Balancing quilting frustrations with quilting pleasures

We’ve all had quilting frustrations here and there.  But I’m learning this week that it’s important to balance those frustrations with pleasures.  I’m making a feathered star block for my local quilt shop’s block of the month.  This block has been on my bucket list for a while, so I was really excited to begin this quilting journey.  As the co-teacher of this BOM, it’s up to me to find easier piecing techniques or little tips to make it go together easier.

Feathered Star Block by Julie Cefalu @ The Crafty Quilter using EQ8 software.
Feathered Star by Julie Cefalu, using EQ8 software


Well, enter the quilt block from h—.   Since I’ve never made a feathered star block before, I assumed it would be a challenge but fairly straight forward.  There are half-square triangles, quarter-square triangles, a diamond-shaped template and partial seams.  One step at a time.  I starched and pressed my fabric really well before cutting.  I made the 1 5/8″ half-square triangles exact.  I oversized the quarter square triangles, corner squares and setting triangles so that I could trim them down.

After making one corner unit and one side unit, I could see that my units were not going to fit together.  First of all, the diamond template was off by 1/8″.  After I fixed that, I had to figure out how to trim down the unit since I used over-sized quarter square triangles.  I had no trimming measurements to go on, but everything seemed to be lining up without trimming. I thought I should start over again and cut the triangles exact as the pattern stated.  Then, I found my triangles weren’t big enough and I would lose my star points.  So I needed to go back to the oversized triangles, but I ran out of the navy blue fabric I was using.  Are you feeling my frustration?  I was able to re-cut one set of triangles, but I had to make do with the others.  I made up for the difference in the seam allowance.

Partial feathered star block made by Julie Cefalu @ The Crafty Quilter


So long story short, I think my block is going to turn out beautiful, but bigger than what the pattern called for.  And Ill have a few extra gray hairs but a good learning experience in my pocket.  I’ll show you the finished feathered star block once it’s all put together.  Right now it’s in pieces for teaching purposes.

Feathered Star block in pieces - by Julie Cefalu @ The Crafty Quilter.


I found it was necessary to just walk away after the first day of trial and error.  Frustration needs to be balanced with pleasure, so I had a nice glass of wine with dinner and looked through a quilting catalog just for fun.  With so many projects going on in my sewing room, there’s always something that I can work on just for pleasure.  Do you have any tips for beating the frustration?  Have you made a feathered star before?

It really makes me appreciate the simpler blocks that I’ve been working on for the Patchsmith Sampler Quilt Along.  Even though I’m behind, I don’t stress about it.  The last two blocks I completed are these two log cabin based ones.  I love how easy they are to piece!

Night and Day block made by Julie Cefalu @ The Crafty Quilter. Pattern by Amanda @ The Patchsmith
Block #25, Night and Day
Cactus block made by Julie Cefalu @ The Crafty Quilter. Pattern by Amanda @ The Patchsmith
Block #26, Cactus


Just a reminder, you have until September 9 at midnight PST to enter the giveaway for the Save The Bees BOM here.  I’ve really enjoyed seeing your comments and learning about how long you’ve been quilting.  Some of you are newbies, but more of you have been quilting for a long time!

With school starting, now is the perfect time to try out a class at Craftsy.  This weekend, ALL classes are on sale for under $20.  Maybe it’s time for me to take a Feathered Star class?

I hope you’re weekend is long and full of pleasure!

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  1. I saw your finished block on Instagram and it looked great. I haven’t made a feathered star, but when I was making the Moda Blockhead blocks last year, several had some of the same construction techniques and units (without the diamonds) in 6″ blocks. I know what you mean about fudging the 1/4 inch seams

  2. Your feathered star looks really good! I am sorry it was such a pain to put together. A feathered star was on my bucket list too, so I am currently making on for a mini quilt swap. I designed mine to be paper pieced because I did not think that I would be able to construct the block well if I traditionally pieced it.

  3. Hi Julie, I too feel your pain. I am working on a similar pattern from Edyta’s Patch of Blue BOM. I have never done this block either but with all the bias edges and partial seams it is challenging. It is coming together but not without alot of stress. I have to leave it for awhile and then come back to it. No matter how careful I am with my sewing it sometimes does not line up correctly, Yikes, so frustrating! Your color choice is stunning. I’m glad I am not alone with my frustrations but I do LOVE quilting.

  4. When I am frustrated with a misbehaving quilt block, it has to go into “time out” for a while. Usually if I can sleep on it, I can come up with a solution.

  5. Boy, do I ever feel your pain. A group of us are making the Bible Block quilt along with 73 blocks with varied difficulty. There are no trim down sizes included. Yikes, but it’s hopefully making me a better more precise quilter. One of my blocks is currently on hiatus! BUT….it’s up soon as I only have three more blocks to go.

  6. I LOVE your choice of fabrics and your block is beautiful. I have books and books on the feathered star but have not ever attempted one. Please keep us updated on your success. THANK YOU for sharing!

  7. Your feathered star is looking pretty good to me. Although I love feathered stars, I’ve never tried making any myself – not yet. It will be interesting to see what tips others have found to be useful in putting this block together. Your log cabin block is beautiful in red and aqua! If I am frustrated with piecing something difficult, I find it helps to take a break and work on something simple and easy and less stressful for a little bit.

  8. Your block is very pretty, sorry it gave you so many problems. When I get too frustrated I walk away take a break and go at it again the next day.

