Sunday, September 25, 2005
Stars for Finn
It's been awhile since I've seen a beautful starry night sky. Too much light and air pollution to see much of anything here, unfortunately.
I made this quilt years ago, inspired by Alex Anderson's Sawtooth Stars quilt in the 1988 version of "Quilts, Quilts, Quilts." I made more stars, arranged them differently, and didn't use the book's direction for strip piecing the inner border. And I certainly didn't use yellow or any of those pale colors.
There are 121 4" sawtooth stars in this quilt. The fabric for each star has just one color in it (it may be mottled or hand-dyed), plus sometimes black. I was very strict on that rule. I didn't have to buy any additional fabric to make this quilt either, so that tells you something about my stash. This is a true Tonya colors quilt. I hated how the quilt looked when the stars were randomly placed, so I ended up starting with pink in the upper right corner and working my way through the rainbow (always starting each diagonal row at the top) until I hit blue-green in the lower left corner.
I was strongly influenced by some of the Amish quilts I've seen in not just the colors but in not stressing out about perfect points on the triangles. Some of those old quilts were made to be used dammit. They're beautiful and more than the sum of their parts and they are NOT perfect.
I used several different colors of black so that I'd get that uneveness and when I had a problem sewing rows together, I pleated a bit here and there. I didn't freak out about getting them all lined up vertically - I just SEWED.
The back of the quilt is no beauty. This was in my defiant "leave the quilting thread knots on the back, who cares about the back of a wall quilt" mode. Plus, when I was basting I managed to get huge creases in the backing fabric. I mean big. But you know what, the backing still made it all the way to the edges of the top or more, so I left it. I wasn't going to (and still never would) rebaste just for aesthetics.
I bet you can guess that I quilted the whole thing in fans. It wasn't my original plan - I wanted to do diamonds in the squares and then outline each star. I tried first with perle cotton and then the quilting thread. I hated it both times. So I fell back on my comforting old standby. I had to start quilting fans in from two different corners and then let them smash into each other in the middle - the quilt was too big to just go in one direction like I usually do. I was still marking my fans then, and the silver pencil never came out in some places. I like to think that it adds a sparkly effect.
You may be surprised to learn that I entered this quilt into the Houston quilt show and managed to fool the jurors into accepting it. I didn't do it to win a prize - I had no such foolish notions. I just wanted to share the quilt with my friends who lived far away. In 1999, I met my favorite aunt at that show, as well as a bunch of Colorado quilters with whom I'd gone to the show the previous three years, and two of my friends who came from overseas to be there. For what it's worth, the jurors were completely unimpressed.
Several of the blocks that didn't make it into this quilt are now hanging on my design sheet, waiting to see if they'll get sewn into my orphan quilt. There's no room for them at the moment, but we'll see.