top of page

The Pleiades

The Pleiades Pattern is out today in Make Modern Magazine Issue 51.

This is the newest quilt in my tile series. There is no surprise here that I turn to tile work for inspiration. Most of my previous quilts have had some sort of Roman inspiration. This quilt is inspired by Islamic Egyptian tile work. I got my fat-eight bundle last year for the Windham Challenge for Quilt Con 2023. I was originally going to do something different. I ran into challenge getting the fabric. I had per-ordered the fabric in July and then it was September and my order was cancelled. At that point I couldn't get the fabric in quantities that I was looking for. Mostly I couldn't get the cream. So I pivoted and went a different way. I went back through my notebooks of ideas. I started piecing this. I made the whole top in less than two weeks.

My original idea on this quilt was to straight line quilt this quilt. I normally detest the actually act of straight line quilting, it is so mind numbingly boring when you are quilting. I saw some really awesome uses of it at QuiltCon2022. It is really nice when you want to add texture but not detract from the over all quilting. My second idea was to half inch pebbles over the entire quilt top, to go back to the feel of mosaic tiles. Luckily one of my friends pointed out that wow that is just a bad idea. Do you know how long it will take you to pebble a top that big with half inch pebbles? Also the last quilt you did that with you used something like 7000m of thread. Are you really sure you want to do that again? It made me rethink the quilting and I pulled in elements of both the straight line quilting and the pebbles. I ended up breaking up the straight line quilting and turning it into a basket weave in the background. I ended up picking out motifs for each of the shapes and colors. I did keep some of the pebbling and put it in the blue diamonds. For the most part it is all straight line ruler work quilting. I chose colors of glide thread to match each of the fabrics and did tons of starts and stops. Before I went in and quilted the entire top I basted my layers together with water soluble thread. I did this because I used a layer of cotton batting and a layer of wool batting. The large stipple I did with the water soluble thread allowed me to keep everything from shifting as I did the super dense quilting. I will be totally be doing this again on any quilt with lots of custom quilting. While it took me less than two weeks to piece the top it took me almost an entire month to quilt the quilt.

I got it finished to enter into QuiltCon 2023. I started entering quilts into QuiltCon in 2015. The problem is my style isn't modern. I lean most into the space between art quilting and traditional. I work to expand my horizions and try new things. I finally made a quilt that was modern enough to get juried into QuiltCon. In December I received my QuiltCon acceptance letter. I was so excited. I shipped my quilt to Modern Quilt Guild headquarters in January, not thinking it would be the last time I would see my quilt in person. I usually list my quilts for sale if there is the option when I enter them in a show, figuring that if some wants the quilt that much I can use the money to make another one. Most of the time my quilt comes back to me and it lives in my closet with all my other show quilts. I was not expecting my quilt to sell at QuiltCon. I truly appreciate that some one wanted my quilt enough to buy it.

Because I work in series, the Pleiades has two sister quilts. There is Purple Alcyone and Green Freya's Hens. I actually started piecing Alcyone last spring. I had a whole bunch of triangles cut out and sitting around. I started laying them out on the designs want and started sewing them together. I got distracted by other patterns and quilts that needed to be finishes so Alcyone languished in the UFO pile. Roughly around the same time I got a commission for a green and gold star quilt. This quilt is the one that became Freya's Hens.

A quilt that looks like it will fly off in the Breeze
Alcyone - It is winter here and loads of wind and this quilt looks like it will fly off on its own.

Alcyone is made from an aubergine batik fabric and scraps from my sewing room. I will admit that hexagon math is hard and I ended up with a quilt that I wasn't sure what size it was going to be until I started to piece it. Mostly cause I was having a hard time figuring out what the finished size was of my blocks due to the quarter inch seam. So what I anticipated as being a good size throw ended up being a large queen sized quilt. And then there were two of them.

I could have custom quilted Alcyone as well but I decided instead of my half inch pebbles I would do 1 inch pebbles. I used an river rocks e2e from Quiltable and iris glide thread. I love the way the purple thread worked against the teal backing to make it look like river rocks or dinosaur skin.

