Monday, July 13, 2020

After A Full Moon

Where do you stand on a full moon?
Perhaps you've never given it much thought but after years of hearing my nurse customers' stories about "working in the hospital on full moon days", I started to pay attention to my own response to a full moon!
It's not great.  I'm all the cranky adjectives!
I came up with an action strategy for dealing with my full moon moods years ago and while it doesn't seem to be as much of an issue right now (retirement helped I think), my instincts still fall back on those strategies to get through that first week after a full moon.

One of them is to "not start any new projects"!
I need positive vibes, to feel like I'm accomplishing things, so making good strides on anything is a big boost to my mood!  Starting a new project is fun, but it contributes nothing to elevating my mood!
So last week, I made quilt backings!

It started with a big one for the dodecagon quilt top I finished piecing this spring.
I had the perfect print in my stash and it was only 3/4 of a yard short???
I created pieced sections using leftover greens from the top.
Since the top is all hexagons, I joined the strips with 60 degree angles (clever, huh?).
I decided on 2 1/2" strips so that any excess could just be added to my scrappy sourdough box!
One of the challenges of using this yardage was that I wanted to "match" the motifs so the seam wasn't obvious and the backing looks like one big seamless piece.
I did a pretty good job because it's hard to find the seam in this photo!!
This is one end.  I split my yardage into two equal lengths.  I added a piece section to opposite ends of each length, then laid them out on the floor and moved one length up and down until the motifs aligned across the width of the backing.  Next day, whencI returned to the project, I re-checked the alignment, trimmed off a couple inches down the length of the two pieces and matched up the edges for stitching!
Quilting this will be a winter project so it's all back on the "to-be" shelf.
Keeping it simple evolved as a theme last week -- I had some clever ideas for making this backing wide enough for my Halo quilt top, but in the end . . . . 
. . . not quite as clever, perhaps even boring but ready to layer!  And I layered it yesterday.  One of the Instagram #halosewalong2020 participants shared her hand quilting strategy last week and I'm blatantly following it!!!

One of my July goals is to get my triplet grandson's big bed quilt bordered and backed to start quilting!
I added the borders and turned my attention to the backing!
It is so good to have that list of monthly goals when I can't think what to do next!
The fun thing about this quilt is that all the blocks were pieced from one layer cake and a 1 1/2 yard cut of the polka dot background.  The sashing is from another fabric line, but I thought it look pretty cute with the layer cake fabrics.  All of that fabric was purchased over 4 years ago and since I didn't have a plan for it at the time, there was no border fabric.  Happily, I found this new print this past winter -- even though it's not from the original line, the background color and the print theme hold it together for me and my grandson!
The backing gets a little crazy.  It's two lengths of the print I colored for Kings Road Imports back in the mid-90's stretched with a band of the left over layer cake squares.  His sisters have a different colorway and while I realize it's not totally "boy" to have so many flowers, it's special because "grandma planned the colors".
I still have two hunks in other colorways to use for my older grandchildren and those projects are on my short list!

