Friday, June 28, 2013

Starry Gazey Pie revealed and some how-to tips

Yesterday I wrote about a challenge quilt I made. What I didn't tell you is the name of the quilt or its story!  The name of the quilt is Starry Gazey Pie.

Corner star in Starry Gazey Pie

Starry Gazey Pie is a dish from Mousehole, Cornwall which is in southwest England. My father grew up in Penzance which is just up the coast from Mousehole (pronounced mow-zole). Both were fishing villages and one of the main species fished was pilchards. They were used to make a dish called Starry Gazey Pie. It is so named because the fish heads and tails poked up through the crust and the heads gazed heavenward!  Pilchards are rich in oil and my Dad told me that the fish were arranged in this way so that all of the rich oils would flow into the pie. The fish in the challenge fabric make me think of this Cornish dish which was my inspiration for my challenge quilt, Starry Gazey Pie!

Starry Gazey Pie, 2005 (28" x 30")

The centre star medallion is English paper pieced. I used my technique for foundation piecing on the hexagons. You can read about it herehere, here and here. Phew! That's a lot of "heres". Maybe I should put them altogether in one place as a tutorial!

I also fussy cut one of the fabrics for the six hexagons that make the star points. You can see that the ferny print was cut so that the orange/coral fern was centred so that the orange star point could flow from it.

Surrounding the centre star medallion are six diamonds made of fussy cut hexagons. The fussy cutting was done using the methods described in my tutorial.

These diamonds were made off the quilt and then appliqued in place! Simple but it creates the illusion of complex piecing.

Yesterday I posted pictures of the fish that were fussy cut. These fish stars formed the next border around the medallion. Tomorrow I'll do a quick little demo to show you how easy it was to fussy cut the fish for the stars! Really!

Finally in each corner I placed orange stars with needle like spokes. I wanted to repeat the ferny challenge fabric in the corner stars so I cut the orange/coral ferny bits from the challenge fabric and appliqued them to a hexagon; I did this before I basted the hexagon to the paper. When the applique was completed I basted the hexagon to the paper and the points were foundation pieced on the paper before English paper piecing.

 Close-up of hexagon in the centre of the star

One of the corner stars

I hand quilted and beaded the quilt to give it a little sparkle!

The zigzag pattern I quilted in the border reminds me of the crimping on pastry!

I hope you've enjoyed this little quilt. Don't be afraid to combine techniques and methods to get the results you want, even if some of them are non-traditional methods. Experiment and get creative. If it doesn't work out it will be your little secret!

I was taking pictures in my Mom's garden and look at this! I think it looks like a Kaffe Fassett fabric, potentilla maybe, but it isn't! So what is it?

It's another variety of sedum! So pretty!

So what else is blooming today?


So come back tomorrow for some more fussy cutting how-tos! Until then, happy sewing!


  1. your quilt is much nicer to look at than the Pie.. i immediately thought of the movie "Ladies in Lavender" where the Star Gazey pie was served to the German boy rescued from the cornish shore. He was horrified at the sight of it. I am interested to learn where / when the vision for this design and the name emerged. Was it when you first saw the fish fabric or after you made your first fussy cut star or did the name come at the end.. Its so very clever

    1. Thanks Sheila! The name and the fish design were simultaneous. I saw the fish fabric and though it would be perfect for fussing cuts and as I moved my window template around focussing on fish heads and fish tails I was reminded of my Dad's boyhood stories about Starry Gazey Pie! I started with the six fish designs and then created the stars and it just evolved from there!

  2. beautiful! I love the tiny beads, I would not have thought to do that. I know Mousehole quite well, it is just like a little Mousehole isn't it!
    Yes please, if you could put all those posts together in a tutorial, it would be wonderful, I am not ready to start yet, but I'd love to be able to refer to all the techniques and ideas you showed.
    Have a good weekend, we're off to the Festival tomorrow!