Hip To Be Square…

I hope that everyone out there had a wonderful, relaxing and healthy Christmas.  We sure did in our house.

We draw names every year in our family.  Mr. Swellsewing has 3 brothers and a sister, and then they have their significant others, so buying for each could be quite costly and complicated.  As it is, none of us really need or want for anything, so thinking of gift ideas is always very daunting.

My hope, was that whoever’s name I got, I would be able to handcraft part of their gift.  Luckily, we draw names in November, and it gave me plenty of time to create something that would be a show stopper.

Well, I got my sister-in-laws name Heather (Mr. Swellsewing’s sister).  One of my favorite people, she does so much for everyone else.  She is responsible for assisting my wonderful mother-in-law with all the holiday shopping for many people.  My mother-in-law still has us (the adults) and our children (grandchildren) make these extensive Christmas lists that Heather spends many hours fulfilling.  Then, Heather spends more hours on top of that, wrapping and wrapping and wrapping.  Usually when all those gifts are set under the tree, the tree pales in comparison!

FX Photo Studio_image

I knew with Heather, a quilt would be a sure bet.  Making the decision to craft a quilt was easy, deciding on a particular pattern design and color palette was way overwhelming.  I scanned the many quilting magazines and books I had on hand to see if there was something that caught my eye.  Nothing I had on hand seemed quite right.  I then reached out to the internet. Ahhh, the internet it holds all the answers that my brain hasn’t any capacity for.  And surely enough, it held the answer to my quilt conundrum!  I came along a tutorial by Melissa Cory, she is the mastermind behind a blog called Happy Quilting.  I found this star surround quilt-a-long on her blog.

Star Surround - My Sample

Above is a picture from the Quilt-Along.

This pattern was interesting and very complicated.  Complicated for me anyway. I am a total  newbie when it comes to piecing and quilting.

I have less than 6 quilts under my belt, so experience would have been helpful when tackling this quilt.

I chose Pat Bravo’s Carnaby Street Collection for my fabric choices.  It is so bright, warm, colorful, mysterious and captivating.  I thought this to be the perfect choice for Heather’s star surround quilt, I ordered about 9 different colors and patterns from that collection.

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I was pretty thrilled when I was able to assemble the first 2 stars of the nine required.  They actually looked like stars.. so I was on to a good start.

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Then there were 4, and before I knew it- I had 9!

Next up, the star surround.  Not all the points lined up, but I didn’t let that stop me.

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I had to motor on.  There was a deadline to meet CHRISTMAS!

I have been told many times, that quilting is easier than garment sewing.  I am here to say that this just isn’t true.  People have said, ” quilting is so much more forgiving than garment sewing.”  Well, you don’t have to fit the quilt to a certain body type or size, BUT and this is a big one….. YOU NEED TO BE PRECISE WHEN CUTTING YOUR SQUARES!!!!!

Not only that, but ORGANIZATION is also very key.  These are two things that I am just not that good at.  I am a creative person, and I find that most of us creative types are super messy.

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I tend to average things out…. this is such a no, no in quilting.  Eyeballing is just not done.  I love eyeballing things.  🙂

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The quilt top pictured above.

This is the quilt top all sewn up- even with some of my piecing points not meeting in some places, I made it work.

I finished this quilt, on Christmas Eve Night.  Can you believe it.  I started this on Thanksgiving vacation, cutting the many yards of Kona Snow White- 108 squares of various sizes….. finished attaching the binding right before bed on Christmas Eve.

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I washed Heather’s Quilt with 5 color catchers, (just in case) and threw it in the dryer, where it dried by about 1% smaller, creating all those crinkles that I love so much.

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photo 1

The quilting stitches consisted of what I would call scribbles or irregular circles.   I am unable at this point to craft the perfect circle– (perfection is so overrated) so scribbles will do just fine.  For the stars and surrounds I used a walking foot and did some straight line quilting.  Nothing fancy here- I just tried to sew a straight line, which can be incredibly hard, when you’re tired and in my case over 40 and blind!  Aging sucks, but it beats the alternative!  🙂

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photo 3-10

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This quilt is 91″ x 91″  and is square.  It is by far the largest quilt I have ever made.


So yes, it is square.  What is it that Huey Lewis says?!



YES!  I would say it is.

photo 1-11

Because this quilt is so HIP and so SQUARE!

 One thing about giving a quilt to someone special, you know that one size really does fit all. You also know if you make the gift recipient cry that you totally…

Hit The Mark.

heather and I

Yep, I hit my mark!

I hope you were able to make some crafty memories for someone special in your life too!



  1. what a wonderful gift. I really admired these photos on instagram. You are a very talented sewer and thoughtful and giving gifter.


    • Thanks g- I appreciate your comments so much- I have been a little absent from the blogosphere lately, I have been buried under that quilt- I need to check in to see what you have been up to! Stay well, happy new year!

      • I have a horrible time trying to understand how to do half squares or triangles as I like to call them. I have read on line and looked in books but the math just isn’t making all that much sense to me and it doesn’t help that every time I read something different it gives me a different explanation. The quilt you created in this post is one that I would love to do. I was just wondering how you figured out how to sew the triangles together?

      • I completely understand where you are coming from.. I need to see something being done in order to understand how to do it. As for the half square triangles…. I started off doing those from subscribing to Craftsy.com…….. Amy Gibson has a block of the month year long tutorial from 2012 -here is the link: http://www.craftsy.com/class/The-Craftsy-Block-of-the-Month/50?_ct=iuqhsx-kdyluhiqb-huikbj-sekhiu&_ctp=50 I believe it is still free, and her February blocks have a half square triangle technique that I use. This is really how I learned to do the 1/2 squares and it is so very useful… Here is my e-mail also: Traceywirth@comcast.net e-mail me and if I can I will include some links and pics- anything I can do to help I am more than happy to do. I think also it is important to not give up- but also to take your time and get some of these techniques under your belt- otherwise it will get som overwheming that you will think “I can’t do it”, when in reality you really can.. really you can!!! xoxo
        Talk to you soon! 🙂

      • Thank you so much! I Just got out my book on quilting that I bought at a book store. It’s actually called “The Quilting Bible” So hopefully by reading that again I will be able to do some of the things I want 🙂
        I’ll be sure to email you if I have any questions… which I am sure I will 🙂

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