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My Amish-ish Quilt Experience

Last August my husband and I and our two dogs set off across the country in our motor home. We live in Utah but we both grew up in Maine and it was time to head back east for a while- despite COVID. We packed enough food so that we wouldn’t have to stop anywhere and we could make it through a two-week quarantine in Maine if we had a hard time getting a COVID test.

Kaye at The Old Country Store in Intercourse, PA.

We made good time because there was really no reason to stop anywhere and almost everything was closed. . . but we did make one detour to Amish Country in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I have an online friend Jackie Mowday who teaches classes at The Old Country Store in Intercourse, so I had to go there. I tried to let Jackie know I was coming, but she wasn’t working the day we were there and I never did reach her.

Maneuvering a 43-foot motor home (we bought a huge older model because we had planned to live in it on the road for a year. . . but COVID) on the tiny roads of Amish Country and getting into parking lots is not easy, but my wonderful husband is a master.

The store was surprisingly busy the day I was there but everyone was considerate of social distancing and mask wearing. I walked around and looked at everything before I took my second turn around the store and started buying some things.

Broddie and Ellie were pretty interested in the Amish buggies. They are Irish Water Spaniels.

I guess the whole Amish vibe was really affecting me because the things I chose were not in my normal wheelhouse. Of course. . . The Old Country Store carries more traditional items that I use on a regular basis. I chose a few panels that caught my eye thinking I might do a few panel quilts and share a couple. I bought a couple of quilty stone coasters to try to get myself in the habit of drinking more and keeping my drink in one place. (Hasn’t worked. . . but I love the coasters.) The most important purchase I made was a pack of 8 fat quarters that just really spoke to me. It’s from the Best of Morris line from Moda. I managed to find some of the yardage that went with the FQs so I bought two yards of a golden tan and two yards of the black Strawberry Thief design.

Kaye with her goodies.

I immediately knew that these fabrics were going to end up in a star quilt.

FAST FORWARD to October. We were heading back to Utah and we stopped for a couple of days with some friends who live in Wooster, OH where the company has an office. So it was kinda like work for the guys- but not really.

Heather took me to visit Berlin, OH which is an Amish community. We walked the full length of the main street on a drizzly Monday and went into most of the shops. I had seen a sign for Barn Quilts, but that store had stopped carrying them. Sadness. We went into one quilt shop that was just plain weird. I had no interest in buying some strange embroidered “quilt” made in Thailand. And I was fascinated by the garment fabric available to the community but I didn’t want that either.

Then we went into the Helping Hands Quilt Shop. Finally! A real quilt shop. They had some authentically made Amish Quilts (which run around $1,200-$1,400). I was fully prepared to pay that if I found something I really loved, but I didn’t. Nothing struck me as “Amish” which is probably stupid, but I was thinking solid colors. . . not prints.

I did find some pillow covers and a small table runner that I purchased as souvenirs of our trip. I am using magnets to hold the table runner up to the blinds in my quilting studio as a valence so I get to see it every day. Most of what they had was Log Cabin designs which is fine since that is a design I have not enjoyed making.

This is a small table runner that I use as a valence in my sewing studio.

That trip to Berlin cemented in my mind that I wanted to make an Ohio Star quilt with my Lancaster County fabrics and last Thursday I finally got to work. I didn’t have that much fabric, so I had to plan carefully. Thanks to EQ8 I had a design that I felt would work and on Friday morning I started cutting. By evening I had all the blocks assembled. Don’t get too impressed- there were only 12! Saturday I did the sashing and the borders. I generally dread sashing but I guess I did the best ever sewing these blocks because the sashing went on amazingly well. I’m going to give that credit to the whole can of starch I used on the FQs!

I’m happy with the feathers I used to quilt this Ohio Star.

So. . . longarming. This is a traditional quilt but there was absolutely no was I was going to hand quilt it and I had no interest in getting too custom, so I used a feather edge-to-edge and I am happy with it.

I seriously thought about hand binding this quilt, but it just wasn’t worth setting off the arthritis in my thumb. (I have no idea if it is really arthritis, but my thumb gets really sore with overuse, so I try to manage my actions.)

So. . . her she is. My first Ohio Star Quilt. The most traditional quilt I have ever made. It is so NOT me and yet I love it. I only had a few points get slightly nipped off. . . if they had been more noticeable I might have made some adjustments, but like the Amish, I left them on purpose!

The really exciting part about this quilt for me is that I can tell my seam allowances are improving (I didn’t use a bladed foot) and my piecing is improving because these blocks actually came out to 18.5″ exactly. Wow. It’s nice to be able to see improvement in my skill.

Stepping out of my comfort zone with a traditional design was fun and satisfying.

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