People they come togetherMoby, “”We Are All Made of Stars”
People they fall apart
No one can stop us now
‘Cause we are all made of stars
When Patty Murphy (she of the awesome book Piecing Makeover) asked if I would quilt something special she had pieced, I took one look and said “YES”. She writes a lovely post about this quilt and its meaning for her on this blog post. She had told me what a special quilt it was for her, and I knew it had a story to tell.
A beautiful combination of intricate diamonds and colors, I was really drawn in by the secondary (and tertiary) patterns within. I loved how she used the reverse of the fabric prints to create areas of light and shadow. It’s a vibrant and striking piece, and its piecing was thoughtful and beautiful.
The way my brain works, I see a multitude of connections between things. In Patty’s fabric colors I saw flowers and gardens, but the patterns in the piecing spoke more to me of distant galaxies: dazzling darts of color and light with the diamonds and space in between where comets can live. But like the riot of color in a garden or the swirling galaxies of space, a hidden order is always there, I just needed to make sense of it so I could tell that story.
A while ago, I had read a story about how we are all made of star dust from the beginnings of the universe: the iron in our blood, the elements that compose our world, come from the original burst of creation. Star dust is where we come from and where we will return.
That gave me the starting point to combine floral looking stars with the spaces between filled with comet-like feathered fills and small galaxies in the distance. A few larger supernovae in the big spaces, and lots of little individual stars sprinkled throughout. The bright diamond grid could either the refractive rays from these stars, or individual petals of a flower, or an abstract garden trellis.
Now for the nittygritty details for you quilters looking to know how it all came together. This quilt has two layers of batting, a cotton for the base (Quilter’s Dream Select 80/20 and a layer of Quilter’s Dream Wool on top). I stitched in the ditch around all the diamonds first, matching the threads to the diamond colors. and then basted down the larger areas so there would be no shifting as I scrolled back and forth between spaces.
After that, I started quilting individual stars, all hand-guided, using somewhere like 23-28 different templates (I lost track somewhere along the way). The “background” fill is the Nemeshing style. There are 14 thread changes, and I used mostly Aurifil 50 wt for the quilting since those were the closest colors to the top, and I used 15 magna glide pre-wound bobbins (60 wt). The nice thing about double batts is that you have more leeway to get those sstitches exactly in the middle of the quilt, and not showing any pokies.
It was an honor to work on this quilt, in truth. It was also a stretch for me, artistically. I don’t know about you, but I am not one of those people who can draw out a quilt plan and stick with it, and the sheer number of design decisions that had to happen for each aspect of this quilt felt a little overwhelming when they were happening at the same time as all the daily decisions that had to happen during isolating for COVID-19.
Extra note: Alright, I also have to answer some questions I’ve had for how I blended everything together. But in all honesty, most of the custom quilts I take on are a time for reflection, especially since it’s usually just me and my music and the quilt. When working on this quilt, it was (and still is) a very scary time, and I found a lot of comfort in the idea that we are stardust and to stardust we will eventually return. For those we love, have loved, and will love, we will feel their warmth in the sunlight on our faces, their speech in the wind, the comfort of their memories in the smiles of the people with us still. For me, a custom quilt is never just a job to be done. It ends up being an outward artistic expression of my thoughts and feelings at the time. And this time, they were intense, deep, and convoluted.