The Celestial Quilt – Sleeping Under the Stars

Today we bring you a very special Lab project from a member of our team, artist Caitlin! This is Caitlin’s first Lab project and she jumped in with gusto. She helped design the new Ecliptic Constellations pack and wanted to take the use of these designs to a whole new level. Here she is to talk about her experiences with this fun and ambitious project…

Here at Urban Threads, we are always searching to explore new frontiers, and this Celestial Quilt is no exception. I wanted to explore the final frontier, in fact … space! When we first started scheming about space designs, I was drawn to the idea of making a quilt. Quilts are many tiny pieces joined together to make a whole, just as billions and gazillions of tiny stars and planets and asteroids and space debris and comets and satellites and UFOs come together to make the whole night sky.

Celestial Quilt

As I began to plan out the quilt, I used the circle of the ecliptic as a starting point. The ecliptic is the apparent path of the sun on the celestial sphere as seen from the earth’s center. These constellations are based on all the constellations that appear on that line (which is why there are 13 constellations instead of the 12 from astrology), and so it was a natural place to start.

My mom is an avid quilter, and I grilled her with questions about the space quilt scheme. Could I applique the embroidery on after I pieced? Could I stop and start quilting as many times as I needed? Do you trim batting before or after you start quilting? She was an invaluable resource in getting this project completed. I researched star charts and celestial maps, and found they showed stars in various sizes to describe their brightness. I realized, with the availability of various individual star sizes, I could build any constellation, from any corner of space I desired! No hoop was standing in my way, I was free to add as many twinkly stars to my design as I could handle. Since I was building a quilt, I hooped up each square one at a time and began stitch stars, one by one. This process was nice, because if I had any fabric tearing, or some crazy thing happened with my embroidery, I was only risking a little piece at time.

Celestial Quilt

I worked with a fabulous new UT artist, Danielle, and we began by illustrating the 13 constellations that fall on the ecliptic. This is path of the sun from our viewpoint on earth, as it travels across the sky throughout the year. These are also known as the signs of the zodiac, along with the addition of the Ophiuchus, the 13th constellation on the ecliptic line. We wanted to keep the actual stars prominent, since they have inspired stargazers throughout time. Then we added the zodiac imagery with a dreamy, celestial quality that stayed light and airy. Each sign of the zodiac has such a fantastic story and feeling, it was fun to try and capture it with embroidery thread.

Celestial Quilt Celestial Quilt

Since I had such beautiful embroidery to feature, I decided I would keep the actual quilting stitches to a minimum, and use the imaginary lines between stars to quilt the top and bottom together. Here I faced an interesting learning curve. I was doing free motion quilting for the first time on our UT embroidery/sewing machine, and didn’t realize I could move my fabric backwards, forwards and sideways, without turning the entire piece! I was slowly rolling up, and pushing parts of the quilt though the machine over and over before I realized it was unnecessary.

Celestial Quilt

Quilt stitches are similar to embroidery running stitches, and the can be decorative and complicated, while also functioning to hold the quilt together. The effervescent swirls behind each zodiac design could easily be used to quilt with, and I tried to replicate the swirls and loops with my free motion quilting.

Celestial Quilt

Since it’s too cold in January to sleep out under the stars, I am super excited to have brought the stars inside, to a much warmer and snuggly place: my bed.

This project is part of The Lab, a UT initiative to experiment, collaborate and innovate to see just what can be done with the art of embroidery.
Check out our other projects by searching for the UT Lab tag.
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96 Responses to “The Celestial Quilt – Sleeping Under the Stars”

  1. 1
    timewrinkler says:

    This is Out of This World! How long did it take to make it? I am stunned. Beautiful!!

  2. 2
    Jeannie says:

    This is just spectacular! I love the constellations idea, and hope that you put out another design set with non-zodiac constellations. I’ll probably buy these too, but would be ecstatic with more! Please??

    • clara thompson says:

      Would be nice to have the other constelations also. I will not be able to get the stars in the right place without them. Please do finish with the others.

  3. 3
    Jolene Ehret says:

    This quilt is so awesome. Incredible. You all constantly amaze me with your boundless creativity. Thank You!!!

  4. 4
    Lorraine says:

    Absolutely stunning! The imagination and creativity to put this together is beyond fantastic.

  5. 5
    Michele in IL. says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!!!

  6. 6
    gabriela says:

    ooh this is dreamy

  7. 7

    Gorgeous–Thank you for sharing your awesome project!

  8. 8
    Lynda says:

    Utterly gorgeous! I don’t care about zodiac stuff per se, but this quilt is amazing. I’ll echo that I also hope you’ll do more constellation designs.

  9. 9
    Marion says:

    Really beautiful. Your so clever,and I love the colous you chose.would love to make it for myself.

  10. 10
    Kathy says:

    This would be even more interesting if you used nitelite glow in the dark thread:)

  11. 11
    Norma Shenesky says:

    Really a VERY NICE quilt, when do you think you will have the pattern ready to sell?

  12. 12
    Donna says:

    Very cool. I’m not into zodiac, but I love astronomy. I would love to see things like Draco and Ursa Major & Minor. I know they would be great to make non-girly quilts for guys. Also, maybe some small images of far away galaxies for background. Great work.

  13. 13
    Marg says:

    I love love love this quilt. It is absolutely outstanding. I have been looking for quilt ideas as a wedding present for my daughter. My daughter and her fiance are both astro physicists. This is perfect.

  14. 14
    Kimberly says:

    It’s very beautiful. You did a great job. Keep up the good work. Can’t wait to see more designs and stuff you create.

  15. 15
    Sherry says:

    This quilt takes my breath away. I was trying to imagine the moment you finished sewing this masterpiece! It had to have been the closest feeling to heaven indeed as this is truly a fine work of art. Bravo!

  16. 16
    Pat says:

    I agree with everyone else!A FABULOUS idea, and design. Would win a lot of prizes if entered in competition. Colors and use of designs are wonderful. KUDOS!

  17. 17
    Sharon says:

    Love this so much! I would love to make it and have already decided that perhaps the stars should be stitched in glow in the dark thread for my purposes. Well done. I love the great ideas and I love many of your designs.

  18. 18
    Maureen Mangan says:

    I love this quilt. The colors are absoultely beautiful. You did a fantastic job.

  19. 19
    Cherrylmaree says:

    Very beautiful project… I live in the Southern Hemisphere, any chance of a Southern Cross design or is it your intention that we utilize the individual star patterns to come up with our own extra designs? Urban Threads is definitely the place to go for designs and project ideas which expand our minds and really make the best use of our machines. Thank you so much.

  20. 20
    Sherri says:


  21. 21
    Johnna says:

    I am old old old. And to find creations that don’t make me think been there done that is next to impossible. Well, these designs and this gorgeous quilt exemplify the rare situation where I can not think that. This is just so beautifully unique. One sometimes finds unique. But, usually it should have been left unfound. My use will be in the form of pillows, throws, quilts, pillowcases, or combination for birthdays or weddings using just the sign(s) of the recipient(s) or significant date. The mind whirls with the possibilities. I love the idea of other commentors to use glow in the dark. Hmm – glow and standard together?

    • Shirley R says:

      I am also old having been doing machine embroidery for 30 + years and I love this! I agree with you that regular thread and glow in dark would be a great combination

  22. 22
    Danielle says:

    This is fantastic and I want to make one. Do you have a pattern for it?

  23. 23
    Susan Gardner says:

    I hope you used some glow in the dark thread! Wouldn’t that be cool?

  24. 24
    Tommie O''Sullivan says:

    Just beautiful. I hope you don’t mind if I copy some of your features (for personal use only) It’s a magnificent design. (Hint: If you rotate your quilt 90 degrees, you will have drop on all three sides!)

  25. 25
    Lindsay says:

    I love it! It’d look amazing in twin size on my bed. (Yes, I’m a grown woman who sleeps on a twin… the most comfortable twin bed you’ll ever encounter!) ;d

  26. 26
    liz says:

    this is an amazing quilt – well done to the designers –
    we are fortunate we live in the southern hemisphere and just the other night we were outside till late – having a barbeque under the stars and watching satellites . So this looks so real
    I just love the colours (my favourite)

  27. 27
    sonja says:

    I love it,it is beautyfull

  28. 28
    Mathilda Tenam says:

    wow ich liebe diesen Quilt!!! wundervoll! beste grüße aus Deutschland 🙂

  29. 29
    Judy Hawkins says:

    Have you started out with basic squares and then appliqued the designs onto that? Did you just freeform the designs? Can you give us an idea of what you have done? This is absolutely amazing but I can’t quite figure out how you put it together. Maybe you could do a PDF for us with the basic idea?

