The making of Like the Stars coincided with my birthday. In the early stages of planning, I began thinking about quilting motifs that would carry the various themes of Daniel onto the surface of the quilt. One thing I knew: Like the Stars was predestined for some heavy quilting. Well, back to my birthday. Would you believe my wonderful husband gave me a new Bernina Aurora 440 QE, BSR (stitch regulator) and all, as a birthday present! It was love at first stitch and certainly a timely gift considering the project at hand.
With the piecing completed, the time had arrived for surface work. Daniel is best known for his short stay in the lions’ den, so I chose this motif for the border. First, I digitized a lion (redwork style) and saved an additional file in mirror image. Next, I stabilized the areas on the underside of the quilt top where the lions would be embroidered. There is a great stabilizer on the market that is 100% cotton and can be ironed on. It’s the perfect choice for quilters who integrate machine embroidery into their quilts.
With the quilt border stabilized, I now marked the positioning of each lion using printed templates. Rather than hooping the quilt, I chose to hoop a tear-away sticky stabilizer that I could completely removed after the embroidery was finished. This way the quilt could be easily positioned and there would be no hoop marks to deal with afterwards.
When I completed the embroidery phase (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were also embroidered in the center of the quilt), I put together top, batting (100% cotton), and backing with a light spray of 505 Spray and Fix. The emphasis is on “light.” Also, a word of warning for owners of Bernina machines that use the stitch regulator. Do NOT use other adhesive sprays such as Sullivans. Trust me, I know!
Each section of the quilt had its own quilting motifs. For example, I used a fire motif around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, a thin looping motif around the photo transfer verses, and a wavy motif in the diamonds. The quilting stage proved rather time intensive, but I loved experimenting with the stitch regulator and various needles and threads. And speaking of thread, I used multiple colors on this quilt, which accounts for lengthy time element. Also, I still use some hand quilting methods when I machine quilt, the main one being the popping of thread tails. Yes, I still knot those ends and pop them into the quilt sandwich.
After applying the binding and sleeve, I blocked the quilt for about twenty-four hours. First, I covered a large carpeted area with plastic sheeting. Using t-pins and large rulers, I squared the quilt while at the same time misting it with distilled water. Next, I took a steam iron filled with distilled water (set on cotton) and slowly hovered it over the surface of the quilt, making sure it never actually touched the quilt itself. To speed up the drying stage, I placed a fan nearby and left it running the entire twenty-four hours.
And that completes the story of Like the Stars. It now hangs in a private collection in Charlotte, North Carolina.
N. Rene West