Kaleidoscope Quilt


The kaleidoscope quilt I’ve been working on for the past several months was finally finished in time for last night’s school auction. Each of the kids at the school (almost 400) dyed a square of fabric, which I cut up to make this quilt, paper-piecing each block. You can read about the dyeing process here. Of course it didn’t sell for as much as I’d hoped at the auction, but I’ve learned not to take that personally. Just wish that all my time could have resulted in more money for the school and I will definitely not break it down to figure out my hourly rate, because that would be too disheartening.



Here are my Instagram photos of the process, which I thought I’d share in case you don’t follow me over there. These days I really enjoy taking photos of the process and I’m trying to take a step back and enjoy the work more, rather than focusing on the end result. You can see that I sewed the blocks together with the paper backing still attached, then wanted to speed up the process of removing them so eventually the quilt top landed in the bathtub. They do make a dissolvable paper for foundation piecing, which I will definitely try next time on a smaller project. My walking foot was skipping stitches (tried everything including tension, replacing needles, cleaning machine, etc.), so I eventually had to get a new walking foot and an adapter so it would fit my older Babylock Ellageo machine.

If you’re interested in making this quilt using the foundation piecing method, I posted the templates that I created here.



33 comments to Kaleidoscope Quilt

  • It’s so beautiful. Whoever was lucky enough to have it join their family will surely treasure it forever. 400 kids!! Amazing.

  • It’s beautiful! A very lucky family will enjoy lots of family time under your quilt. Awesome!

  • betz

    I can’t stop looking at it, it’s gorgeous!

  • Emmers

    It really is quite spectacular! And all those kiddos, what an accomplishment!

  • Sarah

    Absolutely beautiful. The dyeing turned out so great and makes such an interesting effect.

  • Wow, it is absolutely stunning! (But, ugh, I feel you on the sometimes disheartening nature of contributing handmade things to the school auction. You have a good attitude about it!)

  • This is so beautiful! Nice work! I love that you used fabrics that the kids helped dye – rather than some contrived way of trying to get them to help. This looks fabulous and elegant and yet the kids still got to help! 🙂 I have heard the same responses from some other people donating handmade goods to school auctions… it’s too bad that they aren’t getting as money for the items as they’re worth.

  • Wonderful and absolutely beautiful. I’m sure the kids had a great time and learned a lot. I’m sorry it didn’t raise what you’d hope, and you have a great attitude about it!. You should be congratulated.

  • KTseams

    I find that most people aren’t able to conceive of the time and thought that goes into a project like this. It is simply gorgeous and priceless. The school & children are lucky to have you!

  • susi

    truly amazingly beautiful, a labor of love

  • Amy McA

    So lovely! The results are just lovely.

  • Ann

    What a beautiful quilt!

  • I’m just in awe of people like you who make full sized quilts with so many tiny pieces. Your quilt has 64 squares with 12 pieces in each one! The baby quilts that I’ve made don’t compare. It’s so beautiful!

  • What a labor of love ~ bravo !

  • Amanda

    I run the auction/event for a private school, and it is sad how little homemade items can go for. You are correct to not take it personally; the price an item gets is not a reflection of the quality of the piece or the talent required to make it. We find that homemade items make more money if it is personalized to the school or by students. For example, one year we did mosiac crosses, and had various student groups sign the back. Parents who want those precious signatures are willing to pay. Perhaps if you had students and teacher sign each piece with a fabric-safe marker, that would increase the amount brought in. Just a thought. Good luck!

  • Savannagal

    Your quilt turned out fantastic! Wow. I guess I’ll have to go find some youtube vids on how to do paper piecing and give it a try.

  • Cindy

    Why do cats love to sit on quilts? Beautiful quilt Ellen, definitely a labor of love. And, thank you for posting your templates. I have steered clear of paper piecing, but I think I might give it a try. Can’t wait for your new quilting book!

  • WOW!!!!!!!!! That is amazing!

  • Ana

    The quilt is so, so beautiful, It truly belongs in a museum. It shows skill, of course, but also heart, and love too. Congratulations on making something beautiful for us to look at (even if just in photos!).

  • Simone

    Ellen, this is STUNNING!!! GORGEOUS!!! BRILLIANT!!!

  • Love this! I think I’m going to incorporate something similar in a pattern for my son’s preschool auction!

  • Tracy

    It’s a beautiful quilt. I’m so sorry you didn’t get what you hoped for it. The time and effort you put into it really shows and I hope the kids all feel proud that they helped.

  • Amanda

    Should have had an online auction for this quilt! It would have brought in a bundle. It is absolutely gorgeous. The very idea of it is amazing and you are one heck of a mama to help your children’s school out this way. How did the guinea pig/rabbit stitchery do? I loved that as well.

  • Sarah

    It’s lovely!

  • Meredith

    I want to second the idea of an online auction….it would really maximize the value the school got out of it. But perhaps at a cost of having the quilt leave the school’s broader community

  • Amazing. The nuances of shading and the joy of paper piecing precision are an amazing combination.

    You have re-lit the paper-piecing hunger in me. Thank you for sharing.

  • HI Ellen, I am very interested in your post, I found it this morning. I’m just about to take on a project with 400 children creating a quilt for their centenary this year.From 3-11 about 60 in each year group and 8 year groups. I’ve done lots of planning and thinking and more planning. Each year group is going to do a different textile technique according to their age/ability.
    400 seems to be a magic number, lets hope it all works to plan!
    Jane x

  • p.s. This is beautiful, a really lovely quilt, the children must have been so proud to have made it!

  • essian

    This is such a beautiful quilt. It reminds me of waves on a beach of yellow sand. And looking at the dyeing process you used, that kind of feels about right. Thanks for sharing!

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