Fiery Phoenix Quilt





Introduction: Fiery Phoenix Quilt

SINGER Quilting Contest

Runner Up in the
SINGER Quilting Contest

This is the first quilt that I have ever made. A few years ago I saw a pattern for a similar quilt, and really liked it. When this contest came along I decided that it would be a good excuse to make this quilt.

I made the design using excel. I represented my design as a matrix with integer values of 0 through 3. The cells change colors depending on their values. This allowed me to have a visual representation of my design while representing my design in a way that could be easily modified by either a human or a computer.

I tried using a completely random pattern, but I didn’t like it so I artistically designed a pattern. However I thought that it looked too symmetric and organized for something that was supposed to be on fire. I wanted a pattern that contained both random and artistically designed elements.

To add an element of randomness to make the phoenix look like it was on fire I wrote a MATLAB computer program. The program starts with the artistically designed phoenix, and runs through the number matrix that represents the pattern; it randomly changes a specified percentage of the cells to a different number and therefore a different color. I ran the program a bunch of times and saved the results. Then I took my favorite patterns from a number of the different phoenixes and reassembled them into the final pattern.

To make the pattern I cut my fabric into 1.25x1.75 inch pieces. The pattern contains 2597 individual blocks. With the exception of a few of the black sections in the top the quilt is made up entirely of individual pieces. I mass produced them using a rotary cutter.

I assembled the blocks on Pellon quilter’s grid which is a stabilizer that becomes sticky when ironed. I assembled the pattern on the stabilizer and ironed it so that all the pieces were stuck to the stabilizer in 9 large blocks.

I sewed together the blocks into 3 large horizontal strips. Then I sewed all the seams on the small pieces in the horizontal direction. When that was done I sewed the large horizontal strips together into 1 piece. To finish the front I sewed the seams in the vertical direction.

Because of the nature of the design I decided to give it small borders to make it either a large wall quilt or a small quilt for a couch or a bed. For the batting I used a blanket because I didn’t want it to be very thick. I cut and quilted the back and the batting using the sew in the ditch method to quilt it. I finished the borders by wrapping around the backing and sewing it down on the front.

Because I can't seem to get them uploaded, I have created google docs with the excel and the matlab files that I used. Just follow the links. (For some reason you must be signed into a google account to download them. Just go to file download and select your desired format.)
Starting Phoenix
Matlab code
Final Phoenix



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    Hi, I love your Fiery Phoenix Quilt and with your permission would like to make it for my grandson, whose name is Phoenix. I haven't quilted in a very long time, so hope it comes out like yours! I have a question concerning the size of the fabric pieces: were they all 1 size, i.e. oblongs? It must be an optical illusion but some pieces look like squares. Just in case I misread anything!

    Many thanks for your help,


    Of course you may make it. All my pieces were rectangles of the same size. 1.25x1.75 inches. You could scale the quilt to basically any size you wanted though.

    do you know how many of each color (had an idea to crochet it)

    I don't think I ever counted them, but you could from the excel file. I mass produced more than I needed. You must be a pro crocheter. If you make it send me a pic.

    This is amazing. Would you mind if I made one for my own personal use? I will certainly give you credit when asked where the idea came from. :)

    Of course.

    Nice work. I really like the pattern and design. My oldest son and myself do loomed beadwork, which uses some similar patterning. I created an excel document, to be used for creating our patterns. I'm not sure with the MATLAB thing... kinda over my head with that. What we do is to just use the highlighter feature, to color each cell. We don't always get the precise colors, but it's close enough. While trying to figure out how to create a Porpoise design for a customer, I went online and found some cross-stitch patterns. This turned out to be right on, since it's patterned and counted out, just the same. Anyway... thanks for posting this great piece of work.

    how do you see the starting excel file?

    Well it appears in my "edit" version but I can't find it in the displayed version. I will figure out another way to share the file tonight.