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.