Wednesday

The Feather Edged Star




For many years every spare moment I had was spent quilting, especially when my 3 older children were small. Their playground was under the quilts... which were stitched into a frame and perched on 4 chairs ... one under each corner... it looked like stained glass windows when they looked up from under it... with the light pouring through... it was magical...

The ends of my fingers looked like pincushions ... tough and calloused ... Several times I even sewed my finger to the underneath of the quilt because I never felt the needle... during that time period I made many, many quilts... after I unattached my finger, of course...

The name Feather Edged Star comes from the small triangles that surround the star... This is a traditional pieced quilt where all the pieces are cut out with the grain and individually stitched together to form the top...then a layer of batting is sandwiched in the middle with a plain sheet of broadcloth attached to the back... I liked the strong contrast of the red and cream/white colors together...

This quilt is for a queen sized bed... usually I would have put much more quilting and piecework into the star section but this time I decided to do it differently...

Each large Star block is 24" sq......  I ran the background quilting diagonally about 1/2" apart.... tiny stitches holding all 3 layers together, about 8-10 per inch...

I love the way quilts feel ... the rise and fall of puffed portions against the quilted down areas... if I was blind I could still know the beauty of one...






I quilted a Feather Rope Design along the outside border that goes around the quilt.... one of my favourite borders ...

Transferring the pattern was the tricky part... I used to awkwardly hold it against a window pane so I could see... to trace it onto the fabric .. and it worked pretty well... a handy vertical "light table"... one I don't need to put away... this was done before the layers were assembled...





This particular quilt has a story of survival... It is really a wonder it even exists at all... the pieced top came through the fire that destroyed our house in the early 1990's (which we had built ourselves and worked on for 15 years) ... as far as we could figure out, burning coals somehow escaped by way of the door or draft  of the wood furnace...

... it smoldered for days..... then the fire was eventually over... the brick chimney, stark, solitary and upright,  stood alone in the middle of the burnt-out foundation ... didn't help that we had 8 cord of our winter firewood in the basement....

...we scraped through the charred rubble to see if anything could be salvaged...

Low and behold out of the bottom of an old burnt cabinet... that was only partly saved because part of a wall had fallen on it .... the bottom drawer where the quilt top had been stored... miraculously... had not burned to a cinder...

The Quilt Top had been packed so tightly with some other fabrics ... that they acted like insulation and protected it ... I couldn't believe it! ... a raging fire had destroyed our entire house and all its contents (and our sweet little dog, Teddy, a Keeshond and our beautiful cat, Chantzee) but this fragile piece of fabric survived...

The smell of the fire was very strong within the fabric... I thought there was no hope of extracting the stench... but after much soaking, rinsing, washing... and more soaking, washing, rinsing... and airing.... repeatedly... it freshened ... mostly...

...and with that it gave me hope that things would be better... I quilted it two years later...

and sleep under it most every night...





32 comments:

asti said...

Oh my....I'm not a quilter at all, have never tried it but I recognise a beautiful one when I see it. The rope design is lovely, I've never seen it before (told you I was a newbie).
Quilting, art, jewellery, spinning...what an inspiration you are! I tell myself I'll have time for ALL the things I want to do when my girlies are grown. Just trying to enjoy them right now and fit in little bits of creativity where I can ! ( I'm gagging to spin...I just want to be able to give it full attention, which is nigh on impossible at the moment)

Ruth said...

You keep surprising me. Didn't know you have 3 other children for one.

That fire story is mind boggling. Did you have other quilts in the house that were destroyed? I hope not.

The quilt, just spectacular. I can picture the kids under there, you described that so well. I love quilts that have mostly white like this, it lends a vintage feel and really makes the colors pop. I love the neutral with the red too (brown mini-print?) It's very large, do you know how long it took? I don't mean hours, but was it like a year? Did you work on one quilt at a time?

My favorite part of quilt making (don't do it any more, as I told you) was designing and picking the fabrics. I would piece a block, and then it was hard to finish it, I loved the design part and wanted to design another one. I have an unfinished top upstairs, maybe I'll post a photo sometime.

Your perseverance is truly an inspiration. And your skills of course.

Jazz said...

Great story, beautiful quilt.

Diane said...

Wow, Gwen, what a beautiful quilt!!! And such a good story to go with it!

laura said...

What a beautiful quilt; the red is gorgeous, I'm very drawn to it. What a great skill, to be able to quilt!! I'm envious (in a good way, if that's possible).

Marie Alton said...

Wow Gwen...beautiful quilt and how amazing that it survived the fire! Truly a sign of hope...that even in your darkest hour a labour of love came through unscathed!

Anet said...

Gwen, that's a wonderful story and this quilt is so beautiful. I love the red and white.
It's a lovely thought to picture your children play happily under the quilt as you worked.
I'm so glad it survived the fire and you still have it!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thanks Asti... I'm sure your children would love to get in on the act of spinning too. especially preparing the fibers!

Oh yes Ruth,, I am on my second life now!! ha-ha! I am going to try for 9 like a cat!!
yes many quilts went down with the ship... We had built the house ourselves too and evolved it over 15 years...

I really love all-white quilts too with only the stitching telling its story..

I'd absolutely love to see your quilt top.. please show it!!!

Thanks Diane.. i really loved your quilts.. and the lighting you took them in!!!

laura... quilting is pretty easy... just put the needle up through the thickness and then down through the thickness and give a little tug.......
then do it 5 million times... Are we crazy?????

Jazz and Marie, sometimes I wonder if I am burdening people with my past life... but it is what has made us who we are today..