Another July goal is to tidy up a particularly messy corner of the studio! I halfheartedly started mid-week and (much to my relief) found my two temperature quilt tops folded up with a stack of possible backing fabrics.
So I quit tidying and started sewing (because by sewing, some tidying will occur).
I added the picket fence border to the bottom of my "birth year" temperature quilt which needed to be longer in my opinion.
Again, there had been a clever plan for this border but I never got farther than a pile of green prints (which I have borrowed from several times).  It was suppose to suggest grass and the holdup was not knowing how to piece grass.
But I do know how to piece a picket fence!
It's a border I designed for a friendship quilt of mine years ago.
It's easy to do -- just graph it out using a scale of one square per inch with pickets and rails between.
Then make the pickets from strips with a simple flip and sew corner plus strip sets for the rail units.
(That corner square is so crooked that this picket is a reject).
Ready to make a backing!
In a fit of whimsy, I decided to usurp this kid's print for a backing on my own quilt but it wasn't quite large enough.  Again, I had clever ideas but my fear of ruining the fabric by cutting it (absurd, really) into bands and the work of adding rows of pieced blocks between the bands quickly turned into "find a compatible print and border it" up to the size needed!?!
Of course, the perfect print was just a few inches short of what I needed for the long borders.
Time to sketch and calculate!
Adding the borders this way isn't a new strategy for me -- can't recall how I stumbled onto this idea?
It eliminates the need to piece any of the border strips.
It's exactly like piecing a "partial seam" block and HERE's a link to a good video on how to do that.
The final backing of the week is for my year 70 temperature quilt top pieced during 2017/18.
There were two cuts of beautiful prints folded up with the top -- both long enough but neither was quite wide enough.  Both prints were good choices but in the end I went with this great bird print from one of Kathy Doughty's (Material Obsession in Australia) early fabric collections.
(I'm such a sucker for a good bird print!)
I also wanted to incorporate my fabric chart into the backing.
A search of the stash for some prints to piece into a band to widen the backing turned up this great Alexander Henry (save the saliva -- it's from 2005).  It's a little bold but all the colors are perfect.
I was experimenting with using the "stripe" cross wise or length wise and how to position the color chart when I realized I could take pictures of all the options then use the layout app on my phone to put them all "side-by-side".  That simplified making my decision because I could see all the options together -- so much easier than put one up, change it, etc.
Here's the final result!
By the end of the week, I had finished five backings and my sew-jo was hyped up so I started piecing a new scrappy project that I've been cutting for all spring.  This evening, when my daughter gets home and can lend me her hands, I'll layer up my grandson's quilt so the machine quilting can begin this week.

It was good to keep busy with my comfort work last week.  With Covid 19 ramping up around us and the pressure to get educated about racism and it's impacts on our society continuing, staying grounded in one's daily work is stabilizing.  I've been following the posts of Black naturalists on Instagram -- hiking, birding, botanizing.  They are exploring regions that are unfamiliar to me and I'm on the lookout for connections in the Gulf states for the future, an area I've always been interested in birding.  

Here are some Instagram discoveries you might enjoy this coming week! 
Check out @knitchings because every one of her posts will make you smile.  
Have you heard about the Farm Link Project working to redirect large quantities of "excess" produce to food banks -- follow them at @farmlinkproject -- the movement started in California and is spreading nationwide.   Check out their website HERE! 
 Finally, if you haven't already found @modern_daily_knitting they continue to provide links to articles and organizations to help us understand racism.  Even if you aren't a knitter, you'll enjoy Kay and Ann!

I hope you'll follow my lead this week and push yourself into your stitching even if you don't know where you'll find the energy or focus. 
 You might be surprised to find both waiting for you over there in that pile of fabric!


Monday, July 6, 2020

Halo Quilt Sew Along - A Finished Top!!

