Ninja Throwing Stars

size: 56" x 68"

April 2012

How many times have you become distracted from a current project due to some NEW! SHINEY! BRIGHT! other project? Oh, c'mon .. 'fess up. You know you've done it.

I've been steadily working on a bed-sized fundraiser quilt (that I haven't blogged about yet) and I'm on the outer border which contains appliqued swags. Unfortunately, the shape I chose is too "heavy" with respect to the rest of the quilt, so I need to put the swags on a diet and slim them down. Fortunately, there are only 4 pinned swags so far, so it's not like I have any ripping to do. Still ... I need to re-do the applique shape. Hence my procrastination.

During the time that I've been working on the fundraiser quilt, Megan of Canoe Ridge Creations announced that she was starting a two-week-long "Festival of Half-Square Triangles". Starting April 2, 2012, there would be a series of quilting blogs to visit. Each blog would present a project using Half Square Triangles. After the second week, quilters would link up their Half Square Triangle projects (subject to the appropriate rules). Winners would be picked from the projects submitted and the Fat Quarter Shop would award some very nice prizes.

I had a mixed reaction to the week of blogs. I had thought that the first blog would contain info on all the different ways to make HSTs .. because there are quite a few, depending on how many you need to make. But, no .. the blogs with the projects may or may not have had HST construction information. eh .. no matter.

As it turned out, on the very last day of the second week, Katy of Monkey Do presented a project that caught my eye.

I normally don't enter into online contests or competitions (mainly) because I had never won in the past. BUT, I had a "messload" of half square triangles leftover from the fundraiser quilt and thought that Katy's block might provide a project for them (not that I need a new project to work on, mind you). I decided that the fundraiser quilt could be deferred for a bit whilst I made my Half Square Triangle project and, while I was at it, I'd try to meet the linky deadline for the project 'competition'. I had 8 days.

Katy's project was a ginormous 24" throw pillow made of *one* humungous quilt block.

I did have reservations: I don't need another throw pillow, it wouldn't use up all the Half Square Triangles that I already had and although I liked the design, I just didn't want to do the featured project.

Of course, I didn't. I'm just that contrary; I need to be different. :-)

I was pretty sure that my messload of half square triangles would make more than just one block and I wanted to use up all the ones that I had.

But, using that pillow block as the basis for a *quilt* was quite feasible. My own version would result in a smaller block size because my half square triangles were smaller than Katy's.

Except ... once I designed the quilt in Electric Quilt (a generous throw size, 4 blocks by 5 blocks, each block 12"), I discovered that I really needed MORE than a messload of half square triangles to make it. I don't know what to call "more than a messload" but that's the amount that I needed. So, I embarked on the process of making MORE than a messload of half square triangles to make the *20* 12-inch blocks I wanted for the quilt.

Each block is made up of two colors plus the background. I needed (16) half square triangles of each color to make the block. I found this TREMENDOUSLY easy way to make 8 identical Half Square Triangles that results in the outer edges being on-grain. Although she didn't create this technique, Kelley of Kelley's Creative Comforts has a fantastic tutorial on how to make "8 from 2 squares" half square triangles. Two color squares and two background squares yielded the 16 half square triangles I needed. Did I mention the technique is easy? :-)

I was just amazed at ALL THE SEAMS involved.

Some were pressed to the side and were able to be interlocked when sewed together. Others I pressed open to reduce bulk.

Even so, there absolutely were some bulky intersections. I just don't think there's any way they can be avoided. I was reminded of these bulky spots during the quilting process: when doing a pantograph, you are working from the back of the longarm machine and can't see what or where you are quilting. The bulky intersections announced themselves by being "difficult" to quilt through. Many times, the hopping foot just kinda skirted the spot, making for a weird petal in the flower. :-)

I was particularly pleased with the way the points met up so nicely between the blocks!

Lest you think that I'm all OCD about precision .... here's some screw-ups on sewing the individual half square triangles together.

Although I didn't just slapdash them together, neither did I bother to go back and fix them. It's "close enough".

In a nutshell, *that* is why I don't do competition quilts!

Once assembling all the 20 blocks was done, I thought it needed a border of triangles around it, so I made a bunch of Flying Geese blocks (No Waste method from Patti R. Anderson). And then a final, plain, slab-o-border to give the eyeballs someplace to rest (and give me something to trim during the squaring-up process). The final dimensions were 56"x68".

In keeping kinda casual records of how much time it was taking me, I figure it took me about 25 hours spread out over the final "linky" week to piece the top. I was still trying to finish the quilt in time to link it up for the "competition" and figured that I could get it quilted in 2 days, no problem. (remember that).

Normally, I don't buy 100% cotton batting. I don't care for how flat it is and I definitely don't care for how much it shrinks. But, for whatever reason, I had a package of Pellon's "Nature's Touch" 100% cotton batting on hand. Aaarrggghhhh! I need to pre-shrink the batting before I could use it. ::sigh:: However, once that was done (a couple of really wet towels and the batting in the dryer on high heat), the batting came out incredibly soft, drapeable and no folds! Lovely stuff.

I had previously purchased a bolt of 108" wide muslin that I use for my backings. (I love using this wide muslin for backings: no seams and with discount coupons, it's relatively inexpensive. Waaaaay less expensive than using quilting fabric.) I cut off a sufficient amount for a backing but realized that I hadn't washed the muslin either ... so I was stymied once again. One more delay to wait for the backing to be washing & dried.

Since this top is so busy and there aren't really any big spaces for show-off quilting, I figured that an edge-to-edge would be more appropriate than any specific or custom design. I found a cute flower pantograph, "Luau" by Hermoine Agee, that worked out nicely.

I used Superior's King Tut for quilting and their Bottom Line in the bobbin. My Tin Lizzie really, really REALLY likes this combination and keeps tension so perfectly! I say .. don't mess with success!

I started quilting late Saturday afternoon and made considerable progress .. about 2/3rds done ... when a friend called up and asked to come over. She occassionally needs to get away from her very masculine household and comes to visit me.

It's always a nice visit ... but I wasn't able to finish the quilt that Saturday.

Sunday arrived and I finished the quilting ... got it squared up ... made the binding ... applied the binding ... I was finishing it!!! woo hooo!

Remember that I was trying to meet the link deadline for the projects? The deadline was Sunday .... but .. but .. the time was noon Central Standard Time. AARRGGGHHHH! I missed it. AAARRGGGHHH!

But all is not lost ... I used up my 'messload' of half square triangles (eventhough I needed to make MORE). I got a new quilt actually COMPLETED, which is always a wonderful thing.

And now, I can return to my fundraiser quilt. *No more distractions!*

Oh .. the name of my quilt, Ninja Throwing Stars? Well, Katy (she who designed the original pillow project) said that her block looked like a scythe to her and that is what she named her block. I'm not quite seeing a scythe ... it looked like interlocking rings or a chain link fence to me. That was my working name for it. When I showed the quilt to Dear Daughter #3 (who happened to be at the ol' homestead for the weekend), she said it looked like Ninja throwing stars to her. Who am I to question an authority? :-)