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.


Sarah said...

I love the star quilt even if the Houston jurors were unimpressed! I just had a quilt in the Nashville show and they don't even give you a sheet with the jurors comments. So I have no idea what they thought - other than the fact that I am not a winner!

Sarah N

Finn said...

Tonya, I love, love, love it !! It is spectacular!! I'm glad that you arranged the blocks in an order that works for you. I can't even imagine it any other way. It truly sparkles like the stars in the night sky !! Yup, magically maverick !!!!!!! *VBG*

I can already feel a weakening in the disturbance...*S*

Darcie said...

You are definitely a winner!!!

Too gorgeous for words, Tonya! But hope you don't mind if I share some with you anyway! ;-)

You truly must have a sharing spirit. We all need to enter shows with your kind of thoughts in our mind.


Quilts And Pieces said...

tonya! I love it! I just love those amish looking colors and I love the way you blended the stars from pink to purple.

I love fan quilting. But I guess since I'm newer I have to ask - you said this was back when you used to mark your fans. Do you do fan quilting now without marking?


Tonya Ricucci said...

Dawn, that is correct. I don't mark fans out at all, haven't for years. Gwen Marston and Joe Cunningham's book "Quilting with Style" convinced me how easy it is to do it that way and it wasn't as tho I hadn't already had a lot of practise at making a fan shape.

My fans never looked perfect - I was marking them by hand anyway not using any stencils just a ruler to make a mark here and there. But my fans definitely end up different sizes and have wide bits and narrow bits... It's all part of being hand-made.

Bonnie K. Hunter said...

This is one of my favorite 'tonya' quilts ever.....and I LOVE hearing about the pleats and the knots on the are right, who cares! consider it to be 'back art' *giggle*


Anonymous said...

I love "Tonya colors". They are so gorgeous. This quilt speaks to the patience you must have- and that I never ever will. So lovely- thanks for sharing.

Frances said...

I love this star quilt, you know I love the colours and I really like the way you have graded them across the quilt, beautiful,