Getting Ready - Celestial Star Stitch-Along November 30 2017

Celestial Star SAL - Getting Ready

This is Carolyn Pytlik (chesire_cat_quilts) leading the Red Thread Studio Celestial Star SAL.  I've always enjoyed the intricacies of needle turn hand appliqué and of counted cross stitch on linen.  These hand works made adapting to EPP and fussy cutting natural, as they are "slow sewing" and they require attention to even the smallest of detail.  The wonders of creativity you can explore with fussy cutting can be very rewarding. I always make time to fulfill my creative hunger. 

Celestial Star was designed by Sharon Burgess of (LilabelleLane). This gorgeous English paper pieced quilt offers lots of opportunities to play with your fussy cutting. The finished quilt is 59-1/4inches square.

In the first ten months of the Stitch-Along, we will work on the larger color bursts.  For those working with the fabric kits from Red Thread Studio, I will show you specifically how I approached each component of the color burst and how to tap into the potential of the chosen fabric.  For a preview of my fussy cutting method, you can check out my tutorial HERE.   In April, I will also share strategies for working with awkward shapes and specifically the wings in these stars.

At the end of the year, I will share my thought process for working with the smaller star bursts.  You will have enough fabric leftover to either shadow my design choices for fussy cutting or to branch out on your own.  In the last month of the Stitch-Along,  I will share tips for putting it all together and suggestions for finishing.

In the meantime,  be sure to gather up any supplies you may need.  January is right around the corner!

  • Pattern – The Celestial Star pattern can be found in the book Quilting on the Go: English Paper Piecing by Sharon Burgess.
  • Papers and Cutting Templates -  You can cut your own papers and templates but to save time for stitching, you may want to purchase the complete EPP paper and acrylic template set.  This set is already included with the monthly fabric pack from Red Thread Studio.
  • Fabric – If you will be using fabric from your stash, I  will discuss strategies for selecting fabrics in my January blog post including size and repeat of motifs, my process for auditioning fabric and fabrics to avoid. These tips also lend themselves to other EPP projects.   In any case, it's not too late to order a monthly fabric kit from Red Thread Studio.  The first month of fabric will ship in late December.  Whichever path you choose, do not prewash your fabric for fussy cutting.  You can, however, use cold water and a Color Catcher (found in the laundry section at the grocery store) when you wash the quilt later.
  • Thread - I have never used anything as perfect for joining EPP shapes as the Superior Threads Holy Super Bobs Donut.   In all seriousness, it is the only thread I have used that doesn't constantly break, separate, or unravel from rubbing against the papers.  Any "old" thread for basting will do. 
  • Glue Pen – Glue basting is an option, and it is quicker than thread basting.  To get the results I am seeking, I may reposition my fabric numerous times so thread basting makes this easier for me. And, I really enjoy the basting process.  For those of you who glue baste, you will need lots and lots of refills!
  • Needles -  I personally use a 9 (sometimes a 10) straw/milliners needle.  I use the same needle for basting and sewing, so it's a happy medium. If you are new to EPP, I suggest you practice with various types and sizes of needles to determine the best fit for you.
  • Fussy Cut Viewer - I cut mine from plain white cardstock by tracing the paper piece to be used onto the cardstock and carefully cutting it out.  
  • A Marking Tool - My favorite is a Sewline fine mechanical pencil.   You will need a pencil with a very thin, soft lead that does not need to be sharpened. When sharpening a pencil, the lines vary enough in consistency to make a difference. For the large majority of this quilt, I used the black lead and for  the remaining portion, I used another sewline pencil with white lead.  I worked with 2 pencils so I wouldn't have to refill the pen every time I changed a lead color.
  • A Sandpaper Board – I use the board behind the fabric to keep it from shifting.
  • Small Wonder Clips – I use these for holding the fabric to the paper pieces when basting.
  • Sharp Scissors -  I prefer Karen Kay Buckley light blue six inch scissors for the serrated edge which grabs the fabric and her small scissors for snipping threads.
  • Magic Mirror – These a great help for viewing fabric.   It is important to remember that a mirror gives you a reverse image.

Let the fussy cutting adventure begin!