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November 21, 2014

Inspector 21 Does Not Approve

By Edie McGinnis

Edie McGinnis

Edie McGinnis

Lone Star quilts are some of the most striking quilts ever made. It is easily one of the most recognized quilt patterns and goes by many names.

Hearth and Home titled the pattern An Aesthetic Quilt. Ruby Short McKim had more than a little trouble deciding what the quilt should be called. She published the pattern under three names: Lone Star, Star of the East and Star of Bethlehem. Blazing Star, Rising Star, Pride of Texas, Star of Stars and Overall Star Pattern are a few more names this quilt pattern travels under.

Quilts made from this pattern are lovely if they are made well. Accuracy in cutting and piecing are essential. Each point is made up of many diamonds that radiate from the center.

Before the advent of the rotary cutter, each of the diamonds was cut with scissors. Often, the template the quilter used was made from cardboard.   Each time the pattern was traced onto the fabric, the template wore just a little thinner. It didn’t take much for the whole top to go completely awry

Inspector 21

Inspector 21

Another issue quilters encountered when cutting their pieces with scissors is that at least two sides of each piece was cut on the bias. A little pulling while marking or sewing could wreak havoc.

One of the most discouraging aspects of having problems with this quilt pattern is that the quilter doesn’t really know until the whole quilt has been put together that she has a mess on her hands. Each star point may lie flat as a flitter but when sewn together with the triangles and squares that finish it off, wads and wrinkles and waves appear. No amount of smoothing, pulling or tugging will make the top lie flat.

It is clear to even the most casual of observers that nothing is going to “quilt out” or “quilt down.” I’m sure that is why we find so many Lone Star tops for sale on eBay.

I was an inexperienced quilter when I bought a red and white quilt top many years ago in a crowded antique mall. The top was folded,  and there was no place to spread it out. The price was within my budget, and that alone should have set off warning bells and sirens.red_white_2

When I got the top home, I spread it out on the bed and saw the faded pieces and became more than just a little heartsick. I also discovered all the bulges and bumps. I put it away with the intention of fixing it. After all, it couldn’t be that hard, could it?red_white_best faded pic

As you can see, fixing that quilt has never risen to the top of my priority list.

After shoving the quilt top into a bin and letting it mature for years on end, I eventually forgot all about it. And when I forgot about the top, I also forgot about the important lessons I had thought I had learned. Not too long ago, I bought another Lone Star top.

The top was folded and hanging on a hanger. But it was made from a riot of feedsack fabrics. It wasn’t laid out in regimented shades of color, and I loved that about it. I didn’t love the ugly orange and green feedsack fabric that was used for the setting triangles and squares. It looks as though there is a war going on between the center and the background.background fabric

But, hey, I could replace the background squares and triangles and keep the scrappy star in the center. I was all excited to bring this home.

Then I laid it out on the bed. I was quickly reminded of the red and white top. Bubbles, bumps, wrinkles and pleats stared me in the face. And, even though I knew it was fruitless, I pulled and tugged and smoothed it with the hope of getting it to behave.feedsack_top1

I am determined to figure out how to fix this one. Even though the workmanship leaves much to be desired, I am still drawn to that center star. My first step will be to remove the background pieces. Then I will separate each star point and press them. Only after I do those things will I be able to determine what to do next.

I think I might draw the line at taking each diamond apart. There’s got to be an easier fix, right?

And in the future, if anyone sees me fondling a Lone Star quilt top, please tell me to step away, just step away. If you do that, I promise to buy you a cup of coffee. Shoot, I’ll even add a piece of pie to your order.

Edie McGinnis is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Friday.

November 20, 2014

Bobbins’ Bargains in a Holiday Mood

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Mrs. Bobbins is getting in the Christmas spirit.

bobbins bargains logo - 200 wideShe is always one to find a good deal out there in the quilt world. Now she brings her amazing talents to you … with her weekly Bobbins’ Bargains!

Every Thursday, Mrs. Bobbins will select one of our books and offer it to you at a very special price … 75% off the current listed price!

Better yet, your shipping is FREE in the continental U.S.

Better, better yet, “Five Gets You a Freebie!” If you order a Bobbins’ Bargain just five times (from five different sales), you get a free copy of any of our books! Take your pick. We’ll contact you by email once you’ve qualified for a free book and take your order.  Plus your shipping on that one is free as well. Easy as pie!

This week’s Bobbins’ Bargain is Christmas at Home: Quilts for Your Holiday Traditions, by Christina DeArmond, Eula Lang and Kaye Spitzli.CAH_web

Christmas memories tug at everyone’s heartstrings. Our talented trio, Of One Mind, is back with delightful new designs to create for your holiday traditions. They share their own heartland holiday memories – and even some favorite recipes.

Featured are two keepsake quilts that combine pieced blocks with embroidered blocks. Those embroidered patterns are also featured on two smaller projects, with easy but striking piecing for lovely tree skirts or table toppers.

You’ll also find a striking Christmas tree wall hanging – it could become your own virtual tree!

Dress up your home with these rich quilts, table runners and tree skirts. You’ll want to make them all.

