Shining Star Quilt Sew Along Week 1: Pick Fabric

In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints.

Welcome, Quiltketeers, to another summer of sewing along! In this six week sew along we will cut, sew and assemble nine blocks to make a finished Shining Star throw quilt. You are welcome to make any size you like (even a pillow!) however the schedule is written with a throw quilt in mind.

Shining star is a companion pattern to Shine and Stars Hollow — so there's a little something for everyone in this pattern, traditional and modern sewers alike. Because of that, I think it would be fun to challenge ourselves to find something we truly enjoy in every single step of the process. Maybe your background is traditional quilting and you've made countless flying geese blocks. Or maybe you are a new sewist and feel frustrated that your seams end up wonky.

What's so fun about this pattern is that it uses improv "wonky" sewing and traditional piecing! You will use the right side of your brain to flow, create and collaborate to make something completely unique. You will also tap into the left side of your brain when we cover technical tips so you can sew precise points and line up seams exactly.

No doubt there are parts of this process you will like more than others, but I know through the encouragement and inspiration that comes from this community, together we can glean joy from the entire process! Who's with me?

Quickie Sew Along Review

  • Sign-up: If you are new to SQ sew alongs you do not sign up. You simply sew along with us! These posts will remain free and public on the blog so you can revisit them at any time.
  • Sewing questions: You've got questions, we've got answers! The best place to ask your technical sewing questions Suzy Quilts Patterns Facebook group. The main purpose of sew alongs is to answer questions that pop up during the quilt-making process so don't ever worry about asking a "stupid" question. They don't exist!
  • Prizes and discounts: Aside from having a beautiful finished quilt top, you also can win weekly prizes by using #ShiningStarQuiltSA in the comments of your posts on Instagram. More details on that are at the bottom of this post.
    Get 25% off longarm quilting on your Shining Star quilt from Heather Alexander Longarm Quilting now through 2022. ​You must mention this deal when filling out the info form.
    Get 25% off longarm quilting on your Shining Star quilt from Trace Creek Quilting now through mid-September. You must mention this deal when filling out the info form.

Shining Star Sew Along Schedule

Shining Star Supplies

Aside from getting the pattern and fabric, I have two optional, but wonderful tools to recommend:

  1. Fork pins - you will use these in Weeks 5 and 6 to line up your seams.
  2. Roller - this can be used in Weeks 3 and 4 when making your improv log cabin blocks. These blocks have you doing a lot of sewing, pressing, trimming, repeat. So you don't have to sweat by a hot iron, you can press your seams open with a roller or a hera marker.
  3. Shining Star quilt and pillow bundle! Make a throw quilt and matching pillows with this discounted pattern bundle.
Shining Star Fabric Requirements
Shining Star Fabric Requirements

If You Are New to Quilting...

I'm so glad you're here! This is a fantastic pattern for you and a sew along is the perfect way to explore, learn and grow your quilting skills. I have more resources for you that are helpful and quick to read.

In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints.

Week 1 Assignment: Pick Fabric

To be totally honest, I waited until the very last minute to pick my fabrics. I hate when I do that. The moment I feel rushed and a bit frantic my creativity takes a hit. To get my mind back in a good place I treated myself to a third cup of coffee (don't judge me!) and said out loud, "Chillllllll, Suzy, chill. Stakes are low. And remember, this is supposed to be fun!"

Reminding myself of that always makes me laugh a little and lightens the mood. Once the mood is light and I feel at ease, creativity is much more likely to thrive.

Tip #1: This is supposed to be fun, remember?

I've been quilting for over 20 years and I still have to remind myself to chill out and enjoy the process. There are enough other things in the world to get stressed about. Fabric isn't one of them. If you've sewn along with me in the past you've heard me say this many different ways, mostly because I need to hear it myself.

Tip #2: Think about value and saturation.

I'm not going to get into color theory, because honestly I don't find talking about it that helpful, but I am going to bring up two things for you to think about:

  • Value: the lightness or darkness of a color
  • Saturation: the intensity of a color

If you are making the two-color version, picking your fabrics is relatively simple. Just make sure there is enough contrast in value and also that you like the amount of color saturation.

