Just a Little Aggravated Here

This isn’t a full-on rant, but I’m aggravated.  Highly aggravated.

The LQS where I teach applique specializes in kits and bom’s.  I’m working up a sample for a new kit  the owner bought.  The picture is stunningly beautiful.  There are however, multiple problems already with this pattern.  I’ve come across several incorrect measurements….the template on the page with one of the blocks is not the right size.  There “is” another template on a separate page that is the right size but the instructions do not tell you which one to use.  You have to figure it out for yourself.

The instructions are very vague.  In one place, you’re told to square up a block to 12″.  The problem is that the block at this stage is only 11″.   It’s just a typo but one that would drive some people crazy.  I’ve just gotten started with this thing so what else am I going to fine?

Supposedly, this pattern is for intermediate quilters.  I say:  Not so.  There are blocks with multiple  Y-seams.  I don’t enjoy doing those but I can.  Most quilters would rather have a root canal done than work with Y-seams.

The block I’m stressed out over has 8–2 tone star points that all meet in the center of the block.  To make each 2 tone star point there are 2 patches, therefore there is a seam.  These 8 star points must then be sewn together.  That makes 16 seams coming together in the center.  I have made this block twice using 2 different construction methods and both times, I got lovely halves…beautiful matching points.  Fast forward to sewing those 2 halves together.  What do you think happens?  You get the ugliest, lumpiest thing you ever saw.  The points are no longer straight and it’s just ugly.

I asked for some ideas of how to approach this block on a list and a couple people suggested using a mallet.  Seriously, I think that’s the only way this thing will approach lying down so I’m going to try it but that’s not going to fix the crooked lines.  I appreciate their time in trying to help me.

I already had serious doubts about whether or not this design had actually been sewn up.  This one block is proof that some things are very pretty on paper but in reality just aren’t practical.  If a test block had been made, I can’t see why any reasonable person would not change their plan.

I sent the designer an e-mail asking how she handled the bulk in this particular block and specifically asked for pictures of the quilt.  The first response I received wasn’t sure which 8 pointed double-sided star block with 16 seams converging in the center that I was referring to in this pattern (thank goodness, it’s the only one so how would that be confusing?).  I was also referred to the fabric manufacturer that is packaging their fabrics for this pattern.  I’ve already seen it on their website.  Why would the manufacturer know more about the pattern than the designer?

I sent a reply to her response specifically asking how she handled this block when she tested it…..Well, I think I was right to think she never tested it herself.   Instead of answering my question, she dodged the question by saying that LeMoyne Star seams are best pressed open instead of to the side.   I already knew that.  This is not a regular LeMoyne Star.  And that treatment did not help.  I’ll try it again but don’t expect any different results.

Oh…..and the batting will usually hide those bumps?  What?????  I don’t want to have to depend on the batting for that.  I want the block to be pretty on its own merit.

There is nothing in the gallery on her website that approaches the level of difficulty in this pattern.  Oh well, I guess it could be worse.  There could be 4 of these stars instead of just one.


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  1. What a pain that would all be, I thought all pattern designers had someone test their pattern out before it was advertised, or is that only in the real world. Hugs, I hope you get it sorted.

    • Brenda, the shop owner has actually seen the pattern in the company booth, so “someone” made the sample, but I’d love to see the back of the block. Lol.

  2. jmikebalou@aol.com

     /  September 10, 2012

    Kaye Wood has the best demos here for 8 pointed stars. She is the queen and will help you. Chris

  3. Jackie

     /  September 10, 2012

    I’m working on a pattern and am having the same issues, I wonder do the designers have multiple people read and try the patterns before they are mass produced? I keep having to read and re-read the instructions, part of the correct steps are listed in one place and the finishing instructions for the block are somewhere else. I’ve wanted to throw the book and pieces against the wall more then once.

    • I try to have patterns I design tested by several different people—preferably with different skill levels. I like to feel pretty sure about instructions before I turn a pattern loose on the world.

  4. Fauntie

     /  September 10, 2012

    Hi there,
    I also do samples for a LQS. I had a cute pattern recently that gave the instructions for cutting all of the pieces. However, the diagrams had no references on them as to where the pieces would go and some of them were so similar in size that it was confusing. I wrote the pattern designer and she answered saying that if I just followed the cutting instructions and looked at the diagram then it would all fall in to place. I still haven’t completed this sample! I’ve decided to get out the graph paper and do my own version guessing at where the pieces are meant to be placed.

  5. I don’t know what’s going on in the pattern world. There seem to be a lot of mistakes in patterns on the market today. A friend just bought a book and I found out by accident there are errors. I let her know about them. It’s just wrong, wrong, wrong. I’m now at the point I’m designing my own and if I have to distribute I get someone to proof read the whole thing before it gets handed on. By proof reading, I mean for you to take the pattern and follow the instructions step by step. When you find a mistake, mark it and let me know.
    Personally, Sheryl, I think you’ve got a lot of patience. I would have tossed the pattern long ago.

    • It’s become a challenge now so I’m going to work on that block again when I get the rest of the quilt done but it won’t go in the quilt.

  6. Nancy

     /  September 10, 2012

    As a person who tests patterns for others I completely understand what you are saying. Some patterns are very poorly written, and others, as you said, look great when drawn up on paper, but when it comes to constructing them, you had better be an advanced quilter with lots of patience and a skill set high in interpreting the lack of directions. Sometimes the patterns put out by the fabric manufacturers are the ones that have the most problems. They are trying to sell fabric, not help you make a quilt using their fabric.
    The mallet is often the best alternative. You can by one made for quilters, or just get a new hard rubber one and use a batting covered board on a sturdy surface to pound against.

    • I’m going to see if I can find one of those quilter’s mallets. It would probably be a good tool to keep around.

  7. Greet Vedder

     /  September 10, 2012

    Terribly annoying! I think I would try and find a fabric with which I could make one point as a whole, reducing the seams to eight. Insert a short note in the patterns the shop wants to sell, explaining why you did it and refer to the designer for ‘guidance’ if they get stuck trying the original pattern. Last resort: give it to Sugar, he’ll chew right through it 🙂 Good luck!

    • That’s a good idea about substituting the fabric but I don’t have a choice than to use the fabric in the kit. You’re right…Sugar would probably love to take a bite out of that pattern!

  8. billiemick

     /  September 10, 2012

    Wow…..I’m not buying any patterns with that star….grin. What a mess.

  9. I think I might post a comment to the fabric company. They deserve to know that the instructions had not been edited and that they are NOT for an intermediate quilter. If you had problems, others will too!

  10. Gwen

     /  September 10, 2012

    One thing that might help you a bit is to taper the seam a bit as you approach the center. Instead of a skimpy 1/4″ use a full 1/4″ or even a bit more. There aways seems to be too much fabric there on any LeMoyne type star. I am sorry you are having so much angst.

    • That’s an idea Gwen. I might try alternating the seam width with every other seam to see how that works.

  11. Martha

     /  September 12, 2012

    Sorry you’re dealing with bad instructions…
    When piecing halves together use long pins, the kind with daisy heads. Use double stick tape just outside the seam allowance. Put the 2 sides together by sticking a pin vertically through to match. Then squeeze the tape together. Pin carefully.
    To flatten it out, I use a hammer… Regular old from the workshop type hammer. Put your block upside down on something solid. cover it with a piece of scrap and hit it! Now remember those lumpy things are your fingers…. My aim is not the best so I have been known to miss. Well miss the block and hit the fingers!

    • I never thought about trying tape, Martha. It sure won’t hurt. I always use a standing pin to match seams and flower head pins.


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