Radiant Orchid Mini-Quilt

It took me a long time to warm up to making a project for the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge – I didn’t have many purples in my stash, even fewer of them in that sort of reddish-pinky-purple that Radiant Orchid seems to be, and I just didn’t have any ideas. But then I read a blog post at Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘N Thread that introduced me to the hand over-dyed threads produced by Colour Complements. Mary was running a giveaway for threads from their Etsy shop and I got sucked into thread heaven, a place filled with pretty, pretty cotton and rayon, and I forgot the giveaway entirely: I just had to buy some thread immediately.

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge...

I paired up my sampler pack of threads (three sizes of perle cotton, a rayon chainette, and another very fine rayon thread) with three shades of Kaffee Fassett shot-cotton – Grape, Granite, and Lilac. I choose very quiet fabrics because I wanted to try out something called Kantha quilting and I wanted the stitching to pop, rather than blend into a busy print background. Kantha is a type of embroidery used in parts of India and Bangladesh to give new life to old saris – women would stack up several layers of old, worn saris and stitch them together using a running stitch which could be done in long straight lines or could used to create patterns or pictures. Most of the newer kantha quilts I’ve seen are done exclusively with the running stitches running across the quilts with little extra decoration, but if you do a Google image search or even go to Wikipedia, you can see pictures of some of the more decorative patterns that can be made with Kantha quilting.

Radiant Orchid mini-quilt

I did a little bit of both types, I suppose, since I did largely just straight lines, but also interrupted myself to include a very literal interpretation of the Radiant Orchid challenge. (So literal that I also brought an orchid home so that I could do a triple orchid take – plant, representation of the plant, colour named after the plant.) Because I was working with a sampler pack of threads, I had a little of a lot of varieties of thread, but not a lot of any of them, so I did five repeating rows of (six) different threads, which I also hoped would give it a nice texture and maybe kind of draw the eye around with the different shades of purple and pink (and little splashes of gold) .

Straight Stitching

I stitched the whole thing without a hoop or pins or anything – it was small enough it didn’t feel like it needed much support to keep it together, though I did start with the rayon thread and stitch it every 1-inch or so to help stabilize it enough that I really really didn’t have to worry. I was surprised by how much (overall) I enjoyed the process of stitching – it felt like it should have been tedious, but I didn’t get tired of it until I was near the end and using the worst of the threads – a 100% polyester (which feels scratchy and horrible) and the very thick perle cottons, which my needle was resistant to threading and which then didn’t want to take more than a single stitch at a time. The sparkle chainette (the one with gold flecks) was also a bit difficult because it was incredibly stretchy: I started with a piece of thread the width of the cloth and somehow managed to stitch TWO full lines without starting another length of the stuff.


I free-hand stitched the orchids following a tutorial from Drago Art. For the flowers, I used another variegated perle cotton, this one in a blue-green-purple blend, but I found it sunk back into the background too much, so I outlined a lot of it with a very pale lavender DMC floss. Unlike the rest of the stitches in the piece, that back stitch does NOT travel to the back of the quilt – it’s all on the surface. A third thread was used to stitch the stem – it’s maybe a little too bright, but I like it anyway, so we’ll pretend I didn’t say that.


Anyway, this project absorbed a lot of my time throughout the first couple weeks in March, so much so that I feel like I should be sick of it now, but I’m pretty proud of how it all came out. It kind of dresses up that weird little nook in the strairwell/kitchen along with that print of one of Rodin’s Cambodian dancers and the actual orchids. My sister will likely hate the purple, so it won’t last there too long, I don’t imagine, but eventually it’ll go dress up my Mum’s house for spring.

This was finished on 17 March 2014 and stitched entirely by hand, by me. The binding was sewn to the front and hand-stitched to the back. The fabrics are all Kaffee Fassett shot cottons: the binding is “Grape,” the front is “Granite” and the back is “Lilac.” The threads are all from Colour Complements, except for one shiny purple one (directly above the gold flecked rayon) and the orchid outline, which are both DMC, though one is cotton and the other a horrible, scratchy Polyester. (Seriously, I don’t recommend it.) The quilt measures 15.5″ x 19″ and it is nameless, as are most of my quilts.

This was also my Lovely Year of Finishes Goal for March (goal post here), so success on all fronts!

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge

27 thoughts on “Radiant Orchid Mini-Quilt”

  1. Beautiful!!!! I’m so excited to see this finished. I’ve loved all the sneak peaks πŸ™‚ wonderful interpretation of the challenge!

  2. Thank you SO much Kristel for talking about my threads. Your mini kantha has turned out beautifully. I agree as far as the sparkle chainette – one can stitch with it but it isn’t easy – far better for couching. Absolutely love your fabric choices and must admit, those threads look pretty darn good in the photo :)…. I’ll be signing up to follow and keep track of what you are up to…..

  3. What a neat way of quilting! I’ve never heard of it before, so you’ve also taught me something. Great way to incorporate all elements into the challenge too.

  4. Your kantha quilting came out beautifully! I love seeing a modern interpretation of that style of stitching. My MIL (in Bangladesh) made me a kantha-stitched bedspread (so many stitches!) … I was just at a Bengali friend’s house last night, whom I forced to display her handmade, kantha-decorated Salwar Kameez sets. Seeing your orchid motif is such a very cool contrast. I’m glad to hear that you didn’t get burned out on all…those…stitches. Therapeutic, right? πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Aalia! I’m glad someone who’s seen the real thing up close can see the interpretation because I know how little I know about the real thing… πŸ˜€ I went through a stage of not wanting to say where the idea came from because I didn’t want particularly to do it a disservice (by focussing on the most simplistic part – all those rows of straight stitches), but then it just seemed shittier not to say where I started from. When I was looking at pictures online, the ones done with images in the embroidery just seemed too complex to try to replicate in any way and I couldn’t really find anything that really offered much by way of methodology — everything seemed to talk about it in terms of bedspreads, but I can’t imagine the stitches plunging all the way through for the more decorative elements. (But again, what do I know?)

      I’m glad it was a small project because I’m pretty sure I’d have crapped out long before reaching bedspread stage if I’d gone bigger πŸ˜€

  5. I know I’m running late to comment, but I couldn’t visit and not say how pretty this is. And it looks just perfect with your orchid and your birdie.
    I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the stitching process. I find it can get tedious and then “poof” suddenly I’m in stitching mode and I happily embroider away for hours.
    E xx

    1. Hey, thanks! It’s a pretty… quiet looking project compared to some, but I don’t mind subtle and I think I did manage that at least πŸ˜€

  6. Wow, what a beautiful concept and execution! I love all the different threads you used, they add so much interest to the overall look. I love the orchid embroidery as well, and your vignette is fantastic. πŸ™‚ Beautiful work!

    1. Thanks Anne! It was nice to work on something so different from my usual thing. And I’d have never tried it if not for the challenge, so thanks for that too!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed doing the stitching on this — it makes me want to try it on a larger project (although maybe not with lines every quarter inch… that just takes for.ev.er.)

  7. This is gorgeous – I love how the design comes entirely from the stitching! There’s a lot of beautiful work in this quilt!

    1. Thanks so much Adrianne! This project pretty much took up all my time for the first half of the month, but it was a fun one to work on and something I probably wouldn’t have tackled if not for the challenge, so yay! for that in general πŸ˜€

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