I think the best way to deeply understand value and saturation in quilting is to look at a lot of examples. So here we go! I made these next four blocks to go in my original Shining Star quilt, but they didn't end up making the cut for various reasons.

Here's a pic of that quilt for reference. One thing to point out — every Color 1 and Color 2 in this quilt has a similar saturation and value. That allows Color 1 and Color 2 to both equally pop in the foreground and the background to recede.

(As a reminder, Color 1 is the corner squares and Color 2 is the flying geese.)

Shining Star quilt pattern download. This quilt pattern includes a full tutorial video and uses fat quarters or scraps!

Block 1:

  • Color 1 - Medium value and high saturation. (This means that it's middle of the road in terms of light and dark but is very bright in color.)
  • Color 2 - Light value and medium saturation.

Why did it get cut? Even though the Color 1 value is spot on, the saturation is a little too bright. It would really stand out. Color 2 has the right amount of saturation (it's a nice color of blue) but is waaaay too light in value. It almost completely blends in with the background.

In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints. suzyquilts.com

Block 2:

  • Color 1 - Dark value and medium saturation.
  • Color 2 - Medium value and low saturation.

Why did it get cut? This is a beautiful block and I was bummed when I stepped back and saw that it didn't fit with the others. Here's why — the value of Color 1 is too dark and the saturation of Color 2 is too low. Color 1 needs to be lighter and Color 2 needs to be perkier or, in our technical terms, have a higher saturation. It's too dusty.

In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints. suzyquilts.com

Block 3:

  • Color 1 - Medium value and medium saturation.
  • Color 2 - Light value and low saturation.

Why did it get cut? Color 1 is perfect. Like, chef's kiss perfect, and I was tempted to rip this block apart so I could just replace Color 2. Speaking of Color 2, ugh! It was all wrong, and totally threw off the equilibrium of the block. Color 2 almost completely blends into the background by having a very light value and a low saturation. Color 2, why do you have to be such a stinker!

In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints. suzyquilts.com

Block 4

  • Color 1 - Dark value and medium/low saturation.
  • Color 2 - Light value and medium/high saturation.

Why did it get cut? This block is simply one of those situations where maybe it could have worked, but it just didn't quite fit. Color 1, although scrum-diddly-umptious in color, is a smidge too dark in value and too low in saturation. It's not pairing well with Color 2 which is having the opposite issue — slightly too light in value and too bright in saturation.

In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints. suzyquilts.com

Tip #3: Play with scale.

Even though all of the examples so far use solid fabrics, don't be fooled, I love this quilt pattern in prints. As I mentioned before, the easiest way to visualize how print scale works in this pattern is to see prints in action. Here are some examples.

Medium to small scale prints: 

With the scale of these prints nothing is getting chopped off so that the print is beyond recognition. This is important when using novelty fabric with characters on it. However, if using an abstract, large-scale print, this can be a cool effect. We'll get to that below.

Shining Star quilt pattern download. This quilt pattern includes a full tutorial video and uses fat quarters or scraps!
The Shining Star quilt pattern includes instructions for fat quarters and also scraps. This whimsical modern star block is so fun to make. Beginner friendly because of a step by step video tutorial included in the quilt pattern. suzyquilts.com

Plaids and stripes:

You might have been wondering if a stripe or plaid would look weird if cut up in a wonky log cabin. As you can see, even though this plaid cuts crooked sometimes, it still has an overall cozy and beautiful look.

In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints. suzyquilts.com

Large-scale abstract fabric:

What I love about large-scale prints is that after you slice and dice them, they create a new pattern! This is especially fun to see with large florals and abstract designs.

In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints. suzyquilts.com

Large-scale floral:

A light, large-scale floral like this one gives the block a blended look. Because there are large sections of cream in the floral, and the background is cream, the piecing can have a "blurred lines" effect.

I personally love this look and get really excited by its fluid, organic appearance. I think it goes well with the unique vibe of this pattern.

In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints. suzyquilts.com
In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints. suzyquilts.com

This scrappy Shining Star block uses the pillow extension pattern is made with not just a large-scale floral, but also some scraps from my cast-off fabric bin. You can read how to make your Shining Star quilt blocks scrappy in this tutorial post.

