Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Darling Starlings Quilt

The Darling Starlings Quilt.
     When I started to gather my scraps this spring, I discovered a sizeable cache of double flying geese squares.  I am not certain if these were leftovers from an earlier unphotographed quilt, or if I abandoned a project midway.     
The partially assembled flying geese blocks.  
     I took out my seam ripper, and separated all the sewn blocks back into single units.

The deconstructed blocks

Lots of little geese. 
     I considered many designs for these colorful little blocks, and decided to do something less traditional  than the straight rows of geese blocks.  I saw a picture of a quilt with the blocks going every which way while browsing internet quilt sites and was inspired.  If I could find it again, I'd link to it and give proper credit for the idea.  I used my hastily constructed design board to get an idea of how this would look.
My design board is an old folding screen with strips of flannel attached with binder clips!  It works.
     The flying geese blocks had been constructed with various white on white prints.  A few years back, I rarely used solids, and now I am so interested in seeing what I can do with them. 

This picture shows the part of the quilt with the blocks close together, and shows off the white-on-white prints, which are difficult to photograph well.
      I was trying to depict a flock of birds taking flight.  There were many crowded on the ground, taking off in  all different ways and then scattering as they flew into the sky.   

 I started piecing extra strips of white to make the geese farther apart, but still keep the blocks the same size for piecing together.  

The final quilt top with the transition from dense to scattered geese blocks.  The extra full and half size white pieces are visible in this photo.
     I am charmed by these little juvenile prints.  I am finally using up many of them, and decided to take some close-ups.  So adorable.  
Little pigs kicking a ball, waving a flag, reading a book!
Little Dutch girl.

Wake up!

Bunnies, bears and balloons.

Teeter-totter tots.
       For the back, I had a nice size piece of old Aunt Grace fabric.  It wasn't quite large enough, so I pieced it with some plain white, and then got the top all pinned up. 
Pinned up top.
     I had mulled over the quilting options, and ended up using some pastel variegated thread, and with the idea of birds flying around and away, went with a spread-out loopy loop quilting.
I varied the size of the loops,and tried to keep the amount of white space fairly even.
     My sister-in-law was visiting when I was quilting this.  It was fun to have someone to talk to while I quilted (I generally end up talking to myself or the cat.)  Thank goodness, too, that she was here, since I took the quilt out from the sewing machine to show her something, and we discovered a big problem! 
Aargghhh!  Somehow the quilt backing had gotten all folded over on one side. 
     I had started the quilting going into the middle from the side, rather than starting in the middle, and although I thought I had everything taut when I pinned it, I guess that wasn't the case.  Luckily, we noticed it before I had done any more quilting in that bad patch.   We took out the pins, smoothed everything out and repinned, and got back to quilting.
     Once the back was fixed, the quilting was quickly finished and I chose some pink gingham fabric I had from other projects for the binding. 
Getting ready to make binding by cutting 2 inch strips.
Sewing on the binding.  This picture shows the variegated thread pretty well.  I don't sew in the dark.  I am not sure why this picture turned out that way.
     The finished quilt looks sweet.  I like the texture and movement the quilting adds to the top. 

A view of the quilting on the white spaces.
A view of the quilting where the blocks are close together.  Lots of the three little pigs fabric, in two colors!

A close-up of the back.  The quilting shows up nicely on the white strip.
The back
Here's the quilt right side up, thanks to my very helpful husband.  He was the one who said that the blocks looked like starlings flying all over the place, instead of nice orderly geese. 
   I like the unbalanced placement of the geese units, and I like that the binding doesn't jump out, but is a soft colored border.
Chester the cat also approves! 

     This was a fun quilt to make, and I am glad to have reused those old blocks in a new way.  It was also nice to share the fun with my sister-in-law. 

Take care,


  1. What a beautiful quilt Gretchen. How lucky are you to find so many flying geese in your stash. Some of those prints look like 1930s fabric which I love. Thanks for sharing Marie (