I signed up for the Fat Quarter Shops Park Bench Block of the Month for two reasons. The main reason is that FQS kitted it with Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander, of whom I am a fan. Also, I already owned the Hex N More ruler and enjoyed using it to make the Science Fair quilt. You also need the Sidekick ruler, which, like all rulers, I was too happy to throw my money at.
You make each star twice (except the last one you only make once). The book outlines how to arrange your fabric to make it hard to tell it is the same star. If you make two a month with the last month requiring just one you can make them all in eight months. Then you have four months to finish it!
FQS insisted that you had to buy both rulers but in reality the pattern is actually a slick 8.5″x 11″ booklet with templates in there. I would never ever use templates over a ruler as a personal preference but the option is there if you, unlike me, can resist buying specialty rulers.
There are two pattern corrections listed on the pattern maker’s website but they were pretty easy to figure out. One is for the backing and I did not even use those measurements anyways.
The rest of the pattern is painstakingly laid out for you. The book has wonderful and clear directions with a plethora of diagrams. I do not think I had to rip one thing out and I am diligent about blindly working ahead and not reading through well.
My tip here when the 6 triangle portions of the block are complete make 2 half hexagons and then sew the last seam. It is tempting to chain piece 2 triangles at a time ending up with 3 units you would have to combine with a y-seam. The creates a pointy center. As my awesome German friend pointed out, you will just end up with a little hat.
WHAT I DID
While I love the Botanics line I was less than enthused about all the orange prints. The Tangerine color is way intense. It is pretty on its own but I did not like it with the rest of the line especially the deeper Blue fabric. The orange was all I could see in the FQS kitted version.
I like to sub out fabrics in whole line quilts anyways. I did that with the Metro Hoops quilt and was really happy with the result. I made this little holiday quilt, which was also an FQS BOM, and deeply regretted that anyone could have made it.
I left out all the oranges and subbed in pinks and purples. I go six fat quarters and I had plenty left over. I also replaced the yellows with acid green. Hot pink/purple and acid green forever!!
The last BOM pack came with a finishing set of fabric, which was a complete surprise to me (see note about not reading everything first). I had planned on setting all the blocks in my favorite thing right now: Essex Yard Dyed in Taupe and forgo the more detailed setting option laid out in the pattern. BUT! When I got my last package it inspired me to use what they gave me but add the linen and switch around some of the suggested fabrics. This was a good decision!
I added some boss Art Deco straight line quilting using a long arm and a ruler. I had used rulers before but this was the first time I created some negative space designs with one. I copped out and did a radiating wavy star pattern for the stars as well as stitch in the ditch instead of line quilting in the blocks. Even so, I am thrilled with how it came out!
I am making a change in my long arming these days and taking Angela Walters’ sage advice about doing fun stuff and changing up your design so you don’t get bored so easily. The wavy lines were a nice break after doing the straight lines. The wavy lines also served as a way to move around so I did not have to back track as much.
My first tendency is to use swirls and pebbles, which I love, but this was a great way to branch out.
Final Verdict: These blocks come together fast once you get the hang of the rulers. The cool setting option is totally worth the effort. The finished size of 65″x 88″ is weird though. I do not know what kind of bed this would fit but it is the perfect size for my couch.