Stormy Night Progress

Back in May, one of my advisory/homeroom students brought me an end-of-the-year present. These are the kids I see every morning for homeroom, and then an hour each week of dedicated time with them in my room talking about whatever we need to discuss — sometimes there are themes, sometimes there aren’t. I’ll have these kids in my advisory until they graduate. Good kids.

Anyway — the present she brought is a large poster of “Starry Night” so that I can better see the individual paintstrokes when I quilt it. The color in the poster is … desaturated — off, somehow, but it really helped me see some detail that I hadn’t been able to see.

I’ve done a little on the sky just to get the swirls started, and I did a LOT with the first color on the trees. This photo is of the quilt, backwards in the machine, since that’s how I was working with it…

dense quilting of the trees

But then I stalled out. I decided that all that dense quilting on the trees was TOTALLY wrong and was stalling me. I didn’t want to do the whole quilt that way, for two reasons. First, it would obscure the Storm At Sea block pattern I had so meticulously used. Second, it wasn’t to scale to Van Gogh’s brush strokes, which is really what I wanted to be doing.

For 6 weeks, I went back and forth with myself. Rip it out? Leave it and finish it wrong? Rip it out?

As if there was a choice. Finally I picked up the seam ripper last week and spent about 8-10 hours ripping it all back out. Then I steamed the quilt from the front and from the back to try to get the holes to close back up. They didn’t entirely, but now that it’s quilted again it doesn’t really matter. The only way anyone would notice the holes is if they KNEW they were there and went looking for them. Even for me they’re hard to see unless I’m inches from it.


I finished ripping all that quilting out on Friday, and I have been possessed since. I’m honestly amazed I’ve been able to sleep, because it’s consumed me completely. And yet I’m still parenting — worked the City Swim meet for 5 hours on Saturday morning, went to church with the family and had a Family Nap Pile on Sunday, went to the pool for 3 hours yesterday, went blueberry picking this morning and got 10 POUNDS of fresh blueberries, and Alice and I had lunch with Jerry, shopped for a sewing project for her, and snuggled for the 2.5 hours of the thunderstorms this afternoon. So I did most of this work on Sunday and in the evenings, I guess.

Here’s a picture of the whole thing. Pardon the smudge in the middle of the lens — apparently Alice stole my camera recently because there were 20 silly Alice photos on it and a fingerprint in the middle of the lens. I really should learn to check for that.

Whole thing

At least the smudge is right over the brightest star, so it’s conveniently well-located.

Almost all of the center is base-quilted now. I plan to add hand-quilting using Perle cotton (i.e. thick twisted thread) all over, to get the effect of Van Gogh’s brushstrokes. Those will be in many colors, but the trees in particular will have a lot of rust brown and ecru, which will make them pop better. The stars will have ecru and pale blue and yellow, the sky will have light blue and medium blue, the two will have lots of various colors. I think I have 13 rolls of Perle to choose from.

Here’s a closer view of the trees (NEW! IMPROVED!), and again the smudge is centered over that brightest star. I’m bummed, since he quilting on that one is really cool (multicolored!) and you can’t really see it for the smudge, but I’ll take better pictures soon when it’s more finished.

closeup of trees

Most of the sky is base-quilted now (i.e. all finished except for the handquilting), and I’m very happy with it.


The swirls really do show up better in daylight when the shadows hit the quilting. I’m excited about that!!

And here’s the moon… I absolutely love the moon:


The town is where my focus is right now… The sky is almost totally done (just a little bit left to do right around the horizon near the trees, but I’m satisfied), so I’m working on the town now.

Van Gogh’s style in the town is very different — it appears that he used a smaller brush and blended colors better, instead of putting down strips of paint like he did in the sky. So I’m having to approach it differently with my quilting and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.

He has strong black lines around all of the buildings, so I started with that. So far I’ve added 2 more colors, and there will probably be about 4-5 more in the town before I declare the base quilting done there.

town, in process

Here’s a closer view of the church, in process:

closeup of church

I haven’t done any of the quilting on the outer gold frame yet, since I wanted the entire middle to be done before I started that. The left side is a little wobblier than it should be — i.e. stretched — probably because of all of the unquilting/requilting that happened over there. Hopefully it’ll settle down. Blocking this beast will be absolutely critical to get it to hang straight, though.

Figured I should update you all since I hadn’t posted about it in a while. But it’ll definitely get a binding on it by the end of the summer! Yay! The hand-quilting may not be done for a while but I have until mid-September to finish that. I figure it’ll be a good time to renew our Netflix membership! Ha!