Next Step: Star Charting

Doesn't it feel GREAT once the design has emerged right before your eyes?

The next step for me is to work on my "Star Charts". My handsome husband named the process when he once commented that the final product looked to him like a constellation map. I love the way his mind works!

Note: This finished work will be displayed in portrait format with the blue section at the top. However, my studio walls don't accommodate 7 feet templates, so I'll lay this one on its side to chart.

Note: This finished work will be displayed in portrait format with the blue section at the top. However, my studio walls don't accommodate 7 feet templates, so I'll lay this one on its side to chart.

Star-charting is the process of creating a life-size pattern of the design. Major sections of the diamond are identified, facets are drawn, and each receives its own set of codes for location, color, and position to one another.

Nothing complicated about the tools: rolls of freezer paper (found in any grocery store), double-sided tape, pencil, heavy duty eraser, ruler, and square (if you think you need some additional help keeping your lines straight), and markers.

I suppose I could plunk down a couple hundred dollars and buy myself a projector that would allow me to draw my designs directly onto the freezer paper template, but I prefer to go old school. Drawing a grid onto the mock-up at a 1": 12" ratio gives me the chance to study the design more closely. Once the major grid lines are down, I dive deeper into the design, finding the major sections of the faceting and the shards of light within each.

Freezer paper sections are taped together, 12" grid lines are drawn, and the naked template is up on the wall. Time to start charting!

Once the facets are drawn, the template comes off the wall and onto a flat surface for coding. A simple numbering method helps me keep track of every single piece. Coding for color variations is the second step. I put together a color key that ascribes a combination of letters for each hue, tint and shade. Assigning every piece a color really allows me to get deep into the design and understand the flow of color across the facets. The last step is to add hatch marks (adjacency marks) on every line delineating the facets. This is crucial to accurate piecing.

As tempted as it is to just start cutting the template apart so that I can get to the next step, I have one last critical step: making a copy of the final freezer paper design. The copy will serve as your key to construction. And if you're like me and sometimes lose a tiny piece or two during the process, the copy will allow you to replicate any piece that has mysteriously "walked away" during the cutting process. I use the large format printer at my local Fed Ex Store. The cost isn't prohibitive and the machine is easy to use.

Next: Painting fabric!