Sunday, December 16, 2012

Quilting Along with Leah Day - Week 44

Starry Night - Front
24" H x 24" W
Have you ever started a quick and easy project, then decided to change one or two things only to find yourself hours later enmeshed in a project that is neither quick nor easy? That is precisely what happened to me when I took on the assignment of doing a "Starry Mess" practice piece.

"Starry Mess" is the latest in Leah Day's free motion quilting patterns of overlapping designs. The idea behind the designs are that they are easy to do and quickly secure the quilt top, batting and backing together. They are best used on comfort versus show quilts or art quilts.

What I realized when looking at "Starry Mess" was that this design just didn't call out to me. I liked the stars, but not the mess. I knew I had to tweak it in order to keep myself engaged in the lesson. I began by asking myself where I would like to see stars quilted. I visualized them in the sky background of traditional star blocks.

Tweak number one was to piece an oversized star block I could practice on. It took more time than just selecting a night sky fabric from my stash, but not that much more time. Tweak number two was to add a border to the block. Also, simple, but more time. The problem started when I debated about which fabric to use for the border. The one that made the most sense was the night sky. This lead to tweak number three. How did I distinguish the border from the block? I would add a folded strip in the seams  between the block and the borders. That tweak was a major learning experience.

Detail from Starry Night

The final tweak was modifying the free motion quilting pattern so that each star stood out, but so that it was still one continuous line of quilting. I achieved this by adding a line with a loop in the middle or alternating stringing stars with loops. A modification I am considering for the border is to alternate stars with spirals along a string. I think it could be quite effective.

Detail from the Back Side of Starry Night

Working on a project like "Starry Mess" to a point where it morphs into my interpretation of Van Gogh's "Starry Night" is precisely why quilting calls to me. I may think I want quick and easy. What I thrive on is discovery and seeing a project take on a life of its own.


  1. And that, precisely, is what makes you a "fiber artist"! I loved following your thought patterns that brought you to the finish. It is truly lovely! I so enjoy your journaling! Hugs, Doreen

    1. Thank you, Doreen. Although my blog posts aren't prize winning journalism, I do try to share my thoughts and voice. I try to educate, sometimes bring a little humor and put together a piece that is cohesive.

  2. I want to compliment you on your interpretation of "Starry Mess" as I think it is awesome. I like it so much better than the overlapping stars. I hope you post pics with your border design idea.

    1. Thank you, Laura. One of the gifts I've gleaned from quilting along with Leah is that patterns can undergo a subtle change but read so differently. At first I was dependent on Leah and other professionals to "see" the tweaks. Now I find myself looking at each pattern to determine not only how to execute it, but also how to adapt it to suit my needs.

      I did quilt "Starry Night" in the border of this small quilt. It will be featured in my next post.