One thing about making t-shirt quilts and memory quilts is that I don’t often get the see the reaction of the actual recipient. I get to see how much the person who commissioned it likes it, but the actual recipient is rare.
So when a customer shares a picture with me of their quilt being loved by the recipient, I cherish it. I’ve gone through and collected some of my favorite pictures from over the years of people loving on their quilts that I made. It’s a good smile for a Friday.
Several years ago I decided somewhere that I really wanted to surprise my husband for Christmas. In the past, he pointed at certain quilt designs and commented on how he really liked them. Of course, it was one of the harder designs that he liked – the Mariner’s Compass. At the time it was so far outside of my skill set that I muttered something along the lines of “keep dreaming.” But I really wanted to give him something at Christmas that would WOW him, so I revisited the idea of the Mariner’s Compass design.
It turns out I would need to learn this technique called “paper piecing”to do it. I looked at a couple of Youtube videos, but the best help was my best friend who had already done a paper piecing dragon quilt. After a little tutoring session, I gave it a try.
Slowly I gained confidence and made more and more.
I used his favorite color combo – green and black – and I accented it with white and gold. For better or worse, paper piecing Mariner’s Compass stars don’t look like stars until the final steps of the paper piecing process. This would be annoying except for one important point – I could work on them in front of him. In fact, I pieced most of the stars together right under his nose!
Things became more difficult with I needed to add the corners and begin quilting them. At that time, I was still only using the free motion foot on my Singer Confidence to quilt projects. There was no way that a king-sized quilt would fit for me to quilt anything. I looked up other techniques for how to quilt in smaller sections and then join them together. From what I saw, it looked easy enough, so I decided to take the whole thing one block at a time – all 16 of them. At one point, I took my machine to a friend’s house and quilted there, so I could get away from prying eyes.
Words cannot express the joy I felt when I had successfully joined together those first two blocks! And the relief I felt when I’d finished the whole quilt plus binding – it was beyond anything else! I couldn’t stand it and had the hardest time waiting until Christmas.
When we moved into our new house, I noticed at once that the nice, big living area lent itself to a nice, big echo. And I thought to myself that, alas, I would simply HAVE to make a wall quilt for our new home. Such a burden…right?
I did realize that if I was hanging it up in the main area that it would need to be something that I wouldn’t mind seeing everyday and that I was particularly proud of. Well, that can only be one pattern of course – the mariner’s compass!
Like many of my quilts I make, I tried to make this one out of fabric I already had on hand. Luckily for me, I had bought some blue and gold themed fabric at the same quilt store where I’d gone to look at mid-arm quilting machines. I don’t often buy fabric without a project already in mind, but this was too pretty to pass up. And it was the last of the bundles as far as I could see. The only fabric I bought after that was the fabric for the borders.
I like to use the Mariner’s Compass Stars guide by Carol Doak. Paper piecing can be difficult when you start out, but I’d already made a king-size quilt for my husband using this same pattern. So I’d had practice aplenty.
I’ll admit that this pattern, a paper-pieced mariner’s compass, is just about the one pattern I refuse to do on commission. If you aren’t familiar with it, then let me explain. For paper piecing you actually sew the fabric onto paper, and then you tear the paper off after each wedge is done. To make one block you need to make eight wedges! So yes, it’s very time-consuming. But boy the results are stunning!
By the way, the Quest Quilts image I use on a lot of things is another Doak star.
I am eye-balling a possible ready-made quilt at some point using one of these star patterns, but I haven’t fully decided yet. Stay tuned folks!