew the pieces together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.


Do the same thing with the diamond at the other end of the trapezoid.


Press the seams open.  *In this quilt I pressed every seam toward my printed fabrics so the seams would nest when pieced together.


Now repeat the process, sewing the background diamond pieces to the printed trapezoid piece, again ironing the seams toward the print.


Next, sew the triangles to the trapezoids.  Once more, you will have the corners of the triangles hanging over the edges of the trapezoid piece.   On this seam the overhang will likely be more than 1/4 inch, which is fine.  Just try to center the triangle as best you can with equal overhang on each side.  sew together.


Repeat with the other half of the block.  Note:  At this point, I ironed the seams toward all the printed fabric triangles, and on the other triangle I ironed my seams toward the printed fabric diamonds.  If you do this, your seams will nest when piecing together your quilt top.


And finally, sew the two triangles together.  The most important thing is getting the seams between the diamonds and trapezoids to nest together (see where my pins are).


Once again, press the final seam toward the printed fabric diamonds.  Your block is finished!  Once you have the hang of the block, chain piecing them together is very fast and efficient.  I chain pieced a diamond to one end of every trapezoid, then did the same thing with the other end.  Finally I chain pieced all the triangles on and then sewed the blocks together.  It really is a very fast finish.


Trim each block carefully to 8.5 inches square and you’re done with the block!


When you’ve pieced your first four blocks together you will see the 8 pointed star that emerges in the corners of the blocks.  This really is such a beautiful block.


Lay out your blocks in 8 rows that are 8 blocks long (each block making 1/4 of an 8 pointed star) and sew them together, paying careful attention to matching the seams on the diagonal points and in the corners.  Sew the rows together and you have a finished quilt top!  I really love the scrappy look of this quilt, as it freshens and updates the traditional hunter’s star block in a beautiful way.  If you want to see what a quilt would look like in just two colors, you can see my traditional red and white Hunter’s Star quilt here.  You can also find pictures of a Hunter’s star made with solid linen and a single print in my Hunter’s Star pillow here.  There are so many different ways to interpret this quilt block.  I hope you have fun!



April 14, 2014
by jennifer

Reminisce: Scrappy Hunter’s Star Quilt Top


Phew!  It seems like I haven’t finished much this year in the quilting category but I have a finished quilt top!  This one makes me happy and I hope you’ll indulge a bit of rambling as I share the reasons why.  Back in 2011 I finished a traditional Hunter’s Star quilt, red and white, which has been snuggled in, spilled on, stained and loved and then used some more.

huter's star quilt close

I love this quilt, largely for it’s bold design but also because we’ve loved it so much.  Interestingly, I also get new comments on that blog post all the time, and as I was pondering that a few months ago I suddenly saw the design with new eyes.  I pictured a scrappy, colorful version, larger than my original quilt and with a small print instead of a solid for the contrasting background.


Bonnie Christine’s first fabric collection, Reminisce, was the perfect fit.  I love the fabrics in this line.  I sketched, calculated and began to cut, but other pressures with the holiday season came along and I set it aside.  I was pulling it out to start sewing in February when I had the opportunity to participate in the Sweet as Honey Blog Tour for Bonnie’s new Sweet as Honey collection.   My first idea for the blog tour was a Hunter’s Star pillow,  which I made by adjusting my measurements yet again and using a natural linen with the fabric she sent me.  I especially loved how the hand quilting turned out:


As you can read in my post, looking at those little beehives generated another idea with Bonnie’s fabric which came to life in my Hexagon Beehive Mini Quilt:


When the blog tour was over, I returned to my idea of a scrappy Hunter’s star quilt and got to work.  Here is my finished quilt top:

**edited to add:  Because this quilt top uses 10 inch sqaures and is perfect for a layer cake, I decided to post a tutorial.  You can find it here.


The eight pointed star pattern doesn’t emerge as readily in this version, but still I love it.  I love the tiny black polka dots, love the colors and patterns, loved hanging it from my cherry tree that’s suddenly covered in blossoms.


This quilt top also reminds me of a beautiful principle taught by Twyla Tharp in her book, The Creative Habit. I read it a few years ago and one of the parts I loved most was the chapter about scratching for ideas.  What stuck with me was her discussion of big and small ideas.  She writes about big ideas as things that often come to us when we’re wanting to catch people’s attention, make lots of money, or make a name for ourselves.  They are often difficult to execute and can become all-consuming.  On the other hand, small ideas may be less significant but are often things that keep generating more ideas.  They feed creativity.  Sometimes the small ideas end up being best.   I guess the biggest reason this quilt top makes me happy is because for me, it’s a celebration of small ideas.  I get ideas all the time and some are better than others.  Some of them take shape and others seem to fight me.  Some of  them I don’t have time for while others send me down an unexpected path.  This little idea of re-thinking my picture of a hunter’s star quilt block has been a small idea that generated more ideas, more opportunities, and especially more joy in creating.  I’m sure someone, somewhere, has already done this with this block, but I’ve never seen it.  I certainly didn’t create the hunter’s star quilt block, but I’ve loved following the trail of my own vision, bringing to life something I have only seen in my mind’s eye.  This is something we quilters do all the time, interpreting patterns with our own colors, variations and twists.  It’s one of the things I love most about the quilting community – watching how we all inspire each other and are in turn inspired, with more creative outcomes than we can count.  Little ideas generate beautiful things, and the more we do it the easier the process becomes.


When I look at this quilt top, I see a physical reminder of the journey of creativity that comes through small ideas.  That journey brings me joy and is an experience I hope will always be part of my life in some way or another.

I hope it’s part of yours, too.
Thanks for visiting!

Linking to Freshly Pieced!

March 26, 2014
by jennifer

Tone it Down Quilt Blocks


Like many others, I fell in love with Lissa Alexander’s Tone it Down quilt which was featured in the January/February issue of American Patchwork & Quilting.  I loved the instructions for strip piecing, but loved the scrappy low volume look more and wondered if I’d be up for so many hundreds of little pieces (approximately 2250!).  Early in the year I decided to make a test block, choosing navy blue and green as my two colors, and I loved it.  Still, it sat, in spite of the quilt along.


Last week I made a huge mess in my sewing room, pulling out most of my low volume prints and cutting into them until all the background pieces were cut.   I’ve made one block every day or two since, and with every block I make I like this quilt more.  It makes me happy to be using so many different fabrics that I love, and doing a bit of fussy cutting in a few spots has been a lot of fun.


The block above is the brightest so far, and I really love that little boy in the center, and also the pink typewriter.  I pieced it on my youngest son’s birthday, and it reminds me of his happy smile.


I’ve been starching all the pieces before I sew, which takes time, but I’ve been able to piece the blocks together without any pins.  While not perfect in every spot, I’m happy with the accuracy of my seams.


I love the way they look together, although there will be sashing and lots of little nine patches between them when the quilt top comes together.


After finishing a block I’ve been laying out the next one so it’s ready for me whenever I have a few minutes to sew.  So far I’ve been lucky and no little hands have scattered the pieces.  After the first four blocks I feel like I have a system for chain piecing and I’m getting faster.  What sounded overwhelming at first has become enjoyable in these bite sized pieces and I’m sure I’ll have all twenty blocks done soon.


Maybe it’s just because I haven’t had much time to sew this year, but the sight of my sewing space is really making me happy this week!  It feels so good to do even a little bit of sewing.


Linking to Freshly PiecedAlso, I almost forgot!  My sister is giving away a free Craftsy class over at Sisterview.  You should enter!

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