During April, I shared a new project -- the Halo Quilt.  The booklet has been in my stash for a couple years and this scrappy quilt catches my eye on Instagram over and over!
I was in the midst of several other projects (of course) but when a couple Instagrammers announced they were going to host a Sew Along, I caved at once -- I could do the two blocks a week goal they shared easily.  I copied the template pages, glued them to template plastic, cut them out and started exploring my fabric stash for the right stuff.
A few blocks into the piecing and I made some basic fabric decisions such as the arcs would be simple prints, the four side shapes would be low volume prints, and I'd use a wide variety of print styles and novelty prints for the centers and corners.
I didn't stay with those guidelines 100% of the time, but they helped me start moving.
I machine pieced the blocks and used them as "sew-offs" (leaders and enders) for projects with deadlines.  My experience teaching the drunkard's path block with Marti Michell's templates made the curves easy and my blocks were generally square which was a delightful surprise!
Soon the blocks were accumulating and I was getting very relaxed about the fabric pulls.  In general, I pulled the fabrics for two or three blocks at a time and pieced them.  Some of the other participants cut all their fabrics before starting the piecing but I have a rather short attention span and am eager to see how "this block" is going to look!!
As the blocks were finished, I added them to the layout without much arranging.
As the number of blocks increased, I started researching the outer border blocks by looking through the dozens of Instagram photos from other quilters.  My first thought was to use more low volume prints for those units and I trialed a few -- meh . . . . 
Then I saw Maria's (@marvanzij) version using teals!!! -- check it out HERE!
I love teal and so off to my shelves I went -- but I don't have enough teal prints to pull it off .
Which color do I have lots of variety?
Rather than use the border templates in the pattern, I cut rectangles for the sides and squares for the corners following the instructions and made this "cut away" template.  Once all the arc units were assembled and the border squares/rectangles cut, I worked on my design wall to audition them for placement to enhance the circles in the center of the quilt.  It took a couple days of coming and looking, moving, leaving - coming back, looking, moving, leaving, etc. until I was happy with the arrangement.
I was also going slowly because I wasn't completely convinced that the blues would be right.
Interestingly, I cut all the pieces for this quilt with my trusty Gingher scissors?!?  
I haven't done that since the early 1980's!?!
At this point, I was convinced the blues were just right for my blocks!
My version is smaller than the pattern and many of those being made by others.
It will finish at about 47" by 56" -- larger would have been fine but I could sense that I was getting bored with the piecing and I'm always happy to have another laprobe around the house!
Time to assemble the blocks into a top!
My blocks were pretty consistent but every now and then there was one with a wonky corner -- I'm blaming the grain of the fabric.  
I'm not a "trimmer" -- but I have lots of experience at "fudging" things together so my focus was to match the arcs and the block corners and everything happily fell into place!
I believe it helps that I always assemble quilt tops using pairs and quads instead of rows.
It's the same technique I described in my recent post on setting together the blocks for my Mississippi Mud pattern -- it's HERE.
Here's the finished quilt top.  The backing is in progress and I'm currently stalking Instagrammers for quilting photos of their versions!  I found a hand quilting one that inspires me -- not sure I want to hand quilt this one or that I can adapt the idea to machine quilting -- we'll see?!?
Are you doing any anti-racism work?
It would be easier in the short run to skip it, wouldn't it -- but I believe the sooner all whites get educated about this issue, the sooner things will improve.
It's easy to wish things would just go back to normal but normal wasn't really working.
I remember someone saying to me as my husband recovered from a stroke that it was good to see him getting "back to normal" -- I bravely responded that "back to normal" wasn't my hope for him as it led to the stroke.  There needed to be changes made and this isn't any different.

I'm halfway through Me and White Supremacy -- the questions are getting harder but my white fragility is getting less fragile.  I listened to another one of Ms. Saad podcasts -- twice -- introduced me to the white habit of "cultural appropriation" as it pertains to yoga and the spiritual practices in which it is rooted.
Now I can't stop wondering how quilters fascination with the work of Ghee's Bend reflects that same demeaning habit.

Over the weekend, I started listening to The Bluest Eye.  It's Toni Morrison's first novel and I was pleased to find a copy of it on Overdrive read by her.  I love to hear authors read their work -- I know it's being conveyed the way they intended.  Her word pictures are vivid and the fact that she has a soothing melodic voice is a bonus!

Finally, I'm hosting an OPEN GARDEN DAY this Saturday (7/11) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The daylilies should be at their peak and the native meadow and prairie plants should be starting to bloom!  It's free but donations to benefit The City Mission of Cleveland will be welcome.
There might even be a few plants for sale and a few quilts on display depending on how energetic I get?
I'm located in Northeast Ohio, Lake County and an email to 
maryhueyquilts at hotmail dot com 
will get my address.
Everyone is welcome!!


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Another Finish

Good Morning!  Hopefully, I won't become a cranky blogger by the end of this post!?!  The new "format" for creating a post is making me a bit crazy.  When will young computer nerds get that old folks who are trying to be part of the "modern" culture just have so much brain energy in a given day and once we learn how to use something, changing it all around makes it exhausting for us to adapt!!
Venting done . . . . I think?