In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints. suzyquilts.com

My Shining Star Fabric

The colors of my Shining Star are inspired by my sweet dog, Scrappy. She is an expert at finding the sun spots throughout my house. Watching her stretch out and peacefully snooze in a ray of sunshine is almost as good as relaxing in my own personal ray of warmth!

In the pic below Scrappy found a sun spot next to my Voyage quilt in my almost finished studio.

The Voyage quilt pattern is fat quarter friendly

The golden fabric seen below made me feel like I was sitting in the sun right along next to Scrappy. Once I settled on the background color I felt the flow of inspiration take me away.

Now, this is not always the case. Sometimes pulling fabric for a project can feel like pulling teeth, but in this instance I let the thought of liquid sunshine fill me up from my toes to my head. I used that feeling to drive all of my fabric choices.

Tip #4: Layout your background fabric.

In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints. suzyquilts.com

I laid out my background fabric completely. As you can see I didn't even iron it first. I started pairing up fat quarters and placing them together like this so I could clearly see the pairs, but also see how each fabric played with each other.

I didn't do this when making my original Shining Star quilt and I wish I had. Seeing the background with the foreground helps to visualize if there is enough contrast in value. Remember those four blocks earlier that really struggled with value and saturation? Hopefully doing this will prevent that problem.

In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints. suzyquilts.com
In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints. suzyquilts.com

This pull is a mixture of stripes, low-key prints, gingham, plaid, florals, and solids all with one thing in common — they felt homey. I held each one in my hands and thought, "Does this make me feel cozy, cuddle up on the couch, toasty to my toes?"

If the answer was yes, it went into the pile. From top to bottom:

  1. Figo Serenity Stripes in Gray
  2. Figo Elements in Candle Yellow
  3. Figo Tactile in Waffle Cream
  4. Kaufman Sevenberry Petite Garden Med Flower Spray Summer
  5. Art Gallery Fabrics PURE solids in Mushroom
  6. Figo Serenity Stripes in Pink
  7. An unidentified woven cream that is almost as thick as linen
  8. I have had this gingham for a loooong time. It actually dates back to my original Perennial quilt (see binding). Something pretty close would be Kaufman Kitchen Window Small Gingham in Doeskin
  9. Windham Artisan Cotton in Taupe/Light Gray
  10. Windham Artisan Cotton in
  11. Kaufman Sevenberry Petite Fleurs Stems Yellow
  12. Figo Elements in Pure White
  13. Figo Elements in Fire
  14. Ruby Star Society Add It Up in Metallic Copper
  15. Windham Artisan Cotton in Camel/Cream
  16. Windham Artisan Cotton in White/White
  17. Figo Tactile Slub Lines Clay
  18. Figo Tactile Tonal Stripe Clay

Tip #5: Check out more pics on the blog.

This post on using fat quarters in a Shining Star quilt has a few tips and lots of fabric listings.

This post on using shot cotton to make a two-color version is full of technical things you can do for an easier time working with fabric that likes to fray.

In week one of the Shining Star sew along we pick our fabric. Check out these tips for choosing color, value and scale of prints. suzyquilts.com

Week 1 Sponsor & Prize

Kicking off our sew along is the Sewing Arts Center with a $150 gift certificate!! Yeehaw! The Sewing Arts Center also has some very exciting news to share — they recently moved! We love Julie and Rachel of SAC and couldn't be happier for this new exciting transition. Orders are shipping out as normal (because they are rockstars!) You can sign up for their newsletter for more details on what they are up to!

How to Win

  • Post a pic to Instagram. The photo prompt for Instagram this week is to post an introduction pic or a picture of your fabric. Use #ShiningStarQuiltSA in the caption.
  • You must have a public Instagram profile to participate.
  • Each photo posted is an entry and you can enter as many times as you want in a single week. Once the week is over, those posts do not count in the next week's giveaway. Every week we start fresh.
  • Your photo must be posted between Friday, July 8, and Friday, July 15. The winner will be picked randomly from all qualifying posts and announced at approximately 4:00 p.m. on the 15th. Good luck!

6 thoughts on “Shining Star Quilt Sew Along Week 1: Pick Fabric

  1. kelley says:

    I’m learning so my already! I also had someone mention taking a picture of your fabrics in black-and-white which makes it so easy to see the differences in saturation and value. It’s been so helpful to me!

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