This lovely block is called Morning Star. It features pattern darning. This bock is on the other side of Sawtooth, completing one row of the quilt.
Pattern Darning is one of the easiest needlepoint techniques. It is capable of lots of variations, can be done very quickly and creates great results. It is also a technique to use on painted canvases, giving hazes of color and stitching which will not obscure the painted details underneath. Dede Ogden developed this use of pattern darning and calls it Shadow Stitching.
Morning Star is one of the many eight-pointed star blocks in quilting. These patterns are among quilters’ favorites (in fact there are entire books of nothing but star blocks). In a star like this, the many patches combine to create a busy design where the background is subordinate. With this technique it is easy to create the feeling of different kinds of fabric, making busy blocks like this one perfect showcases for the patterns.
In pattern darning, the thread (which should be about the same thickness as a canvas thread) is moved across the fabric, vertically or horizontally, in a regular pattern using the Running Stitch.
When doing pattern darning, always be sure to complete an entire row with your thread. Never stop in the middle of a row. Move from row to row by either burying your thread in the Tent Stitch “seams” or going into the margin and anchoring your thread there. In this technique the thread moving behind the canvas is just as important as the thread on top of the canvas. Starting or stopping in the middle of the row ruins this effect.
In the thread list you will find the area where each thread is used listed. The threads used in this block are:
- DMC floss 776 (background)
- Kreinik Fine (#8) braid -026V (center square)
- Impressions 1095 (seam lines)
- Impressions Amethyst (corner blocks and outside triangles)
- Impressions 1092 (arrowhead shapes at star points)
- Madras 632 (“L” shapes at corners)
The first chart (below) shows you where to do the tent stitching. Begin by stitching all the “seams” (outlines) in Impressions 1095. Then fill in the little background triangles (lighter slashes on the graph) with three strands of the DMC floss.
Begin the pattern darning with the center square, using the Kreinik metallic braid. The pattern for this (below) is a simple triangle pattern. Start anywhere in the square with the first row. Make sure to finish each thread at the end of a row and secure each row in the “seam” line before going on to the next row. This pattern is worked in horizontal rows.
Next, stitch a diamond pattern in the arrowhead shapes at the point of each star along all four sides. The pattern is charted below. These areas are stitched using Impressions 1092, a lighter shade than the seams. The pattern cannot be centered perfectly because of the shape of this area, but to make them look symmetrical, begin each side by putting the smallest stitch of the diamond one thread outside the inside point of the shape. Since the inside point covers two threads and the small stitch of the diamond only one, the diamond will be slightly off-center. Continue from this established point, filling each of these shapes with diamonds. This pattern is worked in vertical rows.
Now move along to the outside corners and triangles, which are done using the Amethyst Impressions. In the model, some of these areas look violet and some look gray — this was not intentional. This effect happens because of the multi-colored thread. It was used as it came off the skein. Because the color of Impressions varies, any given skein has more variation in it than another, often this only becomes apparent after the skein is bought and unwound. This is fine and adds to the unique look of each piece. This pattern (pictured below) is worked in horizontal rows.
This pattern is one of the simplest of all darning patterns. It is just Running Stitch done over three threads in an alternating pattern. It forms a dense pattern without much added texture. It makes an excellent choice for a background stitch. This pattern is worked in horizontal rows.
Another fantastic use for this pattern is for skies. Often, even in a piece which is all Tent Stitch, a tent stitch sky looks too “heavy” for the stitching underneath it. Change this easily by using this pattern in a soft light blue thread (Madras, overdyed flosses, JL Walsh silk-wool and Impressions are some great choices) throughout the sky. The results look incredibly sky-like.
Finally, work the L-shaped pieces next to the corner blocks. These are done using two strands of Madras. Because Madras is a stranded thread, a laying tool will help keep the threads smooth and flat. This pattern is a variation of the pattern in the corner blocks, but the lines move in diagonal rows, not in alternating rows. This gives this pattern the look of twill fabric.
The tricky part is that the corners are mitered, so that the pattern runs along the arms of the L at right angles. The diagram below shows how this is done for the lower left corner. It will need to be rotated to fit the other corners.
Stitch this pattern in horizontal rows on the horizontal arms and in vertical rows on the vertical arms. Work all the rows on one arm before moving to the other arm.
Follow the entire project on-line: