Star Rubies Quilt

What could be better than star blocks with circles? Throw in a bunch of black and white fabrics, then add a dash of red … and I’m in heaven! Star Rubies has all of those wonderful attributes and more!

Star Rubies by Nancy Mahoney

Star Rubies by Nancy Mahoney

I LOVE star blocks! Any star block! But this star block has a circle in the center, which makes it extra special. I’ve been wanting to use this block in a quilt design for several years, but for one reason or another, it just wasn’t the right time or design. In the end, I’m so glad I waited … timing really is everything. Because now I could include this wonderful star block in Simple Circles and Quick Curves.

Star block in Star Rubies quilt

Star block in Star Rubies quilt

As much as I love this star block, I wanted to add more curves and movement to the design. But I didn’t want to appliqué arcs on a plain square … I wanted this quilt to be scrappy. So, I created an hourglass block and added small arcs along the edges of the block. That way I could use 8 fabrics in each block. Winner!!

Hourglass block in Star Rubies quilt

Hourglass block in Star Rubies quilt

For me, designing two-block quilts is exciting … it’s a bit like being a matchmaker. It’s fun seeing how the blocks interact with each other. When I paired the Star block with the Hourglass block … ooh là là. The quilt design started to sing! And, another interesting thing happened … the blocks played together so well, that it looks like there is only one block set on point. How cool it that!

Star Rubles close up

Star Rubles close up

As I’ve mentioned before … I wanted a scrappy quilt. So, I decided it was OK to combine black-and-white prints with black-and-cream prints. As long as the cream wasn’t beige or ecru … more like vanilla. Color can be tricky and I could only tell if the cream was the right shade by placing the fabrics next to each other. But I knew adding prints with a little bit of cream would make the quilt more interesting.

VIDEO: See my smart tip for centering circles

Once the blocks were all finished, I arranged them on my design wall and then moved them around until I was pleased with the arrangement. Keeping the blocks in the proper order as I move them from the design wall to my sewing machine can be problematic. Years ago I came up with this simple trick. Write numbers on flat headed pins using a permanent marker. Insert a pin in each block in numerical order. (I always place the pin along the top edge of the block.) Then I can chain piece the blocks and keep them in the correct order. Easy peasy!!

keeping track

On this quilt, I knew the quilting would be harder to see because of all the prints. So, I decided to keep the quilting fairly simple. In the star blocks, I quilted in the ditch around the center square and circle; then I quilted curved lines in the triangles and squares.

Star block quilting

Star block quilting

In the Hourglass blocks, I quilted in the ditch along the arcs and quilted a motif in the center of each block.

Hourglass block quilting

Hourglass block quilting

In the borders, I quilted in the ditch along the inner and middle borders. Then I added a free-motion quilting design in the outer border.

Border quilting

Border quilting

Well, all good things must come to an end. Every quilt has a story to tell and I’ve enjoyed sharing the back story for each quilt in Simple Circles and Quick Curves. I hope these quilts (and their stories) have inspired you to dive into your stash and start stitching circles and curves.

B1196 Simple Circles Cover -blog

The pattern for Star Rubies is in Simple Circles and Quick Curves along with other scrappy quilts you’ll want to make. If you have a copy of Simple Circles and Quick Curves, please take a minute to hop over to Amazon and post a book review.

Happy Quilting~Nancy

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Sun Spots Quilt

Choosing colors for a quilt can be terrifying! But it doesn’t have to be. When I was working on the quilts for my book Simple Circles and Quick Curves I had a photo of an antique quilt on my design wall that I’d clipped from a magazine years ago. I loved the cheddar orange and blue combination of fabrics, and thought it was a color scheme I’d like to use … someday. Fast forward a few years and the colors in that antique quilt became the inspiration for Sun Spots, except I wanted a fresher, brighter, more up-to-date version.

Sun Spots by Nancy Mahoney

Sun Spots by Nancy Mahoney

So I pulled out my color wheel. My color choices are usually more or less intuitive, but a color wheel can be a useful tool when it comes to choosing colors. After all, it’s a standard tool for artist and designers. I find it extremely helpful when I want to add an accent color to a quilt. Or, in this case, choosing the colors for the entire quilt.

Color-Wheel

Split-complementary colors

For Sun Spots I chose a split-complementary group of colors by using an isosceles triangle. (An isosceles triangle is one with two sides of equal length.) That way I could use three color families (red-orange, yellow-orange, and blue). I didn’t plan on using an equal amount of each color. However, I wanted the value in each color family to range from light to dark. I also decided to toss in a few orange fabrics, because …well… it’s my quilt and I don’t have to follow the rules! <wink, wink>

Close up of Sun Spots

Close up of Sun Spots

Having decided on colors, I turned to my fabric stash and start pulling out fabrics … keeping some and rejecting others. I chose a white on white print for the background which allowed the other colors to sparkle. Finally, it was time to sew! Be sure to check out my tip for centering circles.

VIDEO: See my smart tip for centering circles

I love how the arcs create large circles around the A blocks (the ones with the blue circles). I used a variety of free-motion quilting designs to emphasize the circles.

Quilting block A

Quilting block A

 

Quilting block B

Quilting block B

I quilted a continuous line of loops in the inner border and created a grid of boxes in the outer border.

Quilting blocks and border

Quilting blocks and border

So whether you are looking for help when selecting colors, or you want to try a different color scheme, pull out your color wheel. And, if you don’t own a color wheel … get one!

B1196 Simple Circles Cover -blog

The pattern for Sun Spots is in Simple Circles and Quick Curves along with other scrappy quilts that you’ll adore. If you have a copy of Simple Circles and Quick Curves, please do me a huge favor. Hop over to Amazon and post a book review.

Happy Quilting~Nancy

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