Summer Star Sampler Quilt

stats

  • Size: 70" x 70"
  • Time: ~100 working hrs
    • 3-4hrs for each of the 17 star blocks
    • Hundreds of grey star and border pieces, free-motion quilting, plus binding.
    • A sampler quilt is much more time-consuming since nothing can be assembly-lined; each block is different.
  • Cost: $280
    • $175 fabric. Much was paper pieced, which has lots of excess waste. I purchased a fat quarter pack for the colored stars and have material leftover.
    • $11 thread
    • $40 temp spray adhesive
    • $35 wool batting
    • $20 pattern
  • Fabric
    • 1,279 individual pieces of fabric
    • 14,000 yards of thread. That's 2.5 miles of thread! Nearly an entire large Aurifil spool!
    • 20 different fabric prints

about sampler quilts

This was my first blog hop / sampler quilt, where you get a block pattern each week, a small piece of the overall quilt. The idea behind sampler quilts is to learn new techniques in manageable chunks, and each block is unique, unlike most quilts where block patterns repeat.

The Summer Sampler 2017 was a collaboration between 8 quilters who I follow on social media. It ran for 17 weeks, and the 18th "pattern" included all the filler blocks and border, and then you're left on your own to free motion quilt and bind.

The Summer Sampler 2017 was extremely well executed, beyond my expectations, and that's high praise coming from me, an Engineering Program Manager!

Pros

  • The pattern was a fun, modern take on traditional star blocks.
  • Very, very well put-together and executed!
  • Fabric choice and theme is all yours.
  • On sign-up you get a packet to help plan your fabrics for ordering, complete with coloring-book style cutouts for visualization.

  • Each Monday you get a link to download the next block's pattern.
  • Each block came in 6" and 12" sizes, so you can choose your own layout. You can see from photos the blocks toward the center were 6" and the outside ones were 12". You can move the blocks around in your final assembly.
  • I never came across a mistake in the instructions, and all were clear.
  • There's a ton of support from Instagram #summersampler2017 and a closed Facebook group where everyone posts progress photos and questions. I asked questions and learned cool tips like to use newsprint for paper piecing instead of regular printer paper!
  • Each week's block is accompanied by a blog post with technique tips that the authors have learned over the years (example). These were invaluable, soaking up years of wisdom!
  • You get very, very good being precise since there's literally hundreds of seams and being even a needle's width off will be intolerable in final assembly.
  • $25 for the pattern and all this support!

Cons

  • It's easy to fall quickly behind the weekly blocks, which take 3-4 hours each.
  • You need motivation and fortitude to complete all 17+ weeks. I personally much prefer free-motion quilting, and intricate piecing is my weakness.
  • Fabric amount is hard to estimate in a sampler.

Free-motion quilting: stitch-in-the-ditch (stitch in the seam to make it invisible) around all stars and grey pieces to make them literally pop out from the black background.

Free motion quilting close-up: straight-line stippling with stars in the background.

Black binding and backing fabric.

The back of the quilt top before sandwiching. Seams galore! Those smaller stars, like the all pink one, are only 6" square!

Blocks as they were finished weekly.

Starting the final assembly with the hundreds of half-square triangles.

Final assembly with the grey stars.

A lot of ironing in this quilt. Most was paper pieced, so each seam needed to be sewn and ironed before the next seam. Border shown here.

Final assembly of the grey stars.

Final assembly, desperately trying to fudge imperfect seams.

Final steps of sewing the quilt top.

Sandwiching. I use wool batting for its loft and warmth. Temp spray adhesive is expensive (~$40), but worth the tradeoff of not needing 500 safety pins instead. It's a 7-month pregnant belly.

Free-motion quilting. Hanging bungees take the weight of the quilt off the table to make it glide easier.

Binding.