Machine Quilting: Cottage Stars

Has this ever happened to you other quilters out there - you look at and stare at a quilt all day long... You come up with a general plan of how you want to quilt it, but you take a picture of the top in case you have an idea later and want to look at the quilt again... Then while looking at the picture, you notice a completely different secondary design you didn't notice before and change your whole plan...

Well, that's what happened to me with this quilt:
 When Bobette brought this quilt in, we already knew that feathers had to be a part of the stars and the background needed to be soft to fit the cottage-y feeling that fabrics gave off. However, when I took my picture of the quilt top to think it over and let a plan develop (because let's be honest, this quilt is massive and I didn't want to pull it out and unfold it everytime I wanted to look at it), I noticed a secondary pattern that created diamonds between the stars and a phantom square block behind each shoo fly.
 When the blocks are this large, I thought about the plan ahead of time and tried to come up with something that would easily be broken up into smaller areas to fit within the usable width of the long arm or ways I could break the stars (because they were the biggest element) in half.

I came up with this framed dahlia design for the secondary diamond pattern. To carry the same idea through the quilt, I used the same motion to quilt the corners of the shoo fly blocks. To fill in the background of the shoo flies, I quilted in some loop-de-loos and some straight lines to work off of the corners of the phantom frames. (I hope this all makes sense, it's hard to label areas when it's all worked out in my brain. Sometimes I don't know if it translates so well. )
 We already had a plan to quilt feathers in every other spike of the stars. To keep the design interesting and not too monotonous, I alternated the design from star to star mixing straight lines with echoed diamonds. There were a variety of fabrics that were used and the mixture of quilting designs helped to balance the quilt with the quilting.
 Sometimes it's inevitable, with lots of seams coming together, there can be bulk. No biggie. I was planning to start the feathers at the center of the star and work outward, but I was able to start just off center in each spike and rotate the feathers. It's important to always keep a design like this going in the same direction each time or else it could look messy. A simple chalk mark for the feather vein did the trick to keep me on task.
 All in all, this was a gorgeous quilt and I was sad when it was over.
 It was so neat to have this unexpected design take the forefront of the plans and then I got to watch it some together piece by piece.
 It was very rewarding to see the quilt finished because of the size, I could only see most of a row at a time when it was on the machine. It was lovely to see the completed quilt and take in the full effect.
A design like this is so much fun for me to quilt because not only does it look awesome on the front, but the back can look amazing too. This quilt could be dual purpose as a whole cloth and a pieced quilt depending on which side you display.

I'm happy to report that Bobette loved this quilt and said she thinks it's her favorite I've done for her so far. (that always makes me happy to hear) Granted, she actually kept this quilt, so that could sway her decision, but I love how the quilting came out and I'd love to work on one again.

I believe this pattern is a tutorial by the Missouri Star Quilt Company called the Big Star. It's interesting because I saw another picture of someone's version of this quilt and I noticed a completely different design because of the way that one was colored. It was darker more fall-type colors and there was a whole new secondary pattern that jumped out at me.

It just goes to prove that a new view and a new idea can be a wonderful thing!

If you are interested in my quilting services, please be sure to check the Machine Quilting Information page or you can always e-mail me with questions at rubybluequilts (at) gmail (dot) com.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your creative process. I loved your choices and your explanations were clear. Superb job. Its also nice to hear you loving your work.

  2. Beautiful!! I love it when secondary designs make themselves known!!

  3. I don’t waste my free time that’s why I read the informative things when I got this blog I really enjoyed reading this.quiltersreview


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