Anet.. It was so fun to watch them underneath... they were so attracted to the little spot... It seemed like they would drag everything they owned under there... kids are cute!

Ruth said...

Ohhhhhhhh! Sad about those lost quilts and the house after the investment of love and time. Boohoo.

Did you just add that last photo??? I didn't see it first time 'round. I love it!! Something about laundry on the line, especially quilts!!!

Ok, I'll dig into the drawer for the quilt top . . . and maybe I'll air it on the line!

Ruth said...

Actually, Gwen, I think you've already lived 9 live with what you've accomplished.

Gwen Buchanan said...

yes I did, Ruth.. I love quilts on the line too!!!..... had to go out and try to get a shot and pop it on....

Sharon said...

Thank you Gwen so much for posting this! It's gorgeous!!! I'm beginning to think that you have an amazing attention span and super human amounts of energy. The meticulous attention to detail and skill this piece required is amazing. And while what you told Laura about quilting being easy is right to some degree, there is an art (or skill) to being able to keep things squared perfectly that you've mastered beautifully. Wow, Wow, Wow!!!

And Ruth if it's up for a vote I really want to see your quilt top too!!!

Gwen Buchanan said...

You are very kind Sharon... but mostly it is merely a way of keeping my sanity!!!........ and we would all vote for you to show us your quilting creativity too...

Ruth said...

Yes, yes, everyone should make at least one quilt.

Ok, I'm making myself a post-it note to find the quilt top tonight . . .

Sandy said...

!!!!!what a story!!!!!

It's a beautiful quilt and how blessed you were that it survived that fire. Gosh its' so pretty. You sure have talent..

sandy

Sandy said...

p.s.would love to see more...whoever comes here too who quilts...

I have never tried it.

But I can sew a button on a shirt and one year I made Christmas ornaments that below out of the rafters in the carport during a huge santa ana wind and dotted the landscape for miles, I'm sure.

s

zorana said...

There is no end to your talents. It seems like you live art. The quilt is breathtaking and I can imagine sleeping under its protective cover. I enjoy reading every post.

Don said...

I love your quilt and your story of survival. It must have such a special place for you. Fires are such terrible things, it's hard sometimes to even know what you had and lost! Your skills never cease to amaze. I can't wait to see what comes next!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Sandy you have such a great sense of humor... You could entertain me all day... but now look how happy you made all those people who thought christmas ornaments were raining down from heaven... be careful you might be named a saint!!!

...
Thank you Zorana... Art is a good thing for everybody isn't it? wouldn't it be a great world if we could all do the things that make us happy everyday? what a life we'd all have!!!

.........

Don... You sound like you know about fires...that is so true!! Did you have one too?

Teri Prestash said...

Exquisite quilt and beautiful story. I came to your blog by way of my friend Bill's Art Contemplations. I can't wait to dig in!

Don said...

The only fire for me personally was the fire of "ought four" when I was burning a brush pile and it started to get away from me and headed for our woods! Oh baby was I scared. I actually called the fire department but had it under control by the time they arrived. Scary and very embarassing. Major lecture from the fire chief. I can only imagine the loss!

Ruth's sister lost her home to a fire and it took her months to figure out everything she lost, and even then she didn't recall everything.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Oh you're right Don, that would be so scary!!
Sorry for Ruth's sisters loss... I sympathize completely..

I recall, for many years afterward, thinking of certain items, books etc and going to look for them... all the while trying to recall if I had it before the fire or after... usually it was before...

Hi Terri, thanks for checking out my corner of the world...and the Best of luck with your Tee shirts!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Kathi.. that is such a coincidence... I was living there then too. I remember looking out the window and seeing flocks of people in party mode with their babies in stroolers, eating ice-cream, all heading down to watch it burn...
Strange how it attracts people... like moths to the flame!!!

You never made a quilt? I find that hard to believe with your amazing abilities! Funny story though... thanks.

rivergardenstudio said...

Gwen, what a wonderful story and and quilt, I love the last photograph of the quilt on the clothes line. It looks like a painting. Or it could be a painting! Roxanne

Gwen Buchanan said...

thanks Roxanne... thats a great idea.. i really love seeing quilts on clotheslines too... it must be because they are in a different element than they were designed for and also we can usually get a look at the full pattern.... that is if they aren't blowing too much..

Debbi said...

I was wondering about that beautiful quilt. What an amazing story. I just love everything I've read on your blog. Thank you for keeping one!

Gwen Buchanan said...

I appreciate you reading about my quilt, Debbi.. It means a lot to me...Thanks

Lynn said...

Reading this made me cry.
First I smiled imagining your children playing under it as you laboriously and lovingly stitched your life into the top (poor finger)...and then the miracle of being saved in the fire...well how amazing is that? I'd call it the Miracle Quilt.
Hugs to you for surviving it all.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thank you Lynn, it took quite some time to come to grips with it... hopefully it made us stronger.

Steven Cain said...

Lost in the comments. I'm wandering through your blog, little at a time.

What a quilt! I would so love to own such a piece... make such a piece. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

I nearly lost my little house to the same mishap. Ember out the damper. It's heartbreaking. If this is the replacement house, here on your blog... it's a beauty.

Best

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thank you Steven for reading the thoughts of mine and others that left them here... most often when we are creating something that gives us great pleasure we get lost in time... our own little world... of anything we can imagine or dream up... time is a funny thing, we only have that moment.
my best to you...

Arija said...

Such a beautiful quilt and post. Amazing how, when all seems lost, that we are given a sign of hope.