Abraham Lincoln and Quilting

I bet you’re wondering what in the world Abraham Lincoln has to do with quilting. While I’m sure Honest Abe enjoyed a warm quilt or two in his day, I’m thinking more along the lines of his famous quote “give me six hours to cut down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Why? Because it’s exactly how I unintentionally approached my latest finished quilt. Yes, the metaphorical tree was eventually, actually cut down. 

Now in defense of my prolonged “sharpening the axe”, I wanted to make a quilt that contained a 5-point star in the center and had no idea how to approach it. I spent weeks planning and practicing and preparing, but not actually working on the quilt. This phase was additionally prolonged by massive shipping delays. I ordered the fabric 6 weeks before I needed the quilt finished and the final pieces finally landed in my mailbox 2 weeks before my deadline (the baby shower). 

Luckily, I have a very creative and detail-oriented husband. During the “sharpening the axe” phase, we played around with a bunch of different designs and layouts using Photoshop. Once we’d finally decided on a layout that highlighted the star, but wasn’t too boring, I got to work making my paper-piecing pattern. 

Intended layout

I first taped a bunch of pieces of printer paper together until I had a single sheet that was approximately the size of the quilt or at least the inner part that would need to be paper pieced. I marked the center and placed a print out of a star in the center. Then, I used my giant rectangular quilting ruler to trace out a much larger properly proportioned star and two slightly larger stars to give the right look. Then, I drew the box that would frame the star.


Paper-piecing pattern

I divided the star into 5 equal pieces through the center and cut out each. Then, it was a simple matter of lining up fabric, sewing, trimming, and pressing. The actual quilt top came together quite quickly and neatly. I only had to pick one row of stitches as I’d sewn on the wrong line and I couldn’t really do anything except pick the stitches and start over. 

My husband and I also spent a lot of time figuring out how to quilt the sandwich. We wanted to focus on keeping the front simple, but adding detail to the back. To accomplish this, I quilted the innermost and outermost stars in the ditch. Then, I stitched out what would be more and more larger stars giving a bit of a ripple effect. Once I reached the beginning of the frame, I quilted in the ditch again. In this way, the back consists of rippling stars inside a very clearly drawn frame. 

Finally, around the entire edge, I quilted 16 stars. This was hands down the most complicated quilting I have done to date. Since free motion quilting still terrifies me and I know better than to think I could just sew a star and have it work, I cheated. Yep. I cut out a star on a piece of card stock, traced it, and sewed on the lines. And you know what? The end result was magnificent. 

The best part is that I got to give the quilt to a dad that’s a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. I wonder if that’s why the star looks so much like their logo… 

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