Evensong Quilt - A Quilt for Letting Go

Evensong is an English Paper Pieced quilt named from a favourite old poem, a night-time prayer that hands over the worries of the day to enter deep rest. It got me thinking about the act of making something beautiful, and how it requires the same kind of letting go and trust.

Evensong quilt

Closed Doors and Short-Cuts

I've always been the kind of person to search high and low for the proverbial window when a door gets closed. I am the queen of lateral thinking. Who says that room needs to be a living room? If we put a kid there instead and blocked it off with these cupboards, it would free up their room for a private office! Or what about a photography station on wheels so I could move it to any window that had the best light, rather than being stuck in this corner that's only good for an hour a day?

Sometimes, though, my creative problem solving goes too far. I find myself on constant lookout for work-arounds, short-cuts, any way to fix issues that are making me stressed or uncomfortable. I'm quick to forget that discomfort is sometimes just a natural part of life, and I fall easily into the trap of thinking that because something is hard, that I'm probably doing it wrong, and there must be a better way.

This past little while has been the kind of hard that gets my brain working in overdrive. Money's tight, my health is a bit of a mystery, I worry about my kids, I'm not sure how to make time for friends. I'm like a cat who feels trapped. I'm all over the place, full of 'what ifs' and 'how abouts' and 'if onlys'. There must be something I'm not seeing!

fabric bundle
evensong quilt top swirl


A few years ago, I started a version of this Rose Star Quilt, a traditional pattern over 100 years old, and named it Evensong. I don't even remember my reasons back then for naming it that, except that it was after a favourite night-time prayer of mine, written by C.S Lewis. Those few blocks I made didn't go anywhere at the time, and I put them away to rest and wait for further inspiration. 

I pulled the blocks out again when preparing to teach an EPP design class at QuiltCon this year. It kind of sparked something in me, but I didn't take it further because I was focused on getting ready to travel. After QuiltCon, we went to New York City, and I pulled it out again and sat with it. In moments of downtime, I felt so ready to play with it, but didn't have the shapes with me to do anything about it. Instead, I pulled out my iPad and drew up versions of it, playing with the Rose Star block itself, and the ways it could tile together.

When we got home, I was completely knocked over by jet lag. I had so much to process while simultaneously getting back into ordinary life and catching up with the kids, that I almost dropped the idea of taking it further. But, I pinned the block to my design wall to keep it in mind for when I was ready.

On hearing about my trip to New York, my daughter, Evie, begged me to take her if she saved up enough money. We agreed that she could cut fabric and help me make them into fabric bundles for the shop. I had been saving up bolts of my favourite Ruby Star Society prints from each of their collections over the last several months and was waiting for the right amount and colour balance to make something from them.

Once much of the fabric was cut, we laid it all out to see what it needed. Even though I'd bought fabric without a palette in mind, thinking only of what drew me, and what would be useful for English Paper Piecing, I was struck by the strong, warm, vintage vibe of all the prints together. It reminded me of my favourite English paper pieced quilts from my favourite quilt history books. That's when I knew I had to make the Rose Star Quilt from them.

finished evensong quilt

Stitching with the Generations

I don't know much about the traditional Rose Star Block, except that it was originally made completely of kites, the smallest shape in the block. The pattern was published in a mail order catalogue in 1935 in the US, but it would have come from England much earlier, where hexagon quilts and using paper templates for easy y-seams was much more common. As the way of colouring the block became set, in rounds like you see here, quilters started to replace the kites that were the same print and could easily be combined into bigger shapes. In my earlier versions, I played with replacing the hexagons with scrappy triangles, but here, I decided I preferred the hexagon for showing off my favourite flowers or novelty prints.

I've always been drawn to traditional EPP quilt designs. I love the connection with women from the past. I know their lives were not easy, and it makes me feel surrounded by good company and support. I love the symmetry and proportions of the old, old shapes. They are incredibly beautiful to me, and their repeating patterns are calming and steadying. For me, this quilt was for this exact moment, all coming together as a precious gift. 

evensong quilt top
evensong quilt top with Lola


While stitching, and pondering if I wanted to keep the name "Evensong," I took another look at the old poem by Lewis. It's been a long time since I knew it by heart and recited it to my babies, or to myself when we struggled to sleep. It's a beautiful extension of the traditional night-time prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep."

Now that night is creeping
O’er our travail’d senses,
To Thy care unsleeping
We commit our sleep.
Nature for a season
Conquers our defences,
But th’eternal Reason
Watch and ward will keep.

It struck me, reading it again, the act of trust that sleep requires. No matter what we've achieved that day, no matter what else is going on in the world, we need to set it all aside to rest, rejuvenate, forget and be. We are in such a habit of doing it that we don't really think about it, but really, it's an act of ultimate care. We don't only let ourselves sleep when we've earned it, when we've checked the right boxes, when we've got it all figured out. We lay down the day, whatever it was, and switch ourselves off. I mean, we don't always do that, but that seems to be the right way to do it, the ideal, what the night-times prayers are asking for help to do.

And so, I stitched, and read the prayer over and over, and thought about how making time for play and creativity and beauty, was much like making time for sleep. We let go of the busy work, of the need for control, the need to wait until the never-ending list is checked, or the world is fixed, or we've reached some kind of standard where we finally deserve it. We hand it all over, trusting that the universe is ultimately good, and it's not going to all fall apart if we give ourselves some time. That maybe, we might even improve it a little. 

full evensong quilt

A Quilt for Letting Go

And so, Evensong was my quilt for pressing pause on the constant running of my mind over the burdens of the world, the challenges of raising kids, my regrets over past decisions, the improvements I could make to my house if only we had the money, and the everyday interruptions that build pressure like the car needing new tyres or a surprise bill arriving. I didn't need to fix it. I wasn't doing it wrong. Some seasons are just hard, a mountain to be traversed rather than a problem to be solved or a lesson to be learned. And, all of it could wait. I could hand it over. 

finished Evensong quilt

Make Your Own Evensong Quilt

It feels so good and special to share this finished quilt with you now! To make a pattern for it and organise the paper pieces so you can make it, too. My prayer is that it becomes a quilt for caring for yourself also, for letting go of some heavy burdens, for carving out time for beauty and rest. Set down the world for a moment and stitch. 


  • Heather

    I got your fabric bundle and I love it. When I received it, I had so much fun looking at the fabrics, folding and sorting them. They are so pretty and bright. Thank you for curating this fabric bundle. It’s much appreciated.

  • Heide

    And I love, love the secondary flower petals that form around each Rose Star. There is so much to love about this quilt……. xxx ❤️

  • Heide

    Hello Jodi, gorgeous quilt and heartfelt blog. I am just about to start making a, Rose Star Quilt but have been resisting, as I’ve got another important quilt on the go. The angel is saying “don’t”, the little devil is saying “go for it”…… One of the things I love about the Rose Star is how you can choose to emphasise he star element or the rose element, simply by changing the value of the fabric in the points. If you go for similar, you’ll get a star point, if you go for opposites, it disappears… Mmmm, now which fabrics shall I choose. ….

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