  30. 30
    Duchess says:

    My daughter teaches autistic children and has a starry section in the classroom. This would work wonderfully (I plan to use glow in dark thread)Thanks for the designs.

  31. 31
    Julie says:

    glow in the dark, metalic, verigated and rayon threads umm.. a tutorial please .. pillow is the dreamy this

  32. 32
    Char says:

    Can’t wait to get started on this! Three things I love most and you put them all together! Genius! Love you guys! (and a little envious of your creativeness!) Thank you!!!

  33. 33
    Lynnell says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Be sure to let us know if you make/post a tutorial with specifics on this, what fun!

  34. 34
    Elfie B. says:

    I love the bargello effect for the Milky Way. (I know the word “bargello” because I took a class.) And what did you do for the back? My daughter wants this now. So, ahem, thanks a lot for putting yet another project on my table. I will never be able to put my machines away for a vacation, at this rate. Can I just buy your quilt, instead? No? Foo.

    Now that I’m thinking about it, I am seeing this as a whole-cloth quilt on black cotton, with bleach-spray for the Milky Way, with the embroidery done as quilting. It’ll be a pain to hoop and support, but stabilizing shouldn’t be a problem.

  35. 35
    Missy K. says:

    Wow! This is amazing! I can’t believe my eyes. I truly love this. I would love more detailed instructions of how you created this quilt. I agree with others, that I would love to see other constellations such as orion. You have sent my mind in new directions! I can’t wait to see more of your work.

  36. 36
    Joyce Santoni says:

    The creativity and originality of Caitlin’s use of these designs is absolutey fantastic ! Love the idea of using the way the constellations appear on the ecliptic path – very original, and must have involved a great deal of work. Also like the idea of limiting the quilting and incorporating it into the star patterns. Really like this quilt, and will probably “atempt” to duplicate it – but don’t think I have the talent to come any where near what Caitlin has achieved. Thank you for sharing this quilt with us. It is great inspiration. js

  37. 37
    Mingo says:

    Beautiful quilt, but where are some of the favs, like Orion. I am an Amateur Astronomer, and have been toying with making a celestial quilt. I have a large stash of spaced themed fabrics. I would also like to see a full tutorial on his project. Thanks for sharing!

  38. 38
    MIssy k. says:

    I forgot to add that I am so happy you created the 13 sign design.

  39. 39
    Shelby says:

    Love this design! Can you post an instructional guide to this? Would love to have it if you do!

  40. 40
    Linda says:

    I bought the Constellation pack. Fantastic.

    Is the Dream pillow design also available in embroidery???

  41. 41
    Mary Bigger says:

    Incredible! Thank you for the magic!

  42. 42

    For those asking on instructions it really isn’t hard. I would say on the constellation pick 3 fabric cut to the size of the design embroidery and then trim around.

    Lay them out. Then 3 or 4 different fabrics and cut around 72 … 5″ squares. Lay them out around the embroidered fabric. once you have that lay out just fill in the background with the amount of fabric you need. The zodiacs are appliqued on but could be sewn on together if your gifted with curves and want to conserve fabric. You can copy the lay out easily from there. Once that is done you need a 1.50″ strip as a border (allows for a seam allowance on both sides). Followed by a 3″ border and then the binding of your choice.

    After that take the top fill it in with stars as you one. Once that is done, cut the back and baste.

    As for quilting you can see there isn’t really any other than maybe stitching in the ditch around the borders but then I didn’t really see that either.

    If I were making this quilt I would quilt with a swirly kind of design to look like a milky way. I would probably do that in black with the constellations done in a glow in the dark thread (different glow in the dark colors of course). I think this would also be a fun texture quilt, with velvet fabrics and the like.

    Hope this helps those who might be looking for a tutorial.

    • shilosmomy says:

      I noticed that she had said her quilting was done as the lines between the stars if I understood it right and I did see some swirls by the zodiacs

  43. 43
    Dawn says:

    Absolutely stunning…you are very gifted

  44. 44
    Bonnie m Gunn says:

    I would love to share this quilt with the quild where i go, Could you send photos?

  45. 45
    Nico Mendoza says:

    I want one! I’m an astronomer! If this is for sale! I’ll buy one!!! This is a perfect gift to my girlfriend (she’s also an astronomer) I want this badly!!

  46. 46
    Shelby says:

    This is just so perfect! I think I’m in love.. UuU

  47. 47
    Liz says:

    Caitlin, your attention to detail and scale is phenomenal! I map the star system for park districts, and your quilt is just perfect! Like Nico Mendoza commenting above, I would like to purchase one as well 🙂
    Keep us posted if you produce this gem of a quilt.

  48. 48
    Cat says:

    I would be prepared to pay a lot of money for one of these. I have never seen anything like it. And the purple and black – beautiful!

  49. 49
    toni heckman says:

    LOVE it!!! Would buy other constellations AND A PATTERN! Even though I am an experienced quilter, the pattern or a little more piecing/applique detail would just make it easier & it might get tackled sooner! Thank you so much!

  50. 50
    Anne Halasah says:

    You’re quilt is absolutely beautiful, I’m usually not very interested in quilting but this one may be the exception. I hope you don’t mind if I make a suggestion, I have been doing some research on different types of things I could use in my sewing and came across some info on threads. One of these was a ‘conductive’ thread (it conducts a current from a watch battery to a light. When I saw your quilt I thought the design was a perfect match for this type of thread, if not in the quilt itself maybe a wall hanging. P.S. articles containing this thread can be washed you just have to remember to remove the battery.

  51. 51
    Rev says:

    I couldn’t stitch to save my life. Is there any chance of one of these quilts being for sale in the future for us non-crafty folk?

    • Meg says:

      I second this question. There are no words to express how much I need this quilt in my life, and I could never hope to replicate it myself. But I would totally buy one without hesitation.

  52. 52
    Elizabeth Page says:

    It has already been said many times, but it really is so gorgeous. Purple and shades of, my favourite! Wish I could buy one. Oh well, will just have to have a go at making one instead. Thank you Sarah for your “tutorial”.
    I too live in the Southern Hemisphere and this summer has been so HOT here in Tasmania, that little island State of Australia. The night sky is incredible so I am inspired by your incredible creation. Thank You.

  53. 53
    Wendy says:

    where can we get the pattern for this as id luv to make it

  54. 54
  55. 55
    crysia p says:

    Magnificent!!!! I so want to make this! What a labor of love! And the joy of when it’s finished…. aaaah. Just lovely!

  56. 56
    Lynne says:

    This is galaxies above the norm! I am a new quilter but this is so much more than quilting… you are truly creative and your stellar embroidery makes everything I’ve seen above and beyond!

  57. 57
    Samantha says:

    You should make and sell these! I would love to buy one.

    • Hiruma says:

      I would totally buy one like these! They’re so perfect and the artist, of course, has a really good sense with these things.

  58. 58
    Debra J. Witte says:


  59. 59
    Ariel says:

    Is there any way I could buy one of these quilts? Its truly amazing! If anyone knows a place that would sell similar quilts online that would be amazing. Please and thank you~

  60. 60
    Emma Petfield says:


  61. 61
    Wilma Kahn says:

    This is a gorgeous. I’m a person interested in astrology, astronomy, and mythology, so this really caught my eye. It’s fantastic!

  62. 62
    London_Lass says:

    I actually cried looking at/reading this. It’s possibly the most beautiful thing I have seen and I wish I could have it in my flat. But, failing that, I’m glad that I had the chance to see this.
    As a crafter myself (mostly small projects though!) I can appreciate and understand the work gone into this. It has made me day – even my week – to see such an amazing creation x

  63. 63
    AshleeB says:

    is there a pattern? i really love this quilt and want to try to make one for myself!

  64. 64
    Susan says:

    Wow! I would love a closer look and a pattern!

  65. 65
    Ellen Yula says:

    How in Heavens may we get this? Please reply
    unbelievable, love the idea of conductive threads and/or glow in the dark imagery ~ wow wow wow

  66. 66
    aaron says:

    what would it take to have one of these made. i have a dear friend whos birthday is coming up and she would absolutely love to have something like this.

  67. 67
    Amanda says:

    Is there any chance of us getting a tutorial for this one? I would do illegal things for this quilt and I’d like to see a step by step for it.

  68. 68

    This is beautiful !! And special, thanks for the inspiration.

