Friday, November 20, 2015

Fugitive Flower, Finally

Portrait of the artist with the quilt.

It's funny, that when I looked back at my blog to see what I had posted about this project, it's just two posts. One post announcing that I was going to attempt it (and showing the materials), and one catchall post, where I showed some progress. And then it dropped out of sight.

I did some swaps, I went to Quiltcon, I was working on a few other things (including another large project I started like a week afterwards!) and paper piecing is... not my favorite thing.

Not that it's awful! It takes a lot of dedicated space and concentration, its own peculiar tools, and it's not the most portable project, especially, when everything has to be just so. That is, labeled, in order, organized. When you have an 8 page book of fabric names to look up everything in to be sure it's going in in the right order...

Did I forget to mention the vast organization effort that buttresses this quilt? It's a Kona 303 quilt, so it uses every one of the colors (and non-colors) Robert Kaufman puts out under the Kona name. It took 8 charm packs (Bright, Classic, Dark, Dusty, Neutral, Pastel, Summer 2013 and New Colors 2014) and that comes to 302 (I checked, manually, every color in the charm packs, to be sure they were all there; this is another quilt which owes its existence to time spent in bed sick, when I could devote an afternoon or two to such a silly undertaking). The last color is kona PFD, which I luckily already possessed, as I once spent much of my free time dyeing fabric.

Every fabric had to be labeled (every label had to be created). All duplicates were marked so that one could tell they were duplicates (see above). Then all the fabrics were sorted into piles by color (duplicates were put to the side).

Anyway, I'd sorted the fabric into 10 groups of 8 petals, each composed of 3 charm squares for the petals. Whatever was left was added to the duplicates to create the background (though duplicates only stepped in once the originals were exhausted to be sure every color was in the quilt). Notes were taken on all this work, so that if things were disarranged, or I took 8 months off from the project, they could be reconstructed.

the background with no foreground
Once that's set up, it's just the great slog of paper piecing petals... Once the petals were done, it was time to figure of the best layout. For this, I had to use my dining room table, and I threw up my hands once, and walked out, and then came back and made it work. There are some compromises in color progression that I'm not super proud of, but... you have to work with the blocks you have, right?

The foreground with no background
 Then on to choosing stems. The colors of the stems are all duplicates, coming from scraps of what was left from piecing petals. Seeing as this is a quilt all about color, I did rainbow, but I decided (after I took the picture, I guess, to put purple at the top, so it's an upside down rainbow in the quilt).

This, too, was dutifully recorded. Each label was annotated with the corresponding grid number of the block it would be joined into. (And the background, and the petals).

Then blocks could be finished. And subunits assembled. And those joined into rows. And rows into a quilt.

I quilted it all over with a light blue thread, using a paisley motif. (It has a nice Kate Spain backing, but I may never have photographed it!).

 Bound in Kona Lavender (coordinates with the backing) and done!

It's about... 32" x 40" tall. Would I do it again? Maybe. The seams pile up in  a way that makes them impossible to quilt, though, so I would hesitate. (Also, assembly? I broke at least 5 needles on this thing, guys). I also don't think it's the most elegant solution the the 303 puzzle. And... frankly, from a replicating the original standpoint, it's just not enough colors. As for releasing a pattern, well, I'm not sure about that either. Having made one myself, I'm not sure I want to inflict that torment on other people...


  1. Oh, my, oh, my, oh my! This is one of those quilts that can never be duplicated, but one that we all want to duplicate. Amy this is just wonderful! I've been watching your progress on IG but to see it finished just takes my breath away. Congratulations on such a fine finish for such an amazing masterpiece!

  2. Using every color, eh? One would have to work fast to avoid having to add colors as Kona does. I can see where all that labeling would be daunting. A fun result.

    1. Thanks! yes, it was a few days of label writing and applying...