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The Meaning Behind Fade Away Lone Star

In 2018, I decided I wanted to finally tackle a personal project that had been on my mind since I learned to quilt. I wanted to make a series of quilts as if my great-grandma and I could make them together. It wasn’t until 2020 that I finally finished the first quilt in the series. Meet Fade Away Lone Star.

Fade Away Lone Star, designed, pieced and quilted by Jessica Plunkett


In order to explain the meaning behind this quilt, I have to back up a couple decades. I was fortunate enough to have many years to know and enjoy time with my great-grandma Georgia. (Everyone called her – sounds like George-ee, not like the state.) One of the most distinct memories I have of my grandma’s house on Armory is her bedroom. She always kept the door closed to keep the room cool. I remember sneaking in a couple times because I couldn’t believe how cold it felt, but also I wanted to admire a quilt on her bed. It was a multi-blue colored Lone Star quilt. While I didn’t really know or understand at the time, the queen size quilt was hand pieced and hand quilted. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! 

Grandma was a magnificent quilter. She made the most beautiful quilts and she was an incredibly kind and wonderful person. I had mannnnnnny opportunities to learn to quilt from my grandma. I’m guessing all I had to do is ask. And I never did. I don’t recall if my grandma ever asked me if I wanted to learn any of the steps. I also don’t remember ever talking about it or discussing that quilt on her bed.

When I was 20 years old, my grandma passed away. At some point after her death, my mom let me know that grandma had left me two things. The first was board game Sorry. We played that game ALL the time and I loved it! Even as a small child, I was incredibly competitive in games. So was grandma! She never intentionally let me win. We enjoyed so many rounds of Sorry! 

The second item she left me was the Lone Star quilt. I was shocked. There were many grand and great-grandchildren she could have left the quilt to, but she left it for me. I believe now that was a little seed she planted to help me find quilting one day. 

It wasn’t until over 12 years later, after a cross-country move, that I finally decided to learn to quilt. I signed up for a beginner’s quilting class in my little town. To my delight, my instructor was wonderful and reminded me a lot of my grandma. For the next several years, I spent time making quilts for my family and friends. After hearing Victoria Findley Wolfe speak about her quilting journey, I decided I finally wanted to make this series "together" with my grandma.

I practiced making Lone Stars and used some of the smaller samples to practice my domestic machine quilting skills (you can see those quilts on my blog post here). I always wanted to make a version using near similar shades of blue making a Lone Star and finding a way to add a modern twist. I started on that project – even making all the Lone Star “arms” but I couldn’t move past it. I let that project sit a long time (it’s still sitting, actually) and eventually I came up with another idea.

What does Fade Away Lone Star Represent?

Fade Away Lone Star is about what happens to the memories of someone they love after they die. The pink Lone Star in the center represents my grandma. All of the color and the custom quilting represents the vibrancy of my grandma and all the great memories we shared and that she shared with others. The star “lights up” after someone dies because that’s all that’s left – memories.

The memories start to fade away. 

The small gaps that break the Lone Star apart are the times you start forgetting about that person. It starts small, but gradually the gaps widen over time, until eventually the memories fade away. You can see that represented in several ways. First, all the color falls away. It reveals that soft empty pink. Second, the quilting changes, transitioning to flat lines (yes, a “flat lining” or death of the memories). To be clear, I haven’t forgotten my grandma. But it does represent my processing of death. 

On the left side of the quilt are two hand-quilted partial Lone Stars. They are both coming into view in the upper and lower left corners. They represent me, my daughter, my mom and other important people in my life. Our memories are still being developed which is why we’re a shell of the Lone Star. Once we die, we’ll become the center Lone Star full of color and memories of someone who holds us dear. 

I marked the corner Lone Stars with a hera marker and hand quilted both stars.

The quilt was made using the following:

Background Fabric: Kona Navy

Lone Star & Fragments Fabric: Spectrastatic by Guicy Guice, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 by Libs Elliot, Spotted by Zen Chic, Moda Grunge and Kona Cotton Solids in Medium Pink.

As I mentioned, the quilt my grandma left me was made in various shades of blue. I knew blue had to be a part of this design. My favorite quilting color palette is pink and black. I decided to combine our color preferences as best I could - I incorporated Navy blue as the background and used a variety of pinks for the Lone Star. I think grandma would approve of this combination.

Backing Fabric: Cat Lady by Sarah Watts

Binding Fabric: Kona Navy

Batting: Hobbs 80/20 poly/cotton batting

Quilting and Thread: The Lone Star is custom quilted per section using Aurifil 50 wt in 2530 (Blossom Pink). The light pink section, where the memories have fallen away, is quilted using Aurifil 50 wt in 2425 (Bright Pink.) The background is primarily a tight cross hatch (.75” apart), as well as the horizontal “flat line” quilting using Aurifil 50 wt in 2785 (Very Dark Navy). All machine quilting was done on my domestic machine. The upper and lower side Lone Stars were hand quilted using Aurifil 12 wt in 2735 (Medium Blue). 

My grandma often hand pieced and hand quilted her work. I just couldn't bring myself to hand piece this entire quilt or even hand quilt all of it. However, as the design came together, I absolutely knew the only way to incorporate the stars (and memories) still being formed was to hand quilt those. I used a hera marker to mark all quilting lines - both of those hand and machine quilted. 

One of the finished hand quilted Lone Stars.

Thanks for learning more about this quilt, my grandma and my quilting journey!


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