  69. 69
    Dee McHose says:

    While browsing Urban’s web site I came across the constellation designs and thought jacket back. I wasn’t even close, was I!? The quilt is unique and awesome. Lovely job well done. Now…please produce a tutorial so we can attempt to duplicate it.I would go for a blue background and definitely use the glow in the dark thread. (I’m a quilter, too.)
    Would you please give all of our requests for a tutorial serious thought?

  70. 70
    Jan says:

    LOVE this!
    My son will be getting a version of this for his birthday for sure! He is an astronaut in the making.

  71. 71
    Dave Strider says:

    so i wonder how many people from tumblr are within for this…

  72. 72
    Becca says:

    Oh my gosh my sister and I would love that quilt for our beds. Where can we buy them?????? 😮

  73. 73
    maria says:

    Una vera MERAVIGLIA!!!!

  74. 74
    Nina says:

    absolutely UBERamazing!
    Wow. I´m deeply impressed. Thank you for having, realising, and sharing this gorgeous inspiration.
    Oneday I will make my own 🙂

  75. 75
    Staci says:

    I want to buy 1,000 of these.

  76. 76
    Barbara Jennekens says:

    Is there a pattern of the quilt?
    My daughter bought the set, and would love to make the quilt with my help.

  77. 77
    Barbara Jennekens says:

    My daughter bought the set, and would love to make the quilt with my help.
    Is there a pattern of the quilt?

  78. 78
    Liliana van Lawick says:

    Will there ever be a response to all the requests for a pattern for this quilt? Or are we all to be left hanging on the line to wither away? Please say… Something!
    Best from a Lily Bear ;o)

    • Niamh says:

      We never drafted a pattern for this, no, it would be too complicated to reverse engineer. For now it will have to just serve as inspiration, we’ve had at least two other folks make their own with their own pattern. So sorry, we learned our lesson and made a pattern for our second quilt!

  79. 79
    Chere Ohman says:

    I saw this when you first put it out and I thought it was cool. My daughter later sent me the picture of the quilt. She does not quilt or do embroidery, so how she found it amazes me. We were in a fabric shop this past weekend and she saw some purple fabric and she said this would be great in that quilt I want. She found the picture on her phone and we are gathering supplies to make her the quilt. I am looking forward to the project.

  80. 80
    Ashlee says:

    i would love the names of the fabric you used!

  81. 81
    josi says:

    this is soooo awesome. I’m really envious of you about that huge talent!

  82. 82
    Nancy W says:

    OMG!!!!! I love this quilt!! Hmmm I think you should make it again but this time creating a pattern for it! It IS FABULOUS!!!!

  83. 83
    Janelle says:

    Absolutely stunning! What amazing talent! Bravo! Your designs are so beautiful!

  84. 84
    Susan Brown says:

    Caitlin’s Sleeping Under the Stars Quilt is gorgeous!! I recently bought all the
    Constellation and star packs from your Urban Threads web site.
    Would you be so kind as to give me her directions for the quilt?
    I need to know how she made and put this together,

    Thank you and sincerely,
    Susan Brown

  85. 85
    Rose says:

    On 3/14 she said she never did a pattern/instructions for this. I’m a beginner quilter and amateur astronomer and would love to make this. Does anyone above have any suggestions as to how I would proceed? I’m not even sure how to begin, or what to buy first. I did purchase the set with the patterns.

    Would appreciate any help, thanks!!

  86. 86
    Alice Corbett says:

    The first time I was on this website, quite by accident I might add, I did see Sleeping Under the Stars Quilt and could not stop looking at it, saved the site and plan to make two this year. I have two grandsons who would love this quilt, so I am embarking to recreate it by looking at the pictures. YES, I am documenting as I go and when finished later this year, I will be glad to share my pattern and process as a tutorial if approved.

    This quilt is absolutely amazing, colors and all. Caitlin, I will send the tutorial to you for review and if approved, you can post it. Have had to finish 4 other quilts before beginning these two.

    Alice Corbett

    • Heidi Gilbert says:

      Alice – did you ever recreate the quilt? Do you have a pattern? Would LOVE to do this for my daughter, but would like a little more guidance. Thanks!

  87. 87
    Julie says:

    Hi, Just now stumbled across your awesome quilt… can you make a pattern and sell it to me with directions? I have been looking for more constellation quilts. Please shoot me an email ASAP…

    Thanks so much,
    Julie D.

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