Star quilts are some of my favourite quilts. I own a few and have made a few. Today, I pulled out these three quilt tops from the cupboard to share - they are all roughly similar in age (I think) but very different in composition:
Circa 1910 machine sewn quilt top composed of various indigo and cadet blue prints, striped shirtings, a burgundy print and a cheddar solid.
Brackman has classified this pattern as 266(a, b, c); variously named Oriental Splendour, The Smoothing Iron, Florida, New Hampshire, Star Rays or Diamond String. I first fell for this pattern over a circa 1900's quilt in "The American Quilt Story" by Seward and Jenkins (1991) where they name it Rayed Star (page 178).
By modern times, the Shield of David hexagram has become a widely recognised symbol to represent the Jewish people. However the origins of the six point star date back much earlier to medieval times. I theorise that this particular pattern, however, may be related to the apparition of Halleys Comet in April 1910.
Interestingly this Rayed Star is constructed from equilateral triangles, with the stars emerging only when the triangles are assembled.
The symbolism of stars and in particular eight-pointed stars appear in cultures around the globe. It can be found on national flags and in religious iconography and carries various meaning associated with each culture that utilises it.
This circa 1890 quilt top is made with 2 different red/black prints, a chrome orange and an overdyed green. It is totally hand pieced, even the long border seams. I can't find a Brackman category which fits exactly - the centre piece is a circle not an octagon as in Brackman's 3953 (LeMoyne Star).
Circa 1880 Blazing Star (minus it's points) or perhaps 4006 Sunburst. Hand pieced, then appliqued by machine onto a plain muslin background.
The naive folky applique baskets and flowers are done by hand, but sadly the green is fugitive and now appears tan. I wonder too about the dun brown baskets whether they were once a home dyed red? Bordered on three sides with full pieced diamonds and on the forth side with half diamonds. Fabrics are solids in cheddar, green, indigo, pale yellow and red plus a double pink print.
There a quite a few more stars in my cupboard. More will follow soon!
And look who was supervising when I had the quilt tops out to photograph... what a ruckus they were making. (For our non-Aussie readers they are a pair of Kookaburras!)
Putting the final stitches into Ben's little quilt, sewing the binding down and finishing the label, I started to ponder over "lasts" and how bittersweet they can be.
It's a great joy to place the last stitch into a quilt, bringing to completion (with a certain amount of pride and accomplishment) the hours of planning and execution mixed with love to create something unique. But at the same time there is a little sadness there to see it finished, especially if, like this one, your creation is to go off elsewhere as a gift.
Similarly, life at the moment has it's bittersweet elements. 2010 is a strange year for the EF family - Miss Empty Field our one and only is in her final year of high school, so "lasts" are coming thick and fast; last soccer game, last term of lessons, last first day of term ... many more lasts will follow before this year is complete.
Quilting is my way of coping, together with the companionship of undemanding quilting friends, the simple act of creating helps make these personal "lasts" a little less daunting.
A brief little update post with the latest applique block in the mad little birds quilt.
After a two month hiatus, the enthusiasm is once again at full strength after a fun and very productive workshop at Material Obsession with Marg Sampson last Saturday. I was so excited to get this pattern and have been working at it these last few evenings.
Obviously there is lots more to do - the wonky little pots either side of the vase need to be filled with trailing plants, flowers and more little birds (the elegant fellow in his gilded cage needs some friends to talk to.) Also, The cage needs further work with a door and perhaps some additional "Mr. Curly" embellishments.
Another look into Kate's Works in Progress cupboard (there are lots in there!)
This quilt-in-progress was inspired by Mrs Vigors' circa 1820 medallion quilt, published in Enduring Grace - Quilts from the Shelburne Museum Collection (1997). From memory, my quilt was started around 2000 or 2001.
At the time I wasn't taken with the borders of the original so I winged it with other borders. Now looking back at the original I quite like Mrs Vigors' borders (oh so fickle)!
I rarely purchase patterns but rather, tend to work from photographs and draft the patterns and blocks myself. The book gave dimensions of the original (96.5" x 104"), so it was easy to calculate the size of the centre medallion, then work everything out from there. The piecing and appliqué is all hand done.
A few years after the top was completed quilting ideas started to surface. The original is not quilted, but being an English-style medallion, my ideas were based on traditional English and Welsh quilting designs.
With nothing available commercially that was just right, I cut my own quilt template for the centre medallion, copied from an antique Welsh quilt. Like many older English and Welsh quilts the quilting pattern doesn't necessarily follow the pieced pattern.
The first border and quarter circles are traditional quilting symbols taken from a very useful book (Horton, Marjorie (1999) Welsh Quilting Pattern & Design Book. Self-published by the author, Rainier, WA.)
This is the best, but you'll have to search for it. Mine is bound with a plastic comb. It has wonderful diagrams.
Currently, quilting has stalled on the wide yellow border, a French Provencal print that I fell in love with...one of the very first times yellow has featured so prominently in my quilts). The quilting in this border features crossed tulips and Welsh bent leaves with a mini clamshell background.
Other quilting design resources I've used are: Jenkins and Claridge (2005)Making Welsh Quilts: The Textile Tradition That Inspired the Amish? KP Books, Iola, WI. Nice colour pictures, history, plenty of good diagrams. Rae, Janet (1987)The Quilts of the British Isles. Bellow Publishing Co. Ltd., London. Don't skip the old books, they are real treasures! This one has only average quality photos but gives good quilting sketches and a wider history and difference among the styles. Osler, Dorothy (1996) The Quilting Design Sourcebook. That Patchwork Place, Bothell, WA. Excellent traditional patterns with instructions on how to enlarge them to fit particular block sizes (ie enlarge by 125% to fit an 11.5" block).
If (read when) I quilt another quilt of this style (Jane Temperley Hope is next) I would use a plain backing. With Mrs Vigors I've used a busy pillar print, and although gorgeous it doesn't show up the quilting well.
Quilting and antique quilts, travel, family, gardens, hiking, scuba diving, skiing and champagne are the many guiding stars fighting for attention in my life. I love hand piecing, hand applique, English Paper Piecing and hand quilting. I collect antique quilts and much of my work is based around reproducing or interpreting old quilts. Thanks for visiting. I love reading your messages and do my best to reply to everyone.