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Somerset Star

What can you do with old rosettes?

It's great to win them – after all that's what we're doing agility for – but they do rather accumulate after a year or two. Lots of us have dusty black bags full in our lofts which we can't bear to part with. Here's a crafty way of using and displaying past successes. Helen Walland won a 2nd prize with her rosette patchwork at Ashover Agricultural show a couple of weeks ago! It has generated such a lot of comment that she thought it might make an interesting article for agilitynet. She's already started sending out instructions to people which might be useful to a wider audience.

It's actually much easier than it looks. There is not much skill needed to make one of these although the effect is quite stunning. They can be made with only hand sewing or even by gluing them together. This is a traditional patchwork design called Somerset Star in the UK and Folded Star in the USA. It's made by using small pieces of fabric folded to make triangles, which are then sewn to a background fabric to make patterns of stars or crosses. Fine fabrics that crease easily are best for this technique.

Any one can find the instructions on the internet but here's one I made earlier!

What you need:-

  • Lots of rosettes preferably in a variety of colours. Who wants those old red ones anyway?
  • A piece of backing fabric 12 inches square. This could be a piece of old tea towel or shirting even. Or you could just glue them onto cardboard. Quilting shops sell fabric glue which is just like Pritt stick.
  • Needle and threads, preferably that match your ribbon choice
  • Pins
  • A ruler and pencil
  • An iron

To make the star you need:-

  • 4 pieces x 3 inches long of one colour
  • 8 pieces x 3 inches long of one colour. You will need two sets of these.
  • 16 pieces x 3 inches long of one colour. You will need four sets of these.

Accurate measuring is the key to making a really good job of this.

!. First sort your rosettes. I find that UKA ones are a good quality for this but they don't have the colour range you get at say BAA shows. Kennel club show rosettes have a greater variety of widths of ribbons which make some of them difficult to use. Do take into account the colours you use. I think these are more effective with high contrast colours. I lay my ribbons out and move them around until I have a colour range that I like.

The width ribbon I use for these is 1½ inch. Ribbon is still made in Imperial widths.

   
2. Take your backing fabric and cut it exactly to a 12 inches square. Now get a ruler and rule a line from corner to corner both ways. Where they cross is the centre of your star. Fold the square in half, mark the middle of the sides, then rule a line across the square through the middle again until you have eight lines.

This will be enough, but for accuracy I ruled more lines, using a protractor to get them right.

   
3. Now you have your backing ready you must prepare your ribbons. Using no steam press the ribbons carefully. Experiment with some spare stuff to find the right temperature. Fold one end across to meet the other side, then fold the other end. They should look like triangles with an open centre line.

Be careful of your fingers doing this! Your ribbon should look like the illustration now.

   
4. Place the triangular pieces on the centre of the backing points towards the middle, open side up, line the open centre line up with the vertical and horizontal lines and pin. Choose the thread nearest in colour to your ribbon and sew one or two stitches through the points to anchor them down.

These stitches are the only ones that show so take care over them.

   
5. Next stitch round the outer edge of the triangles. Don't turn the raw edge in or neaten it in any way. This will be covered by the next layer.
   
6.  Now take a set of eight triangular ribbons and place them on top of the first set, with the point of the triangle towards the middle and the centre line along the diagonals. You need to make sure that the distance from the centre is the same for each piece. I used a piece of cardboard cut ¾inches wide to lay on the work.

Stitch down the points as you did before, then tack the edges.

7. Take your second set of 8 triangles and arrange them. this time with the points ½ inches away from the points of the first set. Again make a simple measure out of card to keep this accurate. Stitch the points down and then tack the edges in the same way.

   
8. Now use your first set of 16. Lay down eight so the points are ½ inches away from the previous set and pin them. Now take the other eight and place them between the others so the points lay at the top of the 'star points.' Pin them and  then stitch as above.
   
9. Place the next set of 16 in the same way but all points will be ½ inches from the set before, pin and stitch. Place the next two rounds in the same way.

Once the star is complete you have to decide how you are going to finish it off. This depends on your skills. At the simplest level, you could just stick the whole thing onto card and cut the edges carefully with a craft knife/ Stanley knife. Eventually the edges will fray if it is handled a lot. You could bind it with bias binding and take out the last set of tacking.

I used printed ribbons to make a frame for mine, taking advantage of the fact that ribbon edges won't fray and then I backed it with some appropriate fabric.

Uses
You could use these as table centres or cushion covers or hang them on the wall. I haven't tested how well these might wash. I don't recollect having rosette colours run in the horrible weather we sometimes experience at shows. However, these ribbons are likely to lose quality if they get wet.

If I wasn't so busy I'd make a You-tube film of how to make it! In the meantime, I'm thinking of doing some Log Cabin blocks with ribbons, too.

About the author...
Helen Walland
has been around Agility long enough to collect a lot of rosettes for this project. Since she retired from teaching, she has extended her hobbies to include contemporary quilting. She is currently taking her City & Guilds Level 3 in Patchwork and Quilting where she came across this design.

She has three dogs who enjoy agility, Rally, Trick training and sitting on sewing.

First published 5 October 2011