In the end Alcyone has sold too and is going to its new home next week.

When I was designing Alcyone I couldn't decide if I wanted just the single motif or if I wanted to expand it so that the motif repeats across the surface. So I did it all three ways. I did the single motif in Alcyone and the full repeating motif in the Pleiades. Freya's hens is the in between it doesn't not capture the full repeats of the motif but the motif does cover the top. I quilted this is in Starry Night e2e from Wasatch Quilting. I used my favorite cool gray #3 glide thread. The back on this is a 1/2 in shag minky. I almost named this quilt Minty Fresh, but I decided to stick with names related to the Pleiades..

The Pleiades got its name from the seven stars on the quilt. I knew that it was a star cluster and it was named for seven sisters that Zeus cast them into the sky to be stars to save them from their eternal pursuit. My deep dive into researching the Pleiades took me all over the place. And gave names to the other quilts in the series as well

The Pleiades or Messier 45 is a open star cluster north west of the Taurus the Bull. There are 14 stars in the cluster. The nine brightest stars of the Pleiades are named for the Seven Sisters of Greek mythology: Sterope, Merope, Electra, Maia, Taygeta, Celaeno, and Alcyone, along with their parents Atlas and Pleione. The Brightest star in the cluster is Alcyone. Six of the 14 stars are visible with the naked eye. This prominent star cluster is visible in the winter months.

This star cluster features in many cultures worldwide. The 1600 B.C. Germanic Bronze Age Nebra Sky Disk is the earliest know depiction of the Pleiades. There are many names for the Pleiades, in Welsh it is Tŵr or Tewdws, in Irish, it is Streoillín, in Hawaiian, it is Makaliʻi, in Māori, it is Mat ariki, Indigenous Australians, it is Karatgurk or Tgilby, in Farsi it is Parvīn or Parvī, in Arabic it is al-Thurayya, in Chinese it is mǎo, in Quechua, it is Qullqa, in Japanese, it is Subaru, In Hinduism, it is Kṛttikā. In Danish, it is Syvstjernen, and to the old norse it was Freya’s Hens

In Western Europe, name Pleiades or the seven sisters derives from Greek Mythology. In

Greek mythology, the Pleiades were seven sisters: Maia, Electra, Alcyone, Taygete, Asterope,

Celaeno and Merope. Their parents were Atlas, a Titan who held up the sky, and the oceanid

Pleione, the protectress of sailing. After a chance meeting with the hunter Orion, the Pleiades and their mother became the object of his pursuit. Enamored with the young women. Orion pursued them over the face of the Earth. In pity for their plight, Zeus changed them into a flock of doves. They were still being pursued and Zeus cast them in the heavens. They are forever being pursued by Orion across the

night sky.

Only six stars are distinctly visible to the naked eye. The ancient Greeks explained the

sudden disappearance of the seventh star in various narratives. According to one, all the Pleiades

were consorts to gods, with the exception of Merope. She deserted her sisters in shame, having

taken a mortal husband, Sisyphus, the King of Corinth. Another explanation for the "lost" star is related to the myth of the Electra, an ancestress of the royal house of Troy. After the destruction

of Troy, the grief-stricken Electra abandoned her sisters and was transformed into a comet – ever

after to be a sign of impending doom.

So that Explains the Pleiades and Alcyone as the names for two of the quilts. The names are greek I could have picked a greek name out for the third. But I couldn't do it when I could pick out Freya's Hens. Lets face it I am totally owned by one certain ginger husky named Freya. And why not name another quilt after her because she she points out on a daily basis she is the worlds cutest husky. I mean how do you say no to that face. In old norse mythology, Freya had her maidens that were similar to Artemis's Hunters. And that connection was enough for me.

Now that you have read more about the quilt hop on over to Make Modern and get your copy of the magazine. Once you have the pattern and you want to make the Alcyone or Freya's Hens Variants you can head over and pick up the alternate layout guide.

47 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page