Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Starry Night Quilt: My Oldest UFO

I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day. –Vincent Van Gogh

Once upon a time {about nine years ago} my mom, my sister and I started making quilts. We were all actually making the same quilt; each of us did our own version. My mom bought the Starry Night pattern, fabric kit and templates for my sister {a high school graduation gift} and my mom and I each bought our own fabrics {from the $2 fabric table at Wal-Mart}. Then we all set to work. I, with my pregnant-with-LadyBug-belly, would drive up to my mom's, the little bitty Grasshopper in tow and we'd cut and sew and chat and laugh and have a really great time together.

We started out working together, taking turns cutting the fabrics for each other and doing each step together. But I moved at a little bit faster pace, and so pretty soon I got ahead of my mom and sister. To give them a chance to catch up, I started doing all the cutting for every step. Still, I'm not super patient and I worked ahead of them. I was able to get my quilt top finished except for the borders before LadyBug was born. Then my quilt sat for a while. Like probably six years.

In the meantime, my mom had finished the most amazing Christmas sampler quilt and took it to a woman who has her own long-arm quilting business for the royal treatement. I absolutely loved what the quilter, Sue McCarty, did with my mom's quilt. My mom had a second appointment for quilting later that summer, but wasn't sure what she wanted to have Sue quilt for her. So, I asked if I could have that spot and decided to finish up my Starry Night quilt. I only had borders left to do. Pieced saw-tooth borders. And I did not have a ¼" foot. So the borders were wavy. Too wavy for Sue to get the quilt on her table. Fortunately, she had another customer who had brought her quilt early, so she did that woman's quilt in my spot and moved me back to a later date so I could fix my borders.

When I took my quilt back to Sue, I asked her for stitch-in-the-ditch quilting as much as she could. It seems that may have been a waste of her talents {see also, seven awards at the 2010 HMQS}. I was naïve. I really hadn't seen much of what a good free-motion quilter could do. The Starry Night sample quilt at the shop where my mom bought the kit and templates had a stipple all over it, and we thought it was such a waste to spend all that time piecing a quilt and then have the work covered up by a stipple {obviously, I've changed my mind about that :lol:}. So, I asked Sue to do stitch-in-the-ditch because in my mind, there were only two kinds of quilting — stippling or stitch-in-the-ditch. Fortunately for me, she didn't strictly adhere to my instructions. She did beautiful feathers in the dark blue borders, the maroon hearts and the dark blue squares in the center, a pretty hearts and swirls in the pink border, and a wave in the grey-blue border around the center. I gave her the template from the quilt pattern for the design that is in the points of the feathered star in the center and asked her to do stars and loops in the lighter blue around the feathered star, because I'd left off the appliqué stars in that part of the quilt. My favorite detail is the compass {I guess that's what you'd call it} she quilted in the pinwheel at the very center of the quilt.

I absolutely love how the quilt turned out. I could stare at the quilting for hours. The only regret I have is wondering what sort of amazing quilting she would have done in the sawtooth borders had I not requested stitch-in-the-ditch :lol:. As a side note, I think I'd would like to have Sue quilt my Woman's Work quilt and this time I'll give her carte blanche. I hope I can still afford her — her prices may have gone up :wink:.

For all its beautiful quilting, this quilt is still a work in progress. I'd originally intended to make it into a duvet cover. I even have the down comforter and yards and yards of that dark blue fabric to finish it off. This quilt was for our bed and Mr. Bug didn't love it, so I didn't finish it. And it has sat in the bag that I brought it home in from Sue's for three more years. I've debated lots about what to do with it. I've seriously considered binding it and giving it as a gift. But I used a plain white muslin for the back because it is really supposed to be a duvet cover. Winter is coming and I really think this quilt is going to become a big, heavy, warm duvet cover for me to sleep under and stay warm.

I made a long strip to go along the back {I even had Sue stitch-in-the-ditch for me}. It is the top 'flap' of the 'envelope' that the duvet cover makes. I'll bind one edge and put button holes along that edge so that the whole thing buttons nicely closed and the down comforter stays put inside.

With the bulk of the work finished, I could have a whole new bedroom ensemble with not too much more work. You see, I have enough blue fabric to make a bed skirt and I did two king-size pillow sham fronts. And after I make the bed skirt there should be enough blue fabric left to make big fluffy ruffles and backs for the pillow shams.

I think I'll start working on this right after I clean the fridge. I'll leave the ruffles off though.


Barb said...

What a wonderful story behind your quilt...and it is truly quilted lovely.

Brenda said...

Hope you finish it. It is lovely and the quilting is gorgeous. You are so close.

Michelle said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous quilt! I love it. Isn't it interesting the various starts, delays, and turns our projects take?

pinksuedeshoe said...

This is going to be so pretty. Particularly without the big fluffy ruffles on the shams :o)

Amy said...

I enjoyed reading your story and wow, that's amazingly beautiful!

Shay said...

Pretty ! And deserving of a finish. I feel like I'm lacking.My oldest UFO is from January!

Angie said...

I love how many 'layers' this quilt has. Each round is different. And the quilting is amazing!