So this week, I've finished the second of three big bed quilts for my triplet grands!
I've chosen similar color schemes for the girls' quilts assuming that for at least a while they will share a bedroom.  This one began as teaching demos for my Set-In Piecing Simplified workshops using Marti Michell's Kite and Crown template sets to piece these "rose star" blocks.
It began as a fat quarter stack for a collection (name forgotten) which I rounded out with fabrics from my stash.
I started quilting it mid-May working in sections so it would be easier to manipulate under the machine as I wanted to quilt each block individually.  This picture was taken after the two main sections were done and I was preparing to join them together.
The backing and batting are wider than these sections, extending out far enough on each side to add the borders.  This post (CLICK HERE) gives close-ups of some of the quilting.

The following three pictures show how the block quilting evolved.  I stitched "in the ditch" through all the stars which outlined the six main points and the large central hexagons before adding the flower in the center hexagon.
As I looked at the blocks, I decided I wanted more quilting and so did a double line - first in the ditch and then 1/4" outside to lift up the overall shape of the rose motif.
Finally, I added a line 1/4" inside the central hexagon -- this is the finished rose!
After joining the two sections together and quilting that center area of the quilt, I was ready to add the long side borders.  They are stitched through all the layers and then flipped out over the batting and backing.  Because I use a flat cotton batting, I don't have as much shrinkage in the center of the quilt so adding the borders this way works out fine.  It would not work so well with thick or puffy batting because of the shrinkage during the quilting process.
(Read THIS POST to see more details on the process of joining quilted sections.)
Once the two borders were laid in place, I measured the distance between the edges all the way down the length of the quilt adjusting as needed to be sure the two borders were parallel to each other.
This is a trick I learned from Mary Ellen Hopkins that is very effective.
In spite of the fact that I assembled this quilt during the quilting process it is square!!
Yesterday, I arrived at that triumphant part of making a quilt -- the binding!
It's strips of assorted yellows to match the inner border.
More stash busting!!
This quick picture was taken last evening before the rain arrived!
The backing features a big hunk of the print I colored for Kings Road back in the 1990's and is the only fabric that the two girls' quilts have in common.

I'm continuing to educate myself this week about white privilege and racism.  I started working through Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad -- it's an eye-opener and that gal can ask some tough questions!!  She might send me back to my desk to contemplate deeper answers to her questions but I'm grateful for the viewpoint she is providing.  

While "procrastinating" answering one of the questions the other day, I started wandering around and found my way to Ms. Saad's Good Ancestor podcasts -- check it out HERE.
This series of podcasts done over the past couple years are conversations with a variety of trend setters discussing "being a good ancestor".  While listening to a couple and I realize, I've never had a conversation with anyone of color about anything other than "how to quilt" (picture - me doing all the talking).  So my current "action" is to listen to more of these podcasts to expand my view and understanding so the next time I have an opportunity to have a conversation, it will be a conversation between equals with me listening as well as talking!

I'm getting the hang of the new blogger tools (argh) so let's finish up with some grand kids pics!!
This is the loud one with his auntie.
This is the silly one with her dad.

And this is the serious one with her grandma -- she'll hate this one at her graduation party!?!
I'll close for this week by encouraging you to stay busy 
-- walking, gardening, stitching, reading, listening, cooking, what ever lifts you up -- 
and resist the urge to go back out into the world too soon.
  I want all of us to stay healthy so we can use up our stash!!


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Facing the Music

When I was growing up, occasionally I was told I needed "to face the music".
I had acted out, hurt someone or their feelings, disobeyed in some way and there were consequences.
It was never enjoyable but once it was over, it was over and hopefully I remembered the lessons my parents felt I needed to learn.
Now here I am in my mid-70's "facing the music" but it's my choice this time.
Of course, you know what I'm talking about -- racism in America.