8 1/2 x 11 inches, 64 pages, full-color.

Click here to see a YouTube video of the book.

The book is on sale for $17.95. Your price using our Bobbins’ Bargains promotion code is just $4.49, plus your shipping on this book is free in the continental U.S.!

(SHIPPING NOTE! Please allow 14 business days for delivery after Wednesday, Nov. 26, the last day of this week’s sale.)

Be sure to use this promotion code before checkout:


Please make sure to click the “Apply Promotion Code Now” button after entering the code. The discount won’t apply unless you do so. Please verify that you’ve received the discount before checking out.

Click here to order. And remember  …  your shipping of this book is free in the continental U.S.!

November 19, 2014

It’s a Family Affair

By Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

For many people, the holidays are a time for family gatherings. Living in the Midwest, this isn’t always easy. You can pretty much guarantee that the weather will not be favorable for travel.

So instead of getting together for the holidays, we always planned the family reunion around my grandmother’s birthday in August. The date and location were set years in advance. The reunion was always the weekend before her birthday, at the big shelter in the state park near her home.

My grandmother passed away years ago, and the family no longer gets together on her birthday. But this year, I had the honor of playing a role in a friend’s family gathering. Her mother turned 100 in August. Family members flew or drove to Kansas to help her celebrate. I’d had an idea floating around in my head for some time, and when I learned of my friend’s plans for the birthday celebration, I knew this event was just what I’d been looking for.

It was time to make a memory quilt.

There are many forms of memory quilts. Perhaps the most common is the signature quilt, or friendship quilt. These were (and still are) often made for births, weddings or anniversaries. Church groups would often make a signature quilt for a minister who was moving on to another church. In pioneer days, friends would make a signature quilt when a member headed west into the frontier as a both a remembrance and a useful household item.

memory quilt kit

For my friend’s memory quilt, I cut 9-by-12-inch rectangles from solid white fabric. The fabric was placed in a box along with a couple big boxes of Crayola crayons, some colorful fabric marking pens and some Pigma pens. The memory quilt kit was ready to go.

memory block 1914

memory block 2014

memory block 8
The instructions were simple. Each person was given a piece of fabric and asked to write or draw a birthday greeting on it. They all were instructed to include something that reminded them of the birthday lady or a special family memory, and then write their names on the block.

Memory block 1

memory block 2

memory block 3

memory block 4

The idea of the memory quilt was well received, and 43 amazing blocks were returned. The block artists ranged in age from 3 to nearly 90. Some of the blocks told stories that all were familiar with. Other blocks illustrated special memories known only to one or two people. Some blocks were very simple, while others were works of art. But every block was special.

memory block 5

memory block 6

memory block 7

memory block 10
Now it is my task to put these blocks together. I put them on my design wall, waiting for inspiration. What would you do? How would you take these blocks and put them into a memory quilt that will be passed from person to person and generation to generation? Won’t you help me design this special quilt?

Donna di Natale is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Wednesday.

November 17, 2014

Mrs. Bobbins


For more quilty laughter from Mrs. Bobbins, get The Big Book of Bobbins by clicking here! Just $16.95!


November 16, 2014

Block 11 Free Download!

Here is the eleventh block in Kansas City Star Quilts’ 2014 block-of-the-month project, a tribute to those who served in World War I. This block is called Mother’s Dream.

Block11_2014BOM_webWhere Poppies Grow … Remembering Almo commemorates the Great War, which started a century ago, in July 1914. Denniele O’Kell Bohannon of Louanna Mary Quilt Design in Harrisonville, Missouri, and Janice Britz of Bee Merry Farms in Peculiar, Missouri, designed this year’s quilt as a remembrance of Almo Ebenezer O’Kell, Bohannon’s great-grandfather.

Angela Walters of Quilting Is My Therapy in Kearney, Missouri, did the free-motion quilting.

The finished quilt is 72 inches by 83 inches.

The pattern for this block appeared in the Nov. 16 Kansas City Star. The Star will publish a new block on the third Sunday of every month. Go to the Living tab, then House & Home.

Every month, we will offer the current block on this site as a free download for one week. The blocks then will be available for $3.95 at the Kansas City Star Quilts Store.Where Poppies Grow High res

To buy Where Poppies Grow: Quilts and Projects Honoring Those Who Served in World War I, click here. The book has all 12 blocks that make up the quilt. Two color variations and setting options are given for the main quilt.

Three more striking quilts, two variations of a table runner and a poppy pin and pincushion round out the projects.

To download Block 11, click here. (Be sure to download the file to your hard drive before attempting to print it out. Because of the file’s large size, you might not be able to simply open the PDF on your screen and print from there. Instead, please open it on your screen, then click the download button to load it on your hard drive. Once the PDF is on your hard drive, open your Adobe reader, find the file, click on it to open, then print it from there.)

One free download per person.  This pattern is available for personal use only — not commercial use — by the person downloading the pattern.  It is a violation of the authors’ and The Kansas City Star’s copyright to copy this pattern and give it to others, or to re-purpose it in any way.