Sunday, October 4, 2015

Old Dog Learns New Trick & Recycles Old Trick for Quilted Stars

Sometimes I think that quilts are just an excuse to show off buttons. Here's a commissioned challah bread cover that I made last week, pre-buttons.

It started when a friend called to ask me if I had any extra challah covers lying around that she could buy to give a family that loves to travel. I looked in my UFO drawer and found three kaleidoscopic stars that I'd made years ago. They looked something like this,

but they were made from this Jewish-themed novelty fabric:

I had used the Magic Star Six by Mace McEligot, a tool that I bought in the late nineties, and which as far as I can tell is no longer made, though you may be able to find old ones on etsy or ebay.

However, you can do the same thing with Sara Nephew's Super 60 tool, which has the exact same configuration of angles, and is widely available. (Find it here. No financial affiliation.)

Start by placing hinged mirrors (an inexpensive notion found in many quilt stores) on top of the fabric, and slide it around til you like what you see. Place the template between the mirrors, with the 30 degree angle inside:

 Remove the mirrors to see the view:

Replace the template, and mark it with a china marker showing where the designs land. With the template in position and a rotary cutter, cut out six identical kite shapes, sliding the template to the correct location each time. Here's how each petal looks (with yet a different fabric! Sorry I keep switching fabrics!)
Now comes the magic: When you fold the petal in half,

and stitch the upper left and upper right sides together,
Press in position:
Trim the seam allowances, then turn the top area right side out (a ball-tipped stylus helps to extrude the point), voila!
The back before the final press
The front. (I know the print is wonky - I just made this for demonstration purposes. Be more careful than I was.)
Rinse and repeat five times. Sew two groups of three petals each. Join the halves, and press the central seam allowance open. You wind up with a neat little six pointed-star frisbee, with finished edges all the way around! Back:
I'd made three stars from the Judaic print. First, a nearly Celtic star:

A tiny star:

And a white star of stars:

To button or not to button? After some agony, I decided to go for it, with vintage buttons. This elaborate mirror-glass metal button went on the curly star:

A tiny, elegant metal button went on the small star:

And a metal-and-mother-of-pearl and metal shank button went on the white star: 
On the back, I put a travel-themed suitcase tourist label fabric, plus an African fabric with brownish stars. 
So what's the new trick? That blue-and-white fabric around the edges is a facing. Instead of my usual binding or satin stitch, I tried facing for the first time. It creates an edge that's like a pillowcase turn, but no need to stitch together an awkward gap. Facing has grown increasingly popular among art quilters. I found a terrific tutorial on the Silly Boodilly blog, here. Thank you SO much, Victoria, for teaching me how to do this!
Here's the overall cover with the buttons added: 
The freemotion quilting is a cross between leaves and candle flames.

It will be hard to say goodbye to this piece, because I love my kaleidoscopic stars and vintage buttons, like Gollum loves the Ring.  (Except he had only one Ring, and I have approximately two trillion vintage buttons). I hope the new owners will love them as much as I do, or at least not throw them into that Mount Doom lava pit thing.

More of my challah cover ideas and patterns are on my Judaiquilt website, here. I have tried to contact Mace McEligot for this article, but was unable to do so. If anyone knows how to reach her, or if they know a vendor who is selling the Magic Star 6 tool, please let me know.


  1. Thanks for the tutorial. Loved it. I have been finishing my edges with facing for a while. It looks good on certain types of quilts. I use Silly Boodilly's method too!

    1. I know there are a bunch of different facing methods, including one terrifying approach which creates mitered corners. It's too scary for me! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. The tricky part of this method is getting the tip extruded perfectly. Mace McEligot recommends a hemostat or its ilk to push it out. I found the ball-tipped stylus worked quite well.

  3. Lovely ! I still have that fabric too!
    Reminds me of my kaleidoscope quilt days😊

    1. Thanks, Roberta! My kaleidoscopic quilt days never ended!