The temptation for me is "well, I'm 73, what can I do about any of this"?
But that doesn't really fly -- I'm still alive and I can do something!
Like many, I have no idea of what to do in face of the current need to change my attitudes.
What to read? 
Who to listen to? 
Who to talk with?
A good first step for me is focusing on understanding with the expectation that it will trigger action in the future.
I have created this peaceful space for myself but when I want to go someplace, I just go!
So the story of Christian Cooper birding in Central Park and becoming embroiled in a controversy really upset me.  In reading interviews in the New York Times, I was stunned to learn black birders and naturalists who enjoy spending time in nature as I do don't feel safe or welcome in public open spaces.
I do think about where I go when heading out for a birding morning or a long walk but it has to do with staying in an area where I can get help easily if needed now that I'm getting older.
I'm not planning to fall or have a stroke but it could happen and I don't want to be 2 miles down a long narrow ravine anymore.
But to worry about people hassling me about why I'm there and what am I doing with those binoculars - that would be devastating for me.

So I've started listening to what black birders and naturalists are saying and sharing on Instagram. My favorite discovery so far is a young family @blackkidsdohike because I love the positive way they are teaching their three boys to explore the outdoors!

Some where I stumbled across the recommendation to read a book, White Fragility by Robin Diangelo.  Perhaps you've made the same discovery?  I'm just about finished and feel it's been an eye opening read.  If you are puzzled about racism, I've found Diangelo's views helpful in understanding it's existence.  Reading this book has been a non-threatening activity -- I can feel embarrassed about my position without having to defend myself and therefore focus on undestanding this viewpoint.  Diangelo's career as a diversity facilitator gives her credibility with me -- she understands how we white folks react to this word.   As I learned from several long periods of grief counseling to combat depression, 
understanding is an important key to moving forward.
It might be hard to find it in a library right now, but it's available as a Kindle book for those of you who use a reading device.

James Baldwin 37 Allan Warren (cropped).jpg
For those of us who were young adults during the 1960's, part of our history includes the Civil Rights movement in the USA.  Last week, I borrowed (via Hoopla) and watched I Am Not Your Negro, a film based on the writings of James Baldwin, an author and friend of key players in the movement.  Oh my!  I see now that the way I remember that decade is a narrow view from "up here in the North" and there was so much more to it. I came away from watching that thinking "why didn't we finish the job" that was started over fifty years ago -- the goals haven't changed and while some things have improved, so much more is needed!

I know most of you are quilters, but knitters as a group seem to be ahead of us in the area of diversity.  For several years, they've been expanding recognition of diverse designers and indie dyers representing a broader spectrum of lifestyles and traditions.
One of my favorite knitting resources is highly regarded for their daily "letters" and connecting folks.  Within less than a week of the first demonstrations, Ann and Kay changed their business name from Mason-Dixon Knitting to Modern Daily Knitting -- no hesitation, just did it! 
Last week in one of their daily letters, they connected their readers to an interview panel organized and hosted by Oprah Winfrey -- Where Do We Go From Here.
More eye opening!
Planning to listen to it again!

Finally, while I'm not the "demonstrator" kind of gal, I am taking on the (intimidating) task of sharing these resources with my children in the hopes that they will do a better job of raising people that are not afflicted by racism and all the pernicious aspects of that viewpoint. 
Every resource I've shared here today, I've shared with my adult children and I pray that they are exploring them as well.  I said to them, "if I had understood this better when I was a young mom, I would have taught you differently".
 That's the best I can do and I hope it works!

What we are experiencing today in my opinion is the result of not listening.
If we don't listen to what folks are trying to tell us, we can hardly expect them to listen to anything we say?

I hope there is a next step for me -- I just don't know what it is at this point.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Tips for Piecing Mississippi Mud Blocks

"Are you in" as they say?
If you don't want to start a new quilt, give my assembly technique a try using 16 squares, any size.
(Think potholder?)  If you are just going to experiment, you can skip "piecing the star points".
Let's go!! 
Piecing the star points -- you will need eight star point units for the main block.
The instructions on how to piece these are at the top of page 5 in the pattern if this technique is new to you.  Just do eight for now because as I piece a block, I make the star point units for the next block as my "leader and enders" while chain piecing.