  9. I love your spirit! Try, try and try again until you figure out a way of getting it to work! Good for you Julie! I also love your color choices as usual. I remember when I was just learning and my friend Jackie asked me to join this block of the month which featured a lone star, and I barely could cut fabric, I went ahead and joined because I believed what she said, “don’t worry, I will teach you.” We completed that king sized lone star bedspread with many words, which I can’t put into print, spoken but we eventually did it. Never again, but we did it. We got up, walked away, ate lunch, and saved it for another day, and worked on that one once a week, and other happy projects during the week. When it was finished we both laughed and said “hurray, it’s over, we did it”. Your project will be beautiful because the block is already! Good luck Julie!

  10. Marsha McClosky did two sets of feathered stars that are sold as add-ons to Electric Quilt. They are worth every cent. They go with her books on them. I learned a great deal from her in a class, but she no longer travels. Good luck. They are difficult even with right sized templates.

  11. For frustration I’d go do something completely different. How about a mani-pedi so you are looking good while dealing with your little challenges! Sounds good to me!
    Your friend in TN.

  12. I haven’t tried the feathered star – I think I know that it’s not one for me. You know the one that I really, really try and get it right ( without paper piecing)? – the log cabin. I even took an online class from Marti Michelle – bought her special rulers and did exactly as she said… some of my quarter inches were more like three or four threads 🙁 I’ll keep trying, though, because I am a strong willed ( read that as STUBBORN) old broad and I’m not going to let that simple block continue to frustrate me – I will persevere and, hopefully, one day I’ll win!

  13. Oh, Julie, I feel your frustration. And now I am a bit worried. My sister-in-law and I are going to be making a star similar to this one for a Quilt of Valor quilt for her brother/my brother-in-law. We both have a lot of learning to do with set-in seams, as well as those triangle templates. I have learned quite a few tips from you, and it worries me a bit that you were frustrated with this star. However, you did remind me to starch the heck out of the fabric! And now I must go complete a few practice blocks!

  14. HI! I have been quilting for about 20 years although not as involved up until about 5 years ago. I too have several sewing projects in the works right now. While I do love a challenge, if it is just way too complicated, I don’t involve myself in those type of quilting projects right now. When frazzled with a project, I will turn to one of my other desires – yarn work or bead work :). Thanks for your wonderful blog.

  15. I’ve made blocks with those rows of half square triangles before and I hate them. Mine are always too small for the spot and end up stretched out. I feel your pain.

  16. I always have a good laugh because rest assured you aren’t the only one who says hay what why did I do that, laugh go on and say it went out the window and will come back when it’s ready to. Keep up the good work always like your blog and you aren’t the only who has several in work projects.

  17. Your block is soooo pretty! I gave myself the challenge of making my first feathered star blocks last year….the first one was made following the No Y Seam Feathered block tutorial by threaded quilting studio. It was fairly easy! I then pieced one traditionally using Marsha McClosky’s method….and it turned out perfectly! My motto is there is No need to reinvent the wheel! Both of these methods were great, and I actually prefer the traditional piecing method. Good luck….I know you will master this and then kick it up a notch! 🙂

  18. I read up to your pouring a glass of wine Lol. And I thought to myself, I’d need more than one! I am with you in walking away from the quilt square for a bit. My go to Is to read a few chapters of a novel. Along with that wine! Your block is beautiful, wonderful colors. No one will know if it’s a bit bigger for the teaching purpose.

  19. First of all really like your colors. When I get frustrated I take a shower leave the house and go have a long leisurely lunch reading a book on my IPhone during lunch.

  20. I feel your frustration and pain with piecing the feathered star. I have only made one(large) because of the points. I have friends that will only use the paper piecing method with the feathered star.

  21. Hi Julie. I really feel your pain. If it can happen to you, imagine what silly issues I get myself into. I was making small fabric bowls and just could not get them to gather with my machine stitching for gathering threads. I just gave up and did it by hand. Love to see what you are for making. Thanks, Robin

  22. Marsha McCloskey is an expert at making Feathered Stars, maybe look at her expertise for advice. It is going to be a beautiful block no matter what! I have not always finished everything because of poor instructions issued in a pattern. love the Patchwork blocks. Have a good weekend, Happy Sewing from Iowa

  23. Hi Julie,
    Certainly hear your justified frustration! Hate it when patterns or directions inaccurate! Would paper piecing help for tricky parts? Just a thought…

  24. I’ve never made a feathered star before, but I can relate to things not going right and getting frustrated. I usually walk away from it and do something else….something I know I can master.

  25. Step away from the sewing machine! Pour a glass of wine as soon as the clock strikes 5. My no fail formula for dealing with sewing stress. It took me a while to realize that continuing to work when I’m that frustrated just leads to more frustration.

    Thanks for sharing that even the pros have “one of those days” now and then.

  26. I finished a quilt for my Grandson and his wife, it was an easy pattern, fabric was already cut, so I started listing my UFOs and couldn’t find enough interest in any of them. I started cutting up 2″ blocks from scraps and made 4 patches. I realized that is my go to when I am bored, still attempting to make the seams fit together nicely. I want to learn to machine quilt better, so that is my goal for the coming weeks. Your block is already beautiful, even unfinished.

  27. I’ve been quilting for about 12 years. I thought retirement would lend itself to endless hours of free time to quilt..haha! I still love the entire process no matter how many projects I complete.

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