Stars Upon Stars All Around

Stars Upon Stars All Around

I was inspired by a quilt which hung at the 2009 AQSG Seminar in San Jose, California. It was in the main ballroom and each day I became more and more interested in learning what it took to make a quilt with nearly 2000 diamonds and more bias edges than I could count. I am not sure of how the original quilt was pieced, but I chose to do English paper piecing for the center star, but then resorted to faster strip piecing methods and a sewing machine for other parts of the quilt.

Adding to my challenge is that I had to make the quilt half scale in order to comply with the size restrictions for the AQSG Study. While 1840’s reproduction prints are readily available, most of them are not half scale. I did my best to match the fabrics from the quilt, while favoring the fabrics designed by Pat L. Nickols, owner of the quilt. Friends who have seen the quilt have marveled at the color choices, often thinking I must have changed them to give the quilt more impact. I can say that the color choices were made 170 years ago, and that she must have been a woman like me, interested in mathematics, precision and art.

Antique Quilt details: Center motif is a large Blazing Star, Lone Star or Star of Bethlehem, however the oldest reference noted is Ladies Art Company #211 Stars Upon Stars.

The very large center star has four 8-pointed stars in the corners and 4 half stars on each side that invade the next border, a nice interruptive graphic. Bordered on three sides with 29 scrappy 11 1/2 inch variable stars, the remaining side has a row of 7 inch 8-pointed scrappy stars set alternate block with a wonderful lapiz print.

Size: 96 x 106 inches. Bordered on three sides with a large aborescent print in blue and tan.

Backing fabric is seamed together and made up of two similar early prints, one of which has a narrow scrim flaw.

Quote from quilt owner: Pat L. Nickols, AQSG member, Quilt Historian, and Fabric Studies Expert

I was attracted to this quilt because of the very scrappy composition, wide variety of early 1800s fabrics, some glazed chintz, examples of lapiz, early acid or poison green and a wide variety of early color combinations.
Date – 1840s though there are earlier fabrics
Place or origin – I believe this to be an American made quilt with many of the fabrics imported from Europe, with some examples of American printed prints. The quilt was purchased from a dealer in Baltimore who had no information about its origin other than she knew it had changed hands several times.
This quilt was pieced by a skilled needle-person as evidenced by careful piecing of the many matching points of the stars. Baltimore was an early and important sea port so the maker could have been a dress maker and the variety of fabrics part of her available stock used in her business. This could also have been the work of a well-to-do woman of Baltimore with the fabrics coming from pieces left over from family dressmaking and furnishing fabrics.