If you are using one fabric for all the stars, piece eight star point units using the small squares you've cut and eight different "background" squares.
If you want to use two different star fabrics, piece four of each color on different "background" squares.
If you want to use lots of different star fabrics, piece four points of one color, two of a second color and one of a third and fourth color.

Layout a block as below next to your machine -- if this is the beginning of a quilt, try to use fourteen different "background" prints in the block.  The star points in the upper right corner and lower left corner will complete stars in adjacent blocks as you set the blocks together.  If you are using two star fabrics, both of those corners and the partial star in the lower right corner will be fabric #2 while the complete star will be fabric #1.

TIP:  Laying the complete star out first is the quickest way to begin -- and double check that all the star points are angled as in this photo.  It's easy to get one rotated 90 degrees (wrong!!) so stop and look before you start to sew.
I always hung a sample block in front of my classroom when teaching this quilt so students could look up and quickly check the star points positions!
Assembling a block -- Flip the squares in the second vertical row (from the left side of the photo) right side down on top of the first row squares.
This sets up each pair of squares with the seam edge on the same side as you will stitch, so no need to twist or rotate the pair as you align the edges.
Chain piece the four sets starting with the top set and working down to the bottom set. 
Don't cut anything apart yet!!
Before clipping off this string of squares, piece a star point unit for the next block as your "ender". 
This star point unit will stay under your needle and you'll clip the complete chain off the back of it and head to the ironing board.
No clipping of the thread chains yet!!
Lay it on the ironing board with each pair's open side facing toward you.
Clip off that star point unit (which was my "leader) and set it aside.   The "ender" is still under the needle at my machine!
Flip the second and fourth units (counting from the right) up.
Press the seams flat to set the stitching. 
Then work along the chain and flip the top piece up (away from yourself), press the seam to one side.
Flip the second one down (towards yourself) and press the seam to one side.
Continue alternating along the chain. 
I know lots of quilters these days are pressing seams open but I prefer pressing to one side for a couple reasons.  The most important reason to me is that when the seams oppose each other, 
I can feel when they are matching up more accurately.  
To understand this better -- lay two pairs right sides together.
Manipulate the seams back and forth between your fingers and feel the alignment.
If you feel a gap or a lump where the seams lines intersect, it's not quite right yet.
It should feel smooth on both sides of the stitching line when the seams are snug against each other.
I also believe the quilt top is weaker when the seams are pressed open plus it's just too much work to press them open.  
(I've tried the open seam approach and frankly my matching stinks when I do it.)

Repeat the process for the third/fourth vertical rows remembering to start at the top of the block and work down.  At first this may not seem intuitive to you but it's a common mistake during workshops.  If you start at the bottom and work up -- everything gets twisted around and you'll get frustrated.
Don't forget to "ender" with another star point.
Now you have eight pairs of squares. 
At this point, I clip the thread chain between the second and third pairs in each column. 
Flip the top pair face down on the lower pair
until you have four sets as below. 
The sewing begins with the upper left pair -- still chain piecing -- and move to the 
 upper right pair, then the lower left pair, then the lower right pair.
Do another star point unit as your "ender".
Back to the ironing board with the complete chain in tact -- see that "leader" on the left? 
The pressing is the same -- first set down, second set up, third set down, fourth set up. 
Head back to the machine, layout the block, cutting the thread chains as needed -- 
the block is now four 4-patch units. 
Flip the right side units onto the left side units and chain piece to assemble. 
One reason I leave the thread chains is that it makes it easier to be sure which edges I want to stitch together -- it there is a chain, I know to seam those two edges together.
No chain, no stitching! 
Last trip to the ironing board -- I forgot to take a picture of the second part of this step but again, the first one on the right stays down and the left one is flipped up before pressing the seams to one side.
Two halves, ready for the final seam!! 
As you prepare to stitch the two halves together,  notice this is the first time you've had more than one seam intersection to match!   In the previous step when I laid one 4-patch on top of the other to sew the seam, I actually matched the seams all the way around so the two units are centered on top of each other -- then when I stitched the seam, I measured the 1/4" from the raw edge of the largest 4-patch, consistently.
What this achieves is that any slight size variations are adjusted consistently so when I put the two halves together, all three seam intersections align correctly. 
 My blocks are perfect from the right side and fit together well with the rest of my blocks.
 (I never trim blocks to the "correct" size, but that's a sermon for another day.)
Often times, I don't press this final seam until I begin to layout the blocks since I don't know if it should go up or down at this point.  Once I lay the blocks out, I pick up a row of blocks and press all the final seams in the same direction.  The next row is pressed in the opposite direction.
This has saved me lots of annoyed frustration when setting the blocks together.
With this new version, since every block was assigned a specific position in the quilt, I could press that final seam as I made them before adding them to the design wall. 
So here's a basic finished block for the multi-color star version. 
I learned this approach to piecing blocks (it works for setting blocks together, too) from my long time teacher/mentor/friend, Mary Ellen Hopkins almost forty years ago.  She referred to it as working in "twosy/foursy".  And I've been using it and teaching it for just as long.

