I mentioned to my mom that I would love to try to catalog all of the quilts her mother made for her children (eight of them) and her 41 grandchildren. It was a couple days later that my mom told me she ran across four more quilts that Grandma had made for her. Three are baby quilts with embroidered tops. One of the quilts was made for me as a baby, but it is in very bad condition. The back is in threads. I guess I must have really loved the quilt. It was fun to know about and see these baby quilts. (I'll do a separate blog post about them sometime soon.)
But the quilt that really caught my eye was a machine-pieced, hand-quilted star quilt featuring stars made from 60-degree diamonds set around a yellow hexagon.
I decided to see how hard it would be to make the block. I started with a star from six 60-degree diamonds with a hexagon appliqued over the center. It looked fine, but clearly wasn't how my Grandmother made the block
It was interesting that after becoming aware of this quilt, I started noticing sixty-degree diamond star quilts all of the time. Jaybird Quilts is clearly the master of sixty-degree diamond quilts! I did buy her Hex and More ruler for cutting my diamonds.
Here is the classic Seven Sisters block, comprising seven sixty-degree stars set together as a hexagon. The large hexagon blocks are then set together to form the full quilt.
Then I discovered this quilt block. The stars have the hexagon centers. Getting closer, but the setting still wasn't quite right with the large hexagon at the center.
Here's a quilt set like my Grandmother's, but still no hexagon centers.
I thought I might be on to how to set the quilt together. Unfortunately, no such luck. Without the hexagon center, it can be put together just like a tumbling block quilt. (If you change the values of the diamonds, you have a tumbling block quilts. Several clever quilters have even figured out how to strip piece this quilt. But it can't be done with the hexagon centers.)
So I did some more test blocks to make sure I could machine piece the block with the hexagon center. First a star that is bigger than my Grandmother's quilt:
But I've already learned so much just doing the test blocks. But the number one thing I learned is that my Grandmother did not shy away from quilts that have some complexity to them. I already knew that she made several double wedding ring quilts for her children. But this one was clearly tricky and not for the beginning quilt maker. She must have liked the challenge of this quilt and felt a real sense of accomplishment when it was completed. While she used scraps, she unified the quilt with the same background fabric and center hexagon stars. Grandma, I'm impressed! And I've already told my mom she's not getting this quilt back!