Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Chickens That Came First

Making a chicken themed quilt has been on my Quilt Bucket List almost ever since I started piecing back in the late 1980's. The first block I made for that prospective quilt was an ambitious one, a feathered star. It only made sense to me that a feathered star should feature chickens!

I don't have a picture of the block in its original state. It took several years (try a decade or more!) to actually get the block together. The block was begun in a class setting. It was supposed to be an easy and accurate construction method, which is the only reason I took the class. Well, the long and short of it is that it may have been easier and accurate for a more experienced quilter than I was at the time but it wasn't for me. I was working with a 40 year old machine and did not have a good way to maintain the quarter inch seam allowance that would have given me better results. I got the star points mostly assembled during the workshop and then managed to make a star out of them years later. I had grown enough by then to be able to let go of complete accuracy. I think the finished block was supposed to measure 18" square. Mine was over 19" by odd fractions in its raw state. I could have made my peace with that but there was something else about it that bothered me. It took me a couple more years to figure out what that was: in spite of the fact that I'd used a print for the background there seemed to be an awful lot of empty space around the star. Experience and maturity came to my rescue again. I solved the problem by cutting the corners off and replacing them with another print. The next stumbling block was how to bring the block up to a size I could work with. Well, that wasn't really much of a problem. It was a simple solution really: add oversize borders and then cut the whole thing down to the size I wanted! Here's the end product:

This will finish at 24 inches square. It looks pretty good in this picture. Flaws and compensations are much easier to spot in person. ;- ) You can see that I'm working with limited resources too. One of the border strips is a different print than the other three. That might have bothered me back when I first undertook to make a feathered star. It doesn't bother me now! I'm happy to say that I have grown as a quilt maker, and not only in my technical ability.

So now the chicken quilt has become another place to play with a variety of block patterns. Back in the day I knew I wanted a chicken themed quilt but I didn't really know what my personal taste was. Now I know I enjoy making simply pieced blocks and puzzling them together into interesting and cohesive multi-fabric quilts.

This Card Trick block also features the main print from the feathered star:

I had four color-ways of one print in my stash so I decided to try them in the Card Trick block too.

There isn't a lot of contrast between the "cards" but it will do.

Of course I had to have some Churn Dash or Hole in the Barn Door blocks.

I do enjoy fussy cutting to feature a specific image! These are all 12" blocks.

When my friend C~ learned I was planning to make a chicken themed quilt she made this 10" block for me. This was several years ago as well. Without taking the time to look it up, I think this one is a Sister's Choice.

You haven't seen them all but I think I have enough blocks to begin developing a quilt plan... !


  1. While it's fun to see the blocks singly, it's more fun to see them in a quilt layout. You have a good eye for designing with blocks.

  2. Your chicken blocks look great! And I think your style will really suit a quilt like this.

    That feathered star block looks great! What a challenging block. Even after 30 years of quilting, I'm not up to tackling one of those! You were brave, and it payed off.

    Funny, I've had a chicken quilt in the back of my mind for many years. I don't know why, but it sounded like fun. Maybe someday I still will. I have lots of chicken fabrics - I recognize some of your fabrics! hee hee!

  3. SO happy to see you bringing these blocks together ....


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