TIPFor edge-to-edge quilt settings, all the blocks should pressed identically (except for that last seam) if made from an even number of units (2 by 2, 4 by 4, etc.).    If the block is an odd number of units (5 by 5, etc.), every other block needs to be pressed in the opposite order.  Then when the blocks are set together, the seams will automatically be opposing making the matching simple.

I wish you could sit in a workshop with me and learn this technique face-to-face but hopefully I've been able to explain it clearly with my pictures and text.
And here are my "leader/ender" star point units ready for the next block! 
With both the one color stars and the two color stars versions, you can literally piece blocks and keep them in a box until you are ready to set the blocks together.  With a large variety of "background" prints, there is very little chance of any print ending up next to itself in my experience.
That's what makes it such a great stash busting quilt -- plus it's a great place to use up some of the tired old fabric that you don't want to use but can't throw away.

This variation was different because I pieced it block by block.  I placed each one on the design wall as it was finished.  Originally the background was all white squares, no black "border" squares -- but it just wasn't working for me -- all that light needed a frame.  So I un-stitched the outside edges of the first four blocks I made and changed the outer squares to black print. (Ugh!)
I kept getting bogged down with the color placement decisions for the stars until I realized
 I could "plan" the star colors for the entire next row by simply laying the main square of each star on the design wall -- so much easier!!  I think the seed of this idea was all the "rainbow" style quilts I see on Instagram.

The checkerboard border is the result of cutting too many black squares and not wanting to put them back into the stash.  I auditioned several ideas but settled on this one in the end. 
I went back after all the blocks were pieced with the black border squares and added the checker board squares -- but I included a diagram at the end of the updated pattern showing this variation so you don't have to do that.  You can add the checkerboard squares as you piece the blocks.  It will be so much easier!!

This is the upper left corner block with the extra squares added on the left and upper edges.
I used 40 black squares and 40 white squares for the my laprobe size quilt top but I'm sorry I didn't count how many you need for any of the other sizes.  My guesstimate is that for every block needed to change the length or width of the quilt,  it would change that count by four squares of each color.
So my top is 4 by 5 blocks -- if I want it longer (4 by 6 blocks), I think I would need four more black and four more white squares.  I might be off one or two . . . . let me know!

So my quilt top is finished and currently on the "ready to quilt" shelf.  I stopped assembling  when I got four sections together as you see below -- it will be easier for me to quilt it this way. 
Okay, I have written and edited and re-read and edited and proofed and read it again. 
It's as ready as I can make it, but if I've left out something, raise your hand and leave a comment!

Share your test run on Instagram and tag me @hueymary and use the hashtag #mississippimudquilt
-- I want to see what you do!

And if you hesitated to buy the pattern at first, but now you are ready 

Still mostly isolating up here in NEOhio -- have a good weekend!