When I first started quilting, back in 1999, I was visiting my parents in Oregon and went to the Josephine County Library to scope out the quilt books. I really had no clue just how vast the quilt world was, and was rather surprised to see a long row of what I didn’t know to be older and fairly dated quilting books. You know, old craft selections that were part of a 12-month mail order program. There were a few modern gems in the mix, one being Alex Anderson’s Simply Stars. I liked that one so much, I went out and bought my very own copy.
And that was my first quilt book. I have always loved stars (the shape, not the planets) and color, and this met all my needs for star blocks, as well as Alex’s excellent use of bright and cheery colors. Two of my favorites...
I also checked out this creaky old book called Great Patchwork: Stars and Stripes and promptly fell in like with this Patriotic Sampler in the very back. I even made a photocopy of it! I was younger(ish) and naive and didn’t have any knowledge or respect for copyright laws. Forgive me, literary Gods, for I have sinned. More than ten years later, I made up for it by finding my very own copy of this book on eBay. And I am still just as enamored with this sampler, even more so now that I can see it in color again. My nefarious black and white copies were lacking in this little attribute, but were still exciting enough to have niggled themselves in the back of my mind for over a decade. My likes and dislikes for different quilting styles and colorways have varied greatly over the years since I first began quilting, but every once in a while, a particular quilt will really make an impression and sit with me for a long time. I think what I’m drawn to with this sampler is that the blocks are all different sizes and arranged in this wonderful freestyle manner with all these great little filler blocks in between. It’s so interesting and it makes me want to stare at it for a long time. In fact, I have. Isn't that little red sawtooth star with the flag in the center the sweetest?
Also, years ago as well, I got together with a small group of quilting gals for a Saturday of sewing. We each brought a stack of our favorite fabrics and set them on the table in front of us. Throughout the day, we went around from table to table and made two blocks for each quilter out of the fabrics in their pile. There were five of us, so at the end of the day, we each had eight friendship blocks from each other, and two we made for ourselves for a nice little stack of ten sampler blocks. It was one of the most fun days I’ve spent quilting with friends. We had a great time working with each other’s different color palettes and noshing on the endless supply of food that seems to go hand in hand with quilters. Really, have you ever been to a quilt-in that DIDN’T have wonderful food?
If you will remember from some of my earlier introductory posts, when I first began quilting, I had an endless supply of adoration for any fabric with stars on it. I had no clue the value of a few stellar pieces mixed with some more reverent tone-on-tones to even out the confusion a bit. So naturally, the stack of fabrics at the front of my table were all variations of reds and blues and every single one of them was a star print of some sort. Warm and inviting prim stars, sweet pastel stars on waves of robin’s egg blue, blazing neon stars fit for a five-year old and everything in between. Not a solid among them. It was an eclectic and undoubtedly obnoxious collection. But I thought since they all had stars on them, they all went together. Hah! Boy, did I not have a clue.
With all that being said, here’s some of those sampler blocks. I’ve used a few here and there in little projects over the years, so I no longer have the ten. But these are a good start to my own Patriotic Sampler. I think I'll pin these up on the design wall and start filling in the gaps.
My Starry Sampler, is going to be one of those in-between projects. Where I'll work on it bit by bit in between other projects. I'm going to set it up on my design wall and let it all steep for a while, adding a little star here, a string of 9-patches there. I think I need to look at it a while for everything to find it's correct place. So be on the lookout for more on this quilt in the future. If I make a little addition here and there with leftover reds, blues, golds and whites from whatever project I'm working on at the moment, it should start to take shape. And before I know it, I'll have a sparkly star sampler quilt, a decade in the making (scary thought, huh?) gracing the back of my couch.