Igniting the plasma


Igniting the plasma is a kaleidoscope quilt using the magnificent Paula Nadelstern’s technique in her book, Paula Nadelstern’s kaleidoscope quilts: An artist’s journey continues. I love this book—it shows you all of Paula’s tips and tricks and I highly recommend it.

I collected fabrics for a couple of years so I had a variety to choose from.  Normally I’m a start with a plan kind of girl, but this technique (for me anyway) was a fly by the seat of my pants quilt as you design it as you go.  That was an interesting way to work.  Being my first kaleidoscope I did cheat a little by photocopying the fabrics to make a mock up. I’m glad I did as it gave me a little control over the project.


Paper mock up of the quilt in progress


This quilt didn’t tell me what it needed in the way that others do so I ended up staring at the design wall for most of each day and only chose 2-3 patches a day.  I dare say that the more quilts I do using this technique, the quicker it’ll become as my confidence grows.  It was hard to let go of order and let chaos prevail in the fabrics choices but it was also liberating at the same time.  I found I wasn’t always able to line up the fabric designs perfectly but it was close enough to give the effect I was looking for.


Detail of the piecing


The navy background went together beautifully.  I didn’t have to trim it at all (this was a first)!  The Jinny Beyer fabrics worked well for the border.

It took a couple of days to come up with the quilting designs. I didn’t want to quilt every inch of it with filler designs so I concentrated on adapting some Dover copyright-free designs to go around the outside of the star and in the corners.


Detail of the quilting designs with the white marker pen still visible


I used charcoal coloured batting but didn’t want the whiter fabrics to go grey because of the batting, so I placed a layer of white batiste lining under the quilt top before basting.  It also prevented any bearding coming through from the batting.  It stabilised the quilt more and was lovely to quilt through.  I think I’ll be doing this to every quilt from now on.

I fussy cut the binding strips so each side was the same.

This quilt took 14.9 metres of fabric to make.

Size: 41.75″ square

Machine pieced and quilted.

Award: Highly commended, small quilts professional, Vic Showcase 2012

This quilt has received some lovely comments from quilters around the world.  I want to make more kaleidoscope quilts as it was a lot of fun to do.